05. June 2016 · Comments Off on The 5 W’s of Marketplace Health Insurance · Categories: Health Insurance

Knowledge based on the 5W’s of marketplace health insurance should serve as a reliable foundation for understanding and choosing coverage which meets the qualifications of the Obama health plan. The 5W’s stand for what, why, who, when and where.

What is marketplace health insurance?

Marketplace health insurance is coverage obtained through one of the governmental health insurance exchanges which provides a minimum standard of benefits known as the essential health benefits as specified by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, referred to by many as ObamaCare. The plans are sold by private insurance companies and generally are HMO and PPO plans. Each plan has a metal designation of bronze, silver, gold, or platinum, depending upon services covered and the actuarial value of the plan. Marketplace health insurance plans cannot deny coverage or charge a higher premium for pre-existing illnesses. They cover some preventive care services.

Why purchase marketplace insurance?

The answer to this question rests in Affordable-Care-Act subsidies, also known as premium tax credits, and whether or not you qualify. Eligibility for Affordable-Care-Act subsidies is based on annual household income provided that income is at least 133% but less than 400% of the federal poverty level beginning in 2014. The premium tax credit calculation is based on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that no American should spend more than 9.5% of household income on medical insurance premiums. Given that provision, Obama-health-plan insurance could be purchased outside of the marketplace from a broker or insurance company. The dollar amount of the annual premium in excess of that allowed under the Affordable Care Act for a given income level could then be claimed as an end-of-the-year deduction during income tax filing. If the coverage is obtained through a health insurance marketplace however, the credit can be applied to the monthly premium of any Obama-healthcare-plan selected, resulting in a lowering of the monthly premium of the plan.

Who is eligible to purchase marketplace insurance?

Marketplace health insurance through the federal or one of the state insurance exchanges is for individuals and families less than 65 years of age or small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Eligibility includes United States citizenship and/or legal residence. Additionally, one must not be incarcerated.

When does having medical insurance become mandatory, when can I enroll, and when does the penalty for not having insurance take effect?

January 1, 2014 is the date that most United States citizens and legal residents must have medical insurance coverage or suffer a tax penalty of $95 per adult, $47 per child, or 1% of the annual household income (whichever is greater) if one is uninsured as of January 1, 2014 and coverage has not been obtained by February 15, 2014. Open enrollment will extend until the end of March 2014. If you have a qualifying life-changing event however, such as marriage, relocation to another state, loss of job-based insurance or expiration of COBRA coverage, marketplace insurance can be obtained as an exception at times after the closure of the open-enrollment season in March 2014 and in subsequent years.

Where can I purchase marketplace insurance?

If you reside in a state whose health exchanges operated by the federal government you will need to purchase through that exchange. Alternatively, marketplace health insurance can be purchased through a private health insurance exchange if it has contractual authority granted by the federal government to enroll Obama health plan applicants. As of December 1, 2013, residents of the District of Columbia and states with state operated insurance exchanges must obtain marketplace medical insurance through the state exchanges. Those states are Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

30. May 2016 · Comments Off on 3.5 Ways to Develop a Habit of Saving Money · Categories: Finance

Are You Saving Money?

Developing a habit of saving money requires self-control and self-discipline. If you don’t think it is important just try to get a mortgage or car loan and see how well you do. According to the Huffington Post 50% of Americans have less than $500 in their savings account. How can this be when we are one of the richest countries on earth?

If you don’t have a savings account and/or an emergency fund it’s your fault. According to some financial experts you should be saving 10% of all your income. If you have been working for 10 years at an average income of $46,000 per year according to statistics. You should have $46,000 liquid cash in your savings account.

I am not speaking about 401k’s, pension, or other retirement plans. I am talking about cash money. You are red lining your finances if you don’t have an emergency fund of at least $1000. You risk going into debt when unexpected emergencies happen. Ideally you should have 6-9 months of emergency funds stashed away. Invest the rest of your cash in income producing assets.

In 2006 I hit rock bottom. I was broke and looking for a job. I couldn’t sell a house. I lost my investments, and was living off borrowed money. I knew about paying yourself first. I read all the books but I did not practice what I learned. I cashed in my 410k and lived off that until those funds ran out. If I would have established a habit of saving money, I could have survived the real estate downturn.

