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Health Insurance
Health Insurance, Insurance, Law

4 Ways Health Insurance Can Save you Money

Close up of a doctor's white coat pocket full of pens and medical equipment.

Many health insurance shoppers will consider premium costs when purchasing health insurance. The full cost of a health planalso includes your out-of-pocket expenses, like the deductible, copays, and coinsurance.

As important as it is that your health plan is affordableand that the monthly premiums fit into your budget, it’s also important to consider the value health insurance offers. If you’re considering opting out of health insurance next year, evaluate the value of the following health plan offerings before you finalize your decision:

  • Discounted rates
  • Cost-sharing
  • Preventive care coverage
  • Additional features

While everyone has a different financial situation with varying constraints, health insurance is a worthwhile investment.

1. Discounted Rates 

Health insurance companies negotiate costs directly with hospitals and other medical care providers. These rates are then included with the health plans offered by the company. 

Some plans only have negotiated rates for in-network providers. Others have different negotiated rates for in-network care and out-of-network care. All health plans offer coverage for emergency services when a patient is admitted—whether or not the care was received from an in-network provider.

The amount the hospital or clinic usually charges is higher than the negotiated rate. The differences between the negotiated rate and the standard rate varies depending on how the insurance company has negotiated. 

However, when you receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) with the breakdown of costs, you’ll see:

  • What the hospital or clinic usually charges
  • What the negotiated cost actually was
  • What portion of the bill your health insurance company paid
  • The amount left for you to pay

2. Cost-Sharing 

Health insurance plans come with an annual deductible and annual out-of-pocket maximum. The deductible is the amount of money the insured must pay in cost-sharing over the course of the year before the insurance company takes on a greater responsibility for the costs. The out-of-pocket maximum is higher than the deductible. Once it is reached, the insurance company is responsible for the remainder of your covered medical expenses.

Health insurance plans often have separate deductibles for prescriptions and medical care. Health insurance plans that offer out-of-network coverage will have a different deductible and out-of-pocket expenses maximum for out-of-network care and in-network care. 

Health insurance companies determine cost sharing in a few different ways depending on how your plan works. With a traditional plan, you’ll have copays and coinsurance. Coinsurance means that the insured pays a certain percentage of the discounted medical bill.

Copays are a set amount that the insured pay when they receive health care services. There are usually set amounts for prescriptions, primary care visits, specialist visits, and emergency services. Payment may also be required beyond the copay after the bill is processed by the insurance company. The copay contributes to this payment.

High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) work differently. Instead of having copays and coinsurance, you pay for your medical expenses as you receive medical care. You can use the funds in your HSA to pay these costs.

Funds in your HSA roll over year to year and can be invested. The money you put into your HSA is tax-free. The monthly premiums for HDHPs tend to have lower premiums because a greater cost responsibility is on the policyholder. Some people take advantage of these plans while they are healthy and save funds for medical expenses later in life.

The specifics of cost-sharing differ from plan to plan, so carefully reviewing your plan before signing up will help you understand how the cost-sharing works.

3. Preventive Care Coverage 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans cover preventive care fully. While the future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain, coverage for preventive care is an important way that health insurance protects your finances.

Doctors can detect some health problems early on and implement treatment plans to prevent the issue from developing further. Regular visits to the doctor go a long way in avoiding expensive bills later, especially for preventable issues.

It’s especially important for people with some diagnoses and conditions to visit a specialist regularly as needed because some health issues can be managed successfully and future complications can also be avoided.

4. Additional Features 

Health insurance companies also offer the following helpful features with their plans:

  • Telemedicine
  • Nurse help lines
  • Care management

These additional features are helpful resources for people. Telemedicine allows plan members to work with a doctor over the phone or through video chat in non-emergency situations. Some companies offer this service to plan members for free, like Oscar. Other companies also offer it as an a la carte supplement to health insurance, like GoHealth.

Others may charge a fee when you use the telemedicine service. The fee for the telemedicine service may vary based on your plan and your insurer and can be cheaper and faster than setting an appointment with your doctor or visiting an urgent care.

