The ABCs of Life Insurance: Key Terms to Know

Life insurance policy definitions may seem like alphabet soup, but here are some key terms you may want to know.

A is for accidental death benefit. This is an added benefit payable in addition to the principal benefit in the event of accidental death.

B is for beneficiary. This is the individual who will receive the life insurance benefits.

C is for cash value. This is the amount of cash value available in your policy’s account for withdrawal or loans.

E is for expiry. This refers to the termination of a policy at the end of its coverage period.

F is for face amount. This is the benefit that will be paid in the event of your death.

I is for insurability. This refers to an applicant’s level of acceptability to an insurance carrier.

J is for joint life annuity. This is a policy that will pay benefits that continue over the joint lifetime of two individuals but terminates after the first death.

M is for maturity date. This date indicates when the face value of your life insurance will become payable.

P is for principal sum. This is the amount that will be paid out as a lump sum in the event of your accidental death.

R is for renewable term insurance. This is a term life policy that is eligible for renewal at the end of the term.

S is for surrender. This is forfeiting a policy.

T is for term insurance. These are policies that are limited to a specific term.

Y is for yearly renewable term. This is a term life policy that you can renew annually without first having to provide evidence of your insurability.

Do you have questions or concerns about life insurance? Call or email us, and we can walk you through each of the components. We’re always here to help.

Debunking 4 Common Health Insurance Myths

With all the conflicting information out there, it can be challenging to navigate health insurance. Plan benefits, costs and enrollment timeframes can leave you confused and overwhelmed. Let’s put you in the know and look at the truth behind four common health insurance myths.

Myth 1: Original Medicare has no cost. Premium free Part A is for those 65 and older. You usually don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A if you or your spouse paid into Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. The standard Part B cost for 2021 is $148.50. If your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount, you may find an extra charge.

Myth 2: I need to enroll in COBRA when my group coverage ends. You will have 60 days to enroll in COBRA to continue your group health insurance benefits. Enrolling anytime during these 60 days can backdate your coverage start date to the first day of lost coverage as long as you pay the retroactive premium. You may be required to pay the full cost of the coverage plus a two percent administrative fee.

Myth 3: My annual physical is covered each year. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive screenings include a set of shots and are covered at no cost to you when performed by a doctor or provider in your plan network, but other aspects of a physical are not. These exams can be scheduled every 365 days.

Myth 4: My children can stay on my health insurance policy. Typically, when your children turn 26, their coverage on your health insurance policy ends and triggers a qualified event. This qualified event allows them to enroll in one of the various plans available.

There is a lot of uncertainty around health insurance, so let us be your source of knowledge. We are always here to help, and we’re just a phone call away.

Top Tips for Managing a Chronic Medical Condition

The pain and isolation of a chronic illness can be debilitating. Here are some tips for managing chronic medical conditions.

First, find a doctor who understands your condition and partners in your care. Your primary care physician (PCP) should be able to refer you to appropriate providers, but if your PCP seems unhelpful, it may be time to search for a new one. Next, invest in your care. This may mean dropping those 10 pounds, which can reduce your blood pressure and your glucose level. See if your healthcare insurer offers discounts or free memberships to local gyms, such as the Silver Sneakers program for seniors.

Never skimp on medications. To manage high prescription costs, call the manufacturer for discounts or ask your doctor about free samples. Depression accompanies chronic pain for over a third of those with frequent illnesses, according to Harvard Health. The Affordable Care Act guarantees access to mental health services, as does Medicaid. Contact your health insurer to review coverages and find treatment. Therapy does not have to be long-term to provide relief. Even a few visits with a therapist can help you create a plan to better cope with your chronic condition.

Finally, support groups for almost any kind of condition flourish in today’s online world. Facing an organ transplant? There’s a group for that. Feeling the effects of your diabetes? Start with the American Diabetes Association or Google “diabetes support groups.” Whether in person or online, support groups can help you find common ground with those who share your condition and provide helpful tips to help you better manage your disease. You don’t need to suffer with a chronic condition alone.

If you have any questions about what sources of support may be covered by your health insurance, call or email us. We are always here to help.

