Weekly business rail, with health care tips, BBB tips on preparing for an emergency, and more.
Tip of the Week
As open enrollment season draws near, it is important to understand your health insurance options, as it's one of the biggest benefits provided by your employer. Most companies typically set aside a two-week period between September and December for open enrollment. So be prepared, because if you miss this window of opportunity you likely cannot enroll in or change your health coverage until next fall.
“When reviewing their health coverage options, 50 percent of people spend only an hour or less reviewing their choices,” says Rebecca Madsen, senior vice president of UnitedHealthcare. “But in many cases, consumers who spend quality time reviewing their health plan options can find ways to save money - whether it's through selecting a plan that better fits their expected health costs in the coming year, making sure their doctors are in their insurer's care provider network or evaluating prescription drug coverage.”
Madsen suggests the following tips and tools to help prepare for open enrollment:
1. Set aside enough time to review your health insurance options. It's important to review each of the health insurance plans that your employer offers. Remember that there's more to each plan than co-pays and premiums. For example, some plans offer vision exam coverage and different prescription drug coverage, while others may offer wellness programs that can lead to discounts on your premiums. Also keep in mind that health reform has changed insurance coverage in recent years. As part of the new law, children under age 26 can be enrolled as dependents on their parent's plan, and many preventive care services, such as children's immunizations or mammograms, are typically covered by health plans at no cost to you.
2. Make sure your doctor is in-network - it can save you money on out-of-pocket costs. Even if you don't plan to make any changes to your health insurance this year, it's always good to ensure that any doctor you see regularly - or plan to visit in the coming year - is in your plan's care provider network. If you plan to visit a doctor or hospital outside of the network, be sure to understand how your costs will differ from an in-network care provider.
3. Look for incentive-based wellness programs. Many companies are promoting wellness programs that reward employees for making healthy choices and being more engaged in their own health. These plans could save up to $1,000 or more on annual premiums. Incentive-based programs provide financial rewards for things such as meeting specific cholesterol or body mass index targets, or even signing up for a telephonic or online health coaching program.
Now is a prime opportunity to review your family's emergency plan. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference in a crisis. The Better Business Bureau urges families to devise and discuss their disaster plan.
"When your safety is in question it is extremely important to have a plan," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "The website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an extremely useful tool which lists different emergencies that could happen in your community and helps identify the best possible responses."
Two things every family needs regardless of the disaster are an emergency plan and an emergency kit.
For an emergency plan, make sure all family members know where to meet and who to contact in case you get separated. A relative or friend in another area is an ideal emergency contact person. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to send and receive text messages. Consider downloading smart phone apps that provide emergency information.
The BBB recommends the following items for an emergency kit:
- A gallon of water per person per day for three days.
- A three-day supply of nonperishable food for each family member.
- A flashlight with extra batteries.
- First-aid kit.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Dust masks.
- A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- A power inverter or solar charger for your cellphone.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.
According to The Street, here are the most expensive NFL stadium beers:
10. tie: St. Louis Rams/Baltimore Ravens
9. Detroit Lions
8. Buffalo Bills
7. San Francisco 49ers
6. Seattle Seahawks
5. Oakland Raiders
4. Dallas Cowboys
3. Chicago Bears
2. New York Jets/Giants
2. San Diego Chargers
1. Indianapolis Colts
Number to Know
3.40: Percent rate that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to recently, a new record low.
GateHouse News Service