Welcome, readers! This is Abri News, where you’ll find helpful policy information to assist you in finding the best coverage for your needs. We cover a variety of topics here, including insurance plans, types of coverage, claim adjustments, conditions and clauses. Our most recent article is an overview of hurricane insurance. Hurricane Ida affected many who never expected to be hit by a hurricane, let alone major flooding and tornadoes. If you’re unsure whether you’re adequately covered in the event of a hurricane, now is a good time to check. Hurricane season doesn’t officially end until November 30th! Our last article, ‘Hurricane Season: Are You Covered?’ should be your next read!
Today, our focus is everyone’s favorite topic: saving money. Since health insurance is a must for most people and the government has a vested interest in ensuring everyone is covered—even partially—the existing tax code has certain provisions for deducting health-related costs from our annual returns. Health insurance makes up a large chunk of most American families' monthly expenditures. In 2020, the average national cost of health insurance for an individual was $456 per month. For a family, the cost was an estimated $1,152 per month. This adds up to $5,472 and $13,824 per year, respectively. Keep in mind these figures are averages. Health insurance costs can be significantly greater depending on the chosen plan, age of individual being covered, location, income, and number of those covered by the plan. (These estimates are also based on eHealth’s study of Affordable Care Act plans.)
The cost of health insurance is only predicted to rise in coming years. The reasons for such inflation are numerous. To begin with, the cost of medical care is increasing. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), national health spending will increase by an average rate of 5.5% every year and is predicted to reach six trillion by 2027. In addition to increasing medical costs, the price of pharmaceuticals is also rising. Between 2015 and 2019, the median price of generic drugs increased 37.6%. According to research done in the United States, six-in-ten adults have a chronic illness and 42% of American adults are obese. Our collectively declining health is likely to add to national health spending. Combine these elements with the lack of transparency concerning medical costs and you have a perfect recipe for rising health insurance premiums.
Overall, healthcare in the United States is not yet consumer-centric. Employers pay for a majority of health insurance plans. Most individuals are either unable or uninterested in evaluating the medical costs of various treatments. Since most insurers pay according to a fee-for-service system, doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers are incentivized to order more services than are strictly necessary. And, six of the largest health insurance companies have an effective monopoly on the healthcare market, which decreases competitive price pressure and increases the price of premiums across the board.
That’s why today we’re discussing the possibility of writing off healthcare premiums on your annual tax return. Many people aren’t even aware this deduction could be an option for them, which means many people are missing out on thousands of dollars in returns! With the cost of health insurance on the rise and the ongoing pandemic, there’s never been a better time to learn about the options available to you for deducting health insurance costs. We’ll help you determine if you’re eligible and how to proceed from there. If you’re interested, read on!
Am I eligible to deduct my health insurance premiums?
Like many write-offs and potential deductions, your eligibility boils down to your income and your expenses. If you spend above a certain percentage of your income on healthcare costs, including but not limited to premiums, then you may qualify to deduct a portion of your expenses from your yearly tax return. However, there are stipulations and caveats to this rule.
To begin with, if you are enrolled in a healthcare plan which is sponsored by your employer, chances are your premiums are already tax-free. Likewise, if your premiums are paid through deductions taken from your paycheck, this means they are being paid with pre-tax money and therefore are not eligible to be applied as a tax deduction.
Now, if you have been paying for your health insurance and associated health costs out-of-pocket, you’re eligible to deduct if those costs exceed 7.5% of your yearly gross adjusted income. Now, let’s break this figure down. Adjusted gross income, or AGI, is the sum total of all income (including dividends, royalties, spousal support, interest, capital gains, rental income, retirement distributions, etc. in addition to wages) subtracted by “allowable deductions” (including retirement plan contributions, student loan interest payments, early withdrawal penalties, etc.). For a list of income sources and allowable deductions, refer to this resource. When you’ve determined your AGI, then you’ll be able to determine how much 7.5% of your AGI is, and this is your healthcare expenses cap. Anything above this amount can be deducted. This includes, in addition to premiums: the cost of doctor’s visits, surgeries, procedures, dental care, vision care, and mental health services.
Here’s an example. Say, for instance, you make $75,000 in a year. Let’s also say you spent $9,300 on healthcare related costs. Seven-point-five percent of $75,000 is $5,625. According to these figures, anything you spent above $5,625 is deductible (i.e. $3,675). If you make less than $75,000 annually, your cut-off point will be lower. Likewise, if you make more than $75,000, your cut-off point will be higher. If you file jointly with a spouse, you’ll need to combine your gross adjusted income to determine your corresponding cut-off point. This cut-off point is almost like an insurance deductible. A deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in and shoulders the cost. Similarly, you’ll need to spend 7.5% of your AGI before your tax deduction kicks in. However, because the math is super simple, you can estimate these figures at the beginning of the year and know exactly when you reach the cut-off and can expect the money you spend on healthcare costs to come back to you.
