September Newsletter 2017: Medicare Open Enrollment, Important Blue Shield Update, Covered CA Will Spend $110M on Marketing, Equifax Breach, Horter Podcast on Finance 

 

Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15th - December 7th
Medicare Open Enrollment for 65+ is fast approaching. Sign up now to make an appointment starting October 1st to square away your Medicare planning for the New Year. Click here to make an appointment or visit our website at twpfinancial.com/schedule. Please remember that during this period you can change your drug or Medicare Advantage Plan for 2018. 

Important Blue Shield Update
Blue Shield has announced today that they are discontinuing the Off-Exchange Silver Seven 3750 PPO, effective January 1, 2018.  All members who are enrolled in this plan will be moved to the Silver 1850 PPO.  We are happy to discuss this option with you, starting November 1st, to see if this is the best plan for you and your family.

Equifax Data Breach: What To Do
"Thieves were able to siphon far more personal information — the keys that unlock consumers’ medical histories, bank accounts, and employee accounts.." - New York Times

This is a serious breach of your privacy and security affecting your identity and credit. According to the New York Times, thieves stole information including Social Security Numbers, driver's license numbers, birth dates, addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal information that can be used to access consumers' medical histories and bank accounts. “On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of risk to consumers, this is a 10,” said Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst at Gartner, to the Times.

What do you do now? 
1. Explore freezing your credit so thieves can't sign up for credit in your name. Find out more about what freezing your credit means here. To freeze your credit call:
Equifax — 1-800-349-9960
Experian — 1‑888‑397‑3742
TransUnion — 1-888-909-8872
Note that they will charge you a small fee for this. 
2. Sign up for fraud alerts with Experian, TransUnion, Equifax, and other institutions so you are made aware of any activity in your name immediately.
3. Check your bank, credit cards and credit regularly for signs of anything amiss. Awareness is key.

Please look over the FTC's Consumer information on the Equifax breach here

Covered California Will Spend $110 Million For Open Enrollment
Covered California will spend $110 million on Open Enrollment. We are reporting this because there is a lot of news about the Federal government cutting the budget back to $10 million but that will not be the case in California. This marketing is important because it is estimated that 2 million more people will be insured because of it.

Open enrollment begins November 1, 2017 for people on individual plans under sixty-five years old. Please go to www.twpfinancial.com/schedule to set up your appointment. 

Drew Horter of Horter Investment Gives Wall Street Interview
To our growing list of clients who do financial planning and investing with us, you're already aware of Drew Horter. To those who don't know, Drew is the head of Horter Investment Management LLC, who we affiliate with and utilize their platform that is designed to be low risk, low volatility.  We chose Drew and his company because of his passion and his goals to help minimize client risk while striving to be opportunistic in good times and defensive in bad times. Click on the link below to listen to a podcast Drew did with The Wall Street Journal. It's a 7-minute interview on how sports can teach children about finances. LINK. 

To Your Health and Well-Being, 

TWP Financial

Equifax Breach Information

Dear Clients:

As you have most likely heard by now, on September 7th Equifax - one of the 'Big Three' credit bureaus in the United States - admitted that its own lax security practices had allowed hackers to steal the personal identities of 143 million US citizens.   From mid-May through July, hackers exploited a US website application vulnerability to steal people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver's licenses numbers.   They also stole credit card numbers for 200,000+ people and documents containing personal identifying information for 182,000 people.

With a US population of 324 million in 2017, the breach impacted 44% of the population.   There is therefore an excellent chance that you and many of your clients were impacted by the breach.   The breach was discovered on July 29 but the company waited until last week to actually inform the public.

Equifax has established a dedicated website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com , to help consumers determine if their information has been exposed.   Consumers enter their last name and last 6 digits of their Social Security number to determine if they are impacted.   Please note that since you will be entering sensitive information this should only be done on a secure computer using an encrypted network connection.   Do not do this step from the public wifi at Starbucks!

