How to get what you deserve when filing an insurance claim

We're only three days in to the era of Get Rich Slowly 3.0, and already GRS readers are providing inspiration for articles. On Sunday's "I'm back" post, for instance, Amy wrote the following:

As I type this I'm camped out on my brothers sofa, having evacuated my home during the fires in Santa Rosa. I'd love an article in the future about insurance, preparing and recovering from disasters. Thankfully my house is still standing right now, but much of our neighborhood is gone. My home no doubt has smoke damage...

There are tons of people with similar questions after the recent hurricanes. And every day, families suffer individual tragedies when their homes burn down or nearby rivers flood. How do you handle insurance when disaster strikes?

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More about...Insurance

How to spend FSA money

Doctor image to illustrate article on FSA funds

Do you have FSA funds left in your Flexible Spending Arrangement? If you overestimated your medical expenses for 2016, you might lose that money under the use-it-or-lose-it rule. That means you have to spend all your FSA money by Dec. 31 unless your plan allows you to carry over a small amount into the next year.

The maximum you could have put toward a flexible spending arrangement is $2,550 for 2016, the same amount as 2015. The FSA maximum amount for 2017 is expected to rise $50 to $2,600.

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More about...Health & Fitness, Import, Insurance

Open Enrollment 2016 dates and how to shop for health insurance

Nurse checking on patient

Have you started shopping yet? No, I'm not talking about shopping for the holidays; I'm talking about something more important — your health insurance.

It's that time of year when many employers have their open-enrollment period and the federal and state health insurance marketplaces are open for business. Open enrollment is your annual opportunity to review and make changes to your health insurance plan so you end up with the best plan for your needs. Continue reading...

More about...Health & Fitness, Insurance

Medical identity theft: The identity theft no one is talking about

When the oral surgeon recommended that our daughter have her wisdom teeth removed, we thought we knew what to expect both medically and financially. Morgan's two sisters underwent this procedure in the past, and we adopted a brave “Let's get this over with!” attitude as we scheduled her operation.

We expected the least painful part of the procedure to be the surgery bill because the girls are covered under both their parent's dental insurance. It was an unpleasant surprise to learn from the oral surgeon's billing manager, “After checking with your insurance, we estimate that your daughter's surgery will cost you about $1,200 out-of-pocket since she has exhausted nearly all of her benefits this year.”

Something was wrong!

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More about...Health & Fitness, Insurance

How to cancel COBRA insurance

In a recent article, I described what COBRA insurance is and my experiences obtaining it. One of the biggest complaints I had about COBRA was the sign-up process. Signing up for COBRA insurance had to be initiated by my employer, and it was a paper process to boot. This meant there was a lag between when I signed up and when I received proof of insurance.

Unfortunately, after wading through the sign-up process, the rest of my experience with COBRA didn't get any easier. A paper bill was mailed to me each month and I was supposed to send in my check. I couldn't find cancellation instructions anywhere on the documentation I received, and it wasn't possible to initiate the cancellation process online either.

Billing Mismatch was Just the Beginning

As I stated in my previous article, I needed COBRA only for the period between April 15 and May 1, when my insurance at my new employer was set to kick in.

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More about...Insurance, Career

What is COBRA insurance? (and other frequently asked questions)

Next week marks my two-month anniversary at my new job. Huzzah! In addition to celebrating my new, higher salary, I am also feeling simultaneously challenged and less stressed.

I feel challenged because my new job is in an entirely different industry than my former position. But I'm definitely less stressed because the performance expectations are reasonable and my colleagues are fun and friendly. I may even be celebrating a new coworker soon, since the friend who got me into SEO in the first place (and who was also one of my professional references for my current position) has applied for a job in my department.

Saving can Make a Job Transition Easier

While all of these are good things, one aspect of my job transition that was less than festive was the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance process. Since one of the features of an improved economy is an increased willingness to switch jobs -- or even to leave a current job without having another lined up -- I thought I would share my experience with COBRA.

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More about...Insurance, Career

How to save money on dental bills

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 108 million Americans go without dental insurance during any given year. And since paying the full weight of dental care is often out of the question for those living on low incomes, many people simply choose to go without or get by with as few cleanings and check-ups as they possibly can.

However, if you do have out-of-pocket funds with which to pay, you already know how quickly cleanings, fillings, and basic dental care can take a bite out of your budget. After all, a typical dental filling can cost anywhere from $100 to $200, a cleaning can cost upwards of $200, braces can cost $5,000 to $6,000, and so on.

Obviously, one of the easiest ways to save on dental care is to have a dental insurance policy for your family. The bad news is, many employers don't offer dental coverage to their employees, even at a cost, and the dental plans commonly sold on the open insurance market can be of questionable value.

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More about...Health & Fitness, Frugality, Insurance

30 days to better finances

coin jar

Learning to manage your finances isn't something most people would put at the very top of their "most fun thing to do" list, but we all know that we ignore money and budgets at our peril. Having a strong handle on what money is going in and what money is going out is an essential first step. But you don't have to be overwhelmed. By setting aside between five and 30 minutes each day, you can transform your finances dramatically in 30 days. Here's one such plan:

Day 1: Compile all your expenses and income. Bucket them by categories such as Savings (retirement accounts, emergency fund), Mortgage/Rent, Household Expenses (food, utilities, heating oil, etc.), Commuting (tolls, commuter rail cards), Debt Repayment (student loans), Entertainment. It doesn't have to be perfect, just complete. Use a service like Mint, software like Excel or even just good old pen and paper -- whatever you are comfortable with. Yearly budgets are more accurate because you will see irregular expenses like property taxes or gifts.

Related >> Building a budget on variable income

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More about...Planning, Banking, Budgeting, Debt, Insurance, Investing

My experience with alternative health insurance to Obamacare

A few months ago, I shared about how to survive without health insurance. To recap, I belong to a healthcare sharing ministry (HSM) called Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM), just one of several ministries that are ACA-approved alternatives to health insurance. But I also want to share about my experiences with alternative health insurance to Obamacare.

What we belong to is not healthcare insurance; therefore, we don't pay a premium (although we pay a "gift" each month or what amounts to a deductible, except it's called a "personal responsibilty"). We chose this option because neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored plan. The most important consideration for us was cost, followed by coverage options. We opted for the most expensive level, which means that we have a $500 personal responsibility for each medical event that each of our family members experience on an annual basis.

Family of Five Pays $450 per Month for Health Insurance

At the time of the previous article, I was the only member of my family to belong, and I paid $150 per month. Now our entire family of five belongs for $450 per month. Even if our family size were to double, that is the maximum monthly contribution we'd have to make.

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More about...Insurance, Health & Fitness