You shouldn’t include any healthcare expenses which were reimbursed by either an employer or an insurance company. As well, when applying this deduction, you’ll need to opt out of the standard deduction and choose an itemized deduction instead. Therefore, make sure your itemized deduction will exceed the standard deduction beforehand. Keep exact figures on hand, including insurance statements and medical billing, as you will not want to guesstimate when entering your itemized deductions.
What if I’m self-employed?
Being self-employed comes with its own burdens, which is why the 7.5% cut-off does not apply to those who are self-employed. That’s right! Self-employed individuals are eligible to write-off the entirety of their health insurance premiums and associated healthcare costs with no regard to its percentage of their AGI. However, there are caveats here, as well. If a self-employed person had the option to receive coverage from an employer and opted out, they are ineligible. If a self-employed person has a second job which offers coverage, they are ineligible. Or, if a self-employed person can receive coverage through a spouse’s employer-sponsored plan, they are ineligible for the deduction. Additionally, if the self-employed person owns and operates their own business, they cannot deduct more than the amount of income generated by the business in the year they’re filing the return.
Whether you operate a sole proprietorship or a limited liability corporation, your health insurance and associated medical costs are a personal matter. Instead of filing this deduction within a business form, the deduction should be filed on the self-employed person’s individual tax return (i.e. 1040, not Schedule C).
If the cost of health insurance has been a monthly pain point or been deemed economically unfeasible by you, we hope this information helped! Everyone should have access to adequate health coverage. According to a survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, over 43% of adults were underinsured or without coverage when the pandemic occurred. If this deduction allows you to invest in healthcare coverage and be protected when the time comes, we’ve done our part!
If you need help finding the right insurance policy for your needs, reach out to us! Everyone here at Abri Insurance is eager to assist you in your search for the best coverage. Come back here to read the latest news and discover more about how to make the insurance industry work for you! Thanks for reading! Until next time!
A new year is spread out ahead of us, and anything is possible. We all know this to be very true after 2020. To be safe and to be prepared we wanted to provide our readers with a little insight into worker's compensation insurance!
Having a stable job has been a life raft for so many through 2020 and into this new year. We watched unemployment rise higher than it's been since the depression, the number of individuals applying for unemployment skyrocketed, and the realities of not having the insurance needed for your everyday life as a consequence of these occurrences was felt by many. If 2020 and early 2021 have taught us anything, it's to be prepared for anything and everything. You just don't know what could happen anywhere or anytime. Many individuals were forced to get a temporary job to replace a furloughed position, many in fields they were new or unaccustomed to. This came with an onslaught of all kinds of issues that many didn't expect. In a year where anything could happen, it's always best to be prepared and to and stay ahead of the game! Today, we are going to be discussing worker's compensation insurance, everything you need to know about it, its realities, and a few myths surrounding the topic that need to be debunked and left behind for good.
What You Need To Know & The Realities of Workers Compensation Insurance
There is so much information out there and available to you about worker's compensation. Some of it is buried in legal documentation, some are common knowledge, some your company shares with you, and some of it is talked about around the water cooler. What are the realities you need to know and understand about workers comp before you need it after an accident or mishap? The reality is that any company wants to keep you safe, but even after doing everything by the book and thinking above and beyond, even the safest work environment can't stop a human accident or err. For those who might be new to the working world, worker's compensation covers the cost of medical needs and rehabilitation for workers injured on the job. It is important to remember that worker's compensation varies from state to state. For all of our readers that are local, your worker's compensation is much different from our readers who might be on the west coast. Let's jump into what you need to know!
Kick the Myths
Now that you know a little more information about worker's compensation, it's time to kick some common myths to the curb.
We hope all of this information clears up all of your questions, fears, and concerns about worker's compensation insurance. You should not be afraid while on the job that you won’t be covered and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. Please research every one you wish to work with. If you’re a business owner, research the insurance company you’re looking to work with. If you’re an injured employee, please research any lawyer you want to work with. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns. We want you to stay as healthy and as safe as possible and to receive the care and benefits you need if you are ever sick or injured. We're Abri Insurance and we are here to make sure you have the best coverage for life in the Lowcountry!