I found a job with benefits and vowed never to go broke again. Five years later I still carry around the first $10 I saved from my first paycheck. Developing a habit of saving money has help me grow my real estate and online marketing business. I love saving money now. When opportunities arrive I can take advantage of them.

You as a home based business owner need to develop a habit of saving money. There are opportunities abound when you have access to cash. Lenders are more friendly. Investors come knocking when you show a habit of saving money. Saving is a discipline. You must delay gratification. You have to cut back, eliminate expenses, and not be tempted to spend.

We see entertainers, athletes, and lotto winners go broke because they spent all they earned. It doesn’t matter how much you money you have if you spend it all.

Here are 3.5 ways to develop a habit of saving money:

1. Decide To Save – Make a decision to start saving money. The basic rule is 10% of your income. Get a bookkeeper or personal financial software and start tracking your expenses. Find out where your money is going. Your home based business has tax advantages that can help you save more.

I started saving money with only $5 per week and I increased it gradually. I don’t care how much you save or what percentages you use. Just as long as you start and stay consistent with it.

2. Make your savings an expense – Pay yourself first. Treat your savings like your car note, credit card bill, or mortgage payment. Most people cringe when bill collectors call. Use that same fear to save. Have automatic deductions from your checking account, paycheck, or merchant account go right into your savings. Just like taxes are taking out of a paycheck and most people don’t notice it. You won’t notice the automatic deductions.

3. Read for 15-30 minutes per day – Your home based business depends on you. Leaders are readers. Read books on personal finance, money management, investing, and personal development. Start with the Richest Man in Babylon, by George Clauson, followed by Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.

3.5 Pay off your debts – Some experts say that you should pay off your debts first. From my experience I say do both. I remember paying off all my debts and still did not have money saved. Then I went back into debt when unexpected expenses arrived. Put a portion of your income to savings and a portion to debt.

Develop a habit of saving money now. Your home based business depends on it. A habit of saving money is the best way to take care of emergencies, unexpected expenses, and it gives you the ability to act when business opportunities arrive.

24. May 2016 · Comments Off on Myths About Money For College Attendance · Categories: Finance

There are many myths about college and the college experience. The information below is to assist you in dispelling the some of the myths about attending College.

Myth: Your school college advisor can provide you with all of the information you need to know about attending college.

Fact: College advisors can only give you limited information about college acceptance, attendance and financing. With the increased level of competition to enter college, it is imperative that you seek out resources on your own.

Myth: Most parents (and students) have a savings plan for their child to attend college.

Fact: Very few families save in advance. If you have not started saving by now, the best way may be to obtain funding through scholarships and grants or through implementing the tools to attend college for FREE. Financial aid is another possible resource and can be an effective way in helping you with the cost of college.

Myth: You have to be really smart to attend college.

Fact: There is a college for everyone who wants to attend and everyone who is willing to study and put forth the effort to graduate.

The Numbers

14.5 million students are enrolled in the 3,638 US based Colleges; 12.5 million are enrolled at the undergraduate level.

79% of students attend public colleges; 21% attend private colleges.

56% are full time students.

23% are minorities.

70% are enrolled in the college of their first choice.

81% attend colleges in their home state.

50% of all college freshmen come from families with incomes of $30,000 to $75,000.

45.2% of American adults have some college education.

U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Department of Education.

With economics being the way they are, and the cost of living continuing to increase, we wonder why more people don’t attend college. Many are of the belief that college is still an unreachable goal. This may be because their parents never attended college. It may be because those around them have told them that college is difficult or that they will never make it through the college process. And, this cannot be further from the truth! Anyone who wants to attend college can go to college and a college education is the best way for you to guarantee professional success.

A college education shows that you have the tenacity to take the next step in academic achievement. A college education shows that you made the decision to become a well rounded individual and that you’ve taken the time to study a few subjects that may be out of your comfort zone. Yes, you will have to study English, math and science. You may even have to study chemistry, physics and biology, but when you finish, you will have knowledge on numerous topics that you could not acquire any other way. That is the true purpose of college at the undergraduate level. To make you a generalist, with the intent of you becoming a specialist in a specific vocational area.

