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Posts tagged with: health insurance

Protect Your Financial Wealth

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For many of us saving up for retirement, our financial wealth represents a life of relaxation and easy living after decades of hard work. However, you shouldn’t be complacent thinking that everything you’ve saved will just sit idly by waiting until you retire. There is the very real possibility of you losing your hard earned wealth. Use this article as a roadmap to the various precautions you can take to protect your hard-earned assets.

Eggs & Baskets

You’ve probably heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” countless times, and the truth of the matter is it’s said for a reason. For example, investing in the stock market when you know what you’re doing can be a very lucrative long-term endeavor; however, there is no absolute guarantee that your stocks of choice will continue to increase. The 2007-08 Financial Crisis showed investors across the U.S. that investing in just one company can result in your retirement nest egg being completely wiped out. You should always spread your money around. If you’re going to invest, it should be in stocks, mutual funds, real estate, savings and emergency funds. By making sure that you have money spread out in different asset classes, you’ll have less of a chance of losing it all in the event of another economic depression.

Get Renters Insurance

They say that home is where the heart is, but what this statement should also say is that home is where you keep most of your stuff. Whether it’s your flat screen television, furniture, appliances, or clothes, a large percentage of a person’s yearly income goes towards the stuff that they keep in their house. Despite the fact that they are used in your daily life, they are still considered as financial assets due to the cost of replacing them. Unfortunately, unlike land, stocks, and money in the bank (which has various systems in place to prevent it from being harmed or stolen), items that you have at home are subject to a wide assortment of dangers. These include, but are not limited to:

1. Robberies
2. Water Damage
3. Fire Damage
4. Vandalism

These are just a few of the possible cases that can result in you losing thousands of dollars. To prevent this from happening, you should check out various online insurance provider and perform a renters insurance quote comparison. By doing this, you can determine which insurance provider would suit your needs the best, and rest easy that your belongings are protected.

Health Insurance

You can say that you are in the prime of your life and that you feel absolutely fine with no headaches, coughs, aches or pains–but we’re not all Superman. People can get in accidents, they get sick and get hit with a host of other unlucky circumstances. With the cost of medical care today, making sure you have adequate health insurance can make a massive difference in the amount you pay. Hospital stays can cost several thousand dollars a day, and this doesn’t include the cost of doctor’s appointments, surgery, medication and the myriad different procedures that you may go through. You need to make sure that you’re adequately protected against such a possibility, and having health insurance is the best way of doing so.

Liability Insurance

Another precaution that you should take is to get comprehensive liability insurance to cover you and your family when it comes to the shared use of your cars. Accidents happen and in some cases, you could be the motorist at fault in a crash. Since you are liable, there is the potential that the injured party will try and sue you for more than what your liability insurance covers. The less expensive liability insurance policy isn’t always the better policy. By maintaining extensive auto insurance, you’ll be better protected and your finances locked tight in the bank’s vault.

Protecting your financial wealth is all about taking proper precautions. Use common sense and an analytical mind and you’re sure to enjoy your retirement. Just remember, when in doubt go online and do your research!


Health Care Nonsense

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I definitely do NOT want to get all political on the blog. I, personally, am pretty moderate and a swing voter so I can see both sides of most political issues. So without pointing fingers or blaming parties, I’m just going to say what anyone dealing with health care already knows….our current system sucks. Sucks bad.

I’ve got two case studies for you:

1) When my Dad had to retire early (due to being diagnosed with FTD), I took over a lot of his personal matters, including paying his bills, getting him insurance, etc. Here’s the problem:  we basically cannot get him the health coverage he needs. No matter the cost, its just not possible.

Some explanation…

When my Dad relocated from Utah to Texas he was given a referral to a neurologist who specializes in FTD. This physician only accepts certain types of insurance plans. He will not even book an appointment without one of these plans (I even tried to pay in full in cash at time of booking. Office simply wouldn’t do it). Unfortunately, the plan is really only available for group coverage. Did anyone else know that PPOs essentially no longer exist for privately-paying individuals? Because they don’t. We can buy various levels of HMO coverage (for like $1,000/month for a single individual), but none of the options available through the Marketplace (which is the government website) NOR direct through the big insurance companies (we tried 4 of them) have a PPO plan option for someone paying privately. It just doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, my Dad doesn’t qualify for Medicaid due to his asset base, and from the legal counsel we’ve received it sounds like Medicare is a long ways off before we can get him covered (pending getting all his disability stuff in order). So what’s our only option? We cannot see the specialist we were referred to. Just simply can’t do it. Between the poor options in health coverage available on the open market coupled with some ridiculous office policies at the specialists’ office (seriously – who doesn’t just accept cash?!?), we are stripped of the option of seeing the one person recommended to us. Absolutely disgusting.

