smiling ethnic woman with short hair and purple shirt with happy family blurred behind

Is Term Life Insurance Right for You?

According to a recent study done by LIMRA’s Life Insurance Barometer, roughly 85 percent of people in this country believe that they need at least some form of life insurance coverage and yet, only 62 percent actually have it. But then the question becomes, what form of life insurance is right for you and your family and could it be term life insurance?

Life insurance, by nature, has been designed to act as a financial safety net for your family in the event of your death. But when researching the differences between whole and term life insurance policies, the options can seem confusing.

What is the difference between Term Life and Whole Life Insurance?

When most people think about life insurance, they are more than likely thinking about whole life insurance. Unlike term life, whole (or permanent) life insurance is for your entire life span or up to age 100 in some cases, whereas term life is designed to provide coverage for a pre-specified period of time often ranging anywhere from 1 to forty years.

Cost is another key difference between the two policies. While most whole life insurance policies tend to have a higher premium from the start, many times your rate will not go up. Term life insurance, on the other hand, determines premiums based on the age of the policyholder, therefore a policyholder in their forties, for example, would have a higher premium than an individual in their twenties.

Whole life insurance also accumulates a cash value over time that grows at a guaranteed rate and is tax deferred. As the policyholder, you are able to borrow against the policy but you must be ready to pay the money back with interest. This is a feature of whole life insurance that term life does not offer.

happy family enjoying a sunny picnic outside celebrating group term life insuranceWhy Term Life May Be Right For You

While term life insurance might not be right for everyone, it may end up being a better fit for you, your budget, and your family when compared to whole life insurance.

Due to the fact that term life policies tend to be less costly overall (especially for those in younger age brackets), they might make more sense for new or growing families. Many who opt for a term life policy are entry to mid-level in their careers and may not have the kind of saving habits or capabilities to cover their family or debts in the event of an early death.

With a term life policy, your payout benefits could give your family and dependents the financial support they would need to not only pay for funeral expenses, but also supplement the loss of your income, and help put your children through college in the event of your death.

As term life policies generally provide you with coverage for a pre-specified period of time, once your term of coverage is over, the policyholder would then need to renew their current policy at higher rates or seek out a new life insurance policy should they wish to maintain their coverage.

Ultimately the decision between term life insurance and whole life insurance is a personal one and should be discussed with your family, agent, or both. When you truly examine your finances and current situation, you may find that a term life insurance policy would be a better fit for you in the long run and save you money in the short-term.

Are you ready to learn more about the Term Life policies that are available to you? Visit your association page for more information, or contact us to speak with a benefits counselor who can assist you.

Have you heard about our recent insurance additions? If not, feel free to check out our recent blog on Critical Illness Insurance!

county map of missouri and kansas

Blue Cross Abandons Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchange in Missouri

UPDATE 6/13/2017: 

St. Louis-based Insurance company, Centene Corp., has announced plans to enter the Missouri, Kansas, and Nevada Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges in 2018. In April of this year, Centene CEO Michael Neidorff was quoted as saying “As to exchanges, we see nothing at this point to prevent us from proceeding with our 2018 marketplace participation.

According to Kansas City Business Journal, “As of March 31st, Centene served about 1.2 million exchange members, up about 500,00 from the previous year.” Centene Corp. is also expected to expand its six current markets in Washington, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, and Texas signaling the potential for even more growth in 2018.

In a statement, Neidorff said, “Centene recognizes there is uncertainty of new healthcare legislation, but we are well positioned to continue providing accessible, high quality and culturally sensitive healthcare services to our members” according to an article on Reuters.

 

Citing major and “unsustainable” financial losses, insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield have announced plans to abandon individual plans offered through the Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchange for 2018 in both Missouri and Kansas.

According to the press release, “Like many other health insurers across the country, we have been faced with challenges in this market. Through 2016, we have lost more than $100 million. This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation.”

This decision comes on the heels of Aetna’s recent decision to completely pull out of the insurance exchange program after a citing a $450 million loss financial loss in 2016 and an additional projected $200 million loss this year.

While Blue Cross has roughly 1 million members in the affected area, they are estimating that approximately 67,000 will lose coverage. The new decision will not impact members who purchased their plans prior to October 1st, 2013, those who purchased Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, short-term or student health plan from Blue KC, or members who have Blue Cross coverage through their employer.

Nonetheless, the move by Blue Cross comes as a major blow to families and individuals in the area, not to mention the Affordable Care Act itself. Out of the 32 counties the decision impacts, 25 will be left without any options available on the exchange as the situation stands today. Insurance providers have until June 21st to inform the government where or if they will sell plans on the insurance exchanges for 2018.

missouri counties effected by Blue Cross decision to leave ACA exchangeThe State of the ACA Insurance Exchange in Missouri

According to Fox4kc.com “This year, 97 out of Missouri’s 114 counties and the City of St. Louis have only one insurer offering plans on the exchanges. Earlier this year, Humana announced that it is also withdrawing from the exchanges. As things stand today, that leaves 25 counties with no insurer option and 77 counties with only one insurer option next year.

