Maternity Insurance: What You Need to Know

Expecting a baby can be an exciting time; however, the excitement can quickly be dissolved by the worry and anxiety of a potential financial issue if the mother is uninsured. It is estimated that 13% of women who become pregnant each year do not have insurance. Because of this, many women do not seek the medical care they need throughout their pregnancy. This can result in inadequate prenatal care for the baby, as well as numerous possible health risks to the mother.

When pregnant, most women visit the doctor often – sometimes twice per month or more throughout the entire nine months.

The costs of these doctor visits can add up. And, when coupled with the average $6,000-to-$8,000 cost of delivery – more for high-risk pregnancies – the expense can create a financial disaster.

The good news is that many private insurance companies offer maternity insurance. These plans are designed to cover most or all of the medical expenses related to pregnancy and birth procedures.

The best time to purchase maternity insurance is before pregnancy occurs, although some companies offer maternity insurance to women who are already pregnant.

It is important to look for a plan that has few restrictions on the treatment that is covered. And, since maternity insurance only covers the expenses related to pregnancy, the mother should have a regular medical insurance plan in place to cover any other health problems that she may have.

If one is unable to qualify for a maternity insurance plan, another option is to go with a Health Savings Account. This tax-deferred account allows the account holder to deposit and withdraw money for medical expenses. This, in conjunction with a high-deductible health insurance policy, can help to pay some or all of the costs associated with pregnancy.

Early and ongoing prenatal care is the best way to avoid problems.

Maternity insurance can help ensure that expenses are covered, allowing both the mother and baby a better chance for a healthy delivery without devastating financial consequences.

How HRAs Can Help You Pay Your Health Care Costs

Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or HRAs, are a type of account that is provided by employers as part of a health care benefit program for their employees. Although they are not insurance, HRAs are offered in conjunction with high-deductible health insurance plans. They are designed to help employees manage and pay for certain qualified health care expenses using funds that they have set aside in the HRA account each year.

An HRA can allow employees to pay for medical services such as routine physicals, preventive care, immunizations and other types of doctor visits that may not otherwise be covered by their standard health insurance plan. Companies of any size can offer HRAs as part of their benefits program. The enrollment process and employee eligibility requirements generally vary, depending on the health insurance plan provider. Even self-employed individuals can use an HRA to enable them to reimburse medical expenses, as well as health insurance premiums, from their business.

Employees in an HRA program who do not use their allotted funds within a given year are allowed to roll over those dollars to the following year. However, if an employee leaves the company due to termination, the employer is allowed to keep the funds remaining in the employee’s HRA account.

HRAs can truly help employees and self-employed business owners cover a wide array of medical and preventive care costs without having to file extra paperwork or wait for insurance company approval.

Indexed Universal Life Insurance: Is It a Good Fit?

Looking to capture stock market gains while avoiding unnecessary risk? You may want to consider indexed universal life insurance.

Indexed universal life insurance is a form of permanent life insurance, which simply means the death benefit never expires.

The most basic types of permanent life insurance include a “cash value” account backed by the insurer’s bond portfolio. The insurer takes your premium payments, deducts certain expenses and deposits the rest into the cash-value account, where the money earns tax-deferred interest.

You can borrow from the cash-value account and even withdraw some money tax-free.

Indexed universal life insurance is similar, but it uses a stock-market index such as the S&P 500 Index to determine the interest rate for the cash-value account. Many policies have a minimum interest rate for downside protection as well as a maximum interest rate, according to SamuelsonDesign, an insurance consulting firm.

Indexed universal life insurance has been around for about 10 years, but sales jumped 50% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2010 to $175 million, outpacing sales of all other forms of life insurance, according to LIMRA, an insurance industry research firm. Why? Perhaps because indexed universal life insurance resonates with investors who are still reeling from the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. It offers a guarantee against losses so investors can sleep at night, but it also offers a measure of upside potential.

Indexed universal life insurance can get complicated, however. For example, in addition to caps on gains, these policies often have participation rates. Insurers typically exclude an index’s reinvested dividends. Additionally, rates and caps can usually be adjusted within certain limits.