Nurse help lines are another common offering among health insurance companies, including Cigna. This hotline gives people quick access to a nurse without needing to leave their home. In non-emergency situations, the nurse can answer questions and give advice on scheduling appointments. 

While these benefits are nice and do not require you to establish care with a doctor, you can always call your doctor’s office with questions to get similar assistance. If the doctor can’t take your call, one of the assistants can take a message and get back to you with a response in a non-emergency situation. Even after hours, there’s usually a doctor on-call. 

Another benefit some health insurers offer is care management. These can be helpful to people who want support with improving their health. Companies like Kaiser Permanente offer this with many of their plans to help members with chronic conditions.

Is the Investment Worth It? 

It’s easy to see how much your health insurance plan saves you on medical care when you review the EOB.

It’s trickier to determine if the cost of monthly premiums is worth the savings. If you have health insurance, you can keep track of how much you are spending on medical care, prescriptions, and premiums. Evaluate you EOBs over the course of the year to understand what the costs would have been without insurance.

Medical procedures, surgeries, and emergency medical treatment are more expensive than preventive care. Some of these events can be planned for in advance, but many cannot. 

Because of the high financial cost of these services, not having health insurance is a risk for your financial stability.


Alice Stevens loves learning languages and traveling. She currently manages content for BestCompany.com, specializing in personal finance, health insurance, Medicare, and life insurance.

The post 4 Ways Health Insurance Can Save you Money appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

Dental, Health Insurance

What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a convenient way to store funds specifically for medical expenses. If you qualify for an HSA, you will get to enjoy a few tax advantages as well. While this might sound like an ideal setup, not everyone is eligible for a health savings account. To qualify for a health savings account, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). The details of these plans are revised every year by the Internal Service Revenue (IRS), which sets the bar for:

  • The minimum deductible a plan must have to be considered a HDHP.
  • The maximum amount that a customer who purchases a plan is able to spend out-of-pocket.

The benefits of a health savings account

Here are some of the key advantages of having a health savings account:

  • It covers a large variety of medical expenses: There are many different kinds of medical expenses that are eligible, such as medical, dental and mental health services.
  • Pretty much anyone can make contributions: Contributions to your health savings account don’t have to be made by you or your spouse. Employers, relatives, friends or anyone who would like to contribute to your account can do so. There are limits, however. For example, in 2019, the limit for individuals was $3,500 and $7,000 for families.
  • Pre-tax contributions: Since contributions are generally made at your employer pre-taxes, they are not considered to be part of your gross income and are not federally taxed. This is usually the same case when it comes to state level taxes as well.
  • After-tax contributions are tax-deductible: Any contributions made after taxes are deductible from your gross income on your tax return. Doing so minimizes the amount you would owe on taxes for that year.
  • Tax-free withdrawals: You can withdrawal money from your account for approved health care costs without having to worry about federal taxes. Most states do not tax, either.
  • Annual rollover: Any unused HSA funds that are left over by the end of the year get rolled over to the following year.
  • Portability: Even if you change health insurance plans, employers, or retire, the money in your health savings account will continue to be available for qualifying health care expenses.
  • Having a health savings account is convenient: Most of the time, you will receive a debit card that is connected to your health savings account. This way, you can use your debit card to start paying for eligible expenses and prescription drugs on the spot.

The drawbacks to having a health savings account

While there are many advantages to having a health savings account, there are a few things to consider. For one, in order to qualify for an HSA, you must hold a high-deductible health insurance plan. The tax benefits might entice you to purposely sign up for insurance coverage under one of these health plans but think before doing this. Here are some of the disadvantages to having a health savings account:

  • The High-Deductible Health Plan: These types of health plans can end up being a lot more expensive in the long run, even with an HSA. If you have other options for health insurance that offer lower deductible, definitely consider those and don’t only choose a High-Deductible plan so that you can open an HSA.
  • You need to stay on top of your spending: If you have an HSA, you need to be willing to hold yourself responsible for recordkeeping. Keep track of all of your receipts so that you can prove you spent your HSA funds on eligible expenses.
  • Taxes and penalties: Using money from your HSA on other expenses that do not qualify as eligible health care expenses could result in you owing taxes. If you do this before the age of 65, you will have to pay taxes with a 20% penalty tacked on. If you are 65 or older, you will be responsible for paying taxes, but the penalty gets waived.
  • Fees: Sometimes, health savings accounts will charge additional fees, either per month or per transaction. Check with your HSA institution for more information on extra fees.

