Health, Wellness and Financial Security for 2011
We are all faced with choices these days regarding health, wellness and financial security. It is great we have more choices, but we all need to do more research and be more knowledgeable about what these choices mean and how they affect our families. Even with the internet world at our fingertips, the amount of information available for us to digest is mind-boggling and sometimes frustrating, says Frank N. Darras, the nation’s top disability insurance lawyer.
“Someone once said, It’s always best to start at the beginning. So we should all think about our individual and family needs for insurance. Second, we should look at what options are available to meet those needs, taking cost into consideration. Once you have a plan in place, never shelve it and let it collect dust. Folks should look at it each year and make sure that it is still meeting their needs in a cost-effective way.”
The scope of health insurance has changed dramatically in the past year. New rules and greater competition have brought about changes in how people approach health insurance. Health insurance used to be provided by an employer, this is not necessarily an automatic option anymore. While some employers continue to pay for their employees, family insurance requires greater contributions from the employee. Some people are opting for individual family plans instead. Although these can be pricey, they provide a full range of services under an umbrella of protection – health, dental, prescriptions, mental health and eye care, says Darras.
Some Americans are taking a look at Consumer-driven Health Plans. Since the health reform bill was passed, insurance companies are required to cover 100% of preventive care. If you are relatively healthy and it is just single coverage you are looking for, this might be a more cost-effective way to approach health insurance. If you are looking for family coverage and have no serious illnesses to speak of or ongoing prescription needs; this might be a great option financially as well.
“This type of coverage is usually coupled with pre-tax health savings account opportunities so medical expenses incurred are paid for with pre-tax money. The deductible is higher; however, you only pay for medical costs as needed, not a monthly premium whose value you may not use each month. Money saved can be put aside for those rare medical emergencies that do come up,” says Darras.
Now is a great time to look into short-term and long-term disability insurance. Employee-sponsored plans are usually taxable and fall under ERISA law. These plans look less expensive, but what they may cost you in the long run, both in money and emotional duress may change your mind about their cost effectiveness. “Filing a claim under ERISA law can be very time consuming,” says Darras.
First, the disabled insured must file a time sensitive administrative short- or long-term disability appeal. Your long-term disability insurer won’t tell you that under ERISA, your appeal is the only chance you have to fill the administrative record with all of your occupational, financial and medical documentation. Your short/long-term disability appeal attorney will need to cite to legal precedent where you live and assemble your documentation during the appeal so when the carrier upholds the denial, you have a robust administrative record to sue from under ERISA, says Darras.
It might be a wiser idea to look at individual disability plans. They might cost a little more, but are worth it in the time, money and effort it takes to file a claim and to receive benefits in a time when convenience is a true blessing. Individual disability policies generally pay tax free benefits and are full of rich consumer remedies.
“Whatever your insurance needs, in this day and age, you MUST do your homework before purchasing,” says Darras. “Knowing what you need and making sure you are not overpaying is crucial in these economic times.
If you need support, ask a qualified agent who has been in the business, has a stellar track record, and has your best interest at heart. Ask questions if there are things you don’t understand. Make sure the company is stable and please be sure you know how to use your policy if disaster strikes, says Darras.