Health Insurance in Idaho in 2018

As the Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in a qualified health insurance plans kicks off for 2018, I thought it would be a good time to review some basics on how health insurance in Idaho works these days.

Open Enrollment Period

If you do not currently have a health insurance plan you have until December 15th to get signed up, or else you will most likely have to wait for 2019.   If you already have a health insurance plan, the deadline to switch to a different plan is the same day, December 15th.

Who Qualifies for a premium tax credit?

APTC, or Advanced Premium Tax Credit is when your health insurance premiums are significantly reduced based on your income.  Anyone who isn’t offered coverage from work and has income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line based on their family size may qualify for the premium tax credit.  Coverage from work also applies to spouses and children if coverage is offered to them.   The 2018 federal poverty line for a family of 1 is $12,060 and goes up by $4,180 for each additional person in the family. 1.   So a family of 4 can make as much as $98,400 and still qualify for a premium tax credit.

Options for Coverage in Idaho

Options are pretty slim in most states, including Idaho.  There are 4 health insurance carriers (Mountain Health Co-op, Blue Cross, Select Health, and Pacific Source) offering individual and family coverage on and off the Idaho Exchange(must get coverage on exchange to get APTC) , and 1 more that offers individual coverage outside the exchange only (Regence).   Of those 5, only 3 are really competitively priced.  But then when you talk about price increases and deductibles that keep going up, there are really no “affordable” options for most people.   With that being said, whatever your current situation is you might be able to save money by looking into all your options.  The prices vary so much with each company each year that it is usually not in your best interest to stick with the same company year over year.

Saving Money

For example, I helped a family save hundreds of dollars a month by switching them from being a spouse and children on a school district employer health plan, to a family plan off the exchange with Regence, separate from their employer.  Coverage for the actual employee is usually a very good price, but if your employer offers coverage for your spouse and children, it is usually more expensive then what you could get separate from your employer.

Another option to possibly consider, is Medi-Share, which is a Christian Care Ministry.  It is not health insurance, but it works similarly at a much lower cost and has saved people thousands of dollars.

Last but not least, if you are seriously considering going without any coverage, I would suggest you look into Health Values, a supplemental insurance carrier, which covers accidents and is under $100 for the whole family no matter your age or health.

If you need help with your health insurance I am a licensed agent  and work with the Idaho health insurance companies as well as Medi-Share and Health Values.

By Jimmy Hancock

References

  1. ASPE. “2017 Poverty Guidelines.” US Department of Health and Human Services, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines>.



Health Insurance In Idaho 101

health insuranceAs the Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in a qualified health insurance plans comes close to an end for 2016, I thought it would be a good time to review some basics on how health insurance works these days.

Open Enrollment Period

If you do not currently have a health insurance plan you have until January 31st to get signed up, or else you will most likely have to wait for 2017.   If you already have a health insurance plan, the deadline to switch to a different plan was on December 15th of last year.   In general, you have to be enrolled in a plan by the 15th of the previous month in order for your coverage to start on the first of the next month.

Special Enrollment Periods

You may qualify for a special enrollment period of 60 days following one of the following events.  If you lose coverage, get married, have a baby, have a change in income, or move, you will qualify to be able to enroll in a plan even during non open enrollment periods.  This includes children that lose coverage on their parents plan when they turn 26.

How to Enroll

In Idaho the website to search for plans, apply for a premium tax credit, and enroll in a plan is Yourhealthidaho.org.   You can find a local agent to assist you on the website as well.  It is important to note that using an agent does not cost you anything, so you might as well have an agent there to help you through the process.   If you don’t qualify for a premium tax credit because your income is too high or low, you can still enroll in a plan through the state website.

Who Qualifies for a premium tax credit?

Anyone who doesn’t have coverage from work and has income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line based on their family size may qualify for the premium tax credit.  Coverage from work also applies to spouses and children if coverage is offered to them.   The 2015 federal poverty line for a family of 1 is $11,770 and goes up by $4,160 for each additional person in the family. 1.   To find out for sure if you qualify visit Yourhealthidaho.org.