2) Okay, to be totally fair, #2 has nothing to do with the government or sucky health care options…it has to do with my own naivety (heh). Apparently when I signed up for health insurance I was unaware that the plan I selected has NO (zero, zip, zilch, nada) coverage until a $500/person (or $1,000/family) deductible has been met. At that point we just pay the co-pays. But until then we owe 100% of our health bills. Only….I guess medical office staff wait to settle up their books until the end of the year? Since switching insurance in July, we’ve had several trips to the doctor (3 routine annual office visits/exams & 3 sick child visits). At each trip we paid our normal copay and thought that was it. Until…within just the past couple weeks bills have been flooding in! All of these visits (that have occurred at different places and with different family members) are just now being billed. At first I thought it was some issue with the insurance but after 3 separate calls to have all our benefits explained, I discovered – nope. It’s not a mistake. We owe this money. And it’s in the range of several hundred dollars (just under $500). We do still have about $400 in our health/dental/vision savings, but that’s going to go QUICK and we’ll still owe more. Groan! One more point for Murphy (of Murphy’s law) and yet another reason to slow our debt payment progress so we can try to recoup our EF (which I mentioned as an option here; still haven’t decided 100% for sure yet. We pay our debt at the very end of the month so I still have about a week to decide).

My Dad’s health care drama will likely be an ongoing thing we continue to deal with the entire rest of his life (as he’s always going to be privately paying; even after he gets Medicare it’s not like things will be all peachy. There are plenty of issues with that program, too).

In regard to my family unit, it’s annoying to have just discovered this information (and, of course, I learned this AFTER open-enrollment had ended so I can’t change it at this point). However, we can make changes to our budget to accommodate the issue (e.g., keep a larger amount in our health/dental/vision account in order to cover the $1,000/family deductible).

Live and learn. That’s all I can do. Live and learn.

And earn & save more money. ; )


Health Insurance Woes

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I was recently reading a debt update post over at Six Figures Under, where I saw that they were only paying $114/month for health insurance for a family of 5.

We pay $350/month for our family of 4. We surely must be overpaying then, right? This is one of the few areas that I haven’t examined yet for trying to reduce costs/fees since we started our debt reduction journey. Unfortunately, what I discovered makes me nervous for the coming year…..

I guess I haven’t thought about it (because I did know this fact), but our health insurance doesn’t fit the qualifications required now since the Affordable Care Act passed. Specifically, our current insurance does not include any prenatal coverage which is now a requirement of all health insurances (regardless of whether you are planning a pregnancy or not). When the Affordable Care Act passed, we received notice from our insurance that our policy would be expiring. But then a wonderful thing happened – due to some type of governmental stuff (protests? No idea, I’m not a hugely political person), our insurance was “grandfathered” in for another year. Basically, we got an extension until it is dissolved and goes away. That means we have our current insurance until December 31st of this year.

What do ACA-compliant insurance policies for a family of 4 look like in terms of price?

In a word…expensive!!!

The cheapest policies I found were in the $550ish range (through tax-payer subsidies), but they ran up to well over $1,000/month. I looked at several websites and some (through private insurance companies) were “set” prices. When I looked for insurance through the governmental/subsidy websites, they change based on what you earn (the more you earn, the more expensive the coverage). Since we’ve made a pretty decent income this year….it’s looking like the cost of health care is going to be pretty decent-sized too.

I definitely don’t want to start a political debate (I know this is an inherently political issue, so it’s hard to avoid), but I was really shocked by the numbers I saw. I guess it’s better that I priced the insurance now, in September, rather than get surprised with this fun fact on January 1, 2015. But at the same time, it doesn’t make me any less bummed to know that one of our non-negotiable monthly costs is going to skyrocket next year – possibly double, or more. *gulp*

This is all the more reason why we need to get rid of our debt – NOW! All those monthly payments are just consuming our monthly income! We’ve got to get out from under the weight of our debt!

Recommitment-city over here (not like I ever lost commitment, but this was one of those things that served as a big old wake up call!)

Out of curiosity (if you want to share) – How much does your family pay for health insurance? We currently pay out-of-pocket since my husband and I are both self-employed, but I think it might be worth looking into some sort of small business owner group insurance. I’ve heard of these but have never looked into them before. Perhaps my husband could get this for his small business and it would save us some money. Lots to look into!


Insurance Company WIN!!!

