Thanks For Your Time and Attention!

As we enter the 12th. month of 2012, many American’s thoughts are of the Holiday’s just ahead.  We will be busy shopping for just the right gifts for our families and friends.  There will be lots of time spent on festive decorations, mailing greeting cards and packages, and preparing delicious treats in our kitchens!  Although we may get carried away with these external aspects of the Season, the underlying spirit of love and giving still prevails for most of us.  We can create enduring positive memories when we share the gifts of our time and talents with others!

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my articles these last 2 years.  Not many people find the topic of insurance to be an exciting subject!  In recent times, most of us don’t even want to think about health insurance.  None the less, I have tried to present some insightful information about many different aspects of health-related insurance.

My goal has been to present informative, educational, and challenging articles.  I have encouraged you to learn about your options, discover ways to lower your premium costs, and reward yourself for being healthy.  (Don’t just accept your health plan because it was your father’s insurance.)  If you don’t see your doctor often and do not rely on expensive prescriptions, why have a health plan with copays for those features?  They add to the cost of your premium!

During these difficult times, more employees are faced with securing their own affordable health insurance, as small business owners find it too cost-prohibitive to pay for group plans.  It has become our own responsibility to decide which individual health plans are best suited to our situation.

Be aware that there are “limited-benefits” health plans which offer discounted premiums, but also often have reduced coverage and fixed allowances for surgeries, hospital stays, etc!  I recommend that you select a major medical health insurance plan from an “A” rated reliable insurance carrier.  Those health plans should clearly state your yearly maximum out of pocket responsibility for each insured person.

In searching for the ideal health insurance plan, remember that healthy Americans can save money on their taxes with an HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan), when coupled with an HSA (Health Savings Account).  These allow you to reduce your taxable income by the amount with which you fund your HSA.  Plus your funds earn interest tax-free!  I suggest that you review the details and guidelines for HSA’s in IRS Publication 969, by visiting this link: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/ar02.html

Additionally, I strongly recommend that you inquire about your choices for LTC (Long Term Care) plans. If you had to self-pay for nursing home expenses, it could exhaust all of your assets before Medicaid would begin to help.  (Medicare only covers a short period of time.)  There is an LTC combo or “hybrid” option that utilizes either a life insurance policy or a deferred annuity with an LTC rider.  It provides a tangible cash benefit to your beneficiary, if you never use the long term care services.  Don’t wait until you are a senior citizen to apply for this important safeguard!  Your age and your health conditions will affect your cost.  You should not count on the government for your Long Term Care needs, unless you live at the poverty level!

For more helpful messages relating to the subject of health insurance,  please read the rest of the articles in my blog.  There are articles which describe many different health insurance supplements including: LTC insurance, life insurance and annuities, disability insurance, dental and vision insurance, cancer insurance, critical illness plans, etc.

After reading  an article, let us know if you have any questions.  If you would like a free quote for any type of health-related insurance or annuity, contact AustinHealthPlans at: (512) 535-3556 or e-mail at: tom@austinhealthplans.com .  A licensed independent  agent will be glad to help you find the best coverage based on your situation.    We appreciate the comments that we have received from you, and encourage your continued feedback.  If you prefer to shop on your own, visit us online anytime at: www.austinhealthplans.com .  Thanks Texas, and Happy Holidays!

Advertisements
Posted in Annuities, health Insurance, healthy living, life insurance, Long Term Care, Retirement Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A “Win-Win” Option for Long Term Care Insurance

Most of us are unprepared to meet the challenges that accompany an extended hospital stay. It can be devastating if this occurs to an elderly family member. Nearly 70% of those beyond age 65 will need long term care at some time. Once you have witnessed the mental, emotional and financial strain that a loved one experiences when they require long term care, you realize the gravity of the situation. It can become an exhausting strain on the whole family and a life-changing event for the senior citizen.

Medicare will only cover up to 100 days of nursing home care after a hospital confinement. Unless a person has Long Term Care (LTC) insurance, they will be required to self-pay for any additional days in a nursing home. The national average for private nursing home care is around $75,000 annually. Unfortunately, many uninformed Americans assume that government assistance will pay for their nursing home costs, should that need arise.

However, Medicaid will not help with those expenses until the patient has spent-down nearly all of their savings and other assets, reducing their finances to the poverty level. This would also severely diminish inheritance funds for their heirs, as well! Who wants to endure having all of their retirement savings drained, in order to qualify for assistance from Medicaid?

Some people argue that the expense of LTC insurance would be a totally wasted investment if they never need home health aides, assisted living, or nursing home care. However, without the protection offered through LTC insurance, one’s hard-earned assets are at risk if they should be required to self-pay for extended care! Until recently, this was the dilemma that some folks faced when considering the option of applying for LTC coverage.