Tax Penalty for not having coverage

If you or any of your dependents do not get qualified coverage  in 2016, you will most likely be faced with a very steep penalty.  The penalty is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $2085.  Or if you have a high income you pay 2.5% of your income as a penalty for not having coverage.   Some families with low incomes can qualify for a no affordable coverage exemption.  2.

If you need help with your health insurance I am an agent on the Yourhealthidaho.org website and work with several Idaho health insurance companies.  I am located in Idaho Falls.

By Jimmy Hancock

 

References

  1. ASPE. “2015 Poverty Guidelines.” US Department of Health and Human Services, 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <https://aspe.hhs.gov/2015-poverty-guidelines>.
  2. US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Fee For Not Being Covered.” Healthcare.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.

Market Timing: The Myth

Bear MarketSo what is market timing and are you losing returns because your money manager is doing it?  Or even worse, have you been caught doing it all on your own.

According to Investopedia, market timing is “The act of attempting to predict the future direction of the market, typically through the use of technical indicators or economic data. ” 1.

If you have ever watched any of the financial channels on TV, or been on a financial website like Yahoo Finance, they are constantly promoting Market Timing.   Every day I check Yahoo Finance there is some new trend that somebody has predicted in the market.  One day they say, this bull market is just getting started.   Then the next day they say, indicators say that market is in for a huge downturn.   Which one should we believe, or would our retirement portfolio be better off if we just avoided the market timers opinion?

Academics and Research

Listen to what Investopedia has to say further about market timing…

“Some investors, especially academics, believe it is impossible to time the market. Other investors, notably active traders, believe strongly in market timing. Thus, whether market timing is possible is really a matter of opinion. ” 1. 

I am going to go with the academics on this one.   I have the data to prove that market timing does not work.

CATEGORY 1984-2013 Annualized Return
S&P 500 Index 11.10%
Dalbar Average Investor – Equity Fund 3.69%
CPI (representing Inflation) 2.80%

*2.

As we see here in this little chart, if an investor would have just been invested in the S&P 500 for the last 30 years they would have gotten over an 11% return.   But what did the average equity investor get?   3.69%.  That is just over inflation.

Why?

So why did the average equity investor lose over 7% annual growth in their portfolio?  A part of that is due to costs, but the vast majority is because of market timing.  Investors seem to almost always be wrong when it comes to deciding when to be in the market and when to take their money out.

Lets take 2008-2009 as an example.   The end of 2008 the market is taking a nose dive and what does everyone tell you to do.  Get out of the market.  So you take your money out because of the fear that it will never come back.  Ultimately you are selling low.  Then on March 9, 2009 the bottom finally hits and the market begins to take huge jumps upwards.  But you are not invested so you get none of that growth.  When you decided to get back in you were buying high.  The market today is reaching new highs and is way past where it was before the crash in 2008.

The most simple thing to say in investing is buy low and sell high.  Obviously it is not that simple to actually do.  Market timing is detrimental to your long term retirement goals.

– By Jimmy Hancock

References

1.”Market Timing Definition | Investopedia.” Investopedia. Investopedia US, n.d. Web. 16 June 2014. <http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/markettiming.asp>.

2. Matson Money. Separating Myths From Truths, The Story of Investing. N.p.: n.p., n.d. PPT.

5 Life Insurance Myths Busted

Why you need a financial coachLife insurance may not sound all that exciting, but when you do stop to think about life insurance and you, it’s not uncommon to assume that since the concept of life insurance is simple enough, so too are the products. It’s also fairly easy to rationalize the things you really don’t understand about life insurance, and before you know it, you’re harboring potentially damaging life insurance myths.

