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MADNESS

For some, March Madness is the best time of year in sports. The first two days of the tournament are my favorite, there are games all day long, and upsets everywhere. This weekend is “Selection Sunday,” and the tournament officially begins next Thursday the 14th. You may download your printable bracket here to make your picks!

My Runnin’ Utes are on the “bubble,” which means there not predicted to be in the tournament, but are still in the conversation.

If you don’t care about sports, or basketball, you should still stop by and play on our mini hoop to win some great prizes — but hurry, the games will only last this month.

BETTER THAN TRADITIONAL INSURANCE?

I think one of the best things to come about in healthcare in recent years is the high-deductible plan. Yes, it means more out of pockets costs for many us, at least initially. But as consumers we usually make the best decisions regarding our own care with our physician or health care provider. Not the middleman or insurance company.

Coupled with an HSA or FSA, these health-related savings accounts allow us to contribute tax- deductible dollars into an account that we can spend on whatever we see fit.

Are medical savings accounts the best answer? We’ll see, but in order for costs to be controlled, we need to make more informed decisions regarding our care. For example my wife and I have been on a high-deductible plan for over 7 years. On our plan, maternity has a $7,500 separate deductible, and our last two children were paid for that way (very worth it by the way)!

Even though we had to sock away extra money to have our children, we were able to put it into an HSA that we opened through our local credit union, therefore saving us an extra 15-30% on medical expenses, because we were able to make the entire contribution with pre-tax dollars! (If you’d like more info on how to set one of these up for free, just give my office a call, and I’ll point you in the right direction.) Then these funds can be used for medical, pharmacy, dental/orthodontic (of course!) and vision expenses — and used the way you want to spend them. Plus many of my patients have used them to purchase one of our membership plans, clear braces or dental implants.

 

QUADRUPLE BENEFITS

There are four ways medical savings plans can benefit you. 1) Money is saved on a pre-tax basis, 2) contributions grow free of taxes and can be invested or held in a savings account, 3) account holders may make tax-free withdrawals on any qualified health care expense, and 4) the contributions roll over (unlike insurance policies).

In 2018, individuals may contribute up to $3,450 and families may contribute up to $6,900. If you are over 55, you may contribute an additional $1,000.

SPOTLIGHT ON FIXED INCOME/RETIREES

There’s a new policy in Washington (source: CNBC) that could soon be released, that “would permit Medicare beneficiaries to make tax-deductible contributions to health savings accounts.” This is great news! I have may patients who are retired or on fixed incomes. This can make it challenging to keep up on your care. Though I’ve never been retired, I borrowed nearly $300,000 for dental school tuition, labs and living over a four year period, while my wife and I were starting our family. I wasn’t able to work due to commitments to school. Our budget was very strict, and I’m still paying for everything I bought over 8 years ago (with interest, of course), but it was a great learning experience for us. I feel for people on fixed incomes, and this new law could help our friends get more of the care they need.

 

Enjoy the tournament!