insurance

Preparing Your Finances for a Flood, Fire, or other Disaster: Having a Plan

Without warning, a flood, fire or other disaster could leave you with a severely damaged home, destroyed belongings and barriers to managing your finances.  Many people think of disaster preparedness as having a stockpile of water, canned food, and flashlights, but people also need access to cash and financial services.  That’s why it is important to include financial preparedness in your disaster plans.  Here is the latest summary of important preparations.

You should have enough insurance to cover the cost to replace or repair your home, car and other valuable property, as well as temporary housing if you are displaced from your home.  Those who do not own a home should have renters insurance.  Also, make sure that you have the right coverage for the types of disasters likely to occur in your area.  For example, homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover events such as flooding or earthquakes, so you may want to consider whether you need additional coverage.

  • Periodically review your insurance coverage
  • Build and maintain an emergency savings fund
  • Sign up for direct deposit of your paycheck or government benefits
  • Gather and organize important documents

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to prepare a household inventory with a description and the value of belongings.
  • Help students understand that renter’s insurance is important for the protection it provides for their personal property.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can you protect yourself from flood, fire or other natural disasters?
  2. Should you consider purchasing flood-related insurance if you don’t live in a coastal area? Why or why not?
  3. Why is it important to gather and organize important documents before a disaster strikes?
Categories: Chapter 8, Home Insurance, insurance | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The 1-Page Financial Plan: 10 Tips for getting what you want from Life

Carl Richards, author of The One Page Financial Plan, knows the financial mistakes–including the ones he has made–that people make.  Based on his experience as a financial planner, he provides 10 tips to help people get what they want from life.  Note:  An explanation and examples to illustrate each tip are provided in this article.  His tips are:

  1. Ask why money is important to you.
  2. Guess where you want to go.
  3. Know your starting point.
  4. Think of budgeting as a tool for awareness.
  5. Save as much as you reasonably can.
  6. Buy just enough insurance today.
  7. Remember that paying off debt can be a great investment.
  8. Invest like a scientist.
  9. Hire a real financial advisor.
  10. Behave for a really long time.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Illustrate how each tip provided in this article could affect an individual’s financial plan.
  • Encourage students to read the entire article to help determine what’s really important in their life.

Discussion Questions

  1. It’s often hard (or maybe close to impossible) to determine what you value and where you want to go in the next 20 to 30 years with perfect accuracy. Still, experts recommend that you establish a long-term financial plan.  What steps can you take to make sure your plan will meet your future needs?
  2. Why is it important to evaluate your plan on a regular basis and make changes if necessary?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_14, Financial Planning, insurance, Retirement Planning | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Auto Insurance Resources

Having adequate auto insurance and determining what coverages are needed are fundamental for avoiding financial difficulties. Consumer Action (www.consumer-action.org) offers a variety of materials related to shopping for auto insurance, managing auto insurance costs, and obtaining assistance when encountering trouble when filing a claim.

These resources includes downloadable publications on the basics of auto insurance in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. Also available are PowerPoint slides and lessons plans.

For additional information on auto insurance resources, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students develop actions that can reduce the cost of auto insurance.
  • Have students create a video that demonstrates financial problems associated with not having adequate auto insurance.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are information sources that might be used to become better informed on auto insurance?
  2. How might a person reduce the cost of auto insurance?
Categories: Car Insurance, Chapter 8, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Supreme Court, Health Care, and You

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made an important decision about the Health Insurance Marketplace keeping           quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans.  The Supreme Court’s decision confirmed that if you qualify, you can receive financial assistance, including premium tax benefit to make coverage more affordable no matter where you live.

On average, consumers enrolled in the Marketplace are receiving $3,260 per year in tax credit, or $272 each month.

About 8 in 10 consumers could find coverage for $100 or less with tax credit through the Marketplace.

