Yes, it’s April 1st but don’t be fooled!
If you’ve ever heard “Be your own advocate!” when it comes to health care, or ever been in a situation where that would apply… you know how true it is. Things are happening in health care. Big things. And while some of them are huge innovations, strides with technology and more knowledge than medical professionals ever dreamed of… there’s still a bit of a dark side that the average consumer needs to be aware of. Billing. Womp womp.
Now before this gets misconstrued as a negative connotation of doctors, nurses, hospitals or anything else specific to the medical world, we are not by any means speaking generally or negatively about all things health-related. This is simply a warning to patients to pay attention.
Here are some quick stats from a healthline study to ensure that we are providing facts rather than opinions on this:
- Up to 80% of medical bills have errors
- Nearly 1/3 of Americans learn that their health insurance doesn’t pay what they expected
- 59% of the time Americans are contacted by debt collectors is for an outstanding medical bill
- 16% of Americans’ credit report includes medical debt totaling over $80 billion
Instead of pointing the finger at medical professionals or facilities for over charging, let’s discuss a few ways you can prevent being on the receiving end of those not so fun surprise charges:
- Speak up. If you don’t understand a procedure, diagnosis, treatment plan or medication, find your voice and use it. Ask questions. Make notes. Do some research. You know your phone is close by, look it up online and educate yourself. Yes, you should trust the licensed and very well educated professional that spent a lot of time in school to do this for a living but understand what they’re telling you and be sure you’re on board.
- Price shop. Find out if certain facilities perform procedures for less and why. This is common with teaching hospitals. This also applies heavily to prescription drugs. Don’t just use the pharmacy closest to your house because it’s convenient and they have a drive-thru. Look at goodrx.com or call around to others to see what their cost is. Now obviously, keep in mind that if you have health insurance, there may be certain pharmacies they work with or providers that are in or out of their network. But don’t just default to the most popular or most convenient. Your wallet will thank you.
- Request details. Ask for an itemized bill/Explanation of Benefits. Keep documentation for your records. Don’t just pay whatever you’re told without knowing what exactly it’s for.
- Channel that feisty preteen 7th grader in debate class that we know is still in you and fight for yourself. It might amaze you at how much health care providers are willing to negotiate if you can come to an agreement of either a payment plan, pay in full discount or overall reduction if it can be justified.
Your health is not a game and you can’t put a price on a medical necessity… so you should by all means get the best care possible. However, a little awareness and self-advocacy can go a long way and may even help facilitate a more proactive approach to good health… now that you’ll be able to afford it.
Another year’s gone by and it’s time to file your taxes again. But what do these 1095 forms mean? What we said in our tax form blog last year still stands true. To refresh your memory, visit our site here for some good information on the various 1095 forms: https://mcgriffwilliams.com/blog/1095-tax-forms/ or even another one we did prior to that: https://mcgriffwilliams.com/blog/health-insurance-tax-forms/.
Good stuff, right? That was all pertaining to individual under 65 health plans. When it comes to Medicare, there are so many glorious things that happen when you’re finally eligible to switch over. Yes, you’re another year older but these days, many people look forward to that birthday in particular. Your health insurance rates typically go down when you transition from an individual plan and the coverage may even get better. It’s a great system that seems to run very smoothly.
There is one thing that you may not know though… you’ll still get those aforementioned tax forms in the mail. If you’re on Medicare, whether it be an Advantage plan or a supplement, you may still receive a 1095 form. The only difference now is that you aren’t required to submit it when you file your taxes. Hold on to this form for future reference if needed, it’s really just for your records.
Things are ever-changing in the health insurance and income tax world so if you ever have questions or concerns, we are happy to help. Give us a ring at (352)371-7977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you consider your workplace benefits package, how much value do you see in your employer offering life insurance? This coverage can oftentimes be overlooked or undervalued but it can be very beneficial to your loved ones in the event something were to happen to you. Then there’s the question of whether or not the coverage your employer provides is enough. According to most experts, the answer is no.
There are several things to take into consideration if you depend on employer-sponsored coverage alone, especially if you are responsible for the care of others. The biggest mistake most people make is that they do not truly understand their need for life insurance and do not realize that the amount they have is inadequate. More individuals than ever before are using their employee perk as sole coverage over buying outside coverage, according to LIMRA. If you have a family, outside coverage will aid in paying bills, debts, and future expenses that employer-sponsored coverage could not fully pay.