Regardless of whether their information was potentially exposed, consumers can take the following steps to help protect themselves:

  1.  Experts say the single most effective solution is to freeze your credit.   This can be burdensome as you will need to unlock your credit every time you have a legitimate need, but it should prevent most forms of identity theft.
  2. If you don't want to freeze your credit, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit files.   A fraud alert will warn potential creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft and that they should take extra steps to verify that the person seeking credit is who they claim to be.
  3. Keep a close eye on your bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts and credit cards.   Review your statements carefully and follow up with your financial services provider if you notice any unusual or unexplained transactions.
  4. Monitor your credit report regularly.   Look for recent inquiries and for new credit accounts being opened.
  5. Regardless of whether your information was potentially exposed, Equifax is offering consumers a free 1-year subscription to their identity theft protection service.   Please note that consumers signing up for this service may be foregoing their right to participate in any class action lawsuits against Equifax over the data breach.   The Terms of Service contains an arbitration clause and class action waiver that forces users to settle any complaints against Equifax individually.  As of this date it is still uncertain whether or not the arbitration clause will apply to the data breach, or whether Equifax intends to enforce it if it does.
  6. Enroll in another firm's identity protection service, such as with Experian or LifeLock.  This will cost the consumer money, but will preserve their ability to participate in any class action lawsuits against Equifax.
  7. File your taxes as early as possible, before a scammer can file your taxes. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security numbers to get a tax refund or a job. Respond immediately to any letters from the IRS.
  8. Utilize online resources, such as the Identity Theft Resource Center, which provide excellent resources on defending yourself against identity theft.
  9. Contact your state Attorney General for more information related specifically to the Equifax data breach.

Important Update For Anthem Individual Policy Holders and Covered California, Rate increase

 

Dear Clients,

Unfortunately, Anthem will be leaving California in the individual market (under 65) in 2018 with the exception of Northern California areas (Redding and far north, Santa Clara County and Stockton/Modesto). This means that if you currently have an Anthem individual or family plan your coverage will be ending 12/31/2017 and we will need to get you on a new plan for 2018. Open enrollment should start November 1, so we will contact our Anthem clients in the coming months about setting up a time to help you make this transition. Nothing will change in your coverage for the rest of 2017. This will not affect you if you have Medicare, dental, vision, or small group policies with Anthem. This will only affect individual and family plans. 

Covered California issued a press release today citing a general increase of 12.5% in rates. However, due to the overall uncertainty at a national level with the CSR (cost-sharing reduction), Covered California may need to add an additional 12.4% surcharge on all Silver plans.

Furthermore, Blue Shield had a conference call with California brokers this week and Blue Shield will be offering coverage, although they site an 18% price increase for PPOs,  due to the high cost of drugs and hospitalizations.

We know that this news is difficult to accept.  Please be assured that we at TWP Financial will do everything we can to help you through this process.

All Our Best, 

TWP Financial

Indexed Universal Life Insurance Versus Fixed-Indexed Annuities As Retirement -Planning Vehicles; Article on Drew Horter of Horter Investment Management, “Trumpcare”

 

Dear Clients,
We are passionate about helping our clients with lifetime financial planning, to protect their health and wealth.  Two major components to protecting wealth with no risk are Iife insurance and annuities.  The two products that seem to suit many of our clients are Indexed Universal Life Insurance and Fixed-Index Annuities.

What are these vehicles and how can they help you achieve your retirement planning goals?

Both the Indexed Universal Life Policy (IUL) and Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) use established Indexes (like the S&P 500 for example) as a guideline only to potentially increase returns.  To be completely clear, your money is never put into any Index.  There is an established cap in the index – meaning your return will never go above the cap.  When the chosen index goes up, your return goes up.  And when the index goes down your return goes down, but never below zero.  So you never lose money. 

An Indexed Universal Life Insurance Policy not only provides you with a death benefit, but it also allows for tax-deferred growth on cash that you accrue like a savings account with no risk.  It can be a very good investment.

A Fixed-Indexed Annuity is for safeguarding against living longer than your money lasts because it guarantees income for life.  Depending on your situation, a fixed-indexed annuity can be very advisable financial product to own. This vehicle also offers tax-deferred growth with no risk.  This can bring real peace of mind.

Horter Investment Management, LLC
Several years ago we decided to expand into low-risk investing, to give you another vehicle to potentially grow and protect your money.  We then spent two years searching for the right investment team to work with.  We picked Horter Investment because of their track record and tactical investing approach.
Here is a recent article in Forbes on Drew Horter, the Founder of Horter Investment Management, LLC.
We want you to have peace of mind to free up time and attention for your lives and your loved ones. Please schedule an appointment with us to go over your options with life planning. Our services are always free. www.twpfinancial.com/schedule.

