02 Apr 2019

7 Things to Look for When Signing up for Health Insurance

7 Things to Look for When Signing up for Health Insurance

In 2017, 28.5 million Americans did not have health insurance. People who are uninsured often avoid going to the doctor, so they do not have to pay high health care costs. Avoid that problem by browsing through policies and selecting a health insurance option.

Check the premium

Insurance companies charge a fixed monthly rate for policies. This is called the premium. Premium credits are available based on income through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but not everyone is eligible for a credit. Check the premium to make sure it is affordable.

Look at the deductible

The deductible refers to the amount the insured must pay before the insurance company starts paying. Some insurance policies require that the full deductible is met before the company covers any expenses, while others cover some expenses before the deductible is reached. For example, some policies cover annual exams and other preventative care before the deductible is met. Read the fine print to avoid high out-of-pocket costs.

Consider the co-pay

Insurance companies require that people pay a co-pay for various services. People are expected to pay the co-pay at the time of receiving services, and the amount paid does not go toward the deductible. Choosing a policy with a high co-pay can make it difficult to get health care services.

Check the maximum out-of-pocket cost

Insurance policies have a maximum out-of-pocket cost. This is the most that people will have to pay out of their own pockets for co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles over the course of the year. Once the maximum out-of-pocket cost is met, the insured does not pay any additional money out of pocket. Consider the maximum out-of-pocket cost when selecting an insurance policy.

See which doctors are available

Most people already have doctors before switching insurance plans. It is important to see which doctors are covered in the network before buying a plan. Otherwise, the insured might have to switch doctors after changing insurance plans.

Check how much coverage is available for the health insurance policy

The amount of coverage is also important. Some policies cover extra services such as acupuncture and weight loss programs, while others only cover the bare minimum. People need to choose a policy that covers everything they need to limit out-of-pocket expenses.

See if you qualify for Medicaid

Some people want to know how to sign up for free health insurance. Free and low-cost health insurance is available through Medicaid, but people must qualify to receive coverage. Eligibility depends on the state of residence, family size, and income. Those interested should fill out the online form to see if they qualify.

 

How to Sign up for Health Insurance

Now that you know what to look for, you have one more question. You are likely wondering, “where can I sign up for the best health insurance for my family and me?” It is easy to sign up for health insurance with healthquoteinfo! Call 1-855-614-5057 to speak to a licensed insurance agent today!

02 Apr 2019

How to Eat Healthier Without Sacrificing Sugar

How to Eat Healthier Without Sacrificing Sugar

The average American eats approximately 42.5 teaspoons of sugar each day. Sugar is high in calories and can lead to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancers. With so many health risks associated with sugar, some believe the only solution is to cut the sweet stuff out entirely, but that is not necessary. People can eat a healthy diet without sacrificing sugar.

The Problem With Sugar-Free Diets

People on sugar-free diets do not eat table sugar, sweeteners such as maple syrup and honey, condiments, refined flours, and some fruits. Soft drinks are also off the table, and many diets restrict dairy products. This type of regimen creates a dangerous diet mentality that is difficult to maintain over the long-term.

Such a restrictive diet can also impact the brain. The brain might think the person is starving, and if that happens, it will force the body to store fat, so it can access it as needed.

Also, the body releases stress hormones when dieting. This can also lead to increased fat storage, especially in the abdominal area.

Dieting can also impact mental health. Those dieting feel stressed and anxious, and can even become depressed due to all the physical and mental changes. Many of these people end up with orthorexia. This is a preoccupation with healthy eating. People who suffer from orthorexia obsess over the foods they eat, and it can eventually lead to an eating disorder.

What About Sugar Alternatives?

Some people feel they can avoid the diet mentality by using sugar alternatives instead of eating sugar. They make foods that include rice malt syrup, dates, and other expensive alternatives with the belief that they are living a healthier lifestyle.

These items still contain sugar, and the sugar has as many calories as added sugar in snack foods. That means these sugar alternatives do not have any health benefits and can lead to weight gain because people are less likely to watch how much of the items they consume.

The Solution

The solution is actually quite simple. Eat a diet that is full of healthy foods, such as beans, legumes, plants, whole grains, and fruit. While fruit contains sugar, it also has vitamins and minerals that keep people healthy.

Also, when indulging in a sugary snack, eat it mindfully. Turn off the TV, put down the smartphone and focus on every bite. This allows people to maximize pleasure, so they don’t want another sugary snack in an hour or two!

By eating a healthy diet and indulging from time to time, people end up eating less sugar without feeling deprived.

Stay Healthy

Eating a wholesome diet is an important first step to living a healthy life. People also need to go to the doctor at least once a year to stay healthy, and that is much easier to accomplish with health insurance. Speak to a licensed health insurance agent by calling 1-855-614-5057 or compare policies online.

