If you were sick or disabled, who would drop everything they were doing to take care of you?

If you could no longer care for yourself, who would be the first to make sure that  you received the care you need? Would it be your spouse? A partner? A sibling? A child? A lifelong friend?

Whoever it would be, it is someone who cares deeply about you. But, without a plan for the possibility of extended or “long term” care,  it is this person who may have the most to lose.

By starting a family, we invite people into our lives. Along with this invitation, comes a promise to provide for and keep our loved ones safe. Such promises last a lifetime, even into our elderly years.

The commitment to protect loved ones is human nature. It stems from a core belief that we can rise to meet life’s challenges with confidence.

However, if we dismiss the need to plan by thinking “It will never happen to me”, we leave our promises to chance. Those we once said we would take care of, may face the burden of taking care of us.

If we ever really needed help, certain of our loved ones would likely do whatever it takes to get us the care we need. Some would overcome any obstacle, make any sacrifice, and even put their lives on hold.

But, at what cost?

-As a long-term illness or impairment progresses, higher and higher levels of care are required. If you have a surviving spouse, the burden for care will generally first fall on his or her shoulders.

-Spouses faced with the increasing demands of providing care for a partner often suffer irreversible physical, emotional, and financial consequences.

-In families with multiple children – especially as the healthy spouse begins to waver under the weight of providing unending care – frequently one child ends up taking on most of the burden to assist the healthy parent. Over time, this imbalance can cause friction among siblings. This often leads to future resentment and division in families.

-Due to the 24/7 demand for care, the child of a parent in need may be left with no choice but to set aside his or her life. Thereby, impacting his or her career, relationship with spouse, relationships with children, involvement in the community, personal pursuits, and more.

-The enormous cost of providing extended care frequently demands a reallocation of retirement income and may force an intrusion into underlying retirement assets. Such intrusions can undermine the future financial stability of a surviving spouse, special needs child, legacy planning, or charitable giving.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You can help protect the people you love by putting together a plan before care is needed. The goal of the plan should be threefold.

1) For as long as possible, allow you to gain access to the care you need at home with minimal physical, emotional, and financial impact on the people who care about you.

2) Instead of having family members provide care directly, empower family members to hire and coordinate professionals to provide your care.

3) Where suitable, seek to mitigate the cost of providing care through the leverage of long term care insurance. Plans may be available which provide essentially a ‘return of premium’ to heirs should you end up not needing care.

Every person’s situation is different and there is no one-size plan that fits all. At McCarthy Stevenot Agency, Inc. we have been guiding businesses and individuals with insurance needs for over 25 years.

To learn more about how to create and fund a plan to protect the people you love from the risks associated with extended care, contact our agency at this link.

Here is wishing you the strength to stay the course and deliver fully on the promise to protect those who are the most important in your life!

14 Ways to Improve Company Benefits and Save Money

 

Many employees say the benefit package is the primary reason they stay with their employer. Here are 14 ideas to improve your company benefits and maybe even save some money.

1. Align your health insurance deductible with national averages.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the national average for deductibles in smaller employer plans in 2015 was $1,836 per person. If your deductible is lower than this average, it may make sense to consider raising it.

2. Share a percentage of premium costs with employees.

Sharing costs with employees as a percentage of premium (rather than a fixed amount) helps employees and employers work together to address the rising cost of healthcare insurance. In 2015, the national average employee contribution for single plan coverage was 18% and family plan coverage was 29%. How do your employee contributions compare with these averages?

3. Allow employees a pre-tax health premium option.

Implementing a Section 125 premium-only-plan or “POP” enables employees to contribute their share of health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. Do you have a “POP” plan in place?

4. Allow employees access to voluntary payroll deduction benefits.

Payroll deduction or voluntary benefits essentially cost you nothing, expand your benefit menu, and often give employees access to plans they may not be able to qualify for on their own. Voluntary plans can cover specific illnesses, disability, accident coverage, dental insurance, life insurance, and more. Do you allow employees access to voluntary payroll deduction benefits?

5. Have a company dental insurance plan.

Dental coverage can be perceived to be an expensive benefit, but perception is not always reality. In some regions (like Cincinnati) there are reasonably priced dental plans that have proven to be very popular. Do you already have or or have you recently considered dental insurance for employees?