A recent study indicated that 78% of high school students want to attend college. This study further detailed the three top reasons why most students don’t attend college. The third most frequently cited reason why students don’t attend college is because their parents didn’t attend. But there are many things that you do that your parents didn’t do. Your parents didn’t have 3D video games, your parents did not have MP3 players nor did they grow up with the concept of going green. Throughout your lifetime you will do numerous things that your parents have not done. So saying that your parents didn’t do it is a weak excuse.

The second most cited reason why some students don’t attend college is because they don’t know what to study. Many people are not sure about what they want to do with their lives. Just because you’re not sure of your future does not mean that you need to become stagnant. College will expose you to many professions and opportunities that you may not be aware of. College will make you aware of vocations within vocations and professional opportunities that may be perfect for your personality. So this is definitely not a good reason not to attend.

The number one reason cited as why students do not attend college is finance. Money! And once again this is ridiculous. Financial resources should not serve as a hindrance to your attending college. Funding is available through various sources, through various organizations, through various means for anyone who wants to attend college. And anyone who takes the time and a little effort can quickly and easily find and make use of these resources.

Last year over $300 billion dollars was available in college scholarship and college resource funding, and a high percentage of this funding was never accessed due to students not searching, not applying and not making use of the resources available.

18. May 2016 · Comments Off on Women & Money – The Case For Financial Literacy · Categories: Finance

The facts are frightening: Women earn approximately 80 percent of what men earn. They live an average of five years longer than men, so they need more for their retirement. And yet, because they earn less and often work less because they take time off to care for children and elderly parents, they save less for retirement and receive lower Social Security benefits.

There are women who have conquered the historic wage gap, most struggle with unique challenges generated by the multitude of roles they play, including wage earner, wife, mother, homemaker, and caregiver. And in that struggle, the principles of sound money management often get left behind.

In an article for Forbes.com, author Warren Farrell notes, “Men make decisions that result in their making more money. On the other hand, women make decisions that earn them better lives (e.g., more family and friend time).”

This statement raises two questions: One, is it possible to strike an effective balance between financial security and quality of life issues? The answer is yes-but it takes education and action. And two, while family and friend time are indeed important, what is the value of peace of mind in being able to provide for yourself and your family?

Women have a complicated and often dysfunctional relationship with personal finance. The issue is not capability-women have the ability to manage money, save, invest, and build wealth as well as men. But all too often, they simply don’t do it. Even women with successful business track records, who outwardly appear confident, competent, and accomplished, have been to known to have disastrous private financial lives.

Even one woman in poverty is too many

Let’s take a look at poverty statistics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2004 poverty level for a family unit of one person under 65 is an annual income of $9,827. In 2004, the official poverty rate was 12.7 percent, with 37 million people in the U.S. living in poverty. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the poverty rate for all women 18 years and older in 2003 was 12.4 percent (13.8 million women). Poverty rates vary by age group among women, with the youngest women aged 18-24 years reporting a poverty rate of 19.7 percent. The lowest poverty rate (8.9 percent) was found among women aged 45-64. The poverty rate increases to 10.6 percent for women aged 65-74 and to 14.3 percent for women aged 75 years and older. Women in female-headed households with no spouse experienced higher rates of poverty (24.4 percent) than women in married-couple families (5.2 percent) and men in male-headed households (8.8 percent).

It doesn’t have to be that way. Women of all ages and income levels can take control of their lives and enjoy the exhilaration of financial self-determination.

Putting it in perspective

The most powerful thing to know about money is that it is a tool that can help make your dreams come true. Money is what pays for homes, furnishings, cars, food, healthcare, clothes, entertainment-all of the material things we enjoy. It also pays for non-material things, such as allowing us to support churches, charities, and other causes. Yet money can only work for you if you understand how to manage it. And knowledge isn’t enough, because there is so much emotional baggage attached to how we deal with money. According to a Fannie Mae study on personal finance: “Money usage is value laden. Budgeting decisions, daily money choices, savings behavior, and attitudes toward money are at least partly informed by values that stem from one’s ethnic group, educational level, class background, income status, and gender.” In addition to learning sound financial strategies, you may need a major financial attitude adjustment.

