Archive for the ‘Health Insurance’ Category

Health Care Savings

Even with a generous health insurance policy, medical care can still be a major expense.

A recent article at Kiplinger.com  suggests six ways to curb costs. Number one suggestion:  use generic, not brand-name prescription drugs.

Many common drugs are available in generic versions.  If you order through the mail, you can save even more. Ask your doctor about lower-cost alternatives.

Another good idea – if you are willing to do the paperwork – is to set up a health savings account with your employer.  Decide how much of your pre-tax income you want to put into the account each month, then use the tax-sheltered dollars to pay for medical expenses  such as co-pays and prescription drugs.

To read the whole article,  go to Six Tips to Spend Less on Health Care.

Photo of pill bottle by Auntie P and republished here under a Creative Commons License. Some right reserved.

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Medigap Buyer’s Guide

Confused about what Medicare covers and what additional insurance you might need?

You may want to build your own customized Medicare Supplement Insurance Planner with a new tool available through the Newton Free Library.

Weiss Financial Ratings Series Online now includes a Medigap Buyer’s Guide and Premium Calculator that provides library patrons:

“step-by-step guidance to learn how to select a Medigap insurance plan, which plans are right for them and which insurance company has the lowest rates. By simply entering their name, age, gender and zip code, users get immediate access to their own 80+ page, information-packed Buyer’s Guide & Premium Calculator, customized just for them.”

This product is available free inside the Newton Free Library or from home to patrons with a Newton Free Library card.  From the website, go to Free Online Databases & Guides, then Business and Finance.  The Weiss Financial Ratings Series Online is listed under Business and Investing. For assistance, call 617-796-1380.

This database is available through the a grant from Smart investing @ your library®, a partnership of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association.

Health Insurance Quiz for Millennials

Let’s say you’re an unemployed 24-year-old.  Which is your best choice for health care insurance: get added to your parent’s policy or buy your own plan from a private insurer? You may be surprised to know that a private policy can actually be the cheaper option.

This is just one of the health insurance topics included in Kiplinger Magazine’s quiz, What Young Adults Need to Know about Health Insurance.  Other questions range from the effect of preexisting conditions on premiums to the distinction between health savings plans and flexible spending accounts.

With the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured young adults has dropped from about 28% to 25%. But that still leaves too many 20-somethings at risk of financial devastation from a medical crisis.

Take the quiz, plus consult a Guide to Open Enrollment for 2012 and  How to Save Money on Health Insurance When You’re Young.

How well do you know your Bank?

Would you like to know how the financial stability of your bank or credit union is rated?

Newton Free Library is featuring Weiss Ratings’ Financial Ratings Series Online as its subscription database of the month.

“Weiss Ratings is the nation’s only provider of independent ratings on the nation’s 900 life and annuity insurers, 2,700 property and casualty insurers, as well as 600 health insurers and HMOs. It is among the nation’s leading providers of independent ratings on 8,000 banks and S&Ls.” (Excerpted from financialratingsseries.com)

Use the Search option to obtain financial strength ratings on banks, credit unions, and insurance companies.

Download any of the seven Financial Planning Tools including a Medicare Prescription Drug Planner, an Auto Insurance Quote Comparison Chart and an Investor Profile Quiz.

Look up Banking, Insurance and Investment terms in the extensive Glossaries.

This database may be accessed on location at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street, Newton,  MA or at home for Newton residents with a Newton library card number beginning 21323.

Understanding Disability Insurance

This week’s The Savings Game column in The Boston Globe reminds us to plan ahead for long term disability coverage as nearly 20% of Americans will need it sometime during their working life.

Social Security benefits come with eligibility criteria that may be difficult to meet.  Approximately 2/3 of all applications are initially rejected.   Further, employers are cutting back on the number of workers covered under corporate plans.

Individual insurance is an option, though it can be costly, and premiums vary depending on age, health and gender. Yes, women pay more.

The Savings Game recommends that before you purchase insurance, first determine how much income per month is needed.  Know the difference between “non-cancellable and guaranteed renewable” and “guaranteed renewable”.  The latter can be cheaper but also may be more likely to change terms and benefits.

Money Magazine compiled this list of five things to know about disability insurance.

For more information on the topic, see the Consumer Guide to Disability Income Insurance from the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) Education Foundation.

Medicare Guide

The April 2011 AARP Bulletin published a practical Medicare Starter Kit with lots of helpful clarifications on:

  • what Medicare covers
  • the difference between Parts A, B, C and D
  • how and when to apply
  • how much does it cost
  • lots more!

It is easy to get confused by the requirements and benefits of this complex government-funded health insurance program.  Here are some useful tips:

  • Enroll at age 65 (unless you are working and covered under your employer’s plan).
  • You will not be notified unless you are already receiving Social Security.  The onus is on you.
  • Medicare is not free unless you qualify for a low-income program.
  • Coverage cannot be denied due to current or past health issues.
  • Mind the gaps: Medicare does not cover everything. Know where your loop holes lie.
  • Seniors only.  Family members/dependents are not eligible for coverage other than due to a disability.

For more information read the full article or contact  SHINE (Serving the Health Needs of Elders)  at 1-800-243-4636. For non-native English speakers, contact the Massachusetts Medicare/Medicaid Outreach and Education Program (MORE) at 978-683-7747.