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How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?
Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you still have Medicare. You’ll get your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage Plan and not Original Medicare.
Rules for Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare pays a fixed amount for your care each month to the companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. These companies must follow rules set by Medicare.
However, each Medicare Advantage Plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs and have different rules for how you get services (like whether you need a referral to see a specialist or if you have to go to only doctors, facilities, or suppliers that belong to the plan for non-emergency or non-urgent care). These rules can change each year.
The main difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance is that term life insurance serves as insurance only, whereaswhole life insurance is actually insurance plus investment.
A term life insurance policy has 3 main components – face amount (protection or death benefit), premium to be paid (cost to the insured), and length of coverage (term). The policy expires at the end of the term. If the insured person dies during the term of the policy, the beneficiary is paid the benefit (face) amount. If the insured person is alive after the term (duration) of the policy, no benefit is paid and the policy expires. So in a sense, it is like car insurance, where if you have a six-month policy and you get into an accident during this period, you get compensation from the insurance company. But at the end of the period if no accidents happen, you do not get any money back.
Whole life insurance on the other hand is a form of permanent life insurance, which means that in addition to insurance, the policy also has a savings component. A part of the premiums paid by the insured person goes towards insurance, while the remainder is invested and builds a “cash value“. If the insured lives beyond the policy expiration, the cash value is paid out to the insured. The cash value can also be used to borrow money against. The cash value is invested (in bonds and stocks or money-market instruments), and therefore there is a gain. This gain is tax-deferred if the policy is cashed in during the life of the insured. (If the insured person dies, the proceeds are usually tax-free to the beneficiary.)
Funeral Planning Tips
Thinking ahead can help you make informed and thoughtful decisions about funeral arrangements. It allows you to choose the specific items you want and need, and compare the prices offered by several funeral providers. It also spares your survivors the stress of making these decisions under the pressure of time and strong emotions. You can make arrangements directly with a funeral establishment.
An important consideration when planning a funeral pre-need is where the remains will be buried, entombed, or scattered. In the short time between the death and burial of a loved one, many family members find themselves rushing to buy a cemetery plot or grave — often without careful thought or a personal visit to the site. That’s why it’s in the family’s best interest to buy cemetery plots before you need them.
You may wish to make decisions about your arrangements in advance, but not pay for them in advance. Keep in mind that over time, prices may go up and businesses may close or change ownership. However, in some areas with increased competition, prices may go down over time. It’s a good idea to review and revise your decisions every few years, and to make sure your family is aware of your wishes.
Put your preferences in writing, give copies to family members and your attorney, and keep a copy in a handy place. Don’t designate your preferences in your will, because a will often is not found or read until after the funeral. And avoid putting the only copy of your preferences in a safe deposit box. That’s because your family may have to make arrangements on a weekend or holiday, before the box can be opened.
Millions of Americans have entered into contracts to arrange their funerals and prepay some or all of the expenses involved. Laws of individual states govern the prepayment of funeral goods and services; various states have laws to help ensure that these advance payments are available to pay for the funeral products and services when they’re needed. But protections vary widely from state to state, and some state laws offer little or no effective protection. Some state laws require the funeral home or cemetery to place a percentage of the prepayment in a state-regulated trust or to purchase a life insurance policy with the death benefits assigned to the funeral home or cemetery.
If you’re thinking about prepaying for funeral goods and services, it’s important to consider these issues before putting down any money:
- What are you are paying for? Are you buying only merchandise, like a casket and vault, or are you purchasing funeral services as well?
- What happens to the money you’ve prepaid? States have different requirements for handling funds paid for prearranged funeral services.
- What happens to the interest income on money that is prepaid and put into a trust account?
- Are you protected if the firm you dealt with goes out of business?
- Can you cancel the contract and get a full refund if you change your mind?
- What happens if you move to a different area or die while away from home? Some prepaid funeral plans can be transferred, but often at an added cost.
Be sure to tell your family about the plans you’ve made; let them know where the documents are filed. If your family isn’t aware that you’ve made plans, your wishes may not be carried out. And if family members don’t know that you’ve prepaid the funeral costs, they could end up paying for the same arrangements. You may wish to consult an attorney on the best way to ensure that your wishes are followed.
Kevin Ware’s grisly leg fracture during Louisville’s run to the title was excruciating to watch for anyone—but especially so for NCAA athletes, who were reminded of how quickly and violently hopes of an eventual professional career can be put in jeopardy.
Mishaps like Ware’s help explain why athletic-disability insurance policies, once reserved for elite professionals and their clubs to protect the fragile appendages of valuable superstars for exorbitant amounts of money, are now fairly common among student-athletes. In just the last couple months, Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and South Carolina defensive back Jadeveon Clowney both garnered headlines for their pursuit of insurance policies against career-ending injuries.
Kentucky basketball big man Nerlens Noel, who tore his ACL in mid-February, reportedly paid between $40,000 and $60,000 for a $10 million policy through a private underwriter. Before Noel, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck had a maximum policy of $5 million through a program known as Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance (ESDI) that the NCAA provides student-athletes it predicts will likely be high draft picks.
You’ve no doubt noticed that premiums have gotten pretty pricey. Rates have climbed 69% over the past decade to an average of $1,000 a year.
What you may not realize is that you could be facing another vast expense. Insurers have also been quietly hiking deductibles, scaling back basic coverage, and adding new restrictions.
Coverage now varies widely among carriers, but that’s not always clear when you’re shopping around, says Daniel Schwarcz, a University of Minnesota professor who has studied hundreds of policies.
“Consumers shop almost entirely on price and reputation,” notes Schwarcz, and exclusion clauses are often written in legalese and buried in a policy that runs dozens of pages. Moreover, comparison shopping is difficult, since consumers rarely get a copy of the policy before they buy.
Michigan workers are losing their health-care coverage at a greater rate than any other state.
In 2000, about 78 percent of Michigan workers got insurance through their employer.
By 2011, that fell to about 63 percent.
Lynn Blewett is a University of Minnesota professor who took part in the national study funded by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“We wanted to get a baseline of employer-sponsored coverage before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in in 2014,” Blewett says.
She says those who could afford it least were the most affected by the loss of health coverage.
“These are small employers, low-wage firms, so it’s workers who have minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage, those are the ones that were hit the hardest,” Blewett says.
Blewett says annual health-insurance premiums nearly doubled over the past decade causing many employers to drop the benefits.