Understanding What Auto Insurance You Need

Even for people with stellar driving records, auto insurance premiums can take a bite out of everyone’s pocketbook. Understanding what each element of your coverage means is the key to saving money while ensuring you have a tailor-made policy that’s exactly the right fit for you.

Liability. While this coverage is required by law, the minimum amount varies by state. Liability insurance protects you in the event you are held responsible for bodily injury or property damage to another party. Sage advice is to carry a bodily injury liability policy with a minimum of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident (with the addition of enough property damage liability coverage to cover the cost of a new car). Considering all the potential costs of chaos, from medical bills to potential lawsuits, it’s often recommended to increase your limits to $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident to be on the safe side.

Collision. This type of insurance is not required by law, but it covers the cost of damage to your car after an accident. Depending on the current resale value of your car, collision coverage may not make sense for you to carry, since you’ll be paying more than what your car is worth.

Comprehensive. This coverage protects you from things that aren’t included under collision, such as fire or theft. If you lease a car, this coverage may be required, but most vehicle owners choose to add this coverage anyway, since it is often inexpensive and covers virtually any type of damage to the vehicle.

Deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. If you have a decent savings fund, are a good driver and are willing to assume the risk, paying less for your premium may make sense for you.

We’re here to help steer you in the right direction! Make an appointment today to review your auto policy. Let’s work together to meet your financial goals and match your coverage preferences and requirements.

Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Catastrophes

Congratulations! You’re a homeowner! With the pride this accomplishment entails, you’ve also quickly become familiar with all of the obscure yet critical details, responsibilities and laws it includes. Here’s a primer on some items not covered by typical homeowners insurance and what additional policies might be needed to protect your investment.

Earth. Anything that can do the hokey pokey and move your home around; earth movement that lifts, lowers, shifts, sinks, expands or contracts your home is included in this category.

Water. The ultimate “other” category; damage not covered by a standard policy, including items such as sewer main blockages, stormwater and backups from growing tree roots. Also, while damage from an exploding water heater might be covered, you’re responsible for the cost to replace the unit.

Maintenance. Become familiar with how insurance views “general maintenance”; items not covered are defined as “neglect” or “failure to properly maintain” your property. This can include rust, rot, mold and general wear and tear. Other notable items include damage from termites, insects, birds or rodents. Depending on your proximity to industrial or agricultural operations, damage caused by smog or smoke may also not be covered.

Prized possessions. Many standard policies only cover losses due to theft up to $1,500. So on top of the emotional damage as an unfortunate victim of burglary, you’ll also have to go through the process of replacing precious jewelry and other high-value items.

If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t updated your policy in years, it might be time for a second look. Give us a call today, and we’ll help to make sure that you’re pragmatically protected.

8 Ways to Protect Your Business from Fraud

To the tune of an estimated annual $7.4 billion loss, fraud poses a major global threat to all types of organizations. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees are hit even harder than larger corporations, carrying over half of the crime load and, at almost double the losses, experiencing a higher than average cost per event.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), weak internal controls and fraud prevention protocols are the number one reason these crimes occur. Having systems in place and a solid strategy around internal anti-fraud controls results in overall quicker detection and thereby lowers losses incurred. Here are the top ways you can protect your business.

Stop playing ostrich. Accepting that fraud does happen and having awareness that this could happen to you are paramount. Understanding the modalities through which fraud occurs and identifying the vulnerable hotspots within your organization are key to both preventing and combating these crimes. When identifying weak spots, remember to also assess risk with customers, contractors and third parties.

A focus on culture. Building a transparent culture of checks and balances, honesty and transparency as well as a focus on maintaining and building happy employees is one of the best ways to prevent fraud from arising internally.

Employees who are satisfied in their roles and overall happy with their jobs have more to lose and thereby less incentive to commit fraud.

Educate to eliminate. Help your people help you. Small businesses often don’t have training programs for managers and employees to help identify the “red flags” and “gray areas.” Consider investing in training your people to help uphold your core values. With this, a stated anti-fraud policy in the employee handbook or code of conduct helps to reinforce your position.

