By In General Benefits Knowledge, Health Insurance

Picking a Health Plan, Part 2: Understanding Coverage-Level Details Like Copay, Coinsurance, Prescription Drug Tiers and More

In the first part of this two-part post, we covered premium and deductible, which are the two main considerations most of us look at when deciding to pick a health plan every year through our employer or on the open market.

There’s no doubt that your FI minds should gravitate to what you might spend on an annual basis, combined with how much you’re on the hook for if you have to see a doctor or specialist. But the way health plans get priced the way they do depends on their coverage levels — copays, coinsurance, prescription drugs, mental health coverage and more. This post digs deeper into those plan variables to help you decide what’s going to be the most cost-effective and compatible plan for your and your family’s personal health needs.

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By In Around the Web, General Benefits Knowledge, Income Protection Benefits, Life Insurance

Best Laid Plans? A Discussion of Which Benefits Can Protect Your FIRE Goals from Unforseen Accidents

The Benefits of FI is all about sharing our knowledge on benefits and how to make choices that align with your FI and FIRE goals. One of those choices with our employer-provided benefits is income protection — supplemental life insurance, accident indemnity, critical illness coverage and more.

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By In Featured, General Benefits Knowledge

What Health Plan Is Right for Me and My FIRE Goals?

It used to be that your employer presented you with a single health plan and you had a simple decision: take it or leave it. Maybe, if you were lucky, you could pick between the wonderful worlds of HMO and PPO, with one promising low costs if you don’t get any bright ideas about having options, the other promising you that you can do whatever you want so long as you pay for it.

These days, we’re in the age of “healthcare consumerism,” which among many other things means that you’re on the hook for more of your healthcare costs. It also likely means that your employer is making a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) available to you, which is the combination of a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) and a health savings account (HSA). If these are new or confusing terms to you, you’re not alone. Health insurers specialize in actuarial risk, not marketing and communication, so they often think that the best way to get you to understand a confusing phrase is to make it an acronym. Ugh. Calling something a “CDHP” and saying it’s there to help you understand and control your healthcare spend is like promising a better understanding of your personal finances and then handing you an abacus and saying “OK, have fun!”

But, as Bob Marley might say, don’t worry about a thing, ‘coz every little thing’s gonna be alright…once you read through this primer on which health plan is best for you, your family, and your goals of financial independence.

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By In Featured, General Benefits Knowledge

The FI Way to Think About Your Benefits

How we think about a topic affects our decisions. When it comes to the benefits that an employer offers us we can step back a bit and get a different perspective that will help us make better decisions and hopefully improve our lives.

First of all let’s acknowledge that the entire insurance and benefits experience is pretty darn frustrating. It is so tangled up and layered with jargon that we often give up before we begin evaluating our options. When you add in the complexities of government rules and programs it gets even more difficult to comprehend.

Here are some suggestions that hopefully will help you think about your benefits in a better way.

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By In Uncategorized

Picking a Health Plan, Part 1: How to Weigh Premium and Deductible When Picking Your Health Insurance Coverage

The average person spends less than 15 minutes per year researching and selecting a health plan. Dang! That’s not much time to spend on something that’s worth $20,000 or more per year for you. But we get it. We’re all busy. This piece is the first in a series on what factors to consider when making health insurance coverage choices. We’re right at the top, with premium and deductible.

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By In Around the Web, Health Insurance

$20K per year for employee health coverage!

Your employers are paying nearly $20,000 per year on your health benefits, according to the latest research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a huge percentage of your total compensation from your employer — and it has a major impact on your ability to pay down student loan debt and save for retirement. Pay attention and get the most from your company-offered benefits!

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By In Around the Web, Prescription Drug Costs

Watch out for rising Rx Copays

The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare have partnered on Health System Tracker, which helps policy wonks understand how the U.S. healthcare system works and where all the money goes — but it’s pretty interesting for regular people to understand how to optimize their health expenses, too. They recently found that while prescription drug prices on average have fallen, thanks to increased availability of generic drugs, individuals like you and me are paying more of our own money because insurers are paying less.

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By In Featured, General Benefits Knowledge

Your Benefits are Income — Treat Them That Way

Did you know that your employer uses terms like “total rewards” when strategizing about what kinds of benefits they want to offer you? Did you know that those benefits can easily account for 20-35% of the “total compensation” they give you? Did you know that, cumulatively, employer benefits account for hundreds of billions of dollars every year, and that that expense, which rises 4-7% per year, is thought to be at least partially to blame for keeping your salary increases down?

There is much in the financial independence movement on the importance of saving for retirement, especially maxing out your 401(k) contribution and taking advantage of employer matches. There’s less information about the importance of your other benefits, especially health insurance.

Your employer thinks of your benefits, both retirement and health, as compensation. You should think of them as income — not just how selecting and using them wisely will help you reach your FIRE goals but also to ensure that your FIRE dreams aren’t derailed by bad luck and bad choices.

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