How an HSA works

In many cases, if your employer offers high-deductible health plans, they probably offer health savings accounts as well. Talk to your employer to find out what they offer. If your employer doesn’t offer HSAs, then you can sign up for a separate one through a different institution.

You get to decide how much you would like to contribute to your HSA annually, but keep in mind that you cannot exceed the HSA contribution limit. Once you are set up with an account, you will either receive a debit card or a series of checks that are linked to your HSA. Right away, you will be able to use the funds in your account for:

  • Deductibles
  • Copays
  • Coinsurance
  • Other eligible health care expenses that your insurance does not cover.

Generally, you cannot use HSA funds to pay your insurance premiums.  HSAs are not the same as flexible spending accounts, because HSAs rollover. Once you turn 65, you are no longer eligible to make contributions to your account, but you can still use the available funds for eligible out-of-pocket expenses. If you use the funds for non-eligible expenses, you will owe taxes on these amounts.

Investment Opportunities

Another benefit of HSA that you may or may not have heard of is that you can invest the money in mutual funds and stocks. If this is something that you are interested in, seek advice from a financial advisor for more information.

What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)? is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Health Insurance

10 Natural Ant Repellents to Keep Bugs Out

The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah!

This is cute, animated children’s song but when you see ants marching through your own apartment, it’s suddenly not so much fun. If you notice that these pesky blank insects are a common occurrence in your apartment and are wondering how to get rid of ants, we’ve got some home remedies for ants ready for you to try.

Natural ant repellents to try at home

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of ants without using a pesticide or professional pest control services, here are 10 natural ant repellents and home remedies for ants that you can try.

You can make these natural ant repellents with things you have in your own home, so it’ll be an easy way for you to rid yourself of these pesky critters.

1. Mint

mint

Peppermint essential oil is a simple home remedy for ants that you can make yourself.

Get some peppermint essential oil or peppermint leaves, mix it with water and spray around baseboards, doors and windows to deter ants. However, if you have pets, keep in mind that this ant solution is toxic to animals.

2. White vinegar

white vinegar

White vinegar is truly an all-purpose household product. From cleaning and disinfecting to getting rid of ants, white vinegar is a must-have product.

Take a mixture of hot water and vinegar and scrub your floor and countertops with it as a way to get rid of ants. While the smell is strong for an hour or so, it’ll rid your home of ants.

3. Cinnamon

cinnamon

Cinnamon smells and tastes good, but did you know it can also be used as a natural ant repellent? You can use either cinnamon essential oil or cinnamon powder to repel ants.

Take a cotton ball or Q-tip and dab it with cinnamon oil and then place it where you’ve seen ants. Or, sprinkle cinnamon powder along windowsills, baseboards or door entries to stop ants from entering.

4. Pepper

pepper

Pepper is another kitchen staple that everyone has and uses to season food. However, it can also be used as a home remedy for ants.

Sprinkle pepper wherever you have an ant problem. The smell will irritate them and they’ll go away. You can use cayenne or black pepper as your natural ant repellent.

5. Chalk line

chalk line

This natural ant repellent is somewhat mysterious. Ants use scent as a way to navigate. By drawing a line of chalk where you noticed ants, it seems to disturb the trail of smell and confuse ants. They won’t cross the line anymore and will go away.

6. Water line

water

Like the chalk line trick, you can also get your finger wet and draw a water line where you noticed ants last. This will also deter ants, disrupt the smell and help get rid of your ant problem.

