Can My Pension Plan Payout Change?

You have been employed for a period of time and you have access to a pension plan from your company. Can what you receive change from the time you commence working to the time of your retirement? It sure can. When you enroll in a pension plan, you are expecting a certain payout each month when you retire. If the payout is larger, that is wonderful, but what if it is less? If you are counting on living from this money, what can you do? The payout you receive can be defined by several components, so each of these will be highlighted. The first thing to find out is what type of plan you have and what you are entitled to.

What Type of Plan Do I Have?

There are two main types of pension plans as defined below. Some people may have both types of plans or a mixture of the two from different employers. If you had a pension plan with an employer and then transferred the money out into your own locked in account, this article would not apply in that case. You would be generating your own income and payments from your own investment returns, and this is a different set of circumstances.

Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans Defined

A defined benefit plan is a pension plan where the future payout in retirement is defined by a set formula when you join the company. It is a calculation that usually includes your highest average salary, time working in the company, and how much money was contributed by you and the employer. The money is invested on your behalf and the firm is responsible for risk if something goes wrong. There is usually an implied rate of return that is guaranteed by your employer each year, which is the investment rate of return your money would earn if you could see your pension plan in a bank account.

A defined contribution plan is where the money you pay into the plan is defined: the amount contributed either by you or on your behalf by the company. It is a set dollar amount based on your salary in the year that you are working. You can think of it as the company (and sometimes you and the company) contributing to your pension account. This is similar to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account, except that it is locked in. Locked in means that the money is in your name and you are entitled to the money, but cannot withdraw it unless there is a very exceptional circumstance (I.e. this is the only money I have and I need to pay my bills). Also like an RRSP Account, you get to choose the investments in the defined contribution scenario, and you are taking the risks. If you invest in a fund and it loses money, you must deal with the consequences. It is for this reason that it is good to have a plan. If you are in a situation where you have a defined contribution account, you will have to make the decisions.

What Features Do I Have in My Plan?

Health Benefits

Many defined benefit pension plans have a provision for health insurance in retirement. This tends to come automatically with the pension money that is paid out. What is covered under this health insurance? What are the limits of what is covered? Is there a deductible or fee that should be paid each year? These fees come from your pocket, so they will reduce the amount of money that you are actually receiving for the health benefits. Can these requirements change over time? Definitely. Since pension plans are a long term idea, even small changes in coverage or higher deductibles can mean more expenses over time. There are instances when certain procedures are no longer covered, or the allowable amounts that can be claimed are reduced. These changes tend not to be very large, but taken as a whole over time they can add up to a lot of unforeseen expenses. Since health benefits are becoming very expensive no matter who pays for them; expect this to be an issue for years to come.

Indexing To Inflation

When most pension calculations are done, it is assumed that there is no inflation in the numbers. If you see the term “real rate of return”, this interest rate would include inflation, and would equal the nominal rate of return, or typical interest rate that is quoted, minus the inflation rate. As an example, if you received a 5% return on an investment last year, and the inflation rate was 2%, your real rate of return would be 5%-2% or 3%. Why does this matter? Typically pension payments are fixed – once a payment is calculated upon reaching retirement, it stays the same throughout retirement. The problem is that when you retire, you are supposed to have enough money to pay for your expenses with this pension payout. If the rate of inflation rises 2% every year up to your retirement, this is like saying you can buy 2% less stuff every year. If the promised pension payment is $2000 per month today, and you retire in 20 years, this 2% inflation rate would reduce the amount of stuff you can buy by 40% (2% x 20 years). If this continues while you are retired, say another 20 years, this money will now buy 80% less stuff than today. Imagine paying bills with 80% less money! Indexing raises the payout calculations by the amount of the inflation rate to prevent this erosion of monetary value from happening. Inflation is actually a very personal thing – the price increases of the stuff you personally spend your money on, is what will impact you the most. The pension plans assume that you buy the same quantity of stuff and in the same proportions as the average or quoted inflation rate. This is likely not true, but it is better than no indexing at all.