6. Have a company vision plan.

Vision plans are affordable and provide a very useful benefit to employees. Vision plans may be available as an add on to a group plan, on a voluntary basis, or attached to an ancillary plan (like stand alone dental coverage). Do you offer a vision plan to your employees?

7. Provide short term disability insurance.

Short term disability insurance helps pay a portion of an employee’s wages in the event of a short term sickness or disability. Short term disability insurance is very affordable and has a high perceived value. Do you have or or have you considered short term disability insurance for your employees?

8. Provide long term disability insurance.

Long term disability helps cover a portion of an employee wages in the event of a long-term sickness or disability. Many of the statistics about bankruptcies related to illness or injury stem from loss of wages after disability. Group, individual, and voluntary payroll deduction options may be available to help your employees cover this risk. Do you provide employees access to long term disability coverage?

9. Provide supplemental life insurance options for employees.

In the modern era, fewer people are meeting with agents to cover their basic life insurance needs. Employers can provide access to group, individual, and payroll deduction life insurance to make coverage more easily accessible for their employees. Do you provide or allow
employees access to supplemental life insurance coverage through your company?

10. Consider a Health Reimbursement Arrangement.

Sometimes called a “Health Reimbursement Account,” HRAs are an IRS approved way to reimburse employees for certain out-of-pocket healthcare costs that may not be covered by a traditional health insurance plan. Employers make contributions to an employee’s account which in turn provides reimbursement for eligible expenses. Have you considered or do you offer a Health Reimbursement Arrangement for your employees?

11. Allow employees access to retirement annuities.

A consequence of the shift away from defined benefit pension plans is that many people will lack sufficient lifetime income to meet basic expenses when they retire. Employers can help employees build “private pensions” which can pay a guaranteed income for life. Do you provide a way for you or your employees to establish retirement income annuities?

12. Encourage employees to be healthier.

From company-paid gym memberships (some start as low as $10/month), to pedometers (some cost less than $10 to purchase), to wellness programs (give every employee a copy of Take Care of Yourself by Donald M. Vickery), there are many ways to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles and become better consumers of healthcare. Do you provide any type of independent wellness incentives for your employees?

13. Review benefits with your employees annually.

Helping your employees better understand and remain updated about their benefits makes a huge difference. Do you hold at least an annual review with employees to keep them informed about offerings and updates in their benefit plans?

14. Collect feedback from your employees about their benefits.

Conducting periodic surveys to collect employee feedback related to overall satisfaction about benefit offerings can be an invaluable resource for employers. Have you ever conducted a survey to assess employee satisfaction with your company benefit plans?

Exploring just a handful of the above ideas can help make a difference in the cost, overall quality, and satisfaction levels with your employee benefit plans.

If you would like help learning more about any of these ideas, feel free to contact Ted or Mike at our agency via phone at 513-891-9888, or reach us by email at this link.

What are your thoughts?

  • What other creative approaches have you taken to help control the costs and improve the quality of your employee benefit plans?
  • Are you surprised to learn that by allowing access to voluntary offerings you can make such a major difference for employees?
  • Have you ever surveyed your employees to assess their overall satisfaction level with your company’s benefit plan?

Availability of plan offerings and benefits mentioned above are subject to enrollment, underwriting, regulatory, and other eligibility guides. Contractual limitations may apply. Never cancel current insurance before receiving approval in writing from any new or proposed insurer.

Three Steps to Getting Started with Medicare

 

If you are new to Medicare, linked below is a helpful resource from Medicare’s website to help you learn more. It is called “Getting Started with Medicare” and it highlights three steps for beginning your journey with Medicare.

Visit the “Getting Started with Medicare” page from Medicare.gov at this link.

If you have questions or need help Medicare in Cincinnati, OH, you are welcome to contact our agency, McCarthy Stevenot Agency, Inc. at 513-891-9888.

Three steps Medicare.gov provides to help get you get started:

“Step 1: Sign up for Medicare”

This step deals with, “If you don’t already have Medicare, find out if you’re eligible.” Here you can get an estimate of,

  • When you’re eligible for Medicare.
  • Whether you’ll get Medicare Part A and Part B automatically or if you need to sign up.
  • Your premium amounts.

Also in this step,

  • You can learn about the different parts of Medicare, like Part A and Part B, and the specific services they cover.
  • Decide whether you want Part B.
  • If you don’t get Medicare automatically, apply for Medicare online.