7. Hand soap

hand soap

Take a pump of hand or dish soap and mix it with some hot water and put it into a spray bottle. You can use this concoction to spray down countertops, entryways or other areas you’ve noticed ants marching about.

Use this natural ant repellent as a way to rid your home of the ant problem while cleaning at the same time.

8. Tea tree oil

tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is another home remedy for ants. Like the other essential oil remedies, you can use tea tree oil mixed with water as a spray to repel ants or you can saturate cotton balls in tea tree oil and place those cotton balls around the house in high-trafficked ant areas.

Both remedies will work, but be careful to keep this away from pets if you’re a pet owner.

9. Coffee grounds

coffee grounds

Who doesn’t have a morning cup of Joe? Well, instead of throwing away your coffee grounds, you can use them to repel ants.

Simply sprinkle the coffee grounds around countertops, windowsills, doors, the pantry or any other area you’ve seen ants crawling around. This hack will rid you of ants and you’ll get more use out of your coffee each day.

10. Corn starch

cornstarch

This last approach on how to get rid of ants is a bit messier, but it’s effective.

Do you notice a large cluster of ants or a hive instead of just one or two? If you see a hive of ants, cover it with corn starch and then dump water on it. This will kill the hive entirely.

Preventing ant infestations upfront

These 10 natural ant repellent suggestions are great if you already have an ant problem. However, there are ways to prevent ants from entering your house upfront.

  1. Check your pantry: Ants love food and crumbs and they will feast in your pantry or cupboards. Make sure you seal all of your dry food in plastic containers so ants can’t get into the boxes of food stored in your pantry. Also, make sure to sweep or vacuum your pantry regularly and get all of those tasty crumbs off the floor.
  2. Clean often: Make sure you’re sweeping and mopping your floor daily, if not weekly. This will ensure that there are no crumbs on the floor that ants can snack on.
  3. Pest control: If you want to control ants or any type of insect or pest problem, you can consider hiring a pest control expert to spray your home.

Keeping bugs out

No matter where you live, you’ll likely see a bug or two in your apartment at some point. However, there are easy ways to rid your home of ants using home remedies and ingredients you already have on hand.

The post 10 Natural Ant Repellents to Keep Bugs Out appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Health Insurance

How to Remove Permanent Marker From Any Surface

Permanent markers are essential in every craft room and household.

They are great for creating lasting memories through artwork, writing labels on metals and plastics to help keep your home organized and even covering up scuffs on shoes.

Although the name suggests otherwise, if you accidentally get permanent marker on a surface you didn’t intend, or one ends up in the hands of a very young, but very inspired creative, there are ways to remove it.

Permanent marker can be removed from a variety of surfaces using basic household cleaners and materials. So grab an old towel or washcloth that you don’t mind the strain potentially transferring onto, and follow the instructions below to learn how to remove permanent marker from any surface.

  • Remove from plastic
  • Remove from clothes
  • Remove from wood
  • Remove from skin
  • Remove from other surfaces

How to remove permanent marker from plastic

writing leftovers on plastic container with permanent marker

If you had used a permanent marker to label a plastic item and now want to alter that label, you can use a dry-erase marker to remove the writing. A dry-erase marker works well for getting permanent marker off of plastic because it contains rubbing alcohol.

Follow these steps:

  1. Color over the permanent marker with the dry-erase marker
  2. Wipe away
  3. Repeat the process if needed

How to remove permanent marker from clothes

using hairspray to remove a stain from a shirt

If you got a permanent marker stain on one of your favorite clothing items, don’t fret. There are a number of different methods you can use to get it out of different clothing fabrics. Below are tips for removing permanent marker stains from cotton, leather and wool.

Cotton

Hairspray is an effective way to remove permanent marker from cotton. Be sure that the hairspray contains alcohol, as not all hairspray products do, and this component is critical for removing the stain.

Follow these three steps to clean your cotton item:

  1. Apply hairspray to the area until it feels wet
  2. Let it sit for 15 minutes
  3. Put clothing item in the washing machine without other items in case the stain bleeds
  4. Run on warm with detergent

Leather

You can remove permanent marker from leather, without damaging the fabric, using white vinegar.