Another thing to keep in mind is what level the indexing goes up to. Some plans will cap the indexing at a certain level each year to prevent explosive costs. Should there be a year of high inflation, this may cost you as your payment would not keep up with the cost of living for any amount above this cap. This has not been an issue for the last 20 years, but should inflation rise quickly, this should be watched closely. Check with your employer for the calculation to verify.

How Long Do My Pension Payments Last?

Some pension plans will pay you until you pass on, and will then pay your spouse your payment until they pass on. Other plans will pay for a certain amount of years to contain the length of time of their expenses. This is something that should be inquired about, and if there is a set age where the pension benefits expire, this should be incorporated into your financial plan so that you have some kind of income to replace the lost pension income at that time. In many cases, you will not reach the stipulated age, but since lifespans have been increasing lately, and these pension plans were designed decades ago – this issue is bound to pop up eventually. Many plans are struggling with funding issues and longevity risk of their members – which means that pension plans are not getting as much return as they used to get and underestimated how long people are living and receiving pension payments. The longer the pensioner lives, the more money the pension plan has to pay and the higher the longevity risk. The person receiving money living longer is not viewed in a favourable light by plan sponsors as it means your payments will cost them more. The amount of time the payouts will last can also be changed at any time.

What If I Separate or Divorce?

Many plans have provisions for making payments if you separate, divorce or your spouse dies. Over time, these provisions can be changed to not include these types of situations. Lack of coverage can also occur after so many years of service, a certain amount of time being married or under certain conditions of a separation. It is time to get your know your pension plan intimately in these cases so you can prepare for what to expect. In the case of a separation or divorce, splitting the value of a pension plan among spouses is a complex calculation, and it may hold up a divorce settlement that would otherwise have been simple. If calculations of the asset value are approximated, one of the spouses may feel as if they are not treated fairly, and this may lead to a longer battle in court which will be costly in other ways. If you have a financial plan counting on the value of a pension plan as part of your retirement scenario and it becomes known that you will not be receiving this money due to changes in the pension plan rules, this may not be pleasant either.

What If I Am Laid Off Before Retirement?

If you are laid off or reorganized as an individual, there likely will not be many issues with pension plan changes. If there is a company-wide layoff affecting many employees, the pension should be examined for special provisions due to attrition or reorganization. If the company is winding up or going bankrupt, this is another situation where everything should be examined before signoff. Obtaining legal counsel and/or a pension specialist may be useful to make sure the termination contract is in your best interest.

What Can I Do About These Changes?

Most of the time, these changes are inevitable because pension plans will claim that they don’t have the money to sustain the gold plated promises of the past. This may or may not be true, but it does not affect your strategy. The first thing to do is to be aware of any such changes. Be aware of which ones apply to you. Sometimes the changes are in effect depending on what year you joined the pension plan, what age you are, how many years of service you have or what seniority you have. If you see a change that is affecting you, explore what can be done about it. Take your current financial budget or financial plan and adjust the numbers for the change to see what the final result is. Not all changes will result in a worse situation for you, but it doesn’t hurt to find out. Your pension plan should be reviewed every so often – either after each union contract negotiation or with each annual report or budget. Changes occur slowly with pension plans – but checking frequently is a precaution to keep you aware.

If the change is happening to a large number of people and you have enough people and a strategy to fight the change, it may be worth it to band together and lobby to have the plan sponsor reverse the changes. In many cases, these battles are expensive and time consuming. If you are aware of a change that is affecting you and there is nothing you can do to revise it, make changes in your financial plan to account for it. This may mean leaving the job sooner, planning retirement under different terms like attrition, or putting more money aside for higher expenses. In other cases, the changes may not be a big deal and you can just move on with your life – but you will not be surprised when your payouts are not what you expected in the past.

