November, 2018
Archive

By In Health Financial Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Morningstar’s Retail HSA Rankings Provides Good Insights for Evaluating the Best Fit for FI

Did you know you can pick your health savings account (HSA) provider? If you get your health insurance through your employer, they will likely have a preferred “vendor” for this purpose, which will ensure you have payroll deduction for pre-tax contributions to your HSA (and hopefully an employer contribution as well). It’s almost always a decent option for the convenience.

But in case your employer’s default is only focused on the spending side of your HSA and not the investing side, you might want to look for your own provider. Or if you’re shopping for your own health insurance as an individual and you get a qualified high-deductible health plan (HDHP), you’ll likely have to shop for your own HSA provider as well.

This research from Morningstar outlines some of the key criteria they use to evaluate vendors — things like transparency, transaction and investment fees, and other services. You can read through what they say regarding the evaluation on their blog, and you can go over to this BenefitsPro article to see a bit more on their “top 10” list of providers.

The research is a good reminder that, just like your investment and savings options, it can pay to shop around.

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By In Do the Math, Health Financial Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

Why We Talk So Much About HSAs for FI

Confession: It took me a long time to come around to liking HSAs. The analyst in me looked at “consumer-driven health plans” (CDHPs) as not consumer-driven at all but rather a way for employers to get us employees to pay more when we get sick. To be honest, I still feel that way. High-deductible health plans (HDHPs), which is the plan type you must have in order to qualify for a health savings account (HSA), are a hedge that allows employers to shift some of the ever-growing expense of providing insurance to the employees for which they’re providing it. They’re not ideal if you have a family or are thinking of starting one, you have a chronic condition you must manage, if you’re low-income and have an accident — basically anything that requires you to see a doctor or get a prescription or other medical products/services.

But there are caveats that make them pretty ideal if you’re on the FI journey.

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By In Budgeting, Other Voluntary Benefits, Student Loan Debt

The Benefits of Employer-Provided Student Loan Debt Pay-down

Why are an increasing number of employers offering benefits that address financial wellness, including student loan payoff? Simply put, it’s good for their business. A non-distracted workforce equates to more productivity. It is also a powerful recruitment tool.

While there are benefits to employees who are trying to get out from under the yoke of student loan debt, are there better ways to protect one’s financial future? Before you sign up for the company student loan debt repayment benefit, there are some things you need to consider.

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By In Uncategorized

Over 65 and Retired? Here’s the Difference between Medicare Advantage and Medigap (AKA Medicare Supplement)

I still have more than two decades until I’ll be eligible for Medicare and hence eligible to shop for Advantage or Medigap coverage. But I’ve been close enough along the periphery of commercial Medicare coverage that it has become clear to me that selecting a Medicare Advantage/Supplement plan is incredibly complex. I also know that you can literally save — or cost yourself — thousands of dollars annually if you make bad choices.

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By In Health Financial Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

How to ‘Think in Bets’ About Your Benefits

Understanding the way that we think and make decisions is incredibly important when it comes to thinking about your benefits and your financial goals. Our minds work in an incredible way that enables us to make sense of the world without too much undue stress, but sometimes they can lead us in the wrong direction.

To improve our decision-making process, we should try understand how we naturally interpret events using the “rules of thumb” (or heuristics) our brains are wired to make. This prevents us from stressing out about many of our small decisions, but it also means we make many decisions without really considering whether we made the right decision or not. Ideally, make a quick judgment call on the potential impact of your decision, and proceed from there. When buying your morning coffee — and especially if you are in line in front of me— just make a decision.

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By In Uncategorized

How Hard Can it be to Pick a Health Plan? Pretty Hard

Zachary Tracer, who writes on healthcare policy and the healthcare business for Business Insider, wrote a great article about how he decided to eat his own dog food this year and review all of his health insurance options offered through his company — and specifically why he chose a more expensive PPO plan instead of the free plan his company offered.

A few observations…

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By In General Benefits Knowledge, Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance

What FIRE Folks Need to Know When Shopping for Individual Health Insurance

We’ve written some articles on considerations to make for those who are selecting employer-based benefits and will write SO MANY more that you’ll not know what to do with all of them! But for today, since it’s the first day of the annual individual health plan open enrollment period (OEP for short, and it lasts Nov. 1-Dec. 15, 2018), this post focuses on those who are self-employed, contractors, gig-economy adventurers or, if you’re really lucky, already retired and way under 65 years old. If any of these scenarios apply to you, you’re likely eligible to buy an individual health insurance policy and individual-based other coverage, too. Here’s a few tips on what to look for and what to avoid.

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