If you don’t have health insurance, see if you can get health coverage for 2015.  You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to life change, such as marriage, having a baby, or losing other coverage.  Open enrollment for 2016 starts on November 1, 2015.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if anyone in their family is affected by the Supreme Court ruling, and if so, how?
  • Ask students to prepare a summary of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to inform the Marketplace about any changes to your household, income, and insurance status?
  2. If you have health insurance through your employer or purchased it on the individual market, does the Supreme Court ruling impact you?
Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Your 2015 Tax Return and the Health Care Law

Certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act will probably affect your federal income tax return when you file this year.  The law requires that you and each member of your family have qualifying health insurance coverage for each month of the year, qualify for an exemption from the coverage requirement, or make an individual shared responsibility payment when filing your federal income tax return.

Most taxpayers will simply check a box on the tax return to indicate that each member of their family had qualifying health coverage for the whole year.  Qualifying health insurance includes coverage for most, but not all, types of health care coverage plans.  If you bought coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive Form 1095A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement from your Marketplace by early February.

For more information, Click Here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to search the Internet to gather more information about the new IRS requirements and the Affordable Care Act.
  • What are provisions that might affect an individual and their families?

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the reporting requirements when you file your federal income tax return this year?
  2. How can you determine if you are eligible for an exemption?
  3. What should you do if you are expecting to receive 1095A and you don’t receive it by early February.
Categories: Chapter 3, Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance, Taxes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Trick yourself into saving

Saving money can be automatic with some simple actions that would reduce your monthly spending.  Some actions, which can include lowering your monthly cash outflows by as much as $400, include:

 

  • Using a programmable thermostat which can be used to automatically raise and lower the temperature in your home, resulting in energy savings.
  • Increasing insurance deductibles for your home and auto insurance which will likely result in an annual savings of several hundred dollars.
  • Practicing less aggressive driving; using a constant speed can save money on fuel costs.
  • Seeking out ways to reduce your communication bills, such as using basic cable along with streaming video on your computer. Also, using a free texting app on your phone.
  • Using a refillable water bottle can save hundreds of dollars by not buying bottled water.

 

To ensure that you actually save this money, each month, have funds automatically moved into a savings account or investment program.
For additional information on saving, go to:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/video/saving-money/trick-yourself-into-saving.aspx#ixzz3IKDG71pN

 Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students conduct online research to determine various actions to reduce spending and increase savings.
  • Have students interview several people to determine various actions that might be considered for reducing spending.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions have you taken to reduce spending and increase savings?
  2. Explain short-term and long-term benefits of reduced spending.
Categories: Car Insurance, Chapter 2, Chapter 6, Financial Planning, Health Insurance, insurance, Purchasing Strategies, Savings, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Did you know that Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offer free or low cost health coverage for eligible children and other family members? Medicaid and CHIP cover:

  • Children and teens up to age 19
  • Young people up to 21 may be covered under Medicaid
  • Youth who have “aged out” of foster care can be covered under Medicaid until they reach age 26

Children may be eligible based on their family income.  Eligibility depends on your income, the number of people in your family and the rules in your state. In almost every state, children in families with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,700 per year for a family of four) are covered. In more than half the states, the income eligibility for children can be even higher.

Eligible children and teens can get regular check-ups, shots, doctor and dentist visits, vision care, hospital care, mental health services, needed medications and more.  All preventive services for children are available at no cost.

For more information, go to

http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/chip/index.html

Teaching suggestions

  • Ask students how can they find a health care provider (doctor, dentist or pharmacist) in their area who accepts Medicaid or CHIP?
  • Is there a special enrollment period for Medicaid or CHIP?
  • How can you apply for Medicaid and CHIP?

Discussion Questions

  1. Can working parents who may not have health coverage through their jobs cover their children under the CHIP program?
  2. Who can apply for Medicaid or CHIP for a child?

 

Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance | Tags: | Leave a comment

Is That Health Insurance Website for Real?

Shopping for health insurance online?  Before making your final purchase – read on.  Health insurance scams have been preying through websites selling medical discount plans.