It has been an incredibly challenging year, but with everything organized and in its place, one last thing you'll have to worry about at the end of this year and the beginning of next year are your insurance plans!
Hello readers, and welcome back to the blog! Can we all just sit back and relax and acknowledge that we did it? We made it through this year, we made it through another open enrollment period, and we are just about to step into a bright and fresh new year! We did it! We have so much to be thankful for, and we are so grateful for all of your support. We are happy to have helped so many of our returning customers find insurance plans that fit them perfectly for yet another year, and we are excited to have helped our new customers find the perfect insurance plans for their needs! Welcome to the Abri family! We are honored to help you, be here to support you, and keep you and your family safe and protected!
While our last blog was all about rushing to use up your benefits now that you may or may not have hit your deductible, this blog is going to be a little extra holiday gift from us you. There is so much to wrap up at the end of the year, and so much to prepare for when the ball drops at midnight and we all step into the new year. To really make the last few days of 2020 count and to get the best foot forward for 2021, we wanted to give you a checklist of sorts. In this blog, we are going to be talking about important end of the year things to do and not forget about when it comes to your insurance plans. We are also going to be talking about some of the best things to think about and do with your brand new insurance plans for your brand new year!
You've purchased all your gifts, sent out your holiday cards, decorated, baked, cooked, and planned. Your holidays are ready to go, but what about the rest of your end of the year affairs? Have you wrapped up everything you needed to with your insurance for 2020? Well, let's go through this list together, and let's see if your hard work has paid off or if there are a few last minute things to do with your insurance plans before we start toasting to 2021!
There you have it! What a list, and what an impressive amount of things to think about and get done before January 1st! We know that it might be difficult to make time to go through a checklist like this, but we promise that each of these bullet points is extremely important. If you are unsure about your insurance policies, have questions concerning life changes 2020 has brought you, or you are interested in upgrading your plans or finding a new provider, Abri is here for you! From all of us at Abri, we wish you and yours a very safe holiday and an even safer new year!
Coming to the end of the year means hurrying up and getting all of your health procedures done because you have or will be hitting your deductible. What does this really mean for you and your health?
Happy December, everyone! As we are quickly coming to the end of open enrollment and gearing up for a brand new year with a whole new deductible to meet, the rush to get in all of our doctor's appointments now and go through with all of those proceeds you've been waiting to get done is on before next year begins! However, this year might get in the way of that due to COVID restrictions and regulations, and the fact that this year has gone by so quickly. With so much going on in our insurance world, in your health journey, and with the holiday season being here, we wanted to dive a little more in-depth about hitting your deductible and what this can and cannot mean for your health and your bank account.
First and foremost, we do want to stress that your health is the most important thing in this equation. If you need healthcare or a medical procedure done, please get it done. Don't wait to meet your deductible to get the healthcare that you need. If it's something you need now to stay healthy, to improve your quality of life, and to help keep you safe, get it done now. While money can be daunting when it comes to going to the doctor, there are so many options out there for you. First, please speak with us here at Abri if your health insurance coverage isn't providing you with enough coverage. We will continue to help you find a plan that is affordable and will provide the coverage you need for your health care needs. If we can't apply this new plan right now, we will help you pick out the best plan possible for the new year and help you navigate your medical expenses now.
Next, speak with your doctors. Many doctors, offices, and hospitals do provide payment programs and options, they just don't advertise them. To find out about them, you have to ask about them. So please ask! Also, we understand why you might have chosen a plan that has a low monthly rate and a high deductible. You might not be able to afford a plan with a higher monthly premium, so you're okay with having a higher deductible. However, if you do choose this and choose to wait to reach that deductible to finally get the treatment you need, it could turn out to be much more expensive than just getting a higher monthly premium plan. What happens if you're sick and wait too long to get the care you need? You could cause serious damage to yourself that requires more treatment, medicine, and surgery to help keep you healthy and alive. These medical procedures and treatments can end up being way more expensive than if you had just gone to the doctor in the first place and more expensive than getting a higher monthly premium. So please think about that, and please put your health first.
However, if you are still going to wait to hit your deductible, there are a few things we wanted to share with you. Even if you don't hit your deductible, you should still get the most out of your insurance plan as you can before the year is up. You've waited long enough, you've paid for it all year, research what you can give back to yourself, and take advantage of it. Don't just plan for the end of the year, consider next year too and how these visits can help you now and in the months to come. Also, don't forget, if you have hit your deductible for 2020, your deductible will go back to zero once 2021 rolls around!