Proposed Trumpcare Health Plan
Like you, we are still waiting from Congress to hear what the new proposed health care plan would look like. So far it has been estimated that the current proposed health plan would cause:

  • 23 million people to lose coverage
  • Cut $834 billion from Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood
  • Raise insurance rates for older consumers
  • Phase out Medicaid expansion
  • Cut middle-class subsidies by 15%
  • Big tax cuts for wealthy Americans and big cuts in federal health spending
  • Only 8% of Americans think the Senate should pass the healthcare bill as is.

It is unclear at this time how the State of California would be effected by proposed federal healthcare law changes. We will update you on our opinion and stance as the year progresses.

To Your Health and Wellbeing, 

TWP Financial

June Newsletter 2017: California Single Payer Healthcare? What Not To Do When You Inherit Money; Be Mindful of Melanoma This Summer

 

SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE IN CALIFORNIA? 

Not just yet, although an official bill has been drafted. There is no agreed upon way to pay for the $400 Billion cost.  We are about $106 billion short. source

What is single payer? This means the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals.” source Canada and the UK currently use this system.

“The goal of the bill, SB 562, is to establish a state-run healthcare system that covers all 40 million Californians.” source

A floating suggestion to pay for it would be a 2.3% sales tax increase.
Naysayers have called the plan “reckless” and “offensive”.  The bill was introduced by Senator Lara of Bell Gardens in response to the threat that Trump will remove the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed bill would provide a Medicare for all system that would guarantee health care for all Californians without out of pocket expenses.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN YOU INHERIT MONEY

Treated wisely, inheritances can help people meet their long-term goals, from rescuing their retirements to paying off credit card debt to financing family education.

Yet windfalls can turn into mixed blessings when people rush into decisions. Research finds a third of Americans can expect to receive a significant inheritance. But many end up spending or giving too much when developing a careful plan to spend, save and invest would help them meet their most important financial goals.

Five mistakes experts often see Americans make when they receive an inheritance.

1. Spending mindlessly: Some people begin mindless spending on “just a small indulgence.” A series of those kinds of purchases can morph into a spending splurge that might rob people of their ability to reach their overall goals for the inheritance.

2. Going it alone: Even Americans who manage their 401(k)s or their taxes on their own can benefit from help. That’s because a windfall, whether it’s an inheritance or lottery proceeds, is different. Those who receive an inheritance should consider assembling a team, including an estate attorney, an accountant and a wealth manager.

3. Making decisions too quickly: Experts say Americans should be careful not to make any big life decisions, like selling a house or quitting a job, too early in the process. An inheritance often coincides with loss, and many people aren’t thinking clearly when their emotions run high.

4.Becoming paralyzed in the investment process: Sometimes people who receive a lump sum become so worried about “investing at the top,” that they do nothing. Our investment managers are "tactical" in nature so if there was a big downturn in market, they can take advantage of the downturn or "go to cash," which means they sell the investments and wait for a more opportune time to invest. 

5. Providing for everyone except themselves: People love their kids, friends and charitable organizations – so much so that they sometimes neglect to take care of themselves. Experts advise pushing the pause button. There is plenty of time to provide generous support after a plan is established. Source

Receiving an inheritance is a great reason to consult a financial manager who can help you tailor a plan that achieves your long-term financial goals.
 
 
BE MINDFUL OF MELANOMA THIS SUMMER

According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for a mere 1% of skin cancers, but is the cause of most skin cancer deaths.
Estimates for melanoma in 2017 are:
•             10,000 people are expected to die due to melanoma.
•             88,000 new melanomas will be diagnosed, the majority of which will be in men.

As summer approaches, it’s important to remember to protect your skin by seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing and glasses, and applying sunscreen.

“Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but is highly curable if detected early. You can take steps to prevent it by practicing protection from sun exposure every time you head outdoors,” says Jennifer Tuteur, MD, Medical Director of Sharp Health Plan.

Have a safe and wonderful summer from your friends at TWP Financial. 

Source:  A&I Financial Services Newsletter Periscope

1 In 4 Will Face This Reality, And It Is More Like 1 in 3; Disability, Dalbar, and 28% Premium Hikes

1 In 4 Will Face This Reality, And It Is More Like 1 in 3


1 in 4 people currently in their 20’s will become disabled before they retire. One in three ages 35-65 will be disabled for more than 90 days. The average long term disability claim is 31 months. If you require $5,000.00 per month for living expenses, that is $155,000 you would need.  Familiarize yourself with the facts:

  • Accidents are not the culprit. 90% of disabilities are caused by back injuries, cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.
  • Medical problems contributed to 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in 2007, a 50% increase from 2001.
  • 75% of Americans don’t have enough money to cover their bills for six months.