This comes on top of a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services showing that under Obamacare insurance premiums in Missouri’s individual market have increased by an astonishing 145% in just four years.”

Missouri isn’t the only state where insurance providers have been struggling. Healthcare Economist at Washington University in St. Louis, Tim McBride, believes the decision made by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City “is part of a larger trend with insurers pulling out of marketplaces in Virginia and Iowa as well.”

If you find yourself one of the 67,000 people in the Missouri and Kansas area that this decision impacts—we can help. For over 30 years, we have assisted thousands of employers and individuals secure the coverage they need for themselves and their families. Our benefits counselors are on hand M-F 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and are specially trained in helping attorneys with their insurance needs and may be able to help in the event of a loss of coverage for 2018.

Stay tuned to Member Benefits for more updates, or contact us today at www.memberbenefits.com/contact-us/ to see what options may be available to you.

To view the full press release from Blue Cross Blue Shield visit www.bluekc.com.

happy woman with blue eyes smiling her half hidden face wearing fun eye glasses

6 Best Online Stores to Purchase Eyeglasses From

With a variety of lens materials, types, and coatings available to choose from – sitting in your optometrist’s office listening to the tech rattle off your options can understandably feel overwhelming. For the most part, consumers want something to get the job done at the lowest possible price unless they have other very specific concerns.

However, depending on your location, prescription strength and needs, as well as your eye doctor, you could be spending anywhere from approximately $95 to over $1,000 for a pair of prescription eyeglasses. According to health.costhelper.com , consumers spend on average approximately $196 for a pair of eyeglasses, and until fairly recently they didn’t have much of a choice.

However, over the course of the past 10 to 15 years, a new kind of eyeglass business has hit the market, cutting out the middleman, and cutting the ultimate cost for consumers. Zenni Optical, for example, will sell the complete set of fashionable eyeglasses (frame and lenses) for as low as $12, and their competitors aren’t too far behind.

Just in the past five years, a number of these online eyeglass retailers have been the talk of the fiscally conscious eyeglass consumer community since their inception.

But with all of these new online retailers on the market, which ones are the best to purchase eyeglasses from?

young trendy man wearing eyeglasses purchased online on the street1. Zenni Optical

Founded in 2003, Zenni Optical has quickly become one of the most buzzed about online eyeglass retailers on the web today. One of the few sites where customers are able to upload their own photos or select from one of Zenni’s models to try on available frames using the Zenni Frame Fit feature. Search by frame shape or material, and in the event you are unhappy with your finished products, Zenni will issue a 50% refund. Complete eyeglasses can be purchased for under $20.

2. EyeBuy Direct

Boasting rates almost as low as Zenni, with EyeBuy Direct, shoppers can look to purchase eyeglasses for under $50. While there is no virtual mirror, the site does offer a 14-day fit and style guarantee policy. In the event a customer is unhappy with their purchase for any reason, they are able to exchange or return their eyeglasses. One service EyeBuy Direct offers that few others seem to is that customers become eligible for a one-time replacement pair of eyeglasses within 12 months of purchase. This benefit comes with certain stipulations but if you are someone with bad luck when it comes to the lifespan of your eyewear, EyeBuy Direct may be worth checking out.

3. Warby Parker

One of the latest retailers to emerge in the market is Warby Parker . From their marketing to their selection of frames, Warby Parker seems to appeal to a trendier eclectic crowd, even going so far as to be selling the whimsical “Colonel Monocle.” Though slightly more expensive than competitors, Warby Parker offers a host of other perks that may prove worth it to some consumers.

To start, as a customer you have the option of selecting up to five frames and having them sent to you to try on for free for five days. No models, no uploading photos, and no cost. If you’re having trouble deciding on frames to try, Warby Parker offers an online style quiz with results tailored to your face shape, frame shape preferences, colors, and frame materials.

The majority of frames found on their website can be purchased for $95. If that seems a little high, it could be because for every pair of glasses Warby Parker sells they donate another pair to those in need.

Young woman reading about how to purchase eyeglasses4. Ottica

Because Ottica features a wide selection of designer frames, consumers can expect to spend a bit more than other online eyeglass retailers on the web depending on frames but still be able to pocket some deep savings. Like a select few other competitors, buyers are able to upload their own photos, or select photos of models and try frames on virtually.

Ottica boasts a selection of over 2,000 designer frames on their website and offers customers a full refund if a purchased pair of frames is returned within 30 days.

5. GlassesUSA

To students, GlassesUSA may be your best bet. Unlike any of the other online eyeglass retailers on this list, GlassesUSA allows students (and first-time buyers) to purchase eyeglasses at a steep 55 percent discount off their already discounted designer options.