Follow these three steps to clean your leather item:

  1. Dab vinegar onto the stain with a cloth
  2. Let it sit for a few minutes
  3. Use the same cloth to wipe off the stain using a circular motion

Wool

Hairspray is also an effective way to remove permanent marker from wool. Instead of tossing the item in the wash after setting the stain with hairspray, you can handwash it to prevent damage to the item.

Follow these steps to clean your wool item:

  1. Apply hairspray to the area until it feels wet
  2. Let it sit for 15 minutes
  3. Hand wash the item with cold water

How to remove permanent marker from wood

removing permanent marker from wood with toothbrush

Not only does toothpaste fight stains in your mouth, but it can also fight stains on your wood furniture or floors. The abrasive quality of toothpaste helps to gently remove the dye without dissolving it. It’s best to use a baking soda toothpaste, but if you don’t have one you can simply mix baking soda with the toothpaste you have. Skip the gel toothpaste, it won’t work.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply toothpaste to a cloth or you can even use an old toothbrush!
  2. Rub into the wood, going with the grain
  3. Repeat as needed

How to remove permanent marker from skin

using hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker from hand

It turns out that hand sanitizer not only can clean your hands of germs but also can be used to remove permanent marker from your skin:

    1. Squirt a dab of hand sanitizer into your hand or on a cloth
    2. Rub directly into the stain
    3. Wipe away with a cloth

How to remove permanent marker from other surfaces

putting rubbing alcohol on a cloth

If permanent marker ended up on one of your upholstered furniture pieces, a stainless steel appliance, wall, carpet or glass item, you can remove the stain using the techniques we breakdown below.

Upholstery

Use rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from upholstery. It’s best to blot the area with the rubbing alcohol instead of rubbing as it’s possible to actually massage the stain further into the fabric.

Follow these simple steps using rubbing alcohol:

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth
  2. Blot the area
  3. Wash away the remaining rubbing alcohol using a clean damp cloth

Metal

Similar to plastic, dry-erase markers work well to remove permanent marker from metal. So if permanent marker ends up on one of your stainless steel appliances, follow the steps below. Keep in mind, you may have to repeat this process a couple of times to fully remove the stain.

  1. Color over the stain with a dry-erase marker
  2. Wipe away

Wall

Toothpaste for the win, again! Toothpaste also works great for removing permanent marker from walls without causing damage. As previously mentioned, skip the gel toothpaste and ideally choose one that contains baking soda. Then follow these steps:

  1. Apply toothpaste directly to the wall stain
  2. Allow it to sit for 5–10 minutes
  3. Scrub the mark in a circular motion
  4. Wipe the remaining toothpaste away with a damp cloth

Carpet

To remove permanent marker from the carpet, just like with upholstery, you can use rubbing alcohol. Remember, blot the area with the rubbing alcohol instead of rubbing so you don’t rub the stain further into the carpet. Follow these steps below:

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth
  2. Blot the area
  3. Using a damp, clean cloth, wipe away the remaining rubbing alcohol

Glass

If permanent marker ends up on one of your glass items, such as a window or mirror, you can remove it with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol by doing the following:

  1. Apply remover of your choice to a cloth
  2. Rub the strain
  3. Use a clean cloth and a multipurpose or glass cleaner to wipe away

Dry-erase boards

In addition to working well to remove stains from walls and plastic, dry-erase markers can be used to remedy a situation where you may have mistakenly used permanent marker on a dry-erase board. In two steps, you can pretend as though nothing ever happened:

  1. Write over the stain with a dry-erase marker
  2. Wipe away with a clean cloth

Few things in life are truly permanent

You may have to repeat the steps laid out above a few times to be successful, but with a little effort and patience, you can remove most permanent marker stains. For additional cleaning hacks, be sure to check out our cleaning and maintenance tips.

The post How to Remove Permanent Marker From Any Surface appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com