 
Call us to find out more about disability insurance and receive a quote for basic coverage so that you are handled if anything should happen to you. It is more affordable than you think. May is disability insurance awareness month. Find out more here: http://disabilitycanhappen.org/reducing_chances/
 
Dalbar Study Shows Active Investing Is More Profitable Than Passive Investing for the Average Investor

  • An active investor, or tactical investor, has ongoing buying and selling.
  • A passive, or strategic, investor is a buy and hold investor.

The Dalbar Study is a quantitative analysis that shows how investing approaches succeed or fail with the market each year. As it proves, active investing outperforms passive investing.

  • In 2016, the average equity mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 4.70%. While the broader market made gains of 11.96%, the average equity investor earned only 7.26%. 
  • In 2016, the average fixed income mutual fund investor outperformed the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index by a margin of 0.19%. The broader bond market realized a slight return of 1.04% while the average fixed income fund investor earned 1.23%.
  • In 2015, the average equity mutual fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by a margin of 3.66%. While the broader market made incremental gains of 1.38%, the average equity investor suffered a more-than-incremental loss of -2.28%.
  • In 2015, the average fixed income mutual fund investor underperformed the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index by a margin of 3.66%. The broader bond market realized a slight return of 0.55% while the average fixed income fund investor lost -3.11%.
  • In 2015, the 20-year annualized S&P return was 8.19% while the 20-year annualized return for the average equity mutual fund investor was only 4.67%, a gap of 3.52%.

These statistics prove that even though the broad index does well, such as the S&P, investors tend to not get those returns since they buy high and sell low. This, of course, is the opposite of what needs to happen. Depending on the investor, many sales are made after watching the news and then getting nervous about a major market downturn. Sometimes it is necessary to sell when the market is down since the economy tends to slow down with the falling market and you might need access to cash. Hence you are forced to sell even though you know it's not a smart move.
 
The investments we carry at TWP Financial are tactically managed so that the money managers are actively buying and selling based on their market indicators or technical data and not on emotion or the daily news. Please call or set an appointment if you would like to see their results in good times and bad times compared to the broad market such as the S&P.
 
What Happens If Obamacare Is Overturned? News Update From Covered California
We received a special communication from Covered California describing the potentially significant impacts to the Covered California program if federal policies change. Main takeaways include:
 
• California premiums could rise by 28 to 49 percent in 2018, and up to 340,000 consumers could lose individual market coverage if changes are made to existing federal policies.
• The potential rate increase would mean billions of dollars in additional federal spending. The 1.2 million consumers who do not receive subsidies would bear the entire brunt of these increases.
• The potential decrease of 340,000 insured consumers would not only represent many individuals losing access to potentially life-saving care, but it would result in a sicker risk mix in the individual market and higher premiums for everyone.    

To Your Health and Financial Wellness, 

TWP Financial

How U.S. Healthcare Became Big Business; Optimizing Social Security and Retirement Planning

A recent article from NPR by Elisabeth Rosenthal titled 'How U.S. Health Care Became Big Business' came to our attention this week because it highlights how tricky the health care industry has become in order to get the consumer to pay higher costs than expected. We recommend reading the full article to get the reality picture but here are some highlights:
 
- "Hospital consolidation.' This started as a good idea where hospitals came together to share efficiencies but it has now become a monopoly in some cities where there is now only one hospital. What can you do if you live in a consolidated hospital zone? Not much unless you are willing to move or drive to a less expensive hospital. 

- It is now a well-accepted fact that the healthcare industry profits more from lifetime treatment than from curing you. 

- Before you see a doctor ask them if they're affiliated with a hospital. If so, you will be paying a hospital fee. Ask them if they will send your lab work to an in-network provider before you get the lab work done.
 
- Sticky pricing: A term used by the medical industry that means getting away with surging the price of a procedure or medicine as soon as a drug maker, hospital or doctor was able to charge a higher than normal rate and set a new standard. 

- Decipher medical codes on your bill by googling them. Oftentimes you are being charged for a procedure you did not have. Knowledge is power. 

