Would you rather have gold, silver, or bronze? Although most of us know where we’d prefer to stand on the podium for a medal ceremony (Michael Phelps comes to mind as perhaps having that ability), a selection of medical insurance isn’t always quite as straight-forward. Let’s “dive” in and “freestyle” our way through this topic! Enjoy this month’s OC Wealth Coach reading!
In last month’s newsletter, we “grappled” our way through a tough to climb topic of life insurance and discussed being deliberate with some of the things that only you can do for your loved ones. Well, selfishly, I hope they noticed a difference. But if they didn’t, I hope you noticed enough of a difference to keep it up in this new quarter!
This month, our focus is on Health Insurance and Employee Benefits. Quite frankly, this topic pretty much spreads across the entire fourth quarter of every year at this point for many. But it’s incredibly important to get a head start to know what to do as that time approaches. With the recent changes to healthcare, there is an open enrollment window for individual insurance at the end of each year. Open enrollment for group coverage can be at any point during the year, depending on the employers plan. But open enrollment windows are generally the only time allowed to enroll or change a plan unless you have a “qualifying event”.
Let me say that again in a different way because it’s often misunderstood; unless you have a qualifying event or exception, you cannot enroll in individual insurance whenever you get around to it anymore. An oversight to this can result in having no coverage until the next open enrollment period. And if we get in a vehicle at some point during the year and trust strangers to “stay in their lane”, forgoing health insurance coverage poses a uncontrollably significant risk to our financial future.
Here are some things to monitor during an open enrollment period:
- Review changes in plan coverages. Verify whether the coverage still meets your expected needs for the coming year. Premiums can increase during these times as well, so updating your budget (*wink**wink*) to reflect any increase (pretty likely) or decrease (haha) would be prudent.
- If you have a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, verify your specific drug coverages. It’s not uncommon for plans to change covered prescription drugs and can lead to dramatically increased costs. While the plans do send notifications of updates to the list, they do not individually let you whether you are impacted. So it’s important to go to https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx and update your list of drugs to identify whether your plan still is still a good fit for you. If another plan covers it better, it may be worth changing.
- If you have individual health insurance coverage, verify your expected coverage needed for the upcoming year. Plans may cover certain things better than others, and if you have an expected cost upcoming (i.e.. pregnancy or surgery), it’s worth evaluating available options. Additionally, some doctors or facilities may change which companies (if any) they accept. Although they may notify you of that change, it can come as a surprise. So, it may be worth contacting the doctor’s office or facility to verify any change.
- If you have group health insurance coverage, your open enrollment date can be at any point throughout the year.
Offered plans can change dramatically, but comparison between plans still applies like the individual information above.
Other Employee Benefits:
(Such as dental, vision, or miscellaneous insurances)
- Just like medical insurance, verify the coverages and expected needs. Premiums for these insurances can be analyzed for effectiveness.
If you have any questions about your policies, it would be prudent to get some assistance from an objective professional. The areas we often see that can provide significant value is comparing Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and reviewing which “tier” of medical insurance may be appropriate for your needs.
Alright, THE CHALLENGE, you ask…! As we enter in to the 4th quarter of 2017 and the holiday season fast-forwards our way into 2018, let’s make some time for a quiet respite. Perhaps go to the park to absorb your surroundings, sign up for a yoga class, or take 20 minutes to meditate. While there is certainly a need to put our head down and “hold our breath” until we get where we want at times, it’s also important to do a 180 and backstroke for a bit as well. I hope it’ll help us feel a bit of relief to not only help out our stress levels (and our health!), but also give us some renewed vigor to tackle the remainder of the year.
So, if your friends or neighbors wonder why you’re doing Warrior 2 into Happy Baby poses in your front yard, you can tell ‘em your wealth coach told you to!
(The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.)
(For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. Insurance guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company.)
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Trent Huston is a Financial Consultant with securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through AK Financial Group, a registered investment advisor. AK Financial Group and OC Wealth Coach are separate entities from LPL Financial.
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