Take a tip. Noting that an estimated 40% of all fraud cases were originally detected with an internal tip-off, with a third of those tips coming from outside parties (such as customers and vendors), those companies that had encouraged reporting systems, such as hotlines, detected and resolved fraudulent activity more quickly than those without measures in place.

Technology upgrade. With technological advances, why aren’t businesses better at preventing such crimes? Lack of full-spectrum fraud detection software across separate platforms and multiple disparate legacy systems in place turn accurate detection into one of manual tracking and audits across the multiverse of papers, platforms and processes. Seek to harmonize your digital and paper trails into a unified system and protocols.

Surprise audits. Considering the average time of detection for fraud crimes is about one year, increasing the frequency of internal audits helps to catch these activities earlier (and, considering most victim companies recovered nothing, also helps with loss prevention). More than this, companies that proactively implemented the “surprise audit” experienced the largest reduction in fraudulent activity.

Take active measures. Most importantly, take an active stance and implement measures that combat fraudulent activity. Organizations can reduce the fiscal damages and impact fraud creates by pursuing multilevel accountability, internal controls and policies that actively detect fraud.

Those that take a “passive” stance are likely to experience schemes that persist for much longer, resulting in higher overall losses (and future headaches).

Insurance coverage. Even the most risk-averse business owner cannot cover the unforeseen. The best way to minimize the impact of fraud is to have an insurance policy in place. We can help you better understand your overall risks and evaluate which commercial crime insurance plan is right for you. We’re here to keep you covered, and we’re just a call or email away.

Should I Consider a BOP or CPP Insurance Bundle?

To briefly discuss a critical and complex topic for small business owners, let’s do a quick overview with an analogy to something simple we can all enjoy: pizza!

Business Owner Insurance (BOP) is like a standard Domino’s pizza. Its preset bundle of ingredients is designed to meet the needs and requirements of most small businesses and is practical in terms of cost and coverage.

A Commercial Policy Package (CPP) is more of a build-your-own, à la carte menu of options for those with more specific appetites or dietary requirements when there are unique risks within that business’s industry that necessitate extra coverage. This might sound expensive, but because it can be built from the ground up, it facilitates nearly unlimited options and has the capacity to be more cost-effective (rather than purchasing a standard BOP policy and adding additional menu items to your order).

Keep in mind, while BOP and CPP packages cover the majority of the gamut of coverage business owners need, they often do not include vital coverage for other key ingredients, such as commercial flood insurance, workers’ compensation and other crucial liability insurances.

Also, with the impact that COVID-19 has had on many brick-and-mortar businesses, it is critical for those now operating businesses out of their homes to know that homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude liability coverage for all business operations.

We’re here to help you painlessly place your order; we’ll assist you in understanding and confidently deciding which policy type is best for you. Our goal is to help you navigate toward options that make the most holistic sense for your business in terms of risk management, budgets and bringing you a personal sense of stability.

Did You Know Certain Car Safety Features Can Lower Your Premium?

When shopping for a car, many people look at a variety of features on a vehicle, such as interior and exterior color, make and model, stereo, electronics and other options that will make their drive time more pleasant. However, few consider the effect the safety features can have on lowering their insurance premiums. The next time you go car shopping, look for some of these safety features that protect not only you and your passengers but your wallet as well.

Size and weight. Many potential buyers think bigger is better, but that’s not necessarily so when it comes to cars. Very large vehicles, such as SUVs, often have the potential to roll over and can be less safe than midsize sedans. Make sure to review your vehicle’s safety ratings.

Restraints. Far from the days when only seat belts were offered, today’s vehicles now have more extensive restraint systems. Some of the key elements to look for are locking head restraints, side airbags and lap and shoulder belts with crash tensioners.

Make sure you can reach the pedals without putting yourself too close to the steering wheel. Steering column airbags can cause serious injury if they’re too close.

Daytime lights. More vehicles now feature daytime running lights that allow them to be more visible to all motorists no matter the weather, decreasing the chances of daytime accidents.

Backup cameras. Video systems that allow you to see what is happening behind your vehicle dramatically increase safety by eliminating blind spots. Backup cameras can help prevent collisions and save lives.