- Drive-by doctors. This is a doctor brought in by the hospital or your doctor who might not be contracted with your insurance policy and visits your hospital room. You have to be pro-active and ask them, "Who are you? Who called you? Am I going to be billed for this?" It is tragic that in recovery you have to do this, but being proactive will save you from getting an unexpected doctor fee.

The best line of defense in dealing with the healthcare industry is a strong offense. This means educating yourself about the whole picture and drilling down to the details of your specific plan and healthcare needs. It's about having the protocol down before you should need it so that you are not caught off-guard in the moment, but rather have done your research ahead of time and know what you are getting involved with. If the sudden need arises for care--as it so often does--it comes down to asking the right questions and advocating for yourself or family as needed. As your broker, we are always here to help. 

TWP Financial Now Offering Free Analysis on Social Security and Retirement Planning

Optimizing Social Security
As you approach 62 or 66, when is the best time to take social security? Most people crunch the numbers and consider longevity and taxes as the only variables. You might be surprised how much a free analysis can help you maximize your check. For example, do you qualify for some special strategies like "file and suspend" or a "restricted filing" on half of your spouse's benefit? Baby boomers are increasing the social security benefit by $10,000-$30,000 by utilizing these strategies. Contact us today for your free evaluation. 

Creating A Financial Plan
TWP Financial also offers financial planning. In an overview meeting, we use cutting edge software to analyze your financial picture and help create a comprehensive plan for you and your family. We help address questions such as: 
 

  • Can I continue my present standard of living into my retirement years? 
  • When can I retire without running out of money? 
  • How could my situation change during challenging economic times? 
  • How would it affect my family if I die prematurely? 
  • How would it affect my family if I enter a nursing facility? 
  • What are the possible solutions if my situation changes? 

We highly recommend you come in and take advantage of this financial consultation so that you have a clear picture of your financial goals. We are on your team and will work with you every step of the way. 

Get Set Up On Medicare
Are you turning 65 soon? 
If so, you have probably received a mountain of mail from the insurance companies and brokers wanting your business. 

Call us for a comprehensive consideration so we can go over Part A, B, C, D, or Medi-Gap Plans F or high deductible plan F. Schedule an appointment with us at www.twpfinancial.com/schedule.

TWP Financial is here to be your financial sherpa. We work with Horter Investments in Ohio to guide you through this oftentimes confusing part of life. It is our pleasure to help you with your planning and protecting. 

To Your Health and Wellness, 

TWP Financial

 

The Next Big US Crisis Will Start Here

Investors hold on to your hats, the US may be headed for another crisis with eerie echoes of the last one. Just like in the run up to the Financial Crisis, there has been a big explosion of spending in real estate. In particular, developers have built over one million apartments in the US. Now, the big banks that funded all that development with loans are getting worried the market has become overstretched. The Fed is now doing more rigorous stress tests to see how banks would respond to a 35% drop in commercial real estate prices. The big worry is over “trendy” metropolitan apartment buildings, which have seen sharp price rises. Regulations put in place after the Crisis have incentivized builders to go into commercial real estate rather than residential, as have demographic trends like Millennials’ preference to live downtown rather than in the suburbs. JP Morgan has been far and away the biggest lender for apartment building construction.

Source: goo.gl/RuXwBf

Important Payment Notice For Blue Shield Clients: Action Required April 3-9th 2017

Dear Clients, 

Blue Shield is rolling out a new payment system that requires action.

If you are receiving this notice, it means you have to make a payment change on your Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Plan or your Grandfathered Individual Plan. 

1. If you pay by check in the mail, you do not have to do anything. Continue as normal. You can disregard the rest of this letter.

2. If you currently pay by Easy$Pay FROM YOUR BANK ACCOUNT (not a debit or credit card) you have to re-enroll. We have to submit your new Easy$Pay forms between April 3-9th. Click here to download the new Easy$Pay form, fill it out and email it back to us at shasta@twpfinancial.com between now and April 9th. The sooner the better. If you send us this form after April 9th, you cannot enroll in Easy$Pay until June and will have to make a month's payment direct to Blue Shield. 

3. If you currently pay by Easy$Pay FROM YOUR CREDIT CARD then you have to call Blue Shield between April 3-9th to re-enroll on Easy$Pay through your credit card. The number to call is 888-256-3650. We cannot do this step for you. 

4.If you pay by Credit Card over the phone please note that their system will be down from March 31- April 3rd and cannot process payment.