02 Apr 2019

Why You Should Be Wary of Short-Term Health Insurance

Why You Should Be Wary of Short-Term Health Insurance

Some people turn to short-term health insurance policies to save money. The premiums for these policies are typically 20% or less than the premiums for American Care Act-compliant policies, and that is enticing to consumers. However, people should be wary of these policies for a variety of reasons.

Pre-existing Conditions Are Rarely Covered

ACA-compliant plans are required to cover pre-existing conditions, but the same is not true for short-term health insurance policies. Since short-term health insurance policies are not ACA-compliant, many do not cover pre-existing conditions. People are often turned down if they have been treated for cancer, mental health issues, HIV/AIDS, or a number of other conditions.

Women who are pregnant or intend to get pregnant can also be turned down for a short-term health insurance policy. Insured Americans can also be dropped from policies if they get a condition while the policy is in effect.

Coverage Limits

Short-term policies often have coverage limits that can lead to high out-of-pocket costs. For example, some short-term insurance policies only allow the insured to visit the doctor three times during the coverage period.

Prescription drug coverage also might be limited or nonexistent. These policies also often exclude mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and maternity care.

Those who need these types of services have to pay for them out-of-pocket or purchase another health care policy.

Expensive Coverage Shortfalls

Short-term policies are sometimes indemnity policies. That means the insurer does not have a network of providers. When insurers do not have a network, they do not negotiate prices with the providers. Still, the insurer sets limits on how much it will pay for services, and the limits set are usually much lower than what the provider charges. This can lead to expensive insurance shortfalls.

For example, the insured might be limited to $1,000 a day for hospital stays, even though a hospital stay costs around $10,000 day. The insured is responsible for everything the insurance company does not pay. In this case, the insured might have to pay $9,000 to the hospital after stashing a single day.

Colleges Aren’t Allowed to Offer Policies

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a regulation that states that colleges cannot offer short-term health insurance as a form of student health insurance coverage. The reasons listed speak to many of the problems with these policies. Short-term insurance policies:

  • Aren’t ACA compliant
  • Have severe coverage limitations
  • Could conflict with the college’s nondiscrimination policy
  • Might not be compliant with federal civil rights laws, such as Title IX

Get the Coverage You Need

Short-term health policies might have lower premiums, but people often end up spending much more than they would with an ACA-compliant policy. It’s important to get a policy that limits out-of-pocket costs. Get help in picking a policy by calling 1-855-614-5057. You can also enter your information and browse for policies online with our handy tool. The online search tool makes it easy to compare policies and pick the best one for your needs.

02 Apr 2019

What Is Out-of-Network Care and Is It Worth It?

What Is Out-of-Network Care and Is It Worth It?

When searching for health care providers, you will notice that some are listed as “in-network” and others are listed as “out-of-network.” Also, sometimes a doctor you have been using in the past goes from “in-network” to “out-of-network” due to changes made by insurance companies. It’s important to understand what out-of-network care is and if it is worth obtaining.

In-Network Vs. Out-of-Network

Insurance companies negotiate with providers to accept discounted rates on health care services. These providers are in-network.

Out-of-network providers have not negotiated with the insurance companies to accept the discounted rates. Patients can still receive health care from out-of-network providers, but they agree to pay a higher fee for the services.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Out-of-network providers don’t just charge more for services. Insurance companies cover less, so patients have higher out-of-pocket costs. The amount people have to pay depends on the type of insurance they have.

Many PPOs only cover 50% of the bills for out-of-network care while covering 80% of bills from in-network providers. Considering that the amount of the bill will likely be higher because the price has not been negotiated, this can be a significant expense for policyholders.

It can be even worse for those who have an HMO plan. Often, HMOs do not cover any out-of-network expenses, so the insured is forced to pay for the entire bill.

In both cases, the patient will be billed at the time of or immediately following the service. The entire balance will be due immediately. Those who are unable to pay can end up in collections at the hospital.

People also might have to pay a higher deductible when receiving out-of-network care. Many plans have separate deductibles for in-network and out-of-network care, and the deductible for out-of-network care is significantly higher. Even if someone has met the in-network deductible for the year, he or she might have to pay a substantial deductible when using an out-of-network physician.

Out-of-pocket Maximums

Health care companies set out-of-pocket maximums for policyholders. People do not pay more than the maximum each calendar year. This is a form of protection, so people do not spend an excessive amount of money on health care costs.

However, many plans do not include out-of-pocket maximums for out-of-network providers. That means people can spend as much as the doctor chooses to charge.

Those who do have out-of-pocket maximums might realize they are much higher for out-of-network providers, which can lead to financial hardship.

Choose an Insurance Plan With the Best In-network Providers

It is a good idea to stick with in-network providers to limit costs. The insured spends much less money when utilizing these providers. From deductibles to co-payments, in-network providers help the insured save lots of money.

People can find an affordable health care plan with a large list of in-network providers by calling 1-855-614-5057. Consumers can also browse for plans online and compare them. Look at both in-network and out-of-network coverage, as well as the list of providers, before selecting a plan.

