The Best Time of Year to Review Your Insurance Policies

Experts encourage people to review their insurance policies at least once per year. The same rings true for your healthcare insurance. The best time to really do this is during open enrollment when you can actually change to a better or more affordable plan. 17276419_lImportance of Reviewing Your OptionsWhen it comes time to re-enroll, it is very important to take a look at your current plan and the other options that are out there. There are several good reasons for this. First, you may find a better plan that will fit your needs more efficiently. Second, you may find a cheaper plan that you can better afford. Keep in mind that it is highly likely that the premium for your current plan has gone up and you will have to pay more throughout the year. Thirdly, you may find the best of both world’s and find a plan that is both less expensive and better for your needs. If you do not take a look at your options, you may be missing out on a better, less expensive plan.

 

Changes for 2016

No matter what you do, be sure that you are enrolled in a plan. This year, the penalty during tax season will be even higher than it was in 2016. If you miss the enrollment period, then you may still be able to qualify for a plan but you will have to meet certain requirements. These requirements are very specific. If you miss the deadline, be sure to contact an agent at B&D for assistance. For more information on this, please view one of our previous blog posts.

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Getting Help Reviewing Your Policy Options

You do not have to review your policy on your own. You can use the help of professionals who have a better understanding of the terms and everything that is included in the plan. They will be better able to determine if your needs are met and how to meet them. It is always better to use a professional if you do not understand your policy or the other options that are available. If you need assistance, please contact us at B&D and we will be happy to help. We will review your policy and discuss all available options for you.

Is Medicare Advantage the Right Fit For You? Use This Helpful Guide to Find Out

One of the key components to making sure that you have the health insurance that you need is making sure that you understood all of the options that were available to you in the first place. Because many Medicare-related plans all have similar sounding names, it can be easy to confuse one from the next. By learning a little bit more about Medicare Advantage including what it does and who it is for, you can help find out if it is a right fit for your own personal situation.What is Medicare Advantage?At its core, Medicare Advantage plans are those that are offered by private health insurance companies that provide you all of the same benefits that you would receive under Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage health plans have HMO and PPO options. Another important thing to understand about the Annual Enrollment Period is that it isn’t just for new Medicare patients. If you’re already on Medicare and want to change either your health plan or the type of prescription drug coverage that you currently have, you can do that between October 15 and December 7 as well. Any changes that you make will go into effect at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2016.12361477_lDuring this time you can make a host of different changes to your plan. If you do not already have prescription drug coverage, you can easily join a Medicare prescription drug plan. You can switch from one drug plan to another and can even disregard all prescription drug coverage if you determine that is the best path for you to take. If you’re already on Original Medicare and are completely happy with the way things are going, you also don’t have to make any changes if you don’t want to. More than anything else, the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is about making sure that you have the options available to you to get the coverage that you need when you need it the most.Who is Eligible for a Medicare Advantage Plan?In order to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, there are a few important qualifications that you have to meet. For starters, it is required that you live in the service area of the type of Medicare Advantage Plan that you’re trying to join.24981921_lAnother qualification is that you must already have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.  Finally, people who have ESRD or “end stage renal disease” are not qualified to sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan and will need to pursue other options that are available to them.At Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services, our primary goal is to help simplify your insurance and healthcare needs whenever possible. If you’re trying to determine whether Medicare Advantage is right for you, or if you’d just like to sit down with someone and discuss your options further, please call us today.

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: What You Need to Know

42585006_lThe Medicare Annual Enrollment Period officially begins on October 15th, 2015 and ends on December 7th. Because healthcare is such an important part of our lives, it’s easy for people to feel overwhelmed when thrust into the middle of such a complicated topic. By understanding a little more about the enrollment period, you can do your part to make sure that you’re ready when October 15th comes around.The Specifics of Medicare EnrollmentExactly what you have to do on October 15th will vary depending on a number of factors. If you turn 65 before October 15 and are receiving Social Security, for example, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A, but must elect part B, as there is a premium associated with Part B enrollment. If you have turned 65 but are still working, you might want to consider your coverage options.  You can remain on your employer plan, or, you can elect to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, but you need to understand the differences and see which option is best for you.What If You Want to Change Your Plan?At Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services, our goal is simple: we want to clear the air surrounding confusing enrollment periods and other restrictions and help make your insurance options as clear and as concise as possible. If you have questions about the Medicare annual enrollment period or about any other subject, please contact us today.

What Affects Individual Insurance Prices

When picking individual insurance plans, one of the first things that you’ll notice is that the price will often vary wildly depending on exactly what type of plan you’re talking about. Many people also don’t realize that price fluctuations are common for the same plan when two very different people are involved. Person A might pay $100 a month, while Person B might get quoted $200 a month for the same plan. Understanding what affects individual insurance prices is one of the keys to making the right decision moving forward.

 

Risk Factors

One of the major things that can affect individual insurance prices involves certain risk factors with your body, your lifestyle or both. Individuals with a high Body Mass Index, for example, are much more likely to develop diseases like heart conditions, diabetes and more. Likewise, smokers are much more likely to develop cancer than someone who has never smoked tobacco in their life. If certain lifestyle decisions that you’ve made or are currently making identify you as a risk factor to an insurance provider, you can expect your monthly premium to go up as a result.