Other safety features like warning systems and anti-lock brakes can help reduce the likelihood of a crash and further reduce the likelihood of claims.

Next time you’re in the market for a new vehicle, check with us about potential discounts on premiums based on specific vehicle features. We are just a call or email away.

What Insurance Coverage Does Your Hobby Need?

So many Americans pass the time with hobbies that keep them entertained and add value to their lives. From collecting model trains to restoring antique furniture, there are a variety of ways that your hobby can add up to a substantially expensive endeavor. Some hobbyists’ collections or work are worth thousands of dollars.

Most collectors rarely think of the value of their hobbies, instead of focusing on the enjoyment they provide to them and their families. Hobbies can quickly add up to significant amounts of money whether you build, collect or play. If you’ve invested quite a bit in your hobby, it is worth it to do a quick review.

The first question you should ask is if the value of your items and supplies themselves is worth more than $500. If so, you should take action to make sure they are properly protected.

Carefully review your insurance policies to ensure your homeowners or renters policy covers the items you use for your hobby in case of damage or theft.

For some very expensive hobbies, you may want to look into a separate rider that covers the amount of money you would need to replace your collection or hobby supplies. There are certain limits to most policies, and high-value items may max out the coverage.

Even if your hobby investment is less than $500, make sure to include the high-priced items in your home inventory list.

If you have any questions about how your insurance policy covers your hobby or if you need a separate rider, contact our office today via email or phone. We are always here to help.

Why Life Insurance May Be More Affordable than You Think

A life insurance policy can be an affordable way to protect your family. But some people don’t purchase life insurance because they think it will be too expensive. That is not necessarily the case, however.

Life insurance is designed to provide for a partner or a family that relies on your income. If you pass away, your family members may not be able to get back on their feet easily.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely made people more aware of their own mortality, with life insurance applications jumping in 2020, according to MIB Group. But it may not be enough. According to a 2020 study by Limra, just 59% of Americans have life insurance, and about half of those who do have life insurance do not have enough.

You may want to discuss life insurance with your spouse or partner to determine what his or her needs are. Certainly, it is not an easy discussion. No one likes to anticipate his or her own death. But if a loved one relies on your income, you will undoubtedly want to ensure he or she is cared for if something happens to you.

If you’re concerned about cost, you can make life insurance more affordable by purchasing a policy sooner rather than later. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be healthy, and the healthier you are, the lower the premium will be. There are also different types of life insurance, some more affordable than others. Term life insurance is the most affordable. It pays a benefit to your survivors when you die within a specified period of time. Whole life insurance is more expensive. It combines investing with term life insurance.

If you’re concerned about your life insurance coverage, reach out to our office so you can get the best information to help you determine how much insurance and which policy make the most sense for you.

Is It Safe to Visit the Dentist in Light of COVID-19?

Is your dentist still seeing patients? Whether dental practices have closed shop or are seeing patients only on an emergency basis depends on the dental office.

Early in the pandemic, some dental practices closed, as ordered by their states. However, as early as May 2020, many dental practices began to reopen, either for emergency services or for all routine and elective procedures. The American Dental Association and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommend each dental practice evaluate its specific risk, given the area’s COVID-19 situation. According to the CDC, “Dental settings should balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and dental healthcare personnel.”

Many people are avoiding dental care unless they are in pain, delaying routine visits like cleanings and semiannual checkups. If you decide to visit your dentist, here are a few things you should expect from your dental practice.

Your dentist’s staff should contact you prior to your visit to determine whether you’ve traveled outside the country or experienced any COVID-like symptoms.

Your dentist will probably ask you to come alone. If you’re disabled or have difficulty walking, ask your dentist to make an exception. It’s better to ask than risk falling on your way into or out of your dentist’s office. Alternatively, a staff member should be able to assist you into and out of your vehicle.

Be sure to wear a mask. The practice should have removed all magazines, but don’t touch anything once inside.

It’s not a bad idea to ask your dentist what additional precautions they may be taking and whether they’ve had any COVID-19 infection issues within their practice.

Dental insurance is surprisingly affordable. Call or email us to learn more about dental insurance plans. We can help determine what options are best for you.