Fortunately, there is an LTC “hybrid” (or combo) option that utilizes either a life insurance policy or a deferred annuity with a Long Term Care rider. It provides funds for long term care expenses if the policy owner should require home health aide attention, assisted living, or nursing home care. If the insured should not require any long term care assistance throughout their lifetime, their beneficiaries/heirs would receive a cash benefit upon their death.

That means a tangible benefit is paid, even if the insured never needed the available LTC coverage. This preserves assets from the threat of the Medicaid spend-down requirement, and eliminates the concern over potential waste of premiums for unused long term care benefits. It also rewards you and any family members with peace of mind and assurance that you have prepared for the future. It certainly is a win-win option for either you or your heirs!

Contact an independent licensed insurance agent at AustinHealthPlans.com, to see which plans will suit your situation. There are many “A” rated insurance companies from which to choose. The younger you are when you apply, the lower your cost will be. Your current good health will also be an advantage, as applicants will be required to answer health questions for underwriting evaluation. Do not procrastinate and assume that you will be able to qualify later in life. Call us now at: (512) 535-3556 for a free quote. Remember, peace of mind is priceless!

Posted in Annuities, Investments, life insurance, Retirement Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Consider an Annuity for Retirement Savings

It’s true that many Americans are not familiar with the meaning of the term “annuity”. Some people mistakenly believe that annuities are products which are only available to, or obtainable by the wealthy class. This is not true at all! An annuity is a methodical way of saving money and earning interest. Annuities could be described as unique financial planning instruments, which are suitable for accumulating money for future systematic distribution. They are financial contracts issued by insurance companies. An annuity can even create an income flow which cannot be outlived!

When you purchase an annuity, you deposit money (a premium) into this financial contract. These premium dollars are then invested by the insurer. Those deposited funds earn interest, or grow in value in relation to the performance of the fund in which they were invested. Your earnings will accumulate on a tax-deferred basis. Annuity funds compound at a greater rate because no earnings are taxed away.

At some point in the life of the annuity contract, the insurance company can convert all or some of the contract’s funds, into a series of periodic income payments. This is determined by the owner, to suit his/her intentions. These payments are calculated to continue for a given number of years, or for the owner’s lifetime. (This process is known as “annuitization”, which means applying capitol to purchase income.) Annuities are designed to accumulate, and later distribute assets, making them ideal for retirement planning.

Today Americans face some serious challenges regarding their financial ability to meet their retirement goals. Many employees no longer enjoy defined pension plans, which guarantee a certain predetermined cash flow. Constant changes to our Social Security System continue to whittle away at our future retirement fund. More members of the Baby Boomer Generation (approximately 76 million seniors) are reaching an age where they will be drawing on this ailing system’s resources. Add to that an increase in our current life expectancy, and it’s easy to see that we will need to be personally responsible to provide most of our own sustainable support for our “Golden Years”!

We need to take proactive measures and choose a suitable means to provide for our own personal retirement fund. It is critical to establish a retirement investment plan now, rather than later, in order to have a sufficient time for your money to grow. You will want to consider your attitude toward risk, before committing to any certain long term investments. Fortunately, there are some types of annuities which guarantee a certain minimum rate of return on one’s investment. There are also annuities which invest the owner’s funds in the stock market, where there is the potential for greater profit or loss.

There are lots of options available when considering what type of annuity to choose. The two fundamental categories are either immediate or deferred annuities. A licensed insurance agent can give you details about fixed, indexed and variable annuities, and explain the basic differences and advantages of each option. You should be certain that all of your questions and concerns are addressed to your satisfaction before making a final decision. Whatever you do, please don’t rely solely on Social Security, and do not procrastinate in starting your retirement savings!

Contact one of our licensed insurance agents at AustinHealthPlans.com by calling: (512) 535-3556 or send any e-mail questions to tom@austinhealthplans.com . We can help you determine what method of retirement savings will serve your particular situation the best. We are available to assist you with free quotes for your insurance and annuity needs, no matter where you live in Texas! We can save you time, trouble and money! We are “Texas friendly” and want to be your agent. Give us a call today.

Posted in Annuities, Investments, life insurance, Retirement Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Celebrate Your Freedom of Choice

It seems to be human nature to automatically resist change.  This tends to be true even when one has spent years struggling with an unpleasant situation, job, relationship, etc.  People place a lot of importance on familiarity, because at least you know what to expect!  It’s what we are used to, so we just keep things the same, because everyone knows that change is difficult, right?

