Your Financial Weekly Reader—September 9, 2019

Welcome to this week’s edition of Your Financial Weekly Reader. Each week, we try to bring you a few personal finance articles that we’ve found from various sources that might be helpful to you.

This week, we have an article on a critical, but often confusing, part of your overall financial picture: health insurance. We follow that one up with one on things you should know before you consider buying an income annuity. We wrap up this week with an article that highlights some life events that should make you think about updating your will.

As always, not every article in “Your Financial Weekly Reader” will be relevant to your financial situation. That’s OK. You might learn something that will be helpful to you in the long term. Or, you might have a friend or family member that the article can help. Feel free to share.

We believe that being educated about a variety of financial issues is important and want to spread the information however we can.

Enjoy this week’s articles!


BUYING PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE

Health insurance is one of the most important financial products that we must have. It can also be one of the most confusing. Deductibles, co-payments, out-of-pocket maximums, in-network, out-of-network, and all the other terms that are part of a health insurance policy can make it difficult to know what is, and what isn’t, covered.

Some of us are lucky enough to have employer-provided health coverage, which doesn’t necessarily make it less confusing, but the coverage decisions are made for you. It’s the same situation when we get to age 65 and are eligible for Medicare—while it can still be confusing, the coverage decisions are mandated.

But there are times and situations when you might have to wade into the world of private health insurance. Maybe you just turned 26 and are no longer eligible for coverage under your parents’ plan. If you are unemployed, work part-time, are self-employed, or are an early retiree, you will need to venture into the private health insurance market.

This article from Investopedia can help. If you are not yet eligible for Medicare, the place to start is HealthCare.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. You can learn what options might be available to you under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and whether any cost-savings are available to you. They also have a tool called PlanFinder that can help you find non-ACA plans.

The Investopedia article also provides a good list of factors to consider when evaluating a plan. Once you understand the terms and the factors you should consider when choosing a plan, the entire process can be a lot less intimidating.


INCOME ANNUITY BASICS: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you probably know that I’m not a big fan of annuities. Actually, with rare exceptions, I’m very much against them. However, I’ve always thought about them as the sharp tool in a toolbox. If used for the right job, they can be a good tool. But too often they are sold to unsuspecting consumers for the wrong job and end up hurting.

This article from Kiplinger discusses the fundamentals of annuities that you should know before ever considering one.

Several types of annuities are available. There are immediate and deferred annuities, fixed and variable annuities, and fixed indexed annuities. Each has different characteristics and features that add to the complexity and cost.

The article does a pretty good job of discussing the various types of annuities and offers a good discussion on the possible fees that you need to be aware of.


IF YOU’VE DONE ANY OF THESE THINGS LATELY, YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR WILL

Not everyone has a will—although most everyone should. As this article from MarketWatch suggests, it could be the most important document you’ll ever write. After going through the time and expense of drafting a will, most people put it somewhere safe and never look at it again. That can be a big mistake.

The article discusses eight life changes that should prompt anyone in their 50s and 60s to review their estate documents to make sure they are still consistent with your wishes. If you’ve moved, particularly from another state, it’s important to update your document.

Each state has different laws when it comes to the validity of a will. You want to make sure yours is valid in your new home state. Your will should also reflect your proper address, so you should update whenever you move, even within the same state. Other changes in your life or your financial situation should lead to a review as well. The article will give you some things to think about.


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