Laid off? How to Manage Your Disability Coverage

With the high unemployment rate due to COVID-19 , many Americans are losing their short- and long-term disability benefits. Just like life insurance, your disability insurance is a benefit your employer may offer on a group basis. If you’re laid off, you may lose access to that coverage because you’re no longer part of that group. If you lose your job, you may lose the group rate or lose access to your disability coverage entirely. Whether you can buy your own coverage through that plan or lose access will depend on your company’s policies and how the insurance company writing the group insurance policy administers its coverage.

If you’re furloughed, you may still have disability coverage for a short period. In response to COVID-19, some employers have worked directly with their disability carriers to extend benefits for the expected length of the furlough. Some group plans will offer laid-off employees the ability to convert their short- and long-term disability coverage to an individual plan. However, you’ll be responsible for the entire premium, whereas previously, your employer probably paid the bulk of the premium.

Should you face this situation, ask your group disability carrier for a quote to continue coverage if your group plan offers that option. Then shop that coverage with an insurance agent who specializes in disability coverage. No two plans are alike. You may be able to purchase a policy with richer benefits for the same or even a lower premium.

If you’re facing a layoff, call or email us for more information about managing your disability benefits. We are always here to help.

Don’t Roll the Dice with These Insurance Gambles

Taking calculated risks is part of a good business strategy for millions of small business owners. However, taking a gamble on business insurance can be potentially devastating. For many inexperienced small business owners struggling to juggle their own day-to-day worries, mistakes abound when considering and making decisions on insurance coverage. Some of these mistakes even include going without insurance coverage in the hopes that the business can save money. This often proves to be much more costly in the end than simply having obtained a business insurance policy to begin with. Below are the three most common mistakes that are always losing gambles for your small business, no matter how you roll the dice.

“Let it ride.” Work closely with your insurance agent to determine the optimal coverage for your business no matter where it is based. For example, a home-based business is not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy that did not take a business into account when it was created, and if you do contract work, any insurance a client may have on their own business will not cover your business. If your security blanket rests on the hope that your business is covered without verifying the specifics of the insurance policy, you may well find out none of your losses are covered, and you will be on the hook for a significant amount of money.

“All in.” Businesses need certain tried-and-true basic policies that they can rely on and refer to. These necessary policies include property insurance, liability insurance, business vehicle insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. However, viewing these basic policies as the only solution could leave your business at risk. A cookie-cutter approach will not help your business, as each business has its own industry-specific risks that may require specialized policies.

“Winning streak.” You may have been lucky and no disaster has befallen your business yet. However, this does not mean that disaster cannot hit your business and that you will continue to live without an accident or other occurrence. You are not invincible. Without sufficient coverage, your business, reputation and future profits are likely at risk. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not survive incidents that lead to large claims. You should ensure you have appropriate business insurance policies in place and, if you haven’t, consider business interruption insurance so you can maintain cash flow even during the most trying of times.

Rather than gamble with your business and fritter away its potential growth, ask our office for any counsel you may need. No question is too insignificant or too complicated. Our insurance experts will prevent you from gambling with your company and walk you through how you can select the best insurance policy for your business in both the short and long term. With extensive insurance knowledge and your best interests in mind, we are a sure bet. Call or email us today. We are always here to help.

Identity Theft Happens in Business Too

Millions of Americans scrupulously guard their identities and personally identifiable information for fear that their bank accounts will be compromised, identities stolen and a parade of difficulties will follow them at the hands of those who wish to steal their identities. However, they will often not exercise the same care with their business “identities.” Even for small businesses that try their best with free tools, professional identity thieves can evade this type of protection and gain access to lines of credit or accounts. Here are some of the ways businesses can protect their identities.

Monitoring service. Businesses can enroll in monitoring services that continuously monitor any activity on their companies’ credit reports, looking for any red flags.

EIN. For many small business owners, using their Social Security numbers and establishing sole proprietorships are the easiest things to do practically. However, this could lead to exposure for both your personal and business finances if either is compromised. Small business owners should obtain Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to separate both and reduce risk.