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Your Age

Another common factor that affects insurance prices is actually your age. Generally speaking, a younger person in their 20s will pay much less on a monthly basis for health insurance than someone in their 50s. The reason is simple: older people are much more likely to develop certain age-related conditions and diseases, thus increasing their risk factor in the eyes of the insurance provider as a result.

 

Family History

Another very important factor that is weighed when determining health insurance premiums is the family history of the applicant. Certain diseases and conditions very much have a strong genetic link, meaning that even if you don’t have a disease like cancer now, you’re much more likely to get it in the future if it has a strong presence in your family throughout the years. An applicant who did not have a family history of any major or debilitating diseases, on the other hand, would likely have a much lower premium as a result.

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Your Job

Similar to family history, your job plays an important role in determining how much you will pay for health insurance. People who have sedentary jobs for example are much more likely to be overweight or develop issues like cardiovascular diseases, causing their premiums to go up as a result.
If you’re in the market for a new individual insurance plan and want to make sure you’re picking the right one, please call Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services today.

What is Disability Insurance?

Nobody ever plans on developing a debilitating disease that would then make them unable to perform their job and earn a living. Generally speaking, people don’t want to think about what would happen if they were injured while at work, developed a mental illness or fell prey to some other issue that otherwise incapacitated them – they’d generally prefer to just hope that these things won’t happen at all. Statistically speaking, however, these types of issues are quite common: according to the National Treasury Employees Union in 2009, one disabling accident occurs in this country every second. This is one of the many reasons why disability insurance is so important.44310832_lWhat is Disability Insurance?

 

As its name suggests, disability insurance is designed to help make sure that both you and your family members are well taken care of financially in the event that you somehow become unable to work for whatever reason. The types of factors that disability insurance often covers includes being injured on the job, the development of a psychological disorder, the development of an illness that causes a physical impairment, a general incapacity to work and more.

 

Short-Term Disability

 

Much like other forms of insurance, disability insurance plans are separated into a few different categories to choose from depending on your needs. One is called short-term disability, or STD. This is very similar in concept to something like paid sick leave, where an employee is unable to work for a specific period of time but is eventually expected to make a full recovery. Short-term disability can help provide for you and your family financially while you undergo things like physical rehabilitation, allowing you to recover without worry on a temporary basis.

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Long-Term Disability

 

Long-term disability, on the other hand, is designed to cover you financially for a much longer period of time – sometimes indefinitely. These plans are ideal if you already have the monetary resources to provide for yourself for a small period of time, thus reducing your need for short-term disability plans. In addition to the fact that you can purchase these plans for a much longer period of time (up to age 67, regardless of your current age), you can also customize a long-term plan much easier than a short-term one to help make sure that it is more in line with your actual needs and preferences.
If you’d like to speak to someone about getting the right disability insurance plan to help make sure that you and your family members are well taken care of, please call Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services today.

Life Insurance: What You Need to Know to Make Sure That Your Family Is Taken Care Of

At their core, insurance of all types are designed to protect you, your business, your employees or your loved ones (or all of the above) from harm in the event that something unfortunate should happen. Just as healthcare plans are designed to protect your employees in the event of an unforeseen illness or injury, life insurance operates on largely the same principle. If you’re trying to make sure that your family will be properly taken care of in the unfortunate event of your passing, there are a few very important things that you need to know about life insurance.

 

What is Life Insurance?

 

In essence, life insurance is designed to make sure that the loved ones that you leave behind are taken care of from a financial perspective in the unfortunate event of your passing. After losing a loved one, everything from funeral expenses to mortgage payments to even a child’s future education can quickly become unwieldy for survivors. All of these things add up quickly, but life insurance is designed to provide you with the funds (and the peace of mind) that only comes with knowing that these issues are being preemptively addressed.

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What Triggers a Life Insurance Payment?

 

The answer to this question is one that will vary depending on exactly what type of contract you’re talking about. Depending on the policy, you may not actually have to pass on in order to receive the associated funds. Some types of terminal or critical illness can trigger a payment, for example.

 

What Affects the Price of Life Insurance?

 

A wide range of different things will all factor into how much you will pay for your life insurance premiums. The type of job that you perform will definitely be an important consideration, for example. People in high risk positions like emergency services will naturally pay more money than someone who works in a cubical or performs some other type of “low risk” profession all day long.

 

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If you’re considering your life insurance options and are looking for additional information regarding the types of plans that are available to you and which ones would be best for your own personal situation, please contact Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services today. We’ll help simplify all of your healthcare needs and will make sure that you settle on the plan that is not only right for you, but that will protect your family in the unfortunate event that something should happen to you.

Health Insurance Plans vs. Health Savings Accounts

You may have heard about a health savings account and how it can occasionally be used in lieu of a traditional health insurance plan. While this is technically true, there are a few reasons why a traditional health insurance plan is preferable. A health savings account is a tax-advantaged bank account that remains in your possession and can be used for health care expenses. It’s very similar to an educational savings account or a tax-advantaged retirement account.

