Keeping Up With Escalating Health Care Costs A Major Challenge in 2015

One of the leading causes cited by consumers filing for bankruptcy is inability to pay expensive medical bills. A recent international survey shows why this may be the case. According to the report published by the Washington Post, Americans patients spend the most for their health care :

Nearly a third of U.S. patients reported spending more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for their care, far outpacing all other nations. Canadians and Australians came next, with only 14 percent of patients spending that much.

In addition to these expenses, Americans are most likely to refuse medical assistance for financial reasons:
Americans were also much more likely to report forgoing needed treatment because of cost. About half of Americans said they had decided not to fill a prescription, see a doctor when they were sick or get recommended follow-up tests. About 38 percent of patients in New Zealand reported going without care, as did 34 percent in Australia, 28 percent in Germany, 26 percent in Canada and 13 percent in Britain.

The moral to this story? It pays big to be prepared for medical expenses. Even though it can be expensive, medical insurance coverage is much cheaper than the high costs of paying for medical treatment on your own. A simple visit to an emergency room for a broken bone can cost you thousands without insurance. Establishing an emergency savings account and having access to credit cards are two additional preparations everyone should make. You can also consider opening a health savings account that allows you to pay for your medical bills pre-tax.

Natural Disasters Can Create Financial Hardships To Families and Businesses Alike

If you live anywhere that is prone to natural disasters, it is important to know all about the insurance coverage that you maintain, as well as ways to cut the costs. Flooding, wildfires, and even earthquakes can cause irreparable damage to homes if they aren’t insured.

As a general rule, all homeowners should look into flood coverage and even earthquake coverage. These instances are not covered under your basic homeowner’s insurance policy. Find out if your area is susceptible to these disasters and plan and insure your property accordingly.

The USAA has even taken some precautionary steps to eliminate the risk of damage to homes due to wildfires. In the state of California, policyholders that are active in the national Firewise/ USA program can actually receive about a 5 percent discount on their insurance premiums; but only if you have renewed your policy or one has been issued on or after the first of October 2014.

This program was brought to fruition by the National Fire Protection Association, and they have created a five step plan for wildfire safety for homeowners. This discounted price is only available to USAA policyholders who live in the areas that participate in the program, and you can find out if your community is an active member by checking out their website at www.firewise.org.

There are fourteen states that are prone to wildfires, and if you live in one of these states and are a member of USAA, then you will be taken care of when it comes to wildfire safety. The USAA has contracted with the Wildfire Defense Systems to come up with a program that monitors wildfire activity and can help protect the property when an active fire is nearby.

The Wildfire Defense Systems sends firefighters behind the lines of the fire, with the commanders permission of course, and from there they assess the risk and begin to help putting it out. This comes at no extra cost to you, because once you have enrolled in the program, you don’t have to take any further precautions.

Also, hurricanes do plenty of damage to coastal areas each year. If you reside in a coastal area then your property is considered high risk; meaning that insurance companies often will require a hurricane or wind deductible. This does vary from state to state and from company to company, so it is always in your best interest to check with your insurance agent and make sure that you are fully aware of what your policy entails.

When dealing with a disaster on your property, you have to pay an out of pocket fee before the coverage kicks in. This is called a deductible, and if you choose a higher amount deductible than you will pay a lower price for premiums.

Say your property undergoes a fire, your deductible could be anywhere from $500 to $1,000. But because there were previous losses, the deductibles for hurricane and wind coverage are calculated differently and the homeowner is left to foot most of the bill.

Did you know that hurricane and wind deductibles can range as high as 5% of a home’s value? That means if your home is $250,000, you would be paying a $12,500 deductible.
These types of deductibles only come into effect when certain circumstances are met, such as a very strong storm making landfall. These criteria vary by state and company. In a lot of coastal states, insurance companies may offer policyholders the option of paying a higher premium which will then lower the deductible. Actually, due to hurricane deductibles, more private insurance has become available in coastal cities and it has made for a more competitive market.

There are 19 states that currently maintain hurricane deductibles, and these are sponsored solely by the insurance industry. Accompanied by the District of Columbia, the states are Maine, Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and New York.