Tips to help make the most of your health plan in 2021
(BPT) - Last year was a difficult year as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through our country, impacting families and communities nationwide. The health challenges of the pandemic also provided a crucial reminder about the importance of health care.
For many Americans, new health plan benefits began in January. If this is your situation, now is the perfect time to learn how to maximize this year’s health benefits, which may help improve your health — and possibly save money too.
Ann Marie O’Brien, R.N., national director of health strategies at UnitedHealthcare, provides the following tips to help you take charge of your health and get the most out of your plan in 2021:
Becoming familiar with your new health plan — especially at the start of a new year — is one way to help you be proactive when it comes to your health. For more health and wellness information, visit UHC.com.
Every year, millions of American workers enroll in employee benefits through their workplaces during a period known as annual enrollment. It’s usually a short window of time, but employees make crucial financial decisions for their families for the coming year. In addition to medical insurance, consider these voluntary benefits that can help bridge the gap between what health insurance covers and what you’re financially responsible for.
Help Safeguard Your Family’s Finances
(Family Features) Every year, millions of American workers enroll in employee benefits through their workplaces during a period known as annual enrollment. It's usually a short window of time, but employees make crucial financial decisions for their families for the coming year.
In addition to medical insurance, many employers offer a range of voluntary benefits - those you select and pay for yourself, often by having the cost deducted directly from your paycheck. These voluntary benefits can help bridge the gap between what health insurance covers and what you're financially responsible for, especially as more employees opt for high-deductible health insurance plans.
In fact, according to a poll of 1,512 full-time U.S. workers conducted by employee benefits company Unum, 49% of working adults plan on enrolling in a high-deductible health plan for the coming benefit year, with Millennials (58%) and Gen Z'ers (54%) at even higher rates.
"While high-deductible health plans offer lower monthly payments, that can mean more financial responsibility for policyholders when they need to use the benefit," said personal finance expert Laura Adams. "Combining a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account can offset out-of-pocket costs, but it's also a good idea to consider voluntary benefits like disability, accident and hospital insurance to further financially protect your family."
If an accident, illness or injury prevents you from working, disability insurance replaces a portion of your income. While it may seem unlikely to many they would ever experience a disability, it's more common than some realize. Based on 2019 information from the Social Security Administration, more than 1 in 4 of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.
Accident and hospital insurance can pay a lump sum directly to you to offset out-of-pocket costs associated with medical care often not covered by health insurance.
Voluntary benefits, policies and details vary, so it's essential to review your options and discuss with your family before your benefits enrollment begins.
"Investing a little additional time on the front end can help reduce your family's financial risk down the road," Adams said.
For more information about employee benefits, visit Unum.com/benefits.
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Most people don’t have enough money saved for a rainy day. It’s important to have enough money in the bank to be able to survive a major financial downturn like a job loss. You should also be saving for your retirement. Maybe you are worried about the state of your finances and wonder how you can get in control of them. The key to getting control of your money is to live on less than you have. Here’s how.
Putting Away Something in Savings
Building an emergency fund counts as the most important financial step you can take to ensure that you are living below your means. Most financial advisors suggest that you have between three and six months' of income stored in savings in case of an emergency. Most people don’t. The problem is that if they become unemployed, they’re forced to live on credit cards or loans from family because they have no money in savings. If you have to borrow money to live, you’ll eventually have to pay it back or go bankrupt. Putting money into savings each month ensures that you never have to go into debt should a major financial blow occur.
Not Investing Too Much
It's certainly true that real estate, starting with your home, can be a sound investment. That said, you should be careful about putting too much money into real estate because doing so can make you property rich but cash poor. While it’s nice to have property, you may not have enough money in the bank should you experience a job loss or serious illness. So how much can you safely invest in your home? Here’s a rule of thumb. The average American making $61,372, assuming they have no debts, should pay no more than $2,301.45 a month if they buy a house with a conventional 30-year mortgage. This means that you would have no more than 30% to 40% of your money sunk into real estate at any given time. Following this tip will keep you from paying too much on housing.
Living Below Your Means
Living below your means ensures that you always have more money coming in than going out. People who adopt this lifestyle often vow to forego buying something new until they can pay cash for it. If they do get a raise at work, they pretend to themselves that they are still bringing in the same amount of money each month, and the extra money from their raise goes into savings or an IRA. The less of your money you spend, the more of it you can keep.
Spending less cash than you earn takes effort. It’s really a lifestyle choice and not a one-time thing. To get started, you first want to put money into savings each month. Next, be mindful of how you invest your money. Being cash poor can hurt you if tragedy strikes. Finally, do your utmost to spend less money than you have. If you follow all of these steps, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about your finances.
A car accident has immediate financial effects. Some hospitals will not even evaluate a person without a deposit. Hospitals do not provide information about how much treatment will cost. In an emergency situation, an accident victim may have no choice, even if it spells financial disaster. There are three tips on surviving financially after a car accident.
Loans may be another option to pay for your medical bills after a car accident. A personal loan through a credit union or a cash advance from your credit card company might help you stave off bankruptcy. Loans could also help you avoid dealing with providers who refuse to deliver any additional medical services until you are current with your account. Keep track of any loans or other debts that you make and include those in your negotiations with insurers.
Personal Injury Claim
Depending on the circumstances of your accident you might be able to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for suffering caused by the accident. If you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for pain and suffering in addition to compensation or payment of your medical costs. Some states limit the amount of money that you can get for suffering during the recovery of an accident, but it is worth consulting a lawyer to find out the details for your situation.
Use Your Insurance Benefits
If you have health insurance, use those benefits while you wait for funds from a personal injury claim. A court case could take one year or longer, and the bills will roll in well before then. Also, consider your auto insurance coverage. If you have MedPay or PIP insurance on your auto policy, then that coverage may help you pay for the initial out-of-pocket medical costs that you incur. You may also want to consider the insurance of the other driver. Their insurance may also pay for some of your medical expenses until you find out about a personal injury claim settlement.
How you immediately respond to a car accident will affect the rest of what happens after. It is also important for an accident victim to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer may be able to provide physicians, hospitals and rehabilitation centers with documentation of the pending litigation. Many lawyers also help accident victims with negotiating their bills to a level that will be covered by a settlement.
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