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The Benefits of a Health Savings Account

Some individuals prefer a health savings account because it leaves them in charge of their own money; they still are in possession of their money rather than an insurance provider. A health savings account does not entirely preclude the use of an insurance plan; a high-deductible insurance plan is usually still included. Health savings accounts may be beneficial to those who are healthy and who remain healthy for a long period of time, as it allows them to save up for future projected medical expenses. A health savings account can also earn interest, which a regular insurance account does not.

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The Drawbacks of a Health Savings Account

Health insurance offers more than just funds for medical care. Through a health insurance provider, many medical costs are vastly reduced compared to the costs that an individual with only a health savings account will experience. And, of course, the health savings account is capped based on how much money has been put into it. Someone with a standard insurance plan could have tens of thousands of dollars in coverage by paying a low monthly fee; someone with a health savings account will have only the exact amount of cash they have set aside. This can become very problematic should someone become seriously injured.

A health savings account is essentially a gamble. For those who are healthy for a significant amount of their lives, a health savings account may allow them to reduce their overall medical expenses while providing some sense of security. But should someone become injured or ill, a health savings account isn’t likely to cover all of their costs — and this can be true even if the injuries or medical costs aren’t significant.

How To Take Advantage of Free Preventive Care

Free Preventive Care

Under the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance policies that are purchased through the Marketplace allow people to have access to free preventive care. These preventive care options are meant to keep people healthy to help them avoid trips to their doctor and pricey medications.

While they are known as free preventive care services, they are not really free. They are paid for by your insurance company with the money that you pay each month for your premiums. However, there is no out of pocket costs for you when you need these services, meaning you can never be charged a copay, deductible, or coinsurance.

There are many different services that are part of free preventive care, including immunizations, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, depression screening, and oral health and vision screenings for children. There are also preventive services that are available to women, including prenatal care and contraceptives.

When going in for these free preventive services, it is important to tell your doctor when you make the appointment so that you are not charged for the visit. Keep in mind that while these services are free, there may be some associated costs, such as if you need a follow up visit or a separate treatment.

Keep in mind that most health insurance providers will only pay for preventive care if you go to an in network doctor. If you choose to go to a physician that is out of the network of your health insurance provider, you may be left paying for the services out of your own pocket.

For all of your health insurance needs and to ensure that you are able to take advantage of the free preventive care that is available, contact the insurance professionals at Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services in Redlands, California.

How An Independent Insurance Agent Can Benefit You

Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent

Trying to find the right health insurance policy can be very stressful. With all of the health care policies available, it can be difficult to ensure that you choose the right policy. Working with an independent insurance agent can help to make the process much easier. There are many benefits of working with an independent insurance agent, including:

  • Independent agents work for you – while an independent agent’s paycheck comes from the insurance company that they belong to, they actually work for you not the company. They will put all of your interests above the insurance company that they work for, which will help to ensure that you will always be able to get the help that you need.
  • They are able to offer more options – independent insurance agents work with many different affiliates, which allows them to offer you a variety of choices. With the abundance of insurance policies that they are able to offer you, you can feel confident that the policy that you choose will work best for your needs.
  • They will help to make insurance less complicated – insurance can be a very complicated matter. Instead of doing all the research on your own to figure out which policy is best for you, your independent insurance agent will work with you to help make sure that you fully understand the policy that you are investing in.
  • They can help you save money – much like independent insurance agents are able to offer you many different policies that come with a variety of coverage options, they are able to offer you policies at different price points so that you can invest in a policy that fits with your budget.

For all of your health care needs and to ensure that you invest in the right policy, contact the experts at the independent insurance agency of Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services in Redlands, California.

New Special Enrollment Period For Health Insurance

Health Insurance Special Enrollment Period

If you missed out on signing up for health insurance during open enrollment, do not worry! The Federal government has recently announced that they are opening a special enrollment period for those who were not able to sign up for health insurance during open enrollment. This special enrollment period runs from March 15th to April 30th and is the last time that you will be able to sign up for health insurance coverage for 2015. While this special enrollment period only applies to the 37 states that are covered through the federal marketplace, state-run exchanges are expected to follow.

In order to qualify for the special enrollment period, people will have to prove that they only became aware of the tax penalty for not having health insurance when they were filing their taxes. While the special enrollment period will not reverse the fine for not having health care, it will give people a chance to get the right health care plan for their needs.

Under the Affordable Care Act, everyone is required to have a health insurance plan, or face a financial penalty. However, many people were not aware of the penalty for not having health insurance until they started filling out their tax return for 2014.

The government also recently accounted that the wrong information to help calculate whether they received too much or too little of a subsidy for last year was sent out to 800,000 people. People who have been affected should have already been notified by phone or email, and need to wait to file their taxes until they receive a new 1095-A form, which was sent out in early March.

For all of your health insurance needs and to ensure that you have the right amount of health care under Covered California, contact Bernardini & Donovan Insurance Services in Redlands, California.