As a result, if you’re considering indexed universal life insurance, you may want to consult your insurance professional. He or she can tell you if indexed universal life insurance is suitable for you and, if it is, help you choose a policy.

How HRAs Can Help You Pay Your Health Care Costs

Health Reimbursement Arrangements, or HRAs, are a type of account that is provided by employers as part of a health care benefit program for their employees. Although they are not insurance, HRAs are offered in conjunction with high-deductible health insurance plans. They are designed to help employees manage and pay for certain qualified health care expenses using funds that they have set aside in the HRA account each year.

An HRA can allow employees to pay for medical services such as routine physicals, preventive care, immunizations and other types of doctor visits that may not otherwise be covered by their standard health insurance plan. Companies of any size can offer HRAs as part of their benefits program. The enrollment process and employee eligibility requirements generally vary, depending on the health insurance plan provider. Even self-employed individuals can use an HRA to enable them to reimburse medical expenses, as well as health insurance premiums, from their business.

Employees in an HRA program who do not use their allotted funds within a given year are allowed to roll over those dollars to the following year. However, if an employee leaves the company due to termination, the employer is allowed to keep the funds remaining in the employee’s HRA account.

HRAs can truly help employees and self-employed business owners cover a wide array of medical and preventive care costs without having to file extra paperwork or wait for insurance company approval.

How to Get the Right Insurance for Your Home

When it comes to purchasing insurance coverage for your home or investment property, many people ponder which type of coverage is best: market value or replacement cost? It’s not an easy question, and a lot depends on your specific needs, assets and comfort level. However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind when speaking with your agent.

Falling home prices are increasingly making market value an attractive alternative to those seeking to save money on insurance premiums. However, price should never be the sole determining factor.

Because market value may currently be less than the cost of replacing, repairing or rebuilding the dwelling, those who wish to remain in their home, rebuild in the same location and/or otherwise avoid having to relocate should seriously consider purchasing replacement coverage instead.

On the other hand, not everyone needs or desires to remain in the same home. In that situation, market value may be perfectly sufficient. For example, an investor or landlord who owns several properties and wishes to reduce the cost of insurance premiums may benefit from a market value policy. Since the current value of real estate is often substantially lower, it may be possible to save money simply by purchasing another property rather than taking the time and money to rebuild in the event of a catastrophic loss. However, even this situation must be carefully monitored since property values and market rates are highly volatile and localized. Home prices can rapidly rise and fall without warning, potentially leaving the investor or property owner underinsured.

Another important consideration to keep in mind when shopping for either market value or replacement cost is the impact of depreciation and the value of the land itself. In most instances, only the dwelling and other buildings or improvements are insured, not the land. If a loss occurs with a market-based policy, the land and depreciation expenses are deducted from the settlement, which is a potentially significant factor for those with older properties. Be sure to speak with your agent about the advantages and disadvantages of each approach to determine the best coverage for your specific situation.

How Identity Theft Insurance Can Give You Peace of Mind

Modern-day life is complex and becoming more confusing every day. From online banking to electronic medical records, it sometimes can seem as though the entire world has access to your most private information.

Unfortunately, with more than 9 million Americans victimized by identity theft each year with an average loss of roughly $5,000, the risk of privacy invasion and overt fraud is very real. One way to combat this growing problem is with an identity theft insurance policy.

Identity theft insurance provides an additional layer of protection against unauthorized charges and costs related to the illegal use of your Social Security number, credit card, or banking and other private data.

What Is Covered

Most identity theft policies pay for out-of-pocket expenses, including lost wages, certified mail, notary and legal fees, and other miscellaneous charges. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, victims spend an average of 22 workdays trying to dispute charges and rectify records.

Is it a Good Investment?

Critics note that credit card balances are already covered if properly reported in the required period of time, but that does little to assist victims with the additional costs incurred to restore their credit and banking data. With a policy often costing less than $100 per year, most experts believe it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.