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November 30th, 2015 by
health shopper

The health insurance landscape is changing. Because of higher premiums along with larger deductibles and copays, the typical family is spending more of its household income on medical care. In fact, employee health costs are up 43% since 2010 and increased 8% in 2015 alone.

Becoming a more informed consumer could help you save money.

Start by telling service providers that costs matter to you. Physicians may be more inclined to take your financial situation into account when making recommendations.

Here are a few more tips to help reduce your medical bills.

1. Ask about generic prescription options for recommended drug regimens.

2. Insurers and network providers have agreed-upon reimbursements, but out-of-network providers may charge unusually high rates. Knowing which hospitals and urgent-care facilities are in your network could help you avoid an especially painful bill in the event of an emergency.

3. When arranging necessary or elective surgery or treatment, take your time when choosing a doctor and a facility because charges can vary widely. Ask for detailed estimates and try to negotiate a better price. Coordinate with your physician’s office and confirm that the facility, testing service, and team members (such as anesthesiologists and radiologists) are part of your insurer’s network.

4. If you receive a bill that is higher than expected, don’t assume it is set in stone. Check hospital bills closely for errors, check billing codes, and dispute charges that you think insurance should cover. If all else fails, offer to settle your account at a discount.

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist Let’s review your retirement plan together. I invite you to meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. 

 

November 19th, 2015 by

Fewer than 1 out of 4 Americans have sufficient emergency dollars to cover at least 6 months of expenses.

emergency savings

Retirement planning requires one to review where you are currently and where you want to be during your golden years. So many Americans forget to do the planning portion and only live from day-to-day. When you fall into these types of bad habits of short-sighted and daily thinking, sometimes you a reminder of what is really important.

As we approach the holiday season for 2015, don’t fall into the trap of living day-to-day with the demands of this holiday season. Create a budget for holiday shopping and holiday travels and be sure to stick with it. Make it a point, this holiday season, not to spend your emergency dollars on flashy holiday splurges just so that you can fulfill your immediate desires. Planning for retirement takes discipline and when you have a plan, it’s in your best interest to stay focused on that plan.

Freeman Owen, Jr -Retirement Specialist Should you need someone to review your retirement plan, I invite you to meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday season with family and loved ones.

 

November 17th, 2015 by

A survey of people aged 44 to 75 found that 61% fear running out of money in retirement.1 There may be various personal reasons behind this concern, but the decline of traditional pensions, combined with longer life spans and rising medical expenses, has created an uncertain future for many Americans, including those who have put away a solid nest egg for retirement.

A recent IRS decision opened a new opportunity for retirement plan owners to turn a portion of their retirement dollars into a guaranteed future income stream using a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC). Although longevity annuities (sometimes called longevity insurance) are not new, the IRS decision makes it more effective to purchase and hold an annuity in a qualified retirement plan such as a traditional IRA or a 401(k).

longer life spans
Here’s how it works.

Deferred Payouts

A longevity annuity is a deferred fixed annuity that delays lifelong income payments until a future date — often when the contract owner reaches age 80 or 85. Because the annuity income is deferred, the payouts are typically higher in relation to the premiums than they would be if the annuity income had been paid immediately. Purchasing the annuity at a younger age with a longer deferral period would generally give you a better premium-to-income ratio.

In the past, it would have been counter-productive to purchase a longevity annuity in a qualified retirement plan, because the amount used to purchase the annuity would have been included in the balance to determine required minimum distributions (RMDs). The new IRS ruling allows retirement plan participants to use the lesser of $125,000 (inflation adjusted) or 25% of their balances to buy a QLAC, with the annuity’s value excluded from the balance used to determine RMDs.

Having a QLAC might allow you to take larger retirement plan distributions earlier in retirement, knowing that you will have a guaranteed future income from the annuity. Income payments must begin no later than the first day of the month following the participant’s 85th birthday.

