During this time, individual policy holders can enroll in a health plan or make changes to their existing plan. *If you obtain health insurance from your employer, you are likely to have a different Open Enrollment period.*
What to Expect in 2019
- The penalty has been removed! This means you will no longer receive a penalty for not having coverage or for obtaining a plan that does not provide the 8 coverages required by the Affordable Care Act.
- Short term medical plans will now offer coverage for the full year. These plans do not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, maternity, or wellness visits. However, these plans are a fraction of the cost of plans offered through the Marketplace and they all have a PPO network.
- BCBS will continue to offer virtual visits for PPO plans only. Policy holders can call or chat online with a nurse practitioner to obtain a diagnosis and prescription for medication.
- Group plans are still an option for small employers. Blue Cross Blue Shield does offer relaxed guidelines during this time to allow for a 1-person group. The employer must have at least 2 full time employees that are not husband and wife.
How to Avoid Rate Increases
- Be prepared to discuss your household, estimated adjusted gross income for 2019. This will be used to determine if you qualify for assistance.
- Those without pre-existing conditions should consider a short term medical plan. The premium is much lower and all plans offer a PPO network. Wellness visits are not included with these plans.
- If you are going to opt to self-insure, protect yourself with an accident or critical illness plan. The plan works separate from health insurance and pays you based on a diagnosis of a critical illness (cancer, heart attack, or stroke) and in the event of an accident (slip, fall, and break an ankle) the plan will pay you a certain dollar amount. The purpose is to use the funds to pay towards the unexpected hospital or urgent care visit.
- Review ALL of your insurance policies. I specialize in personal lines insurance, which includes auto, home, and Medicare. As a broker, I have access to multiple carriers which allows me the opportunity to find the best plan based on your needs. I’ve saved people thousands by reviewing rates with multiple carriers.
NOTE: This is an extremely busy time for me. I suggest scheduling early as my schedule will fill up. Call 708 444-0050 or email, email@example.com an appointment. Please include your availability (i.e. mornings, afternoons, or evenings) and the type of appointment you are requesting (face to face or conference call).
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a worldwide annual campaign to help increase awareness and raise funds for research, prevention, treatments and cures for the disease. This month also emphasizes the importance of early screening and offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. The good news is that most women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
According to the National Breast Cancer Institute….
- Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women after skin cancer.
- About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point.
- Men can also develop breast cancer, making up slightly less than one percent of those diagnosed each year.
- In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
- As of January 2018, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.
- About 5% to 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child.
- As with many other diseases, your risk of breast cancer goes up as you get older. About two out of three invasive breast cancers are found in women 55 or older.
1 in 8 women, you really do not realize how many people this will and does affect, and how close this will hit home. One of our own…Dana handles all of the social media marketing and newsletter production for my agency. She’s been an asset to the agency for 2 years and we were shocked when she told us the news. This is her story.
You never think you will be the one to hear the words, “You have breast cancer”. Like many females, we look at our calendar and realize it has been a year since our last mammogram. We sigh because we know it must be done, so we make the dreaded call to schedule our ta-tas getting squished like pancakes. For the past few years, I had to get ultrasounds after my mammograms because I am one of the fortunate souls who has cysts. To me, it was always just routine, and I never thought anything of it. But unfortunately, this last time, they found an abnormal lump. Even though my mother passed away from colon cancer and my grandfather from skin cancer, I never thought I would get cancer.
I had the biopsy, and according to the doctor, I was lucky. It was the early stages of breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ). All I needed was a lumpectomy, and I would be fine. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. My biggest concern was getting my surgery fast enough so I could go on my vacation. Then, the floor dropped out from under me. The cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, and they found another tumor. Now, the whole game plan had changed. Six months of chemo, double mastectomy, and radiation.
All of these thoughts went racing through my head, as a single mom and self-employed, how was I going to do this? How was I going to take care of my 15-year-old daughter Alex?, How was I going to pay my bills, and how was I going to take care of myself? After my little pity party, I told myself, I can do this. Life does not always go according to plan. This is just another hiccup, and I will get through this like other obstacles I have faced. I always live life to the fullest and having cancer will not keep me down. I believe that having a positive attitude and holding your head up high helps. Yes, I have my bad days, but I always pull myself together.
The greatest gift in all this craziness is the huge amount of support and help from amazing friends, family, neighbors, etc. The Cancer Support Center in Mokena has also been my saving grace. The love and incredible support I received from everyone around me inspires me to stay strong and confront this cancer threat head on. “No One Fights Alone.”
I just celebrated my last day of Chemo, but I still have a long road ahead of me with surgery, radiation and then reconstruction. Even though I am not finished with my journey, I am hopeful and I am ready to continue this fight. It is so important to remember to get your mammograms and do self-checks.
Most important, stay positive and keep faith.
College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft not covered by your insurance policy. If you have a student heading away to school, below are a few tips to help you get the most out of your coverage.
- Personal Property: Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended.
- Liability Coverage: General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered. If you are listed on the lease with your college bound child, you can extend liability coverage to cover the apartment as well. The cost is less than $50/year and meets the insurance requirements for the apartment complex.
- Documentation: Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.
- Car Stays Home: Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks.