02 Apr 2019

How Does Smoking Affect Your Health Insurance?

How Does Smoking Affect Your Health Insurance?

More than 480,000 people die each year from the effects of smoking cigarettes, according to the CDC. Due to health problems and mortality rates related to smoking, users have to pay higher health insurance premiums. Insurance companies charge more to recoup the costs associated with cancer, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, COPD, and other health issues.

The Affordable Care Act and Smoking

The Affordable Care Act allows insurance companies to charge a tobacco surcharge of up to 50% for smokers. This surcharge is added to the premium, meaning that smokers pay 50% more per month on health insurance than nonsmokers do. The surcharge is not adjusted based on income, so it is not subsidized by the government.

Most states have implemented the maximum surcharge, but that is not the case for all states. Connecticut only uses the 50% surcharge on the individual market but does not allow a surcharge for the small group market.

California, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. prohibit a smoking surcharge. The surcharge is less than 50% for those who live in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Colorado.

Can Smokers Reduce Premiums?

Smokers do have some power to reduce their health insurance premiums. Supervised smoking cessation programs can lower premiums for smokers. Smokers need to enroll in the program and then prove they have quit for a predetermined amount of time before premiums go down.

While some insurance policies cover smoking cessation programs, others do not. Some smokers cannot handle the expense of the program, so they try to quit on their own. Those who are successful can reduce their premiums over time.

Bundling insurance policies is another option for smokers who want to reduce their premiums. Some companies reduce premiums if the health insurance policy is bundled with life insurance, auto insurance, and homeowner’s insurance.

How Do Insurance Companies Know When People Smoke?

Insurance companies rarely assess people to find out if they smoke. Instead, they use the honor system to determine if someone is a smoker or not. People are required to disclose their smoking status when filling out insurance applications.

As tempting as it might be to lie to the insurance company, doing so is a form of insurance fraud. This is soft fraud and can carry penalties that include community service and, in some cases, jail time.

Those who are convicted of insurance fraud also might be required to pay back the surcharges they avoided. Depending on how long the fraud was going on, this can be quite expensive.

Getting Affordable Health Insurance

Smokers can compare insurance policies online to find the best value. Those who need extra help can call 1-855-614-5057 to speak to an insurance agent. The agent will explain how much extra the policyholder will have to pay due to tobacco use and what can be done to reduce premiums. The agent will also discuss policies that cover smoking cessation programs for those who are interested.

02 Apr 2019

How to Qualify for SEP

How to Qualify for SEP

Those who are not on employer-sponsored retirement plans might consider a SEP IRA. SEP stands for Simplified Employee Pension and allows people to put money aside for retirement. IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. It is important to understand what the plan is, how to qualify, how much to contribute, and how to set it up.

What Is a SEP IRA?

Self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified plans allow individuals and small businesses to open retirement funds with a brokerage firm, mutual fund company, or bank. Account holders pay no or low annual fees.

A SEP is a basic retirement account that is similar to a traditional IRA. Contributions are tax-deductible, and the investments are tax-deferred up to retirement. Once the person retires, the distributions are taxed like regular income.

People do not have to contribute to a SEP IRA each year, and they have the option of combining a SEP IRA with a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. Americans like the flexibility SEP IRAs provide.

How to Qualify

Self-employed and employed individuals qualify for a SEP if they are 21 years of age or older, have worked for the employer for a minimum of three of the last five years, and have received at least $600 in wages from the employer.

Employers have the option of using less restrictive requirements, but they cannot make the conditions more restrictive.

How Much Can You Contribute to a SEP IRA?

Individuals can put back up to 25% of their net income when contributing to a SEP IRA. The IRS puts a cap on annual contributions, though. The cap is $56,000 for 2019. The cap is increased each year to reflect cost-of-living adjustments.

Employers must allocate the same percentage for each employee. Employers who have contributed different percentages for employees need to correct the problem to balance the accounts for all employees.

How to Set up a SEP IRA

There are three steps involved in setting up a SEP.

First, the employer or self-employed individual must create a written agreement regarding the SEP. The agreement must include the:

  • Name of employer
  • Requirements for participation
  • Signature of the responsible official
  • Allocation formula

Use IRS form 5305-SEP to create this agreement. This form does not need to be mailed to the IRS upon completion.

Next, employers must provide employees with information about the agreement. The information must include:

  • A notice that the employer has adopted a SEP
  • Participation requirements
  • Allocation formula

Finally, the employer needs to set up an IRA account for all eligible employees. The money goes into a traditional IRA at a qualified financial institution, and then, the employees make their own investment decisions.

Safeguard Your Physical and Financial Health

A SEP IRA will help you safeguard your financial health.  You also need to take care of your physical health by getting health insurance. Call 1-855-614-5057 to speak to a licensed insurance agent about individual or small group health insurance plans. You can also get a free quote online. Compare the premiums, deductibles, and coverage options and choose your plan.