Lastly, we are here to help you find the best insurance plan for you. Has this open enrollment season made you realize how difficult it can be to find the plan you want? Were you unhappy with your insurance this year and didn't hit your deductible or get the care you need? We can help with that! As the year winds down, make sure you add contacting us to the top of your list to make 2021 a more stable year for you and your health insurance plan!
While traveling might look a little differently this year, it's always smart to be prepared.
Traveling throughout 2020 has been such a strange and unique experience, and hasn't looked like anything we've ever seen before. For most, traveling has become something we've put on the back burner and will come back to once it's safe to do so again. However, even with that in mind, the most important thing to remember is that traveling as we've always known it will be back again. We will be able to enjoy every aspect of traveling again someday soon and will be enjoying our regularly scheduled vacation plans again. For now, it's just on pause. Until then, since we all have a little time on our hands, it's a great time to learn a little bit more about the many ways to keep you and your family safe the next time you're on your dream vacations. While you're dreaming about packing up your favorite overnight bag and the stack of books you want to read by the pool, we encourage you to start adding travel insurance to those thoughts and considerations.
One of our favorite topics is, of course, insurance, and it applies to every aspect of your life. In the spirit of celebrating the joy of travel and counting down the days until your next (safe) big trip, we wanted to chat about the truths and misconceptions of travel insurance. Myths and misconceptions on any topic are a dangerous road to go down. They can, sadly, cause hundreds of well-meaning people and travelers to make some not so smart decisions. Thanks to these myths floating around out there, travel insurance has gotten a pretty bad reputation that it's not needed and that it's a waste of time and money. Please know that these myths and misconceptions are called that for a reason and have been getting in the way of guaranteeing safe and fantastic trips for millions of people every year. Also keep in mind that if you are planning on traveling internationally, travel insurance is a necessity, and we wouldn't ever recommend getting on a plane without it.
Myth: My credit card offers plenty of protection while I'm traveling, and I won't need any more protection than that!
Fact: First and foremost, your travel credit cards only cover a few basic things, and in almost every situation they won't cover much if any healthcare if you get sick or injured while you're out of the country. If you're traveling inside of the United States, it still is very much the same. While your healthcare will be out of network while traveling more than 100 miles away from your home, most likely, it will still be better than traveling globally without any health insurance. If you choose to rely on your travel credit card as your travel insurance while you're away from home, please call and speak with your credit card company first, just so you know exactly what protection you'll have, if any! Even the best travel credit cards out there offer little more than protection for stolen items, loss of baggage, or a canceled trip. While some medical expenses could be covered, the coverage limit will be very low. The amount you could be spending out of pocket could be huge, and much more than you would be paying for a travel insurance plan. We urge you to speak with us or your insurance provider about some travel insurance on top of the protection your credit card offers. This way your medical needs, if by chance something does happen when you're away, can be taken care of much more affordably.
Myth: Travel insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions.
Fact: This is a moment where we need to pause and have you read the fine print on any travel insurance package. If you have a pre-existing condition, and you were healthy and stable before the start of your trip, travel insurance will help cover you for things you might need if something happens due to your pre-existing condition while you're traveling. If you need more medication or need to see a doctor because of it, travel insurance will help taking care of you with ease. When planning out a trip and you choose to sit down and talk with us at Abri or with your current insurance provider, make sure you pick an appropriate travel insurance plan with your specific needs and with your condition in mind. According to AAA, they encourage people to remember that the term "pre-existing" can be much broader than many people realize. Don't just dismiss the idea that your condition isn't included under the pre-existing bubble. Make sure to do your research! Also, please don't wait to get coverage for your pre-existing condition added to your travel insurance plan. You will need to apply for it between 10 days and a month of booking your trip, according to AAA.
Myth: Travel insurance is too expensive!
Fact: Remember, as we've mentioned before, if you get sick or injured 100 miles or more away from your home or when you're outside of the country, it can cost you much more than what you'll end up paying out of pocket for your travel insurance policy. According to AAA, travel insurance will cost 5-8% of your trips overall cost. So, yes, the more your trip costs the more you will be paying for insurance. However, if you can't pay the out-of-pocket expenses if your trip is canceled, if you have to rebook your flight or hotel last minute, then travel insurance is the way to go. In any of these last-minute situations, your travel insurance will be able to give you the protection you need financially and for your mental well being.
Myth: I have great health insurance already, so that will cover me on my trip! Travel insurance and health insurance are the same things, anyway.
