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Scott, Jack and StephHIGH HEALTH INSURANCE RATES HIT HOME

A reality check from Scott, Stephanie and Jack, Golden & Cohen

The impact of rising health insurance rates isn’t lost on us. Like most every company in the U.S., this year we experienced a significant increase in the rates for our own staff.

We knew we had three real choices: reduce benefits, increase cost to employees or have the company absorb the increase and keep the employees whole. We selected the last option because we are in the best position to “eat” the cost.

The reason is simple. We want to keep morale high and ensure our employees are focusing on their jobs — not worrying about their health insurance. Like most small firms, employee retention and the well being of our employees is one of our top priorities.

If you are in a similar boat, but made a different choice, we’d love to talk to you because we are hoping to understand what employers are thinking in these tough economic times.

In fact, we are always asking the people we meet about why — and why not — they have health insurance. Below you’ll find information on the “Top 8 Reasons Individuals Don’t Buy Health Insurance,” and our thoughts on why single people might be making a bad choice.

Until next month, here’s to your health!

Stephanie Cohen, CEO, Stephanie@golden-cohen.com
Scott Golden, CFO, scott@golden-cohen.com
Jack Cohen, COO, jack@golden-cohen.com

Stephanie CohenTOP 8 REASONS SINGLES DONíT BUY HEALTH INSURANCE

And why they might want to reconsider that decision

By Stephanie Cohen, CEO Golden & Cohen, www.golden-cohen.com

Why should individuals rely on a professional to assemble comparisons of various plans only after a fact-finding conversation with the broker?

That’s a question that has been raised regularly as the discussion has heated up on health-care reform. The reality is that brokers — good ones, at least — are essential and continue to be relevant, for he or she can bring viable options to the table that the individual may not otherwise consider.

I say that not just because this is how I make my living. I say it as an advocate for the little guy who can find himself or herself in dire straits because they didn’t invest a couple hundred dollars a month in the future of their own health.

Do you really need a broker to help find the right policy?

Truth be told, there are some sophisticated, high-tech services such as http://ehealthinsurance.com/ out there, and more effective online tools seem to pop up regularly.

However, I have found that using the web alone usually does not give the individual all the information needed to select the best plan. There is more to the issue than which plan is cheapest. And sometimes, you have to not just read the fine print — but also read between the lines — to determine what the plan truly offers.

I for one agree that if all the insurance carriers in America were required to have one set format for benefit presentation, it would be much easier. Unfortunately, that is not the case. And it is exactly why a trained professional broker still plays an important role in the health insurance equation. So find a professional broker you trust, and let them guide you.
  
Of course, all too often, this discussion falls on deaf ears. The fact is that although nearly 250 million Americans do have health insurance, according to a monthly survey of about 50,000 households done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, an estimated 46 million Americans do not.

A few things to think about

Listed below you’ll find arguments for not having health insurance that the brokers at Golden & Cohen hear on a regular basis. I’ve provided a reality check for individuals to consider before making their final decision.

1. It costs too much.

The reality: Should a catastrophic illness or injury occur, it would likely bankrupt most people who do not have health insurance. It’s the terrible fact of life in 2009. Medical care is incredibly expensive, and employers are increasingly less likely to be able to support an injured or ill employee. So if something happens to you, and you have not saved enough money to support yourself if you are unable to work, odds are good that you will be in debt for astronomic health care bills and, unfortunately, many of us would be hard pressed to ever climb out of that financial hole. Don’t be scared. Just think long and hard about that.

2. It does not cover all of the health care needs that I have now, or might have in the future.

The reality: The truth of the matter is that a good health insurance broker can usually find a policy that covers most every medical problem that is likely to arise. There are also resources that can be used to supplement your plan. For instance, if you need discount drugs, it is possible to fill your prescription at Wal-Mart or in Canada. Need a flu shot? You can get one at your local pharmacy. My mother always told me, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” I believe that to my core. You just need to be clever and work at solving your own problems.

3. The drug benefit is insufficient on most health care plans.

The reality: See above. And do remember, you are your own best health care advocate. The health insurance plans cover many things, but you need to do some legwork to get everything you want and need for your own care.

4. The process of finding the right health insurance is too complicated.

The reality: Honestly, it really is not. Think about the old adage — “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same applies to health insurance. People think that the process of understanding a policy is just too difficult, so they tend to shut down before they even try to take the time to comprehend it. Don’t give up too soon. Hire a broker who is patient and will help guide you through the process.

5. I have a specific health issue that was not covered satisfactorily in the past, so I’m not inclined to buy health insurance again.

The reality: Please realize that not all policies are the same. There is definitely one that is right for each individual. Plus, there are often state-run programs that can address most insurance needs. If you had an issue it is likely that someone else did too, so take solace in the fact that you are not alone. There are programs to help, and there are brokers who care enough to help you find them.

6. I am healthy and do not need health insurance today.

The reality: That’s true. Until, of course, you do need it. You will. You are human. Humans get sick and often need to see a doctor. So please, do not be stupid. Protect yourself against what is more than likely to come. In the case of a catastrophic incident, this ignorant assumption cannot be undone.

