Benefit Plan Options

The Health Insurance Plan serves as the foundation for most Benefit Plans. There are many employers that only offer health insurance to their employees, due to cost constraints. No Dental. No Disability. No Life. No Critical Illness. Just employer group health insurance. For most business owners, like for most employees and solopreneurs, it’s a matter of dollars and sense. Common sense tells us we need health coverage for injury and illness. But the dollars determine if we can meet that need.

The below options can be added to your health insurance plan, in designing your overall benefits package. Each option can be added, at a later date, based on changing needs and improvements in the bottom line. The plans are available to individuals, families, small businesses and your employees, based on how you want to design your benefits program. Each of the options are also available as a separate insurance policy and having a health insurance policy is not a requirement.

TeleMedicine

Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. The approach has been through a striking evolution in the last decade and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the American healthcare infrastructure. Patients want to be seen when they need medical help. Many times, an appointment is booked days to weeks out for a non-emergent but acute or semi-acute issue and patients understandably can be frustrated by this.

Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. Telemedicine technology is frequently used for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and a host of other clinical services that can be provided remotely via secure video and audio connections.

It provides a way to cut down on healthcare spending and engage today’s connected patient. It has the potential to change the healthcare delivery model for the better. You can get prescriptions and order lab tests online as telemedicine provides easy, affordable and secure online medical visits. Some of the top companies include MDLIVE, LiveHealth, TelaDoc, Doctor on Demand and HeyDoctor. Telemedicine has the potential to reduce healthcare costs, increase access to healthcare, and improve health outcomes. Most companies require you to download an app on your phone and pay a fee-for-service, based on your needed service.

Disability Income

Disability income insurance can help you protect 45 percent to 65 percent of your income should you become too sick or hurt to work. For those injured at work, workers compensation will typically replace two-thirds of your income. Unfortunately, most injuries and illnesses do not happen at work.

Disability insurance is also called disability income (DI) insurance and it protects a portion of your income if you become too sick or hurt to work. Disability income insurance can help to pay your mortgage/rent, car payment, and daily expenses. Your income is most likely your biggest asset. Without it, it would be hard to support yourself and your loved ones financially, as well as keep your future plans on track. Individual disability income insurance can help you stay on track by protecting a portion of your income. Disability income insurance may help you avoid using your retirement savings to cover income gaps. You may also be able to purchase a DI policy to help you continue saving for retirement while you’re disabled.

Accident

It’s called an “Accident” for a reason – nobody plans on it, but you can plan on being covered. The need is real to have coverage for Accidental injuries.

Each year, millions of people are injured and survive. Many are faced with financial problems from the costs of covering the medical expenses. 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts.

Injuries are a major source of childhood emergency department and hospital admissions. Of the 129 million ER visits in the United States in 2010, over 22 million (17 percent) were due to injuries. Patients younger than 30 years accounted for 48 percent of all injury-related ER visits, with pediatric patients (younger than 18 years) accounting for over one-quarter of all injury-related ER visits. Each year about 254,000 children are injured just from bicycle-related accidents.

Accident policies are designed to help with out-of-pocket expenses when the unexpected occurs.

Critical Illness

For most people, loss of income resulting from a serious illness would likely affect their way of life. 44% of Americans have less than $5,000 in total savings and investments to cover a financial crisis.

Critical illness insurance can pay for costs not covered by traditional insurance. The money can also be used for medical or non-medical costs related to the illness, including transportation, child care, or even covering basic household expenses. Typically, the insured will receive a lump sum payment to cover those costs.

In the event of a big health emergency, such as cancer, heart attack or stroke, critical illness insurance could be the only thing protecting you from financial ruin. Many people assume they’re fully protected with a standard health insurance plan, but the exorbitant costs of treating life-threatening illnesses are usually more than any plan will cover. And more and more health plans have high deductibles and coinsurance amounts that you must pay. These policies pay out cash to help cover those overruns where traditional health insurance may fall short. And in many instances, the cost for the plans are relatively low.

Hospital Indemnity

Nearly 34 million patients are admitted to the hospital each year. Hospital Indemnity plans are designed to supplement health insurance and assist you with costs incurred from hospital services, helping to lower your out-of-pocket expenses. These type plans pay a fixed amount per day for Hospital Confinement, ICU Confinement, Emergency Room, plus other medical services up to the calendar year maximum.

You can use it to help reduce your out-of-pocket hospital cost exposure. It’s a good option if you are subject to high deductibles on your existing health insurance plan. Remember, expenditures for hospital care accounted for 37.9% of all personal health care expenditures in 2014. A hospital indemnity plan can be of great value.

Dental

The majority of people who pay premiums for dental insurance far underutilize it. The average person doesn’t have need for regular dental services beyond one or two cleanings per year, and the national average cost for a cleaning is around $80. Dental policy premiums can range from $15 to $50 per month, with an average of around $25 for an individual. Family plans will obviously cost more.

You may have a deductible to pay before coverage kicks in. After you’ve met it, your insurance pays a percentage of your dental costs, called coinsurance, based on the level of dental service: You typically pay 0% for Preventive Services; 20% for Basic Services, and 50% for Major Services. Orthodontics may or may not be covered, as well as dental implants. The coverage stops entirely when the insurance company’s payout reaches that maximum benefit amount for that year, typically $1,000 to $2,000.

Considering all this, while it is possible that having dental insurance could save you money, it is also totally possible that you would be better off paying for your care out of pocket. We would want to take a good look at the benefits of a dental insurance policy and do some rough math to determine whether it will likely be a good deal for you, rather than just assuming it is a good idea because it is insurance.

Vision

Vision benefits rank #2 most popular election among employees, tying with Dental. Vision insurance is a way to reduce eye care expenses. In exchange for a monthly premium, the plan picks up some of the costs of vision care.

Vision insurance is different from a vision discount plan, which offers discounts on vision care. Typically, vision discount plans cost less per year than vision insurance, but you pay more for visits and eyewear than you would with insurance.

Most adults need vision correction: 66% of Americans 18 and over report using glasses, contacts or both, according to the National Eye Institute. Depending on how often you need new lenses or eye exams, getting vision insurance may be a smart financial choice.

There are Vision Insurance plans you might be able to find for less than $20 per month. In addition to a monthly premium, you’ll likely pay a portion of costs for visits, exams, and glasses or contacts. Typically, the higher your monthly premium, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket for these services.

Life

Life insurance is not sexy. It’s not fun to talk about and it’s definitely not a process anyone enjoys. However, much like death and taxes, buying life insurance is an essential part of life and a crucial element of an individual or group benefits plan. Most everyone is aware that they need life insurance but, from my experience, most people procrastinate until there is an important life event that pushes them to buy it. However, there are some serious benefits to buying insurance early on, especially if you have debt, are married or planning on marriage, have or are planning on starting a family, or you are a business owner. One has to also remember, if you wait too long, you may become uninsurable or the cost is unaffordable.

Learning about the protections and benefits life insurance offers is easy. And it’s the smart thing to do. Life insurance can protect the ones you love and be the foundation of your long term financial plan.

Retirement Guidance

Retirement planning is the process of determining retirement income goals and the actions and decisions necessary to achieve those goals. Retirement planning includes identifying sources of income, estimating expenses, implementing a savings program, and managing assets and risk. For many solopreneurs, an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a great start. For the small business owner considering a plan for their employees, 401k’s are a common choice. There are many options that can be considered and advice and guidance is available.