- Car at School: Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered. If your child is more than 100 miles away from home and does not have a vehicle at school, be sure to inform your insurance carrier asap as this will result in an added discount to your insurance policy.
- Driving a Friend’s Car: Students are generally covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary. The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage. Insurance follows the vehicle, if you allow a friend, family member to borrow your vehicle, they will be covered under your policy.
- Discounts: A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. The good student discount applies to full time students with a 3.0+ GPA. Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.
Before your child leaves for school, contact me at 708-444-0050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. I am here to help!
Hot Day Behind the Wheel? Here’s How to Beat the Heat
The forecast in the Southwest Suburbs: Hot and getting hotter. And, that can make for troublesome travel. When the temperature increases, decrease your risk on – and off – the road with these safety tips:
1. Check those tires. You’re already checking your tire pressure every month, right? Even if you are (most of us don’t), keep a closer eye on them during the warm months. Heat can increase tire pressure rapidly.
2. Keep cool under the hood and inside your car. If you don’t remember the last time you had your engine coolant checked and flushed (mechanics recommend flushing and refilling every two years), now is probably a good time – before you hit the road. Give your air conditioning a test run, too. If it’s not cooling you down, get it serviced.
3. Act quickly if your car starts to overheat. When your car’s temperature moves above the halfway mark on the dashboard, try turning off your air conditioning and turning on your heat to give your engine a break. Pull over if it’s safe to do so, and give your engine even more of a break. Call for roadside assistance if there’s steam or smoke, and get away from the car if it’s smoke. More of a do-it-yourselfer? Be careful opening the hood of an overheated car, and don’t add coolant or water until the car cools down.
4. See to the comfort – and safety – of your passengers. Within just 10 minutes of parking your car on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can hit 110 degrees. Don’t leave kids or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes, and bring plenty of water for the trip. The back seats and cargo areas of many cars don’t get as much air as the fronts seats, so make sure your kids, both human and furry, stay hydrated.
5. Proceed with caution in an electric car. High temperatures (and cold ones, too) can reduce the charge of your battery, sometimes by as much as 40 percent. You’ll want to take that into account when planning a trip.
Different seasons bring different car maintenance needs in the Southwest Suburbs. Follow these tips to help make sure you and your car both stay cool in the heat.
You’ve probably been at the rental-car counter, listening to the representative ask if you want to purchase the company’s insurance. And the thoughts start racing through your head. “Is this a rip-off? Doesn’t my regular auto policy cover me? What about my credit card? Why didn’t I figure this out before I left on my trip?”
At Kelly Burke Insurance, I am here to help. And while not every situation is the same, I’ve got some general tips that will help you make an informed decision the next time you’re standing at that counter.
1. Know your personal auto policy.
Because insurance policies vary, it’s a good idea to give us a call — before you rent a car — to make sure you have the coverage you need. In many instances, your personal auto policy will provide coverage for a rental car — but that coverage may be limited to the value of the car you own, rather than the one you’re renting. Of course, if you don’t have a personal auto policy, you’ll need to purchase coverage from the rental company.
And keep in mind that in the event of an accident, many rental companies will charge fees beyond repair costs. They may assess a loss-of-use fee for each day the car is unusable, as well as charge you because the value of the car has decreased. Not all insurance policies cover these fees.
2. Also know your homeowners or renters policy.
If you’re traveling with expensive electronics or other valuable items, you probably want to consider what coverage you’ll have in the event they are stolen. Your personal auto policy and/or credit card coverage likely won’t provide protection for this scenario.
3. Check your credit card protection.
Most credit cards will also provide some coverage, but often payment is limited to reimbursement of your personal auto policy deductible (after that policy pays for repairs). Generally, loss-of-use and other fees are not covered, but it’s important to check with your credit-card provider to determine their policies. And while some cards may offer additional protection for a fee, usually coverage is limited to damage to the car, not liability for any injuries to others. Remember, to receive any sort of benefit from your card, you must use that card to pay for your entire car rental.
4. Consider any unique circumstances.
Are you renting a car in a foreign country, or for more than a week? You’ll definitely want to get confirmation of coverage from both your insurance carrier and credit card company because different rules might apply. Also, no matter where you are, vehicles such as trucks, RVs or exotic sports cars often aren’t covered under standard agreements. And if you’re using a car for business purposes, your personal coverage might not apply. Finally, if multiple people will be driving the car during your trip, make sure your coverages will apply to them.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, rental companies offer four main types of coverage.
A Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) relieves you of responsibility if your rental car is damaged or stolen. This may also provide coverage for loss of use.
Liability Protection provides protection from lawsuits if you are sued after an accident.
Personal Accident Insurance covers you and passengers for medical bills after an accident. You may not need this if you have adequate health and auto coverage.
Personal Effects Coverage protects you if items are stolen from your car. You generally are covered for this under your homeowners or renters policy, but keep in mind that the loss must exceed your deductible for you to receive payment. If you have a high deductible, it may make sense to purchase this coverage from the rental company.
When you go on vacation, you don’t want to stress out about insurance. So give me a call at 708-444-0050 before you leave. Then, when you head over to the rental-car counter, you can stop worrying about your coverage — and start enjoying your trip!