Obama Health Care Reform – What it Means to You!

Over the past year the House and the Senate have been working on an effort to provide health insurance reform that lowers costs, guarantees choices, and enhances quality health care for all Americans. Building on that year-long effort, the President’s final legislation included the best ideas from both sides of the aisle offered in the course of the debate.

Health reform will make health care more affordable, make health insurers more accountable, expand health coverage to all Americans, and make the health system sustainable, stabilizing family budgets, the Federal budget, and the economy:

  • It makes insurance more affordable by providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, reducing premium costs for tens of millions of families and small business owners who are priced out of coverage today.  This helps 32 million Americans afford health care who do not get it today – and makes coverage more affordable for many more.  Under the plan, 95% of Americans will be insured.
  • It sets up a new competitive health insurance market giving millions of Americans the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have.
  • It brings greater accountability to health care by laying out commonsense rules of the road to keep premiums down and prevent insurance industry abuses and denial of care.
  • It will end discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • It puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years – and more than $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

Key Provisions in Health Reform:

Health reform built off of the legislation that passed the Senate and improves on it by bridging key differences between the House and the Senate and includes several key Republican provisions.

One key improvement, for example, is eliminating the Nebraska FMAP provision and providing significant additional Federal financing to all States for the expansion of Medicaid.  For America’s seniors, the reform completely closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.  It strengthens the Senate bill’s provisions that make insurance affordable for individuals and families, including protections for out-of-pocket costs, while also strengthening the provisions to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid to save taxpayer dollars.  The threshold for the excise tax on the most expensive health plans will be raised from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500 and will start in 2018 for all such plans.

Summaries of Key Elements of Health Reform:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/proposal

How many people receive Social Security Benefits?

Currently, there are over 58 million individuals receiving Social Security benefits.  Social Security benefits include retirement benefits, survivor benefits, disabled workers, dependents of disabled workers as well as widower benefits.

As you can see from the data below, there are over 47 million individuals receiving “Old-Age and Survivors Insurance” benefits.  The money distributed to these individuals are funds collected in the form a employment taxes from working individuals.  Every pay period taxes are deducted from employees as part of the Social Security retirement benefits system created in 1939. When individuals reach retirement age, they can apply to receive retirement benefits based upon the amount of money they contributed to this trust fund.  Currently, the average payment received from this trust fund is just over $1,235 per month.

If you have more questions about Social Security benefits, you can review the www.ssa.gov web site, or contact your local Social Security office.  Click herhttp://socialsecurityclaims.com/social-security-benefits/e to find the social security office nearest you.

Social Security benefits, September 2014

Type of beneficiary Beneficiaries Total monthly benefits (millions of dollars) Average monthly benefit (dollars)
Number (thousands) Percent
Total 58,767 100.0 70,033 1,191.70
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance 47,844 81.4 59,105 1,235.39
Retirement benefits 41,724 71.0 52,447 1,256.98
Retired workers 38,797 66.0 50,536 1,302.56
Spouses of retired workers 2,301 3.9 1,514 657.87
Children of retired workers 625 1.1 397 634.14
Survivor benefits 6,119 10.4 6,659 1,088.13
Children of deceased workers 1,867 3.2 1,521 814.81
Widowed mothers and fathers 144 0.2 133 922.38
Nondisabled widow(er)s 3,848 6.5 4,819 1,252.12
Disabled widow(er)s 258 0.4 184 712.93
Parents of deceased workers 1 (L) 1 1,101.34
Disability Insurance 10,923 18.6 10,927 1,000.36
Disabled workers 8,958 15.2 10,260 1,145.34
Spouses of disabled workers 151 0.3 47 309.10
Children of disabled workers 1,814 3.1 620 341.91
SOURCE: Social Security Administration, Master Beneficiary Record, 100 percent data.
NOTE: (L) = less than 0.05 percent.

