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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money
Health Care
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Strategies to Lower Health Insurance Costs

When I was a young girl, I remember my grandmother saying she was thankful our family had good health. At the time, I thought that was a silly thing to be thankful for – now I have a better understanding of what she meant. When we're healthy, we tend to take health for granted; however, our lives change dramatically when poor health or an accident occurs. Health insurance protects us fr...

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Test Your Knowledge about Health Insurance

Just how well do you understand health insurance policies? It's a challenging topic! Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed people about health insurance terms and concepts; only 4% answered all of the 10 questions correctly. However, that quiz is from 2014. With the Health Insurance Marketplace (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) enrollment period now open, this seems like a good time for a new qu...

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I Want it My Way: Power of Attorney Can Help

On a good day, I wonder if my family hears what I say or if all they hear is "blah, blah, blah!" However, when I talk about what I want to happen if I'm in an accident, hospitalized or die, I'm SURE some of my family completely blocks my words. That's why I think it's so important that I write down how I want my health and my property handled if I can't talk for myself. Luckily, we have...

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Health Insurance Helps Protect Our Financial Security

Sometimes we spend money on fun things and sometimes we spend money on things we need or to protect our future financial security. Paying for health insurance falls under the category of needed, but not fun. We buy health insurance to protect ourselves from unknown financial risk. While we can't predict our future health needs, we can use insurance to protect our finances in case we hav...

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Plan Well Retire Well Wins National Award

I'd like to take a minute to toot our own horn. The writing team behind the Plan Well Retire Well blog just won two awards for Internet Education Communications from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at their annual conference held November 2-5, 2015 in White Sulfur Springs WV. We received first-place in the Central regi...

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Transitions: What Happens to My Health Savings Account When I Leave My Job?

When you leave a job, HSAs are simpler in some ways than the FSAs I discussed last month: there is no need to spend down the account while you're employed, or at the end of the year. The money is yours. You decide when to submit expenses for reimbursement, and you can decide which financial custodian you want to use for the account. If you wish, you can ro...

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Transitions: What Happens to My Healthcare Flexible Spending Account When I Leave My Job?

Healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are great ways to avoid income tax on money you use for medical expenses. The tax isn't just deferred – you never pay tax on the money if you use it for qualified expenses. What happens to those accounts when you leave your job? There are special rules for this situation, and ignorance could be costly. Say you signed up to pu...

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Your Financial Family Portrait

I have been pushing people to get a current copy of their credit bureau report on a regular basis for a while now. It is a good way to have a snapshot of your credit accounts and payment history and a method to catch identity theft before it gets totally out of hand. To do this you should get a free credit report every 4 months or so. The government requires that each of the three credit reporting...

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Health Savings Accounts: Ten Things to Do and Not Do

My husband is contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), so of course I wanted to learn all the in's and out's of this relatively new animal. If this is new to you, check out the benefits and who qualifies in last month's post . If you take a few moments to learn the rules, you can reap significant benefits for y...

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Health Savings Accounts: What's Not to Love?

If you like avoiding taxes, you'll want to learn about Health Saving Accounts. Odds are, someone in your family has a high deductible health plan (HDHP). That makes them eligible to have a health savings account, commonly called an HSA. High deductible health plans have become more common as employers look for ways to reduce the cost of health insurance. And many of the bronze level pla...

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Death Over Dinner

Two major events for me happened this month. One, my cousin was killed in a traffic accident involving him on a bicycle and a car. The car of course won in spite of Dook taking all the right precautions as he traveled on a course he had ridden hundreds of times. And while his death was sudden, tragic and unexpectedly early (he was only 65!), as a lawyer I am reasonably certain that he was prepa...

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Advance Directives Help Families during Difficult Times

On any one day most of us are juggling time, work, family, money, and more! But on some days, the demands of making decisions and juggling priorities become almost overwhelming. Caring for an older family member during an illness is one of these times. I'm dealing with this situation now and it's hard. However, I'm thankful that some planning and decision-making has already taken place....

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90+ in the United States: Implications for Retirement Investing

The U.S. Census Bureau and the National Institute on Aging have released a report this month titled "90+ in the United States: 2006-2008" that examines the rapidly growing "oldest old" segment of our population. The report describes the demographic, health and economic situation for America's oldest adults. Some of the main findings of the report include: On average, a pe...

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A New Internet Resource for Long-Term Care Consumer Education

University of Illinois Extension, through the efforts of its Consumer and Family Economics Team and Family Life Team, has launched a new website to help people learn about their long-term care options and be able to take concrete steps to prepare for the possibility of long-term care. The Long-Term Care: Talking, Deciding, Taking Action site is found at...

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Off to college: Add legal documents to the list of things they need.

There's so much to think about when a child reaches age 18 or goes off to college. You worry about your child having huge student loans, whether the roommate will make fun of the color of the comforter you chose, if they'll party instead of studying. But did you ever give a second thought to having them do a Power of Attorney for Health Care? Or signing a HIPAA release, authorizing you...

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A New Long-Term Care Financing Option: The CLASS Act

Working age people will have a new long-term care insurance option to consider beginning in fall of 2012, as a part of the health care reform law signed by President Obama in March 2010. The law includes a voluntary employment-based insurance program for the purchase of community living services (long-term care services) and for the payment of institutional long-term care services. The program...

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What are the important issues on health care reform, and what do they mean for retirees?

Today we welcome guest blogger, Wes Sprague -- a University of Illinois student. For retirees aged 65 and older, Medicare has been an enormous social success. It has helped to vastly reduce the level of senior poverty in America by providing most every retiree over the age of 65 with public health insurance, yet there are still many ways that it needs to be improved in order to...

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More on the Changing Landscape for Post-Retirement Benefits

Legal scholars Richard Kaplan, Nicholas Powers, and Jordan Zucker detail the "increasingly troubled state of employer-provided health benefits for retirees" in a recent analysis. Their paper, published in the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics (Vol. 9, No. 2, 2009), is titled "Retirees at Risk: The Precarious Promise of Post-Employment Health Benefits." (A version of this paper is...

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Healthcare Debate Moves to Facebook

Every day brings interesting new twists and turns in the healthcare debate. From Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to more talk of death panels, the debate continues on and public opinion has become more polarized than ever. In my last blog, I told you if you sent me an email, I may include your comments in my next blog. Boy, do you have opinions. I received a cross-section of responses from health pr...

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Will the Death of Senator Ted Kennedy Impact the Obama Healthcare Bill?

If you are like me, until recently, you have probably half-heartedly followed the news reports on healthcare reform. I thought I'd wait until the dust settled and a more finalized draft of the healthcare bill had been developed before I weighed in. Needless to say, I was very surprised to hear all the uproar about less than pleasant protests taking place all over the country. I decided maybe I'...

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The Sea Change in Retiree Health Benefits

It used to be that retirees from state and local government positions and union retirees could look forward to receiving generous health benefits in the form of subsidized health insurance premiums or fully covered health expenses in retirement. Those days seem to be moving into the past rather quickly. The mega-bankruptcy and restructuring of General Motors will likely see retirees losing sign...

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Saving and Investing When You Have Special Needs Child

  My youngest son (a pre-schooler) suffered a serious brain injury in January due to an underlying medical condition. This was a very difficult episode for our family, and it included a six-week hospital stay in St. Louis, and now we find ourselves getting used to having a very different little boy in our family. Thanks to a wonderful team of doctors and therapists, as well as the sup...

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