Much of the information regarding any changes is with the plan sponsor or pension plan administrator. If you are in a unionized environment, talk to your steward about the pension plan and try to find documentation to clarify exactly what the current state of your pension plan is. The Human Resources department is another good place to ask questions, particularly in a non-unionized environment. Lastly, keep the documents you receive form the plan sponsor so that you will actually have in writing what is changing if anything. This will keep the facts straight for you and minimize miscommunication.

Registered Health Information Administrator

In the topic of improving quality of patient care, health information technology is certainly a crucial part of this. A profession in this area is that of an RHIA or registered health information administrator. These health care experts go through special training and are given the job of managing patient data that will give assistance to other health care professionals when giving treatment and care to patients.

RHIAs are tasked with several things that consist of obtaining patient data, managing medical files, analyzing record data, securing patient records, and also managing other health information professionals together with organizing their budgets. RHIAs perform work in physician’s clinics, hospitals, medical establishments, government offices, and also insurance companies. The job of the person could change based on where they are working.

Individuals who are interested in becoming a registered health information administrator should know that in order to apply for this position, you would need to be nationally certified. The American Health Information Management Association or AHIMA manages RHIA certification. To be eligible for the certification examination, you will have to graduate from a four-year program with a health information technology degree. Upon completing this program, you can then proceed to obtaining certification.

Getting yourself ready for the certification exam is the best way for you to pass it successfully and earn certification. The examination is 4 hours long and consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. With certification you have the chance to earn more and also, you will have more employment opportunities available. In addition, you have a bigger chance of reaching your goals by being connected with the best in this health care field. Those with an RHIA credential can opt to become an Assistant HIM Director, HIM Director, HIM Faculty, Coding Professional, Consultant, Data Quality Manager, Healthcare Consumer Advocate, Patient Information Coordinator, Compliance Officer, HIM Project Manager, and Health Information/Data Resource Manger.

Many professionals in the health care industry are compensated really well. There are plenty of rewards for those in the medical field because this industry is one that offers stability and continuous growth. The same can be said with a registered health information administrator position. RHIAs with a 4-year bachelor’s degree that apply for work will earn a starting salary of $30,000 to $50,000 annually. The more experience they gain, the higher this amount will go. In addition, the person has the opportunity to gain higher positions based on performance and skills.

Employment opportunities for RHIAs are excellent. There is a big increase that is expected in this occupation for the years to come because of the great need for these individuals. Those who have the proper education and have obtained certification should find it easy to land a job. The best way to make the most out of your career potential is to earn all the necessary qualifications so that everything is available to you.

The Health Insurance Basics For Individual and Family Health Medical Plans

Let’s start with the basic terminology with health medical plans (health insurance). There are three basic coverages to a plan, the deductible and coinsurance (coins) and the frequently used copay. I will explain them below.

Deductible: This is what you pay out of your pocket before the insurance company pays any claims. Deductibles are on an annual basis and reset every January first. This is similar to your car or homeowners insurance policy.

Coinsurance: Once you meet your annual deductible, the insurance company shares some expenses with you until you reach your annual maximum out of pocket. Plans are written as 80/20 plans or 90/10 plans, they always add up to 100%. This is not unlimited there is a stop loss for you.

Co-pay: A co-pay is the amount you pay for a visit to the doctor (HMO or PPO plans) or a pharmacy prescription plan. The copay has nothing to do with the annual deductible and not all plans have co-pays.

What should a family look for when buying health insurance?

If you see the doctor a lot or your children frequently need a doctor’s care you may want a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan. An HMO is a type of plan that has a network of doctors and facilities that you must go to for health care. Your health insurance company will have a list of doctors for you to choose from and the doctor you choose is the doctor you must go to when you feel sick. You the patient is responsible for when you visit a health care facility with a co-pay, this is good for an individual or family with children that need to see the doctor many times in a year.

If you’re a person who does not go to the doctor a lot except for a checkup, you may want a PPO plan. These insurance plans have a network of providers that you can go to receive health care at a discounted or negotiated rate. Although there is a network of doctors who agree to the negotiated rate not all do and these are considered out of network. A PPO health plan allows you to go to out of network doctors but you will be responsible for the higher non-negotiated cost of health care.

The greater the insurance coverage, the higher the premium that you need to pay for individual and family health insurance.

Buying Health Insurance Online
The internet is a powerful way to shop for insurance. Most health insurance quotes from websites will let you run comparisons of all types of plans from all the top health insurance carriers. You can search and purchase insurance online without the need to talk to an agent. The prices for insurance plans are state mandated and no one website can give you a better quote than another. Buying direct from the insurance company won’t save you money either, everybody has the same price. Working with an agent gets you free advice and helps you sort out plans that are best for you. So shop online, there is no obligation to buy and you can complete applications right online.

Reasons Why Everyone Needs Health Medical Insurance

Health Insurance is a significant safety measure desirable to all persons for making sure a financial support as long as any medical mishap in the family. They not simply cover up any unforeseen expenses of emergencies but cover up routine and precautionary health care procedures too.

Health medical insurance is required by everybody for various reasons, not the least of which is the price of common medical care. While you might be able to get a number of medical facilities willing to proffer 10 percent discounts on visits devoid of medical insurance, this does not constantly assist you. For instance, the appointment to the physician might be inexpensive; but the lab work will not be. It is the lab work, ultrasounds, X-rays, blood analysis and other machines and procedures that really charge the most.

There are agencies in the government proffer low-priced health or medical insurance. One could try to find for companies that proffer cheap insurance as well. With cheap rate insurance, one could be convinced that he could provide the best medical consideration for his family in the occasion that one need medical cares that can be extremely expensive.

These are some significant things to recognize regarding the low-priced health/medical insurance. It is significant that one is extremely conscious on what are the things that integrated to the plan he is planning to obtain. Furthermore, he must constantly think about his family as his very own reason why he wants to obtain health insurance.

One of the major operating costs in today’s modern society is the expenditure of health insurance. Over the last hundred years, the population has augmented so radically that any country would have complexity giving universal health care, particularly with every of the modern advances that we have nowadays and the large sums of money that nearly all medical doctors and hospitals create.

There are numerous kinds of plans obtainable in health medical insurance. Nearly all of the plans will be relative to the state in which you exist. Particular states have dissimilar policies for what they will cover up. Actually, moving from one state to the next might break off your coverage, particularly if you have a pre-existing situation. A pre-existing situation enclosed by one company in one state might not move. There are a lot of things to be careful of when selecting health insurance, not the least of which is ensuring that any pre-existing situation, even with no any type of lapse in health coverage, will still be enclosed.

Selecting the Right Health-Medical Tourism Package

You should be knowledgeable to check your priorities for medical travel abroad upon inquiring a few medical tourism facilitators. Your priorities must closely match to the information of medical tourism providers.

Your surgery package begins with registering with the medical tourism provider. Knowing your priorities, the healthcare professionals give you cost estimate. Upon checking your financing options, the cost estimate and your health-medical tourism package will be conformed against the selected destination country and healthcare provider respectively. The type of surgery also is another major concern.

The destination country, the health provider and the surgeon is introduced to get familiarize along with your first consultation. Your medical tourism provider will arrange for video conferencing with your specialist abroad allowing you to express your health concerns, the recovery period, gaining self-confidence on the surgeon’s ability and your treatment options. The specialist will review your medical records and will ask you to get yourself prepared by giving some prescriptions or precautions to follow.

You will be assigned a personnel care manager who will take care of your itinerary of the whole travel destinations including the tourist locations, paper work for travel, contacting with host country manager and are included, be assigned to you. Upon your departure from your home country, the host country manager will receive you and proceed to the hospital for registering at the hospital.

The host manager will give you all the necessary information about the local travel, important phone numbers and hand phone to keep in touch with your family abroad and arrange for your next consultation with your specialist. Your specialist examines your health condition; perform any diagnostic tests required for your surgery to know the disease maturity. You should be able to convey any other troubling health condition so that it is taken care and do not obstruct surgery’s success. Your surgery dates and recovery periods are conformed to you.

Your post-surgery treatment will be detailed which has to be followed with strict adherence. Your discharge summary, medical records and relevant prescription for post-surgery treatment are transferred to your local physician in your home country. You can opt for telemedicine option in your home country as part of your post-surgery treatment.

Getting yourself prepared for the medical travel

You should know some important information before your travel. Your passport and visa validity should be in line with your tentative surgery dates and recovery period. Your itinerary should include additional few days in case of your recovery period extension. Your medical and insurance documents, if any, should be handy all the time. You should be able to furnish them when necessary.

It is important for the host manager to know about your dietary regimen. He should advice you about nearest ATMs, which accept MASTER or VISA credit cards to meet any emergency and local expenses. Planning in temperate weather conditions will allow your immunity to faster recovery and hence you should carry appropriate clothing.

Your host manager should also inform you about local culture, language spoken and make sure the medical tourism provider assist you in keeping a translator if there is any need. Planning for recreational activities should be on the advice of your specialist.

The Risks of Using Health Information Available on the Internet

Nowadays, the first place to look for information is the Internet, but we all know that the online environment can be very tolerant with false data. Anyone is free to publish pretty much whatever they want. Since there is an abundance of health information available online, people rush to a search engine whenever they want to know about the symptoms of a disease, new treatments, drug side effects and other health related information.

Some of the information can be false or at least unproven, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t search for medical documentation online. It just means we have to be very careful what we believe and more importantly what we actually use.

How not to use Internet-available health information

While there are benefits of staying informed about all health related stuff via online resources, the first logical step would be setting some boundaries that you should never cross. Many people look up disease symptoms and drug treatments via search engines.

First of all, some symptoms can have multiple causes, that’s why self-diagnosis is only useful in a generic sense of view. You could be wrong and treat yourself for the wrong disease, only prolonging the period until you receive proper medication.

If you suspect you have a medical condition the next step would be consulting your doctor. Also, it’s not bad if you find out about a drug for your illness that could potentially do good. Just don’t take it without seeing a specialist.

There are also many natural remedies for various conditions and most of them are harmless. The truth is, even plants and herbs can interact with drugs or worsen a currently present illness. That’s why it is very important to consult multiple sources and always read about known interactions of a natural remedy.

Last, but not least don’t buy drugs and supplements that you’ve never used before online. You cannot judge the quality of the product accurately and when buying them from a pharmacy, you have the opportunity of asking the pharmacist’s advice.

How to take advantage of online health information

To begin with you can read any kind of health related facts just for the sake of expanding your knowledge. You don’t have to look up information only when you have a problem.

Also, if you have a specific medical condition you can find out more about it and understand how it affects your body and how the treatment works. You can also find plant-based remedies for common problems such as headaches, stress, minor injuries, muscle pains and others.

Another large niche in the online health category is diets. There are so many diets, some free, some paid with detailed menus, all of them promising the so desired weight-loss. Just like with everything, you should read about them, but always seek the doctor’s advice before actually following them.

Weight-loss related, online you can also find various types of workouts and exercises that can help you get fit. These can be very useful, except for the individuals that have specific illnesses which prevent them from doing all or specific kinds of effort, such as heart and spinal diseases.

The Internet gives us a richness of health-related articles and facts that we can use for great benefits as long as we use the information wisely and don’t consider ourselves self-made doctors.

Is Your Health Medical Insurance Adequate For Your Needs?

Health medical insurance is needed by everyone for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost of general medical care. While you may be able to find some medical facilities willing to offer 10 percent discounts on visits without medical insurance, this does not always help you. For example, the visit to the physician may be discounted; however the lab work will not be. It is the lab work, ultrasounds, Xrays, blood analysis and other machines and procedures that actually cost the most.

There are several types of plans available in health medical insurance. Most of the plans will be relative to the state in which you live. Certain states have different policies for what they will cover. In fact, moving from one state to the next may interrupt your coverage, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition covered by one company in one state may not transfer. There are many things to be cautious of when choosing health insurance, not the least of which is making sure that any pre-existing condition, even without any kind of lapse in health coverage, will still be covered.

You will need to look over the health medical insurance that your employer provides. There are different policies even within a business. Some employers offer an HMO rather than PPO plan. They may also pay a portion of your health insurance. To make sure that you are getting the coverage you need and at a decent rate from your employer, you will need to compare policies. You also need to make sure that the insurance will be enough for you. Some types of health care insurance may not be enough coverage through an employer for certain conditions.

When you are self employed or unemployed, there are still options out there for you. Medicaid is available for those who cannot get insurance through a regular insurance company. In other words, if you can’t afford the insurance from another company or they will not cover you, Medicaid is an option. For self employed individuals, most companies will offer you insurance. The coverage will be based on the needs you specify on the application. This could mean that you chose a plan for its affordability rather than its realistic help. Unfortunately, this is a fine line that many employers cross, and the days when an employee could just ASSUME that they are getting adequate health insurance coverage are long since past.

For example, insurance with a higher deductible can be harder to reach; however you typically get a better plan because of this higher deductible. The PPO will normally pay 80 percent to your 20 percent for a doctor’s visit. Medical coverage for pregnancy can also be offered, as long as the coverage is received before pregnancy becomes a pre-existing condition. You need to fully understand your medical health insurance coverage requirements before you can choose a plan that will work for you.

With self coverage policies in health medical insurance, you need to make sure the deductible you choose is something you will reach in order for the insurance to help you. You also need to make sure that the insurance company is one you can trust and that offers straightforward information regarding the policy. The legal jargon on a policy can be very confusing, but the representatives of the insurance are there to answer any questions. And if you do not ask questions, do not assume you know the answers, because in this day and age of cost cutting wherever and whenever possible, the “obvious” answer is not always the right one.

What is a (Copayment) Copay in Health Medical Plans?

The copay is a flat payment that is the responsibility of you the patient that is assessed per event or visit. Each insurance company has different level of copays and your Doctor office staff will advise you at your time of the visitation what you’re out of pocket charges are for that visit. The medical office staff will submit the remainder of the bill to your insurance company as long as you are with an in network provider.

Some health medical plans also have separate copays for emergency room visits, lab testing, chiropractor visits and specialists. Read your health medical plans coverage of benefits booklet for more specifics on your plan prior to seeking medical attention. Your medical ID card issued by your insurance company also has your copays printed on them for ease of use and for the easy read for the Doctors office staff.

Copayment is the amount of money paid by you at the time of service for certain medical services and prescription drugs; these can range from $10 to $50 depending on your health medical plans. Copays do not apply to deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums. Health medical plans copays cover the office visit and preventive care when using in network providers and depend on whether the doctor is a general care physician or a specialist.

Example of how a copay might work in Health Medical Plans: You, the patient visit the doctor for a cold. You pay a $20 copay at the time of visit. The Doctor office bills the insurance company $100 for the negotiated price of the visit. Because the Doctor is contracted “in-network”, the insurance company only allows $100 to be charged for the office visit. Since $20 has already been paid by you the patient, they send a payment to the Doctor of the remaining balance due of $80.

If your health medical plans have a pharmacy (drug) card you may also have copays included with that benefit. These copays can have multiple tiers depending on the drug prescribed and how the insurance company has classified them. There is typically generic level; brand name (formulary) level and a brand name (non-formulary) level each at different copays.

To help save on your health medical plans premiums, you can adjust your copays higher or lower. The higher your copays the lower your insurance premium will be. It is best to see how you and your family utilize your health medical plans prior to making any changes to your plan design. Most families with young children find it beneficial to keep their copays low as they most often use them for children annual exams and often times many colds during the year. If your children are older and don’t visit the Doctors office regularly it may pay itself in savings to raise your copays to a higher level.