Summer Is Coming To An End…

Heating and air conditioning companies are typically busy in the Summer months installing and or repairing air conditioning systems.  To keep your home comfortable in the summer months it is always a good idea to have your air conditioning unit checked and to perform routine maintenance.

As Winter sets in its important to have your heating furnace or heat pump check to ensure it is functioning properly as well.  You don’t want to have Winter cold hit you and then realize your furnace isn’t working properly.  A local HVAC contractor can quickly check over your heating system to ensure it is working as it should and perform any furnace repairs that my be needed.

Spending a little time and money now could save you some very cold and miserable nights in the dead of Winter!

Here are a few things to consider when hiring a local HVAC contractor:

  • Ensure they are properly licensed in your state
  • Ensure they are insured properly according to state requirements
  • Check to see if they have received any complaints at the BBB or State Contractors Board
  • Look for reviews online to see what past clients have to say about them

Spring Home Building Begins

If you are in the market to build a new home, Spring is typically the time you want to get started.  Home building continues to improve across the country as the economy continues to stabilize for most Americans.  Obviously, some areas of the country are seeing more home building starts than others, but overall, home construction is off to a pretty good start this spring.

With home values going up over the last couple of years, some people are selling their existing homes and looking to build new.  Home construction loans and other home mortgages are seeing more flexible guidelines, which is making it more attractive to individuals to purchase land and build their new dream home.

When building a new home there are typically several steps when financing the complete project.  In some cases, the home builder will finance the entire project through one of their preferred lenders.  In other cases, you may want to get a home construction loan package that typically pays off the land cost and then has an improvement and construction allowance that will pay for services as they are completed by contractors.  Once the home is finished, then the loan is rolled into a standard home mortgage.

Of course, one of the most important considerations is selecting a qualified home builder.  Stone Creek Building is a custom home builder in Portland, Oregon that specializes in building custom homes on the clients land.  They are a certified green home builder meaning they incorporate design elements, system and materials that create superior indoor air quality, use natural resources responsibly, protect land and lower water usage.

Are We Filing for Social Security Too Quickly?

These days, many people are living longer than they expect. There a significant amount of senior citizens in the 80’s and 90’s who are either in assisted living facilities or receiving regular home care. Many of these seasoned citizens didn’t expect to live past their late 60’s or early 70’s. This means that they may not have established a financial plan for this portion of their lives, and could have claimed Social Security too early.

According to Forbes, about two-fifths of all Americans receive retirement benefits around the age of 62. By doing so, many American pass up their chance to get 76% higher benefits by not waiting until they are 70 to claim retirement. Only 2% of Americans start claiming Social Security retirement once they turn 70.

Forbes asserts that there are three main reasons for this. The first reason is that many people are low on funds by the time they retire and needs to collect Social Security. The second reason is that Social Security tells the general public that whether we collect less money earlier or more money later, we’ll end up with the same amount on average. This is why many people don’t see the problem in collecting Social Security early. The third reason for early collection is superstition. Some people believe that by preparing for a longer life, they are asking for early death, and want to take advantage of their monetary benefits while they can.

This also indicates that there are three types of people who collect Social Security early: those who have no choice, those who are relying on and being misled by what Social Security indicates, and those who feel they are preparing for a short term future that may extend beyond their planning.

Social Security generally doesn’t account for the fact that many of its beneficiaries are now living into their mid to late 90s. Social Security also fails to realize that offering early collection date options is essentially like offering life insurance policies to senior citizens without explaining the policy clearly. When seniors forego their benefits for eight years or so to get higher benefits for the rest of their lives, this is similar to paying an insurance premium that results in more money when the senior citizen needs it.

Overall, seniors should consider that overall living can be expensive. A fulfilling and functional life can sometimes include prescriptions, glasses, home health aids, hearing aids and dental care. These things are not covered by Medicare. In addition to Social Security offices, it is imperative for seniors to create a solid and sequential financial plan that will provide them with an excellent quality of life for years to come.