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Remember how I was fighting 2 separate insurance-related battles? The first was regarding coverage for a consultation with the Mayo Clinic (the consult was back in November!!!) I fought hard (aka:  spent LOTS of time making calls back-and-forth between the Mayo Clinic and the insurance company), and in the end came up empty handed (translation:  claim got denied and no coverage was granted).

My second “fight” was in relation to trying to get my prescription reimbursed (from back in December), when I’d had to pay out-of-pocket because we went back to Texas and I accidentally left my prescription in Arizona. (Side note:  if you need a memory jog – I talked more in depth about these issues back in April – see here).

Well imagine my excitement when I came up VICTORIOUS on the second battle (re:  prescription reimbursement).

I got this letter just last week:

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Obviously they were VERY clear to let me know they are not responsible for MY mistakes (and I do admit that it was my mistake to forget my prescription). But, I’m thrilled that – after receiving one initial rejection – I did not give up! Remember? I called and talked to an agent and he told me exactly what to write and where to send the letter. I am so grateful!

When I first got the letter I was a little confused….it says they’ll reimburse me, but how does all that work out? But then a couple days later I received a separate letter containing a check for the $55.99 in question. Only 6 months after the out-of-pocket expense, but hey – I’ll take it!

That’s 1 point for a little perseverance! Win!! Thanks, Blue Cross Blue Shield!


Dealing with Insurance Companies

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Don’t you just HATE dealing with insurance companies? It feels like you always get the runaround and then nothing is resolved in the end! Ugh!!

Well I (unexpectedly) actually had a positive experience this past week!

I had two separate issues I needed to speak with a representative about.

  1. Mayo Clinic bill
  2. Prescription Reimbursement

Regarding the former (Mayo Clinic). We all remember how we owe the Mayo Clinic money for services rendered to Chris when he had his mystery illness at the end of 2013. Well, even though Mayo Clinic is out-of-network for us, our insurance pays a flat rate of $100 toward the service. To have this happen, Mayo Clinic must send a bill to our insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona), then BCBS sends ME a check for $100 and a statement of benefits. I then send payment and the statement of benefits on to Mayo Clinic and set up a payment plan for the remaining balance owed.

I have had a HELL of a time getting BCBS to send me this information. Every time I call they say they haven’t received anything from Mayo Clinic. I call the Mayo Clinic and they cite exact dates they sent the information; verify address, fax number, etc. Everything is correct.

So after receiving yet another bill from Mayo Clinic (we are 4 months past due at this point), I call BCBS and – shocker! – they say they have not received a bill from Mayo. Exasperated, I explain my situation: This bill is becoming delinquent, I can’t set up a payment plan until they get the information from you, they say they’ve sent the information multiple times, etc. What do I do????

Unlike in the past, where I’m told simply to call Mayo Clinic and tell them to re-send the bill (for the umpteenth time), this time the representative put me on hold and called Mayo Clinic personally!!! When he came back, he explained the problem (they had included the subscriber number, but not the group number, so it was never “matched up” to us in the BCBS system). They rectified the problem and are getting everything processed immediately. YESSSSS!!!!!!! One step closer to actually being able to set up a payment plan and start working on that debt!!!

 

In reference to issue #2 (prescription reimbursement). When we went back to Texas for Christmas, I had accidentally left my prescription for birth control in Arizona (a little personal, but relevant since it was not a prescription I could “do without”). I was NOT about to mess up my cycle, risk getting knocked up, etc., so when we arrived in Texas I promptly called in a refill and paid out-of-pocket to get it. I had to pay out-of-pocket because I was refilling it before it was time, but I was told I’d be reimbursed by insurance because I wouldn’t need to refill it the following month (once I returned to Arizona I obviously still had the prescription there, so I had more than enough).

So I sent in my receipt and the appropriate paperwork back in February to be reimbursed. And just this last week I got a letter denying my reimbursement with the explanation “75% of medication must be used before a refill can be processed.”

So I explained the situation to the BCBS representative and asked if anything could be done, or if this was the final word. He was so kind to explain that “YES! You can definitely challenge that letter!” and he even told me basically word-for-word what to write in the letter, and where to send it!

Now, there’s always the possibility that BCBS denies my request again (insurance companies never make it easy, do they?), but I was so happy and pleased with the service I was given by this particular representative. Wooo!

So, fingers crossed I get the check from BCBS for Mayo Clinic AND I get reimbursed ($55.99) for a prescription I filled way back in December!