In a recent article, I wrote about how sometimes small changes in one’s lifestyle can make a significant difference in overall health over a period of time.  Well, sometimes just a bit of change in health insurance coverage can actually save a significant amount of money in a year!  Is your health plan suited to your present needs and budget?  If not, it’s time to shop for the type of affordable coverage that makes sense in your current lifestyle.  Why pay the extra cost for features you don’t use in your health insurance?

Most of us associate July as the month of American independence.  Freedom of choice is undoubtedly a right worth celebrating.  Can you imagine what it would be like if there was only one home furnishing store, one auto manufacturer, one clothing designer, one kind of breakfast cereal?  Fortunately, your current health insurance plan is not the ONLY ONE available to you.

There are ways to pay lower monthly insurance premiums if you are typically a very healthy person.  Healthy people who don’t usually meet their insurance plan’s annual deductible, can even be rewarded by having a reducing deductible.  Does your current health insurance do that for you?   There are some health insurance plans which are called HSA-qualifying HDHP’s, that even help to lower your taxable income.

When was the last time that you had a licensed independent insurance agent evaluate your current situation and needs?  You will have a wide variety of affordable health plans from many major insurance carriers from which to choose.  Quotes are fast and free, and you have nothing to lose!  Don’t settle for your father’s health insurance plan just for that one reason alone.  Change can be a very good thing if it improves your life…especially when it saves some of your hard-earned money.  You could save hundreds of dollars a year!

Call AustinHealthPlans.com at: (512) 535-3556 for a free quote for affordable health insurance.  You can also contact us via e-mail at: tom@austinhealthplans.com and let us know what your needs are.  You will receive free professional advise and helpful information.  There are no fees for our services, and you won’t find the same health plans for less anywhere else!  You have nothing to lose, except the money you are paying right now for higher premiums.  We look forward to serving YOU, no matter where you live in the great state of Texas!

Posted in health Insurance, healthy living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Small Changes Can Bring Major Rewards

      Most of us would agree that it is easier to make small changes in our lives, than to attempt radical alternatives to our current habits.  A person’s health will often respond to small helpful changes carried out over a period of time, much like a boat which alters its present coarse by a mere few degrees over a period of time.  Each of us can decide to implement small adjustments to our daily lives that can result in positive changes.

     I realize that some people may have genetic predispositions to certain health conditions.  Aside from those things which are out of our conscious control, we can take charge of our present and future health by deciding to make a few small changes.  Over time, this can result in major rewards with respect to our well-being.

     Did you know that many major diseases involve inflammation?  Inflammation is frequently caused by excessive stress, whether that is from one’s diet, lifestyle, or environment.  It is the common link between such serious conditions as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis, to name a few. 

     Food allergies and sensitivities are not the only dietary causes of inflammation.  Consuming too much sugar, fat, dairy or protein can also increase inflammation for many people.  Constant dehydration or drinking too much caffeine and/or sodas can also be at fault.

    Lack of proper exercise (especially habitual inactivity) and also lack of quality sleep could contribute to the problem.  Experiencing regular or constant emotional, psychological or physical stress raises one’s cortisol level, creating inflammation.  Exercising helps to reduce the effects of stress.  Meditating daily can calm those frazzled nerves!  Practicing good dental hygiene helps immensely also, by preventing the build-up of harmful bacteria around the gums, etc. 

     Toxins in our environment and pollution in general, also cause inflammation.  How safe is your drinking water, the air quality in your neighborhood or place of employment, and the fast foods you eat?  Are your packaged foods full of artificial preservatives, additives, or other unhealthy ingredients?  How often do you purchase organic fruits and vegetables, when there is that option?  In many environments in America, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, and other pollutants are often at fault!

     We ALL have choices to make.  I suggest that you read more about this subject and formulate a plan to become healthier.  You may feel better, require fewer medications, live longer and become happier.  Always consult your doctor before making these lifestyle changes.  I am not giving any medical advise, just expressing my own opinion about what you might consider for a healthier way of life.  After all, it is YOUR life, and YOUR decision. 

     Remember that being healthy can $ave you money when applying for inexpensive health or life insurance.  Your good health is always your best asset!  Contact us at: AustinHealthPlans.com at (512) 535-3556 or send an e-mail to: tom@austinhealthplans.com for fast, free, quotes on  affordable top-quality health insurance plans.  Being without health insurance puts you at financial risk!

Posted in health Insurance, healthy living, life insurance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Attention Owner’s of Small Businesses

      If your business employs 2-50 people (including you), it may qualify for a special type of affordable small group health insurance.  Employees’ current health conditions and medical histories will not affect eligibility or the cost of monthly premiums, to participate or renew for future coverage.  The rates are merely based on employees’ age, gender, and zip code.  There are no health questions to answer on the application.  That could make a significant difference for some folks!