It’s also important to recognize that financial education is a lifelong process. A single book, seminar, or class is not enough. Needs change over time-a young woman just finishing college, a Gen-Xer climbing the corporate ladder, a Baby Boomer preparing for retirement, or a retired senior all have distinctly different financial needs. And certainly circumstances and motivations change as one’s life evolves. Along with changes in personal situations, women must also cope with a changing economy and totally unpredictable events that can impact their financial security.

When it comes to financial information, technology is a double-edged sword. Affordable computers and the internet have given us access to a tremendous amount of data that wasn’t widely available before, but not all of it is sound. It takes a fundamental education in financial basics to discern what advice is good and what isn’t.

Ideally, financial education should begin before children start school. But it’s never too late. Regardless of your age or stage in life, now is the time to take control of your financial future by learning what to do then making the commitment to do it.

12. May 2016 · Comments Off on Obamacare Is The Law Of The Land, Not A Health Insurance Policy · Categories: Health Insurance

Open enrollment started for the healthcare law for individual and family policies on October 1st, with a start date of January 1st, 2014. There are a lot of misconceptions out there and people will end up wasting time looking for something that is not true. Tens of thousands of people only pick up their information from the media or their dear friends. Sometimes this can leave you with unanswered questions. This can really cost you some money.

Many Americans are trying to get a glimpse look at an Obamacare plan to see what all the hype is about. Through all of their fruitless searches, they end up empty-handed.

Obamacare is the nickname for the actual Healthcare Law signed in March of 2010. Some people are offended when people use this term because it was smeared by some opposing parties. However, the President himself actually endorsed the term. With his endorsement, it no longer a negative impression to the naked eye.

Obamacare created the infrastructure to change the way health insurance policies are bought and sold in the marketplace. That’s it! They built a big shopping plaza similar to Amazon.comĀ®. This is called the Health Insurance Marketplace, formally the health insurance exchange. The theory behind it is the health insurance companies can compete for pricing inside one Marketplace, or shopping plaza. At the time of this writing, health insurance companies are not required to participate inside the Marketplace. Without the requirement to participate, it will lack the original idea of the health insurance companies competing for the business in one place.

This is because an insurance company can choose NOT to participate inside the Marketplace and sell plans outside of it. This will be no different from all of us purchased plans in the past, except the plans must include all healthcare reform mandates.

This infrastructure created a series of health plan models to simplify the process for consumers picking plans and clearly seeing what is covered. It was very confusing in the past. Now it is just a little confusing. We still have mud on our windshield.

The idea behind this is when a consumer is reviewing a health plan with one carrier against another, they can see they are VERY similar in coverage. Each carrier has their own personality to things such as the amount of co-pay, co-insurance and out-of-pocket expenses on a health plan. This will, in theory, make it easier for consumers to shop health plans.

The playing field has definitely changed forever as we know it. Any time there is change, it creates short-term turmoil in the marketplace with the consumer. Obamacare is a prime example of this.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is the only place where an individual or family can receive a tax credit for purchasing a health insurance plan. There are certain things that are required for you to qualify for a health insurance tax credit with the new law.

Just briefly, it will depend on what is indicated on your tax return. This will include your income, family status, and age. There may be other requirements that can change your eligibility status. The purpose of healthcare.gov is to determine your eligibility status. You will still be applying for coverage with the carrier that you choose, not the government website.

It is not required to purchase a health insurance plan inside the Marketplace. It is a HUGE misconception about making a move with the new health plans. If someone, or a family, does not qualify for any tax credit, there is absolutely no reason to purchase a plan inside the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Outside the Marketplace will have a few more options to choose from, along with the same, exact, health plans inside the Marketplace. The same plans inside and outside of the Marketplace will have the same premium. There is no difference in coverage or cost.

The health insurance carrier is the same, inside and outside the Marketplace. The plans and the price are the same (When comparing the same ones) inside and outside the Marketplace. When you purchase a plan, you will be paying the health insurance company, not the Federal government.

Obamacare is just the law of the land. That is it. There is no health plan sold through the Federal or State government. You are still purchasing a plan from a Major health insurance carrier that is authorized to sell a policy in your state. Obamacare just wrote the rules on what would be required by insurance companies in order to sell a health insurance plan in the future and how an individual or family will purchase that plan to protect everything they have worked so hard for.

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