Customers are able to upload photos of themselves in order to try the frames on virtually and receive free shipping and returns on their order. In the event you are unsatisfied with your purchase, GlassesUSA will issue you a full refund within 14 days of purchase.

6. Frames Direct

For those a little leery of placing an order for prescription eyeglasses online, Frames Direct may be the online retailer for you. Founded in 1996, Frames Direct claims to be the first online eyeglass retailer on the market for consumers. For every order that comes through their system, a licensed optician is on hand to review the prescription levels and work to ensure that there are no errors. Like certain other online retailers, Frames Direct sells designer frames at a discounted rate.

An added bonus of purchasing eyeglasses online, is that a number of these online retailers accept vision insurance. If you wish to learn more about our vision insurance option, please visit www.memberbenefits.com/dental-and-vision/.

 

older man in blue collar shirt smiling in car with family

How Our Critical Illness Insurance Can Save Your Practice

Exclusive Group Critical Illness Insurance savings to eligible bar members, employees of members, and eligible dependents with coverage beginning as early as June 1st!

According to facts compiled by the Center for Disease Control, every year more than 1.53 million Americans suffer a heart attack or stroke alone and unlike other competitor policies, this Group Critical Illness Insurance offers whole or partial coverage of 14 different illnesses that could strike you or your loved ones at any time.

But despite all the benefits of enrolling, there are still some key reasons for not waiting to take advantage of this special offer.

1. There is no time like the present.

The time to enroll in Critical Illness Insurance will never be better than it is now. The reason for this is that insurance companies tend to calculate your premium for this type of insurance annually based on one’s age. Therefore, depending on which option you choose, your monthly premium could cost anywhere from $4.67 to $105.63.

young woman holding blueberries in the blue shirt
2. You can only purchase Critical Illness Insurance when you’re healthy.

If you think this is a type of insurance you can get once you’ve already been diagnosed, think again. Like most insurance types, Critical Illness Insurance benefits will only be paid out to you in the event of a diagnosis that occurs on or after your insured date.

3. Group Critical Illness Insurance means coverage for your family.

While you may believe that you won’t need Critical Illness Insurance anytime soon, could you say the same thing about your loved ones? By enrolling in the policy, you have the option to select coverage for any of your family members as well.

4. Coverage included for 14 different illness types.

As opposed to other Critical Illness Insurance policies offered by other companies, the policy offered by Allstate Benefits insures whole or partial coverage for 14 different illnesses, ranging from heart attack all the way to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.


5. Tax-Free Benefit Payment in the event of diagnosis.

According to a 2013 report by NerdWallet Health and later picked up by CNBC, every year approximately 2 million people in the United States file for bankruptcy as a result of staggering medical bills that go unpaid. With Critical Illness Insurance, you are paid cash benefits following the diagnosis of one of the 14 illnesses covered by the Allstate Benefits policy.

Depending on your diagnosis and specific policy option, you could receive anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to help you cover anything from your rent or mortgage, to car insurance, basic bills and more while you recover. In the event your illness or recovery time render you unable to pay your monthly Critical Illness Insurance premium, your premium will be waived (this only applies to the policyholder).

6. Peace of Mind for you and your loved ones.

A survey conducted by NPR in 2015, revealed that of the population sampled, 26 percent of individuals with and without insurance revealed that the cost of their health care “caused a serious financial problem.”

With Group Critical Illness Insurance, you and your family would be able to focus more on recuperating from an unfortunate medical diagnosis, rather than focus on how you’re going to be able to pay your medical bills.

Due to its new offering, Allstate Benefits has granted a Limited-Time Open Enrollment Period exclusive to eligible bar members. To learn more about Allstate Benefits Critical Illness Insurance, visit your association page to look over the brochure, which outlines policy options, pricing, a complete listing of covered illnesses and more.

To enroll yourself or your family in Allstate’s Group Critical Illness Insurance, visit your association page and be sure to enroll by July 31st.

Final Market Stabilization Rule

Did you know that approximately 500,000 fewer Americans enrolled in a plan during the open enrollment in 2017 than in 2016? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has issued the final market stabilization rule. The goal is to increase choices, lower premiums and encourage stability in health insurance markets for 2018.

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What is LifeLock?

Identity theft hit a record high in 2016, 15.4 million Americans fell victim – up 16 percent from 2015. *

 

LifeLock is the leader in identity theft protection services. Unlike a bank, a credit card company or a credit bureau, their focus is on protecting your identity – to help keep you safer in an always connected world.

DETECT & ALERT
Lifelock’s proprietary technology scans millions of transactions every second for threats to your identity.†

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Loss of Coverage

Special Enrollment Period

LOSS OF COVERAGE

DUE TO:
– Termination of group coverage
– Reduction of hours to part-time status
– Loss of employer contribution
– Cobra ending

You may qualify for a special enrollment period if you or anyone in your household lost qualified health coverage. You have 60 days from the date of your qualifying life event to enroll in coverage.

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