“Step 2: Choose your coverage”

In this step, you will learn about the main ways to get Medicare coverage and how Medicare works with other insurance you may have. From the page,

  • There are 2 main ways to get your medicare coverage – Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO). Some people get additional coverage, like Medicare prescription drug coverage, like Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).
  • Learn about these coverage choices and 3 steps to help you decide how to get your coverage.
  • If you have other health insurance, you can learn how Medicare works with other insurance.
  • If you’re retired and have coverage from a former employer, there are 5 things to know about retiree coverage.

“Step 3: Learn about 5 things to do in your first year with Medicare”

This step provides links to more resources available from Medicare.gov about,

  • An “authorization form if you want your family or friends to call Medicare on your behalf.”
  • Information about how to “Make a “Welcome to Medicare” Preventative Visit appointment.
  • A signup link for MyMedicare.gov, a “…secure online service where you can access your personal Medicare information 24 hours a day, every day.”
  • A link to “Learn what Medicare Covers.” Here, you’ll “…get a link to a list of tests, items, and services that are covered no matter where you live.”
  • A link to decide if you want to go “…paperless, and get your next free copy of Medicare & You electronically” next October via email instead of a paper copy through the regular mail.

Here is an introductory video from Medicare/CMSHHSgov called,

Medicare & You: Understanding Your Medicare Choices

Questions about Medicare in Cincinnati, OH? Feel free to call our agency at 513-891-9888.

How long will you live?

 

Calculate your estimated life expectancy at the link below. The estimator is a free tool from the Social Security Administration website.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/population/longevity.html

Is there a risk in living too long?

OK, that question sounds a bit gloomy. People are living longer today and one of the biggest worries for those thinking about retirement is whether the funds they have set aside will last as long as they will live. With the rise of “defined contribution” retirement plans like the 401k, many baby boomers will NOT have traditional pension plans to fall back on. This means they must face the formidable task of turning their retirement dollars into income and making those funds last.

Follow the link below – another free tool from the Social Security Administration website – to estimate how much you may receive in Social Security benefits.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire/estimator.html

Note that even the Social Security Administration cautions “…benefit amounts may change because, by 2033, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 77 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits.”

Insuring you (or your spouse) won’t outlive your nest egg.

People don’t always think of it this way, but Social Security is essentially a “life annuity.”

  • For those who make qualifying payments into the system, Social Security provides an agreement to pay recipients a specified income, after a certain age, for as long as they live.
  • This is essentially the same promise a private insurance company makes when it enters into a life annuity contract.
  • Differing from Social Security, private annuities can be structured so you, your spouse, or your beneficiaries can at least get your original principal back.
  • With Social Security, other than for survivor benefits, when you die, the money you contributed during your lifetime is gone.

One way individuals without traditional pensions can add guaranteed income in retirement years is allocate a portion of their low-risk assets to a private annuity.* Doing so can both supplement retirement income and relieve uncertainty about running out of funds. In principle, annuities are not investment “securities.” They are contracts and a form of insurance. This is why they must be purchased from a licensed insurance agent.

How much extra retirement income could an annuity provide you during retirement?

To request a no-obligation quote and learn more about whether annuities may be suitable for your situation, contact our agency at this link.

*View our annuity disclaimer at this link. Income guarantees in annuities are based on the ability of insurers to meet their contractual obligations. For some individuals and circumstances – such as those who have a short term need to access their principal, annuities may not be the best option. Always read any proposed annuity contract carefully and be sure all of your questions are clearly answered before making a purchase.

What if your business partner becomes disabled?

 

How would your company afford to pay the salary of a business partner or key employee in the event of a long-term disability?

Setting up a salary-continuation agreement is a good way to prepare in advance for these types of situations. Most companies fund the financial obligations of a salary-continuation agreement with either group or individual disability insurance.

Below is a sample salary-continuation agreement (Click for PDF):

Sample_Salary_Conituation_Agreement

Note: Be sure to consult with legal counsel to nail down the details of any salary-continuation agreement you establish.

If you have questions about funding a salary-continuation agreement with disability insurance, feel free to call our agency at 513-891-9888, or email us at this link.

McCarthy Stevenot Agency, Inc. is an independent life and health insurance agency located in Blue Ash. We have been helping people in southwest Ohio with their insurance needs for over 20 years.