Fact: This is a very big issue that's found across the board, and it is also a very false statement. Your personal health insurance won't provide protection or support with trip interruption, trip cancellation, damaged possessions, stolen items, lost items, emergency evacuation, or if there is a natural disaster where you've chosen to vacation and you're now dealing with the situation as an expatriate. Travel insurance, on the other hand, does. Also, while your health insurance might cover "customary" and "reasonable" expenses when you're abroad, most of your other costs won't be covered, according to AAA. This can happen when you're simply out of network when you're traveling in the US, too. Also, Medicare does not cover chargers that happen outside of the United States. So, if you have to be moved to a different doctor or specialist while you're traveling abroad (also called medical evacuation) it will not be covered under Medicare and nor will your other medical related issues. Also, if you're using insurance through your employer while traveling, you might be the only one it covers during your trip. While your spouse or child might be covered under this insurance while you're at home, this might not be the cause while you're traveling. This could put your loved ones at serious risk while traveling if all you have is your normal health insurance with you during your trip and not travel insurance.
Myth: I'm incredibly healthy and I'm a very safe person. Nothing will happen to me or my belongings while I'm traveling!
Fact: While you might be healthy and safe, there is so much about life and other people that you cannot control when it comes to traveling and what could happen. So much of what could happen during a trip that could put you in danger or cause you to leave and head back home because of an emergency has nothing to do with how healthy you are or how safe you live your life. You don't have control over the weather, over a canceled flight, or if someone chooses to steal your belongings or passport. Don't assume either, that even if you're just traveling over a short period that you're safe from these disasters. One bad day, one bad storm, or the loss of all your luggage in a matter of one flight can happen when you least expect it. There is no amount of specific time between when a disaster can and cannot happen!
We hope we've put your traveling plans in a new perspective after reading this blog! During these unknown times where traveling is already a gamble, travel insurance shouldn't be a question. Be prepared, travel safely, and make sure to put travel insurance at the top of your to-do list when making plans for your next trip. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out and chat with us! We are here for all of your insurance needs and questions! We are excited to work with you and love being a part of the Summerville community!
The dawning of November means the beginning of open enrollment. If you are new to the process or you're looking to make it a much easier process than you've experienced, that is what this blog is all about!
While the idea of turkey and stuffing is on the minds of most of our readers, November is an incredibly busy month for us and it has nothing to do with picking out what sides to match our turkey or the perfect pumpkin pie. While these are things we still make time for and hope you get a ton of enjoyment out of, November for all of us at Abri means one thing; Open Enrollment! While we want you to enjoy the most out of your Thanksgiving and the last bit of fall here in Summerville, if your insurance plan is expiring and you will be needing new health insurance coverage, we hope you make open enrollment one of your priorities over the next month. We are here to help you through every step of this process and want to make it an extremely pain-free experience. That is why we wanted to dedicate this blog to multiple ways on how you can make it a pain-free process and what some of the best ways to handle open enrollment are. Don't stress, you've got this!
Open enrollment for 2021 began on November 1st and it ends on December 15th. Every year you only have a little over a month to search for, research, and choose your next best healthcare plan. Just a tad overwhelming. For our readers new to the blog and the insurance world, you might be curious about what open enrollment actually is. According to the dictionary, open enrollment is "a period of time during which one may freely enroll in or change one's selection of health insurance plan or other benefit programs that is ordinarily subject to restrictions." The short version is that your health insurance plan is expiring and it's time to get a new one. Sounds relatively easy, right? Well, we are here to make it as simple and as easy for our clients as we possibly can. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone.
Enrollment is a short period that pushes people to pick their plans very rapidly and has also been created to limit adverse selection. What makes it hard, even when you know all year that you have a short period to buy your plan, getting information about what your options are and what's available to you can be difficult to find or very confusing. That's where we can come in. If you are looking for an independent plan on the marketplace and outside of what your employers may or may not be offering, we can search the whole market with you and your family's needs and best intentions in mind. This can help you save time, save stress, save money, and help guarantee that all of you and your family's needs will be taken care of.
While you begin your journey and begin the search for health insurance, we wanted to provide you with a list of tips and suggestions on what to be thinking about and what to avoid while you're searching in the market.
Now that you've read through this blog, are you feeling better about open enrollment? Regardless if you are or not, please remember that we are here to help. We know that you have many difficult questions to ask yourself to make sure you and your family are covered and cared for. We are here to do the rest of the heavy lifting once those decisions are made. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us now before open enrollment closes! We are excited to work with you and love being a part of the Summerville community!
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We've created this blog to keep our customers and others in the know. When it comes to insurance and keeping people safe, no knowledge should be off limits.