I’m fighting the good fight. It’s time versus money over here, and my $100 for Mayo Clinic and $55.99 for a prescription feels like a LOT of money right now…..and at this point I guess I have more time than money, so its worth it! : )


A Dental Kind of Day

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Today was a double dental appointment day for DD and DS (the two from my previous marriage).  Our first stop was the oral surgeon for DS who is 12 1/2.  He’s been under orthodontic care since Kindergarten having had a severe cross bite that was caught early.  We’ve done 2 rounds of the palate expander, one round of braces and a good year with a retainer.  Now we move to the extraction phase with a crowding issue up top and two missing permanent teeth on the bottom.  We will have the baby teeth pulled on the bottom so that the permanent teeth can move into place.  I had never heard of permanent teeth missing below the baby teeth but the orthodontist says he sees it on occasion.  We could have left the baby teeth but then as he aged he would likely face problems asking baby teeth to do the job of permanent teeth for life.

Dental professionals—particularly specialists–always have that little “financial room” that you go to after seeing the doctor.  I always laugh in those little rooms as I picture someone elsewhere in the office calculating the financial damage this is going to inflict.  We have excellent health insurance and with all of the recent talk on this issue–we do not take that for granted.  I was bracing myself for the worst as DS opted for IV sedation…instead of “laughing gas.”  Imagine my excitement when the news came back at a total of $60!  For four teeth?!  I still can’t believe it but the dental insurance covers extractions at 100%.  The $60 is our portion for the IV sedation.  We are blessed.

Our next appointment was with the orthodontist for DD.  It appears that she got all of the worst dental traits from both parents!  She too has a cross bite but because her upper teeth are “still erupting” we won’t start treatment until early 2013.  Now…the orthodontist’s office REALLY amazes me when it comes to several things.  First of all…it is the only medical provider that runs on schedule almost 100% of the time.  In the near 8 years we’ve been going to this orthodontist, they were running behind ONE time.  Why is it that I know it has been only one time?  Because they called me and told me to come in 30 minutes later b/c they were running behind!  I almost hugged the receptionist when I walked in the door.  I’ll save my rant regarding “professionals” making patients/clients wait for a Friday rant…but talk about a pet peeve!  And I don’t just bark the bark about this issue…I am vigilant about NEVER having someone wait on me at the office or otherwise.  Loathe tardiness….LOATHE.

The other great thing about the orthodontist is how they approach finances.  Now, we might have about $1,500 in insurance coverage to put toward orthodontic care but for today’s discussion we did not consider that (because my ex needs to look into some issues surrounding the plan).  So, worst case scenario for her top teeth only (the lowers look very manageable and likely won’t need treatment until she’s much older) is about $2200.  Now, that’s a lot of money certainly but here’s what I love…it’s all inclusive!  There are no additional charges for however long the treatment takes to accomplish what the doctor said (and we agreed to) would be accomplished.  They offer no interest payment plans but we’d get a 5% discount if we pay in full.  I split that $2200 with my ex-husband 50/50 so we are looking at $1,100.  The payment plan (again divided by 2) is a $590 deposit and then 12 payments of about $135 per month.  The treatment is going to take near 2 years they think.

I share this not really because of the financial aspect–we have 6 months notice and can make adjustments to the budget and hopefully pay in full and get the discount.  Instead I share because I just like the system that orthodontists have going on!  I know an orthodontist office is no primary care physician’s office and the two are oranges and apples (really!  I know this!)—but it is so refreshing to see things so organized, well-managed and known.


Hidden Life Insurance…

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I was called by our HR department to review my latest health insurance information for the new year. They like to confirm everything is correct before the new policy begins. She checked off my information and then asked, ‘Is your beneficiary the same for your life insurance policy? We haven’t reviewed that in a few years.’

‘Life insurance policy?’ I asked.

‘Of course. I have your husband listed. Is that OK?’ she asked.

‘I’m sorry. Remind me. How much is this life insurance policy?’

Click. Type. Click. Pause.

‘We have a policy on you for $98,000.’ She started rattling off the salary ratio that determined that amount and explained how it changed with each increase in pay, and I stared at the floor, trying desperately to remember when I signed up for insurance… and how I was paying for it.

As if reading my mind, she pulled my application from her files and showed it to me.

There is was, the policy I signed up for on my very first day… and paid for by my company.

Of course, I called my husband to share about the unexpected policy and he said, ‘Well yeah hon, I have one at work too. It’s like $50K or something.’

Well, I guess we’re a little over insured. Something to keep in mind when deciding on additional insurance – know how much you already have!!

I think that no matter what we do it will be important to get a variety of quotes from the Internet to compare.


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