Options and Limitations

The rules also allow for the continuation of income payments throughout the lifetime of a beneficiary (such as a surviving spouse) and/or the growth of premiums (minus payouts) as a death benefit. However, these options will either raise the purchase price or reduce income payments later in life. Without the optional death benefit, insurers will generally keep the premiums paid if the annuity owner dies, even if payouts have not yet begun.

Cash-out provisions are not allowed in QLACs, so any money put into the annuity is no longer a liquid nest egg, and you may sacrifice the opportunity for higher financial instrument growth that might be available. (By contrast, non-qualified annuities may offer a cash-out option that permits withdrawals during the deferral phase, but surrender charges typically would apply.) Like other distributions from tax-deferred retirement plans, income payments from QLACs are fully taxable. (With non-qualified annuities purchased outside a retirement plan, only the increases portion is taxed.)

NOTE: Annuities are insurance-based contracts that have exclusions, contract limitations, fees, expenses, termination provisions, and contract details for keeping them in force. Any guarantees are contingent on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

Source: 1) money.usnews.com, February 21, 2014

 

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM Let’s sit down & look at your medicare and social security benefits to get the most for your retirement. Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. 

 

November 10th, 2015 by

Tax-deferred plans can be a great way to save money for retirement, but you can’t defer your tax liability forever. Once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from these plans each year or face a 50% penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn. If you are still employed, you may be able to delay minimum distributions from your current employer’s plan until after you retire, but you still must take RMDs from other tax-deferred accounts (except Roth IRAs). The RMD is the smallest amount you must withdraw each year, but you can always take more than the minimum amount.

Basic Rules

Even though you must take an RMD for the tax year in which you turn 70½, you have a one-time opportunity to wait until April 1 (not April 15) of the following year to take your first distribution.

For example:
If your 70th birthday is in November 2015, you will turn 70½ in May 2016 and must take an RMD for 2016 no later than April 1, 2017.
You must take your 2017 distribution by December 31, 2017.
Your 2018 distribution by December 31, 2018.

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM Let’s sit down & look at your medicare and social security benefits to get the most for your retirement. Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC. 

 

November 5th, 2015 by

When Medicare was first signed into law in 1965, it consisted of Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance, now referred to as Original Medicare. These programs are administered directly by the federal government and have standardized services, premiums, and deductibles.

Time to make medicare changes
Two other types of coverage have since been added — both offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies — with varying costs and benefits. Part C, or Medicare Advantage, replaces Original Medicare and often includes prescription drug coverage and other benefits. Part D Prescription Drug Coverage can be selected with Original Medicare or with Medicare Advantage Plans that do not offer drug benefits.

With all these options, it’s not unusual for beneficiaries to switch plans and coverage, either because of changing circumstances or because another plan better suits their current needs. Fortunately, there are opportunities to do so during several enrollment periods throughout the year.
 
Medicare Open Enrollment Period: October 15 to December 7. During this period, changes can be made by participants in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, andMedicare Prescription Drug Plans. Any changes made during this period become effective on January 1.
 
Medicare Advantage Dis-Enrollment Period: January 1 to February 14. Participants in Medicare Advantage Plans can also switch to Original Medicare during this period, with Original Medicare coverage beginning the first day of the following month. Those who make this change have until February 14 to enroll in a Part D Prescription Drug Plan, with coverage beginning the first day of the month after the plan receives the enrollment form.
 
Five-Star Special Enrollment Period: December 8 to November 30 of the following year.  An additional opportunity allows Medicare beneficiaries to switch to a top-rated “5-star” Medicare Advantage Plan, Prescription Drug Plan, or Medicare Cost Plan (alternate coverage available in certain areas of the country). Medicare rates these plans every year, and a 5-star rating is considered excellent. You can use the star ratings to compare plans based on quality and performance.
 
For more on Medicare enrollment, visit medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2015

Freeman Owen, Jr - Host of "Safe Money Talk" on CBS Radio The Big Talker 1580AM Let’s sit down & look at your medicare and social security benefits to get the most for your retirement. Meet me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office at 833-313-7233 | MD, VA & DC.