According to the complaint in a recent case FTC settlement, IAB Marketing Associates, LP et al. , was a sham nonprofit trade association offering memberships suggesting it would provide consumers with a comprehensive medical insurance plan. Here’s how it worked: people shopping for health insurance online would come across websites quoting prices for health insurance plans once they entered their personal information. The websites acted like collection baskets: they asked for contact information, age, occupation, marital status-and whether folks had health insurance or pre-existing medical conditions. IAB telemarketers then called people who provided their information on these websites and used aggressive tactics to sell IAB memberships. As long as people paid upfront fee and made monthly payments – both ranging from $40 – $1,000 – they were promised a comprehensive health insurance plan that covered virtually every medical procedure and illness

Or so they thought.

The truth? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers never were enrolled in a comprehensive health insurance plan. The IAB plan was essentially a medical discount plan, offering, if it existed, limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals. Many consumers who suffered an accident or illness were shocked to find that their IAB “health plan” covered very few, if any, medical expenses, leaving them with major medical bills.

For additional information go to:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/health-insurance-website-real

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students why they should research a company before providing their personal information.
  • Where can students file a complaint if they suspect a health insurance scam?

Discussion Questions

  1. How can consumers protect themselves from such scams?
  2. Should consumers provide personal information on the web?
Categories: Chapter 9, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

Medicare & You 2015: What’s Important in 2015?

In September 2014, millions of Americans received a 152-page booklet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called Medicare & You 2015.  It doesn’t have much of a plot, but it might be the most important reading for seniors or their adult children.  Here is what’s important in 2015:

  • Stay healthy with Medicare-covered preventive services. Medicare pays for many services that can prevent or detect health problems early when they are easier to treat.  Ask your health care provider what services you need.
  • Keep track of your personal health information. Access your personal health information using Medicare’s Blue Button.  This information can help you make more informed decisions about your care and can give your healthcare providers a more complete view of your health history.
  • Continue to get help in the prescription drug coverage gap. If you reach the coverage gap in your Medicare prescription drug coverage, you’ll quality for some savings on generic and brand-name drugs.
  • Find out what you pay for Medicare (Part A and Part B). The 2015 Medicare premium and deductible amounts were not available at the time of printing.  To get most up-to-date cost information, call 1-800-Medicare.

For additional information go to

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to choose a current issue of Money, Consumer Reports, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and summarize an article that updates Medicare’s programs for 2015.
  • Ask student where they can find other ways to get Medicare information and compare the quality of plans and health care providers.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors should senior citizens consider in making the choice among various types of Medicare, medigap, or HMO health care insurance policies?
  2. What services are not covered by Medicare?
Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance | Tags: | Leave a comment

You Tube Videos: Healthcare and Taxes

In September 2014, the Internal Revenue Service announced the availability of new You Tube Videos to help taxpayers get important information about the Affordable Care Act and tax return filing.  These videos on IRS You Tube channel discuss the premium tax credit and the individual shared responsibility provision.  These provisions of the Affordable Care Act will affect tax returns beginning with the 2014 filing year.

In the premium tax credit video, the IRS Commissioner explains how it can help make purchasing health care through the Health Insurance Marketplace more affordable for people with moderate incomes.

For additional information on the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act go to
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/New-YouTube-Videos-Provide-Tips-on-Health-Care-Tax-Returns

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the original article to discuss

  • What are the criteria used to be exempt from the Individual Shared Responsibility provision?
  • How and where can you obtain an exemption?
  • Who is subject to the individual shared responsibility provision?
  • What you need to do if you want to be sure you have minimum essential coverage or an exemption for 2014?

Discussion Questions

  1. What will you have to do if you don’t have or don’t maintain your health insurance coverage?
  2. If you don’t have health insurance coverage or qualify for an exemption, how and when must you make an Individual Shared Responsibility payment?
Categories: Chapter 9, Disability Insurance, Health Insurance, insurance | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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