I have received a lot of questions lately regarding Obamacare, Trumpcare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and individual health insurance, so I thought this would be a good venue to hopefully clear up a few things. First off, Obamacare is still alive and well. Not much has changed since Trump has been in office and Congress has yet to pass a feasible plan to “repeal and replace”. There are still certain provisions in place such as: you must have health insurance or face a tax penalty, subsidies exist to help pay for the premiums, no-copay is required for your annual physical, and no pre-existing condition denials, just to name a few.

Not much of a choice
What has changed, whether or not you realize it, is the landscape in which you might purchase health insurance. Selection and choice have become more limited over the last couple of years. In our neck of the woods, (ie. the 5 County Region around Philadelphia), we only have a couple of insurance companies to choose from, with the “Blues” being the most prominent option. Aetna has backed out of the individual market completely and no longer offers new individual policies.

You don’t know what you don’t know
What has also changed is the method by which you might purchase an individual policy. As of January 1, 2017, health insurance companies no longer compensate insurance brokers for selling individual health insurance policies to consumers. This can pose a bit of problem as there are many people that call my office on a weekly basis asking about how to purchase health insurance and are not sure how to go about it or where to get the information.

So, where can you buy health insurance today? There are 3 options:
1) You can go online and put your information into some website and have 100 people call you at all sorts of hours for a month
2) www.healthcare.gov the government website where you will spend hours trying to enroll
3) Call Karl. 610-269-8363. I have over 15 years of experience selling health insurance and not only know the market, but I understand the laws, mandates, requirements and how to help my clients get the best bang for their buck.

What’s next?
The next open enrollment period will start in a few short months for all plan changes that will take effect next January. While there are certain governmental parties that are trying to fundamentally change the health insurance landscape, any changes that are made will probably take several months if not a year or more before new laws go into effect.


In the interim, here are a few ideas to carry with you when purchasing health insurance:
1) Understand your health needs – do you use a lot of benefits, see a lot of doctors or are you fit as a fiddle?
2) Understand your wallet – do you qualify for any subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums?
3) PPO, HMO, POS – This alphabet soup is important when considering your coverage. Do you need care outside of our region, need special doctors, hate to get referrals?
4) Be sure to utilize your online account with your health insurance company as they often provide access to discount gym memberships, weight loss and smoking cessation programs.
5) Did you know that if your household income falls within a certain range that you may qualify for reduced copays and deductibles, in addition to your premiums?
6) Are you aware of the methods used to reduce your income to help you receive the tax credit to help pay for your health insurance premiums? This is an area where Penn Rise Advisors is definitely a value added. Give us a jingle.

Like most kinds of insurance- health insurance is something you do not want to need or think about, but knowing that everything is in place can offer great peace of mind. Call us to begin the conversation about what you need. PennRiseAdvisors.com 610-269-8363

Some people see their tax return as found money and use it on splurge items. I know I’d like to run away to Maui in the middle of winter but alas it’s not going to happen this year.  However tempting it might be to spend your “found money” take a minute to really think how it could be of better use. Tax returns are not savings accounts or a gift. A tax refund simply means you paid too much in taxes and Uncle Sam was holding it for you.  So, how can your tax return be put to smart use?

Read more: Don’t blow it! Consider our list of smart uses for your tax return

The fall of 2016 marked the 10-year anniversary for my company, Penn Rise Benefits, Inc., an accomplishment of which I am very proud.  While reflecting over the last decade, I realize that there have been modifications to my business model, personnel challenges and governmental regulations that have all presented their own trials and stress.  There are some overarching themes that come to mind while looking back that will also be relevant while I focus on the future. 

Read more: Reflections on a Decade in Small Business

A business retirement plan is a great employee benefit program that can help attract and retain quality employees.  As an added bonus, it can be an effective way to reduce current taxes while saving for retirement.  Have you thought about offering a retirement plan at your business but felt that your company is too small or that maintaining a retirement plan will be too costly or complicated?

Read more: Is a SIMPLE IRA Right for You?