     To be eligible, the business must be located in Texas, and the employer must not have provided group health insurance for at least 12 months prior to applying.  A minimum of 30% of eligible employees must receive annual wages no greater than $32,670.  At least 60% of eligible employees must participate in coverage.  The employer must pay at least half of the monthly premium costs for covered employees, but can elect to pay 100%, if so desired.  Covered employees must be United States citizens or nationals, or aliens who are lawfully present in Texas.

     All eligible employees must work at least 30 hours/week.  They may be a sole proprietor, a spouse, or a partner in the business.  They must not be considered temporary, seasonal, or substitute workers.  If an employee is covered by another group plan-such as a spouse’s health plan, he/she would be ineligible.  Also if they choose not to be covered under the employer’s health plan, but instead are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, CHAMPUS, or another Federal program, they are ineligible.  Additionally, coverage on a benefit plan from another country makes one ineligible.

     An employer has the option to offer coverage to part-time employees, but these employees do not count as “eligible” for determining the employer’s status as a small business.  Dependents of employees can be covered through their spouse, but the employer is not obligated to share any related additional cost for those dependents.  The additional premium for dependents is the financial responsiblity of the employee only.

     Several excellent major medical plans are available with deductibles from $500-$2,500.  Benefits include coverage for: doctor office visits, maternity, hospital inpatient/outpatient/emergency room services, psychiatric services, and prescription drug copays.  (Did you know that individual and family health insurance plans in Texas normally do not cover maternity?)  A vision plan is also included at no charge. 

     Employees will receive their allowable benefits ONLY IF they use “In-Network” providers and facilities.  It is important to see if your preferred doctor accepts this health plan, if you intend to continue your health services with him/her.  Otherwise, you might have to find a new primary care physician or specialists. 

     For detailed information or to apply for coverage, contact AustinHealthPlans.com at (512) 535-3556 or send an e-mail to: tom@austinhealthplans.com .  This plan would be great for a married couple who own their own small business and are considering starting a family.  The rates are very reasonable and you cannot be declined because of pre-existing conditions or poor health!

Posted in health Insurance, healthy living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

 Critical Care…

 Critical Care Insurance Makes $ense!

       Recently I discussed Long Term Care Insurance, and how many of us could very possibly need help with some of the “activities of daily living” (ADL’s) in our later years.  Some folks will need care simply as a result of aging.  But what if you should experience a serious health condition and require a lengthy period of recovery and assistance? 

     Thanks to advances in medical treatment, the odds of surviving a life altering critical condition are better than ever.  Americans are living longer lives than any time in our History.  Life after Alzheimer’s, stroke, cancer, heart attack, coronary by-pass surgery, kidney failure, or paralysis, typically requires constant care from others, sometimes for months or years!  Surviving such an illness can bring serious financial and emotional hardships to those involved.

     Major Medical insurance or Medicare will help with much of the medical expenses for treatment.  But what if your recovery causes you to spend an extended period in rehab?  What about the costs incurred for time spent in an assisted living facility or a nursing home?  Medicare will only cover a very short term after being hospitalized, and most Major Medical Insurance plans exclude long term care assistance from coverage.

     A 2011 study reveals that Alzheimer’s, stroke, and cancer represent over 70% of Long Term Care claims paid.  Another report in 2010 stated that cancer, heart attacks and strokes represented 80% of new Critical Illness claims.  A Critical Care Plan will pay cash if you experience or are diagnosed with these and other serious health conditions.  It will also pay a monthly benefit if the covered health condition leads to time spent in a rehab center, or confinement in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

     Cash benefits will be paid directly to you, regardless of any other insurance you may have.  The money can be used however YOU decide.  Some examples are: help with income loss, household expenses, rehabilitation costs, travel for treatment, lodging, alternative treatment options, lifestyle changes, and insurance deductibles and coinsurance.  You do not need to account for how you spend these funds!

     These plans are very affordable and more inexpensive the younger you are when you apply.  Critical Care Plans are subject to certain medical underwriting qualifications, so be sure to apply while you are eligible.  There are multiple options for the amounts of benefits to choose, the length of term for your coverage, and for which health conditions to request protection.  Contact a licensed health insurance agent for all of the details at AustinHealthPlans: (512) 535-3556.  You can also send an e-mail request for additional information to: tom@austinhealthplans.comYour family may thank you someday for your prudent forethought! 

Posted in health Insurance, healthy living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment