Have you done the math lately to see what you’re paying for your own — or your family’s — health insurance? Even if you haven’t, chances are good you’re feeling the pain. According to new data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average family’s premiums now top $20,000 a year, with employees themselves on the hook for around $6,000 of that.
Most people — 153 million of us — get insurance via our employers, but premiums and deductibles on these plans are becoming increasingly unaffordable. As a result, many American workers have been forced onto plans that cover less, or have even been forced out of the insurance market entirely. (Reed Abelson writes in The New York Times about a 27-year-old woman with a heart condition who quit her job to qualify for Medicaid because the $1,200 a month contribution to her employer’s health plan wasn’t manageable on her full-time salary. She’s doing gig work instead.)
If the cost of your health plan has risen in recent years, now is the time of year to pay attention once again. Open enrollment (the time to change plans) at many companies begins in October and runs in the healthcare.gov marketplace from Nov. 1- Dec. 15. And, if you’re looking for information on Health Savings Accounts and whether they, in combination with a qualifying health plan (the type that comes with a higher deductible) might be right for you, I’m moderating a panel on the topic October 15. It’ll be streamed at HSAday.com You can sign up now for more information.
Clothes The Door To Waste
By now, we’ve all read about 16-year-old Greta Thunberg on her journey to save the world… and if you’re anything like me, her words have probably made you reflect on the changes you could be (should be) making in your daily life…recycling, eating less meat (although maybe not for health reasons)…but what about the clothes you’re wearing? Turns out they’re causing more problems for the environment than we knew. In 2015, the U.S. generated 11.9 million tons of textile waste. That’s 75 pounds per person, and 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions associated with human-caused climate change come from clothing and footwear production.
So, what’s the deal? Forever 21 may be hitting the skids, but “fast fashion” is still a thing, with companies like H&M and Zara producing more products that aren’t made to withstand more than about 10 wears. What can you do? There’s rental, (but if you’re a new client, not of the Runway variety until mid-October) but there’s also the French approach to fashion. Buy less. Buy better. Wear it more. How can you tell the difference? The next time you’re thinking of making a purchase, ask yourself: Will you wear it again? Can you see your hand through the fabric? Can you maintain it? And when you do make purchases, make sure you take care of them… in other words, hang your bras, don’t throw them in the dryer. You’re welcome.
When Fido Takes A Bite Out Of Your Home Equity
I’m a dog person (as many of you know) but I’m also a homeowner, which is why this story on how having a dog can reduce the appraisal on your home by 2% to 5% caught my eye. What’s the issue? Scratched up doors. Stained carpets. Wood floors that have been damaged by too much excitement (or nails that need trimming). But most homeowners insurance policies won’t cover the damage your pups (and other pets) may do to your home, according to this week’s Wall Street Journal. Keep in mind, furniture tends to take the heaviest beatings from our pets — damage from animals is the second-leading cause of furniture claims filed with protection plan company Safeware. And, not coincidentally, repairs from this type of damage are also the costliest the company sees. So, if that loveseat you’re buying comes with an optional protection plan and you have (or are thinking about) a new pup, it might be smart to opt in. And if you’re about to sell your home and you know there’s pet damage present, do your best to make repairs or cover-ups so you won’t lose any money.
Finding Friendship In Grief
What are the true hallmarks of a best friend? HerMoney’s own Christine Burke tackled the question of friendship and the ties that bind — particularly through hardship and grief — in AARP’s The Girlfriend this week. Seven years ago when Christine was mourning the loss of her father, she was stunned at the level of physical and emotional help her friends offered her. From swiftly arranged travel to hand-picked outfits (so that she could be free of all decision-making) during her grief, Christine got a crash course in what it means to be offered support during tough times. And this experience taught her how to be a better friend. She writes: “I have realized over the years that while grief has been a heavy burden to carry on some days, it has been a gift as well. Grieving has helped me clarify what’s truly important in my relationships, and my friendships are richer, more connected and more valued since grief has become a part of my fabric.” No, it’s not a money story. But it’s one I wanted to share.
Have a great week,