7. Obama will help me get free insurance.

The reality: I cannot believe how many times I have heard this in the last few months. I am the first to admit that President Obama is doing his best, but please stay grounded in the facts. The U.S. government is not going to give everyone a free health insurance policy. Unless you are very poor, forget this as an option. Take care of yourself today and buy an affordable health insurance policy. 

8. I want to wait until health insurance is cheaper.

Having been in this industry for more than two decades I can speak from experience that health insurance companies are not in business to help you. Insurance is not going to get any cheaper — at least, not any time soon. It is heretic to admit, but insurance companies do not make billions for their shareholders by helping the little guy. We are easy targets. We have no lobbying power, and they know it.

So be smart. Buy a health insurance policy that will at least cover you in case of a catastrophic event. Health Savings Plans are a good option, and more solutions are coming on the market. The bottom line is that if you take care of yourself, you won’t regret it.

 


THIS JUST IN: Golden & Cohen partners with Rx’ n Go (rxngo.com)RXnGo

By Jack Cohen, COO Golden & Cohen

With 1,100 generic medications and a 90-day supply delivered to your door, a new service called Rx’N Go could quite possibly be America’s most comprehensive prescription savings program.

The medications available treat dozens of medical issues including acne, bipolar disorder, dandruff, gout and vertigo. A sampling of the prescription medications available include Simvastatin (generic Zocor) that sells for $25, Zolpidem (generic Ambien) also for $25, Divalproex (generic Depakote) for $50, and Fexofenadine 180 (generic Allegra) for $100.

We were amazed to find this incredibly comprehensive generic prescription program and are looking forward to offering it to our customers in the coming months. If you are interested in learning more, send me an email: jack@golden-cohen.com.

 


HEALTH CARE BENEFITS FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES TO BE DISCUSSED ON "INSIDE GOVERNMENT"1500 am

The Office of Personnel Management announced recently that premiums under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) would increase in 2010 by an average of 8.8 percent. The topic was addressed on “Inside Government” a program on Federal News Radio.

In a nutshell: AFGE Public Policy Director Jacque Simon analyzed the premium spike, which includes an increase for Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Option participants by 15 percent for self coverage and 12 percent for family coverage – an increase that will affect 60 percent of all FEHBP enrollees.

To listen to the broadcast, log on to Federal News Radio at www.federalnewsradio.com, a one-hour weekly nationwide radio/Internet program dedicated to issues that impact federal and D.C. government employees.
 

From a psychologist’s point of view

To help our clients better access mental health experts, Golden & Cohen recently partnered with Bethesda Counseling Associates, which helps individuals identify and address the personal, family and relationship issues that are interfering with their ability to lead the life they want to lead.

In the next three issues of our newsletter, we’ll be featuring articles from the experts at Bethesda Counseling Associates. They’ll provide insight into some of the topics many of our clients are interested in learning about. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback: Stephanie@golden-cohen.com

SEVEN STRATEGIES TO HELP WORKING PARENTS STAY CONNECTED TO THEIR KIDS

Jessica Kramer

By Jessica Kramer, counselor and therapist Bethesda Counseling Associates

For working parents, the evenings often involve hours of household chores and driving to various errands and activities. Staying close and connected with your children can be challenging in this environment and many parents who try to “do it all” end up feeling short-changed in the process.  As the holidays approach parents are reminded even more of how precious family time is and how our daily interactions set the tone for family gatherings.

For years parenting experts have been saying that quality is a much greater factor than quantity when building a close and loving relationship with your children. 

Make the time that you spend together more meaningful by following these simple tips:

  1. Spend the first 15 minutes after arriving home listening to your child.  Completely focus on her during this time without allowing any distractions or interruptions. 

  2. Ask open-ended questions.  Instead of “did you have a good day?” ask, “what was the very best part of the day?”  Be prepared to listen to the challenges as well as the good parts.  These conversations can take place while chauffeuring kids to activities.

  3. Whenever possible, sit down together for meals. 

  4. Hug and kiss your child often. 

  5. Smile and greet your child when she comes into the room.

  6. Develop simple rituals.  Giving a child a particular good-bye hug, making pancakes on a Sunday or sharing a special phrase when parting for the day can become a memory that your child may treasure for a lifetime.

  7. Spend 5 or 10 minutes connecting with your child at bedtime.  Even older children appreciate a parent bringing them a glass of water and spending a few minutes talking quietly at night.  Younger kids will appreciate “tuck in” time with a story or special book. 

These ideas encourage meaningful interactions without requiring big changes in your daily schedule.

About Jessica Kramer

Jessica Kramer earned her Masters in Clinical Counseling from Johns Hopkins University and is a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor.  At the Montgomery County Commission for Women Counseling and Career Center she worked with men and women experiencing various issues such as domestic abuse, marital transitions, grief, stress, depression and anxiety.  She currently works part-time as a school counselor at the Lice Rochambeau in Bethesda working with pre-teens and adolescents.

At Bethesda Counseling Associates, Jessica focuses on working with those who wish to reduce the stress in their lives and improve their relationships with partners, peers, extended family members and children.  She provides a warm and supportive environment and uses strength-based approaches to achieve real results. For more information email Jessica.

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Writing by Hope Katz Gibbs, president & founder; Copyediting by Patricia Gray
Design by Jessica Dean, publisher/designer of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine

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