Data protection. Keeping your passwords in a safe, protected place is a crucial part of protecting your data. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software in addition to a secure password manager.

Insurance. A cyber insurance policy can make all the difference in recovering from significant loss related to identity theft in the unfortunate event it does happen. Call or email us today, and we can review your insurance coverage to make sure your business is protected. We are always here to help.

Are You Keeping Your New Gifts Safe and Insured?

Valentine’s Day often means flowers, chocolates and a nice dinner at home or out on the town. It also sometimes means the purchase of expensive jewelry, electronics or other items. Here are five tips to keep those new gifts protected.

Don’t store gifts in a car. If your car is broken into, your insurance may cover the damage to your car but not the loss of the gifts inside. Once you are home, bring the gifts inside right away. Don’t leave them in your car.

If you must store gifts in the car, be safe. Store your gifts out of sight in the trunk or glove box, not under coats or blankets. That’s an invitation for thieves to break into your car. If you have multiple shopping stops, move your car multiple times. Thieves keep an eye out for shoppers who drop off items and go back into the mall.

Your home should always look occupied. Around holidays like Valentine’s Day, when there is a lot of shopping happening, thieves will target empty homes and break in and look for gifts and boxes from stores.

Keep receipts and get appraisals. If the value of an item is disputable, it can’t be properly insured. Receipts and appraisals prove value. If you buy art, collectibles or jewelry, make sure you don’t skip the important step of getting an appraisal.

Expand your insurance coverage. As soon as you buy an expensive item, call us to expand your coverage and make sure your new gifts are safe with the option that is right for you.

True or False: Insurance Is Cheaper for Leased Cars

Cars are significant investments for millions of Americans, from the price of the monthly payments to gas and maintenance costs. It’s helpful when you can save on car insurance. Some wonder whether insurance is cheaper for leased cars or cars that you buy outright.

However, the idea that insurance is cheaper for leased cars is nothing but a myth. Car insurance is not based on how you purchase a car. Car insurance is primarily based on your driving record and the make, model and year of the car.

One of the considerations with leasing a car is that you may have to add the lender to your insurance policy, given that they have an interest in the vehicle. Thus, if you get into a crash and make a claim, the lender will be able to recover the portion they are still owed.

Besides that, the coverage options for car insurance on a leased versus owned vehicle should remain the same. The premium has to do with the condition of the car and the cost to make repairs, not the lease option. Typically, the newer, more expensive and rarer the vehicle, the higher your insurance premium will be due to the higher cost of making repairs.

Whether you buy or lease a car, consult with us for sample quotes before you make a decision that could cost you thousands in the long run. We are always here to help, and we’re just a phone call or email away.

Let’s Debunk 5 Common Life Insurance Myths

Life insurance may seem simple, but that is not always the case. Even when buying the most basic policy, which is called term life insurance, you still have to consider the appropriate time and level of coverage. To make things a bit easier, here we dispel three common myths about life insurance.

Myth #1: You do not need coverage because you have no dependents. Some people think they only need life insurance if they are the primary breadwinners in their families, but that thinking is outdated. Yes, life insurance is often used to cover your salary if you pass away. But life insurance can also be used to cover personal debts and end-of-life expenses, such as a funeral service.

Myth #2: You have employer-paid coverage, so you do not need any additional life insurance. This may be true, but it may not be. How much insurance does your employer provide? If you have dependents, you may need more life insurance than your employer provides. And what will you do for insurance if you leave that employer for any reason? Will the insurance come with you? You may need a supplemental policy outside of your employer to ensure full coverage regardless of your employment circumstances.

Myth #3: Your coverage should be a multiple of your annual salary. Traditional wisdom often says that your life insurance coverage should be around twice your annual salary. But how much life insurance you need should be computed based on outflows, not inflows. Your life insurance needs depend not on how much money you have earned and accumulated but on how much you spend.

There are other considerations when purchasing life insurance, of course; these are just a few factors among many that you may want to consider.

We can provide additional input and help you choose the right life insurance policy to keep your family properly protected.