In addition to your own edification, and frankly, for the safety of your loved ones’ financial futures, it’s important to understand exactly what life insurance is, what it does, and how — not to mention if — you should make a move either to purchase or upgrade your coverage. Read the myths below to see if you need to adjust your thinking when it comes to life insurance.

1. The coverage you get at work is enough.
While this may, in fact, be the case if you’re single, in good financial standing, have no dependents and aren’t worried about estate taxes, for most people, the term policy offered through their employer just won’t be enough to sustain their families’ needs. After all, your insurance payout must not only support your family financially, it must also pay off any debts, such as the mortgage or even the MasterCard, as well as settle up with Uncle Sam.

2. Only the working spouse needs life insurance.
This is a curious — and wildly inaccurate — belief, yet it somehow persists. Life insurance on the breadwinner is intended to fill in the gap left by the loss of a paycheck, but that discounts all the valuable work a stay-at-home partner contributes to the relationship. If you’re used to this arrangement, how would you pay for child care or the cleaning, or even manage the household without a little financial help in the event of such a loss? It can be easy to overlook the many contributions of the non-breadwinner, but to do so would be remiss.

3. The value of your life insurance coverage should equal two years’ salary.
Everyone’s financial circumstances are different, and so are their life insurance needs. You might require more coverage than two years’ salary if you incur medical bills or other debts, have a young family, a mortgage to pay, or any number of life obligations to meet. If your lifestyle is more modest and you’re not financially responsible for anyone, on the other hand, then two years’ salary may even be excessive.

4. Single people without dependents don’t need to own life insurance.
While it’s true you might not have a family to provide for, odds are you’ll still have to cover the cost of your funeral, pay off a few debts, and maybe leave a little bit behind for your parents. And as one MSNBC article on the topic suggests, using a life insurance policy to fund a gift to a favorite charity can be a wonderful legacy for a single person to leave behind.

5. You don’t need professional services to buy life insurance.
While this is, in fact true, as any consumer can go online and shop for, and even buy, term and permanent life policies, electing to go it on your own can be detrimental to your financial future. A professional life insurance agent advisor can help you identify the needs you have, what you must protect and how best to protect it. With the knowledge of a myriad of different policies, if you’re honest about your financial and life circumstances, a professional can not only help you determine how much coverage you need, but also help decide whether a term or permanent policy is right for you. They can even customize a plan to meet your unique needs.

Life insurance is an important product for most everybody to consider, but it helps if you have your facts straight. So whatever else you think you know about life insurance, you might consider running it past an agent or advisor.

Authored by Financial Social Media (financialsocialmedia.com)

Guide to a Baby Boomers Retirement

profileThe ripe age of 65 is no longer a valid number for those planning their retirement. As more and more baby boomers reach this age, demographers and researchers are skeptical as to just how long they will live. Not only does this uncertainty have effects on a national level, as to the cost of Medicare and Social Security for future generations, but it also has effects on a personal level, and the complications it causes for future retirees and their spending and saving plans. The juxtaposition between American medical advances and deteriorating health and lifestyles begs the question: live too long and risk running out of money; die young and you can’t take it with you. Let’s look at the facts and then discuss the possible solutions in this rising debate.

 

Medical Advances = Longer Life Expectancies
At least one member of a 65-year-old couple can expect to live for another 23 years, to age 88.
There is a 30 percent chance of living past 92.
The current life expectancy for an American at birth is 77.9 years—58 percent longer than in 1900, when the average life expectancy was 49 years.
From 2000 to 2007 the rate of death from heart disease, the leading cause of death, plunged 19 percent, while the rate for cancer, the second-leading cause of death, fell 5 percent.
95,000 fewer Americans died of heart disease in 2007 than in 2000, even as the population increased.
Adding 3.1 to 7.9 years to life expectancy by 2050 would add an estimated $3.2 trillion to $8.3 trillion to Medicare and Social Security outlays above current expectations.

