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It’s that Time of Year!

The time to purchase or make changes to your HEALTH INSURANCE

by Jeannie Holliday CFA, CDFA™

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes sure that everyone can purchase insurance even if you have a pre-existing condition. Thanks to the ACA, decisions like changing jobs, starting your own company and retiring no longer depend on whether or not you can get insurance.  Everyone can now get insurance, however, the affordable part is up for debate.  Since it reduces the cost for those who are high risk, it increases significantly the price for those of us that had been considered preferred.  It also increases the cost for young males since insurance companies cannot discriminate between males and females and must also cover pregnancy. 

Consider the following:

· Nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance according to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health in 2009.  People don’t get things checked out when they don’t have insurance. 

· People who lack insurance have worse access to care than those that are insured.

· Financially it can lead to paying hospital bills for long periods of time – money that could be used on a house payment or to purchase transportation.

· Parents tend to help their adult children pay medical bills jeopardizing their own retirement.

· Not having insurance could lead to a “medical bankruptcy.” 

I am a Financial Advisor who does not sell health insurance.  However, I believe this is critical to your financial well-being and want to make sure everyone understands the rules.  It is imperative that you get insurance during the open enrollment period of November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.  If you don’t have insurance – now is the time to get it.  If you do have health insurance, make sure you have the right policy for your needs and, if your adult children don’t have insurance, discuss it with them.  It is that important!! Your car is worth $15,000 to $35,000 and you insure it paying $100 to $200 a month.  Your house is worth a finite amount and you insure it.  Your health risk could be any amount.  Shouldn’t you insure it with the same vim and vigor?     

1. Open Enrollment starts November 1, 2015 and ends on January 31, 2016, however, it is best to sign up by December 15, 2015 so that your coverage will start on January 1, 2016.  Corporate plans will also allow you to make changes to your benefits during open enrollment.  You must purchase or change plans within that period. If you miss this window, there won’t be any way to get insurance, or to change to a different plan, for the rest of 2016 unless you lose coverage during the year by losing a job, getting divorced or moving.

2. You may be entitled to more financial help. A two-person household can get a tax credit to offset part of the premium if their annual income is below $63,720. Healthare.gov has an easy-to-use calculator to assess what types of subsidies and discounts you’re likely eligible for.  If you are not eligible for a subsidy, contact a health insurance agent.  You may find a plan that works better for you outside of the exchange, contact a health insurance agent. 

3. The cost of your plan could change—a lot—from year to year. Health insurance premiums reset every year, based on the insurance companies’ projections of how much they need to collect to cover their members’ health care costs. And in 2016, as in previous years, changes are all over the map­ — up significantly for some plans in some localities, down in others. If you already have insurance and don’t do anything, your plan will automatically renew for 2016. Even though insurance companies had to return premium payments last year, they are increasing them again this year.  It’s not fair and I wish it wasn’t happening, but they are taking advantage of the system.

4. The penalty for not having insurance is going up the higher of 2.5 percent of household income or $695 per person.  The actual cost could be much higher.  If you have a hospital stay, the cost can run into the thousands and even millions of dollars. Lack of insurance is one of the main reasons people in our country go bankrupt.  Although the cost of insurance is unbelievably high, it can prevent a medical emergency from ruining you financially. 

Get help.  Insurance Agents are paid by insurance companies to help you. It does not impact the amount you pay. Health insurance is complicated and you need to use a professional.  If you don’t know someone see the Government’s web-site, ask your Financial Advisor or Insurance Agent or ask me for a referral.

Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.  Securities are not deposits, not insured by FDIC or any other government agency, not guaranteed by First National Bank of Pasco, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal. Independent Financial Services and First National Bank of Pasco are independent of Raymond James Financial Services.

Any opinions are those of Jeannie Holliday and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Free Wi-Fi

By Karen Koch

Owner, CompassPointz, LLC

I have a friend that travels a lot. She travels so much, that she knows which airports have Starbucks and which

ones don’t. You don’t want to hear from her at the end of a long week, from an airport that doesn’t have Starbucks…but that’s another story.

One of the things that I hear about a lot, (besides the Starbucks) is free Wi-Fi accessibility in airports and hotels (or the lack of it). While on the road, she constantly has to check in, check flights, check email, etc. and it is frustrating that the most expensive hotels charge for Wi-Fi, while the less expensive ones offer access for free.

And why don’t all airports offer free Wi-Fi? People have time to kill and time to surf while waiting for the always prompt airlines.  Free internet access would be wonderful – especially during the winter, when flights are delayed. Let the people watch Hulu or YouTube. The little televisions running CNN just don’t cut in for some mindless entertainment. But I digress…

While I understand the desire for internet access at the drop of the hat, I often have to remind myself (and my friends) of the inherent dangers that involve free Wi-Fi.

Finding available Wi-Fi networks is a good thing in this digitally connected age, but you have to remember that it’s a lot more vulnerable than your wired or secured home connection. So if you’re using someone else’s Wi-Fi network, be careful about which of your website accounts you access.

Research shows that free wireless public networks located in airports and other public places are ripe for exploitation by hackers. The ability to set up fake “free” Wi-Fi hotspots in public places and potentially use them to steal sensitive data, such as online banking passwords or personal information, is alarmingly easy to do. In fact, hacker Web sites provide instructions on how such frauds can be accomplished.

While free Wi-Fi may be safer for secure websites, highly sensitive activities should only be performed from your own computer. A public computer should not be trusted for anything but casual surfing. This applies to airports, hotels, malls, parks, and coffee places.

So now, in addition to long check-in and security lines, my friend has one more thing to be anxious about – the identity thieves. But don’t tell her…not unless she had her Starbucks first!

CompassPointz, LLC is owned and operated by Karen Koch and Shawn Clark. CompassPointz delivers customized computer services dedicated to and business systems. With over 30 years of combined experience they have unique insight and perspective on the needs of their clients.

Desk to Dinner

Do not have time to go home after work before date night?  Do not sweat it, the key is:

  • Wear a foundational piece/s to work.  Garments that fits great and has no embellishments.

  • Second,  bring evening accessories to work to make the switcho chango to take your look from day to night.

Here are 3 examples to assist you in visualizing how to take your work look and transition it into an evening look.

Desk to Dinner 1

Start with a simple sheath dress and change the belt, pop on these festive shoes and hoops and swap out your day bag to an evening one.

Desk to Dinner 3

You arrive at work with the red blouse, black trousers with a black pump.  To vamp up your desk look don a red lip, change your heels to leopard, switch your earrings and handbag.

Desk to Dinner 2

To take you boring black suit to the ballet, pop on a statement necklace, a sparkly shell, bronze bag and shoes.

It’s just that easy! Now go out and make it happen!