Do not worry if you haven’t purchased life insurance separately because it’s not too late and we’re here to help! Those who are single, mostly debt free, and do not have dependents will probably be fine with their work coverage. Determining if you need more coverage is the first step.
At any point in the process, you can give us a call at 352-371-7977 and speak with Nick Deas, our resident life insurance expert. Nick can help you determine what type of life insurance your lifestyle requires and how much coverage you’ll need. Although discussing life without a loved one can be very difficult and a topic many people avoid, it’s extremely important to be prepared and all on the same page. Feeling confident and comfortable with your family’s financial stability can bring a lot of peace to an otherwise negative subject.
There’s a lot of talk about the future of health insurance in Florida (across the nation actually) right now, especially with the current presidential election. There may have been some terminology mentioned in debates that you aren’t familiar with. One is the Health Savings Account or HSA. It’s not a new plan but may be expanded to have more options available in the near future. This type of plan can be beneficial to many but understanding how it works is the first step.
An HSA from a bank or savings perspective is a type of account you set up with a participating bank that is designated to be used to health-related expenses only. The money you put in to this account is tax-free but cannot be used on anything but health-related things such as doctor’s visits, procedures, prescriptions, dental and vision services, etc. Health Savings Account funds cannot, however, be used to pay actual premiums.
An HSA from the health insurance perspective is a policy you elect that is typically all out of pocket up to a certain maximum. The most common HSA plan with Florida Blue has a $3,600 deductible (for individuals) that you would pay for yourself, then any and everything over that amount for the remainder of the calendar year is paid for in full by the policy. The maximum amount that you can deposit into the HSA bank account per year is $3,350 for an individual and $6,750 for a family (in 2016) but it will roll over to the next year if unused. After age 65, you can withdraw funds from an HSA account to be used for any reason, without penalty. If you withdraw funds for non-medical use prior to age 65, you must pay the appropriate income taxes as well as a 20% penalty.
The objective and benefit of an Health Savings Account is that you are setting aside money in a “savings” account that you may or may not need for health-related expenses but you’re saving on the taxes. You’re also guaranteeing that you won’t pay more than a certain amount of money towards health insurance costs in one calendar year. Health Savings Accounts are typically offered as an option on employer-provided group insurance as well as individual health insurance.
The following are some examples of qualified health-related expenses that an HSA can be used for:
- Alcohol and drug addiction treatment
- Breast reconstruction surgery
- Dental treatment
- Diagnostic tests and devices
- Doctor’s visits
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses and exams
- Fertility enhancements
- Hearing aids and batteries
- Operations/surgery (non-cosmetic)
- Nursing services
- Physical therapy
- Psychiatric care
- Smoking cessation
Learn more about Health Insurance by visiting other blogs on the topic on our website.
It probably wasn’t terribly shocking to many that Taylor Swift’s “1989” won album of the year. Or that Ed Sheeran’s hugely popular song “Thinking Out Loud” took song of the year. Meghan Trainor was a well-deserving recipient of best new artist and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk swept record of the year. These are just a few of the gold trophies that went out in last night’s ceremony for the 2016 Grammys.
Awards make people feel a certain kind of way. It’s important in today’s world to recognize and encourage success. Good people doing good things. McGriff-Williams has been honored to accept many awards of our own that we’re very proud of and motivated by.
America’s Best Independent Agency to Work For – Insurance Journal
Tower Tier Award – Tower Hill Insurance for personal lines production
Platinum Agency Award – ASI & Progressive Insurance (less than 2% of agencies receive this award)
Florida Blue Award for Top 5 agency in the northeast region for Medicare supplement sales and Top 10 in the northeast region for individual under 65 plan sales
Florida Blue Award for Top 15 agency overall in the state of Florida
“Witness Greatness” was the takeaway message from last night’s show. We feel confident that’s exactly what will happen with random acts of kindness happening tomorrow too. We appreciate the loyalty of our clients over the past 33 years and are grateful for the various acknowledgments we’ve earned.
We challenge you to share your admiration of others, especially tomorrow, and hand out your own awards…. Whether it’s a smile for a stranger, picking up the coffee tab for the car behind you or sending a handwritten note to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. We all need to recognize and reward good people doing good things.