That last fact paints a pretty good picture as to what will happen to the cost of Medicare and Social Security. As life expectancies rise, so does the federal tab for old-age benefits. Social security came into play in the 1930’s, when the life expectancy was 65.2 years. At that time, the government did not expect retirees to use Social Security. However, with life expectancies on the rise and many retirees spending more time in retirement than in the workforce, the federal budget for retirement benefits is swelling exponentially. Moreover, the explosion of rising life expectancies that we have been experiencing in America since 1950 may not continue at the same pace because of the obesity epidemic. Even as Americans live longer lives, they are expected to spend more years disabled and paying for expensive health care.

Deteriorating American Health & Lifestyles
The rate of obesity in the U.S. has risen 48 percent in 15 years, and by 2020, 45 percent of the population is expected to be obese.
Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased, from 49,558 in 2000 to 74,632 in 2007.
Two-thirds of retirees underestimate the average life expectancy at their age, with 42 percent doing so by five years or more.

It is crucial to know, understand and plan according to your financial needs. There are steps that baby boomers can take to protect their portfolios from uncertainty. A Social Security check should only make up about a third of a retiree’s income and should be supplemented with contributions made to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and a 401(k) Also, by delaying Social Security payments until age 70—instead of 62 or 65—retirees can increase monthly payments and make the program a far more valuable income stream late in life.

Obviously, saving more, spending less, and working longer are ways in which you can protect your financial assets and future. Regardless of whether you can expect a long life or disability payments in your future, it is vital that you plan for your retirement.

Authored by Financial Social Media (financialsocialmedia.com)

Obama Care and Small Business

At times, it seems like it’s been forever since the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—more commonly known as Obamacare—was signed into law; the president’s flagship legislation raised a few eyebrows when it was first announced, and has been embattled ever since. As it stands, the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in phases, so we may not feel its full effects until as late as 2020 when the very last parts of the bill are put into action. This in mind, the healthcare world is about to take a big leap coming soon, when the first major stages of the act go into effect and the healthcare market created for it will open its doors. If you’re a small business owner the prospect of such a big change can seem daunting at first, so here’s a quick refresher on how this implementation phase will affect you:

If your business has fewer than 50 employees, weigh your options.
The Affordable Care Act doesn’t directly affect businesses with under 50 full-time employees, which constitute 96% of all small businesses in the U.S. (http://buswk.co/ZAWlZ4) Of those businesses with 50 or more full-time employees, only around 4% of them don’t currently offer health insurance, making the business impact—on the surface—minimal. Regardless of size, you will have to take steps, but the mandatory insurance isn’t one of them for a smaller company.

If your employees aren’t insured, they’ll need to be.
While not a direct blow to your company’s finances, employee retention and satisfaction is going to come into play in a big way once 2014 hits and health insurance becomes mandatory. You’ll be faced with a decision—look into a company-wide healthcare plan in an attempt to keep your best talent and draw more employees, or provide information on the subsidized coverage plans (and potentially hike wages to help meet those premiums for your employees). There are benefits on both sides, and any small business owner will have to consider their options carefully.

You must notify your employees of the ACA marketplace.
Regardless of whether you’ll be providing coverage or not, all small business owners are required to notify their employees of the existence of the Affordable Care Act marketplace that will be opening up. Refusing to notify employees of the fact that this law is now being phased into place just isn’t an available route, and you’ll have to address where your business stands on the issue. The department of labor has released a very useful bit of information on how it recommends going about this announcement, (http://1.usa.gov/10qVb0v) alongside providing sample notices for employers with plans (http://1.usa.gov/Yv59jM) and without plans (http://1.usa.gov/13AKgoe).

Regardless of your opinion on the act itself, the implementation is going to always seem harder when it’s first coming up than it actually ends up being in the long run. Make sure you’re informed and aware of your options so you can make the right choice for your business when the time comes for a mandatory decision.

Source:
http://buswk.co/1fwMZ66

Authored by Financial Social Media (financialsocialmedia.com)