Hearing Loss Is a Social Problem: Deafness Is More than Physical

Are you straining to hear? Do your loved ones snap at you when you ask them to repeat themselves? It may be time for you to get a hearing test. Hearing loss is a common problem as we age. The National Institute on Aging estimates about one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 suffers hearing loss. For those over 75, more than half have trouble. There’s a hidden risk to hearing loss: isolation.

The American Academy of Audiology finds that untreated hearing loss can lead to depression. Some doctors ignore the signs of hearing loss, rationalizing, “You’re just getting older.” However, recent studies conducted by the National Council on Aging found that hearing-impaired adults age 50 and older reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and even paranoia than a non-hearing-impaired group. The study also found that those with untreated deafness were less likely to engage in social activities. This avoidance can create a cycle leading to even more depression.

Over-the-counter hearing aids don’t require a prescription and may help with mild hearing impairment. Better, ask your doctor to refer you to an audiologist, who can measure your hearing and fit you with hearing aids if needed. However, before you shop for hearing aids, check with your health insurer regarding coverage. Hearing aids are expensive. You may want to visit an audiologist who allows a trial period to see if the recommended hearing aids work.

Hearing loss can arise from other factors. Noise-induced hearing loss arises from long-term exposure to loud noises, such as military service or factory work. If you’re a veteran, visit your local Veterans Benefits Administration office for audiology services. If you suspect your hearing loss is work related, you may find treatment under your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.

Don’t suffer in silence. Get hearing help to live the best life possible. Contact us if you have questions on what is covered by your medical insurance policy.

Improving Social Determinants of Health: A New Factor in Healthcare

Do you wonder why your doctor asks you a lot of personal questions? Your doctor may be evaluating your “social determinants of health” (SDOH). According to the Centers for Disease Control, SDOHs include the following questions:

Are you safe in your home?

Is food readily available to you, and can you prepare your meals?

Is your home uncluttered and tidy?

Can you access your prescription drugs?

Many hospital readmissions occur when these factors cause problems. A new focus on SDOHs by Medicare and other health insurers not only helps ensure the health of the patient but also helps doctors address these risk factors. If you’re hospitalized, your prerelease evaluation should tackle these factors. Determining if you can obtain your medications, cook your meals, and clean your home are just a few considerations healthcare practitioners should discuss with you.

In 2021, 64 percent of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will offer supplemental benefits to improve patient care and decrease hospital readmissions. While covered skilled nursing assistance provides wound and ostomy care, issues like a cluttered home environment or weakness from hunger can seriously impede healing. Adding benefits like home care, in which non-skilled providers offer in-home assistance with activities of daily living such as cleaning and prescription pickup, can greatly reduce healthcare costs.

Don’t be surprised if your doctor asks personal questions. Request in-home assistance if you need it. If your MA plan provides these benefits, it can help with healing and prevent a possible hospital readmission.

If you’re choosing an MA plan, contact us about these important benefits.

5 Top TED Talks on How to Change an Industry (and the World)

March will celebrate the anniversary of the first motion picture (1885), Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the first telephone (1876), Coca-Cola’s accidental formulation (1886) and the day light was first created from electricity (1877). All of these changed the world of their time.

How do we change the world? How do we change an industry? How can we do things differently, challenge “the way it has always been” and foster innovation? Here are some insights from TED Talks that are all about ideas that can change the world.

The Art of Innovation. Famed marketer and author Guy Kawasaki shares his top 10 evergreen lessons about the art and heart of curve-shifting innovation. Watch here

How Play Leads to Great Inventions. Many of today’s technologies have surprisingly been born out of good, old-fashioned fun. Pulling from history’s revolutionary ideas, Steven Johnson explains how “necessity isn’t always the mother of invention.” Watch here

The Puzzle of Motivation. Career analyst Dan Pink explains the research behind how our brain’s reward systems change when tackling a creative task. Incentives can actually harm creative performance, whereas autonomy, mastery and purpose are linchpins of highly engaged work that is productive and innovative. Watch here

The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers. Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “original thinkers” and shares the key ways these dreamers innovate to create tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Watch here

The New Rules of Innovation. In this talk, Carl Bass discusses the five most powerful trends that are accelerating the rate of innovation at an extraordinary pace. Watch here