All Posts By

Mark Deschenes

New evidence that short-term plans offer good coverage for many.

By | Health Insurance

Its Not ‘Junk’ Health Insurance

You decideHouse Democrats last week voted to reverse a Trump Administration rule that the left has branded as promoting “junk insurance.” So note that the vote arrives the same week as a fresh analysis about how short-term health insurance can be a better option than ObamaCare.

The Trump Administration last year allowed for short-term, limited-duration health insurance that can last up to a year. Plans can be renewed up to 36 months without new medical underwriting, which can protect against higher premiums if someone falls sick. The Obama Administration limited short-term insurance to three months to force everyone into the ObamaCare exchanges. The Trump crowd thought short-term plans could be viable for relatively healthy folks who earn too much for subsidies and are soaked by Affordable Care Act prices.

Democrats claim these are “garbage” plans designed to trick Americans. Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted this month that the Trump Administration “is fighting to replace many Americans’ health care with junk insurance policies that are allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.”

Short-term offerings are nascent and several states ban them, with restrictions in about two dozen others, which limits data. But Chris Pope at the Manhattan Institute offered a useful comparison in a paper last week. Mr. Pope examines Fulton County in Georgia, where ObamaCare premiums hover around the national average and multiple insurers compete on the exchange. Short-term insurance is available, consistent with the new federal rules.

A Blue Cross bronze ObamaCare plan—which covers about 60% of medical expenses—for a 30-year-old male who doesn’t smoke runs $296 a month in premiums. The plan carries a $5,200 deductible, with a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $7,900. UnitedHealthcare’s short-term plan that lasts 360 days? Monthly premium: $209, nearly 30% lower. The deductible and out-of-pocket caps are also lower, at $5,000 and $7,000, respectively.

The savings are greater for a more generous silver plan: $467 a month in premiums on the exchange versus $250 for a comparable short-term plan. Mr. Pope says that while “narrow-network HMOs are often the only plans available through the ACA exchange,” short-term plans “tend to be PPOs that offer broader access to providers.”

Not every plan covers, say, mental health or prescription drugs, but many do, and not every customer wants to pay for every benefit. A February survey from eHealth found that 80% of those who bought short-term insurance said affordable premiums were more important than comprehensive benefits. Some 61% considered coverage that complies with the Affordable Care Act before looking at short-term options.

Democrats predicted that the short-term rule would siphon patients from the exchanges and send premiums soaring, which hasn’t happened. Mr. Pope notes that Affordable Care Act premiums increased 3% on average for 2019, and that 92 of 124 requested rate increases didn’t even mention short-term insurance as a significant factor in higher rates. The effect on premiums has been negligible.

Anyone with a tough medical condition and modest earnings will likely be better off on the exchanges, where coverage is generously subsidized. But plenty of Americans may conclude that short-term plans are better. The Democratic response to this individual choice? In the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “Democrats will do everything in our power to stop this.”

Do you need help sorting health insurance out and making the right decision for you and your family?  Call us 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Massive Cuts to Social Security Are Coming and Should Worry Us All

By | Save on Medical Costs

The mother of all political battles is coming, and it’s about a wall.

15709No, not that one. It’s another, much bigger wall. One that fewer people are talking about — so far.

It’s the wall that Social Security is due to run into in just 15 years.

That’s when, say Social Security’s trustees, the program’s trust fund is scheduled to run out of money. If nothing else is done, they say, after 2034 Social Security’s annual income will only be enough to pay “about three-quarters of scheduled benefits.”

We’re talking about a 25% cut in payments.

How big a deal will this be?

As it happens, the Federal Reserve just put out a report that tackles this. Alas, it got very little attention, because the media and politicians were covering a $5 billion boondoggle that may or may not get built in the desert.

According to Fed data, at most one quarter of people currently nearing retirement are going to be able to shrug off any cuts at all in Social Security. Actually, it’s probably considerably less than one quarter.

And everyone else will be in serious trouble. Half of those nearing retirement will end up in dire straits. That’s because most of them have little or nothing in private retirement plans.

We have tax-advantaged – cash value life insurance that utilizes stock market indexes so you have the upside of the market with no losses in a down market – this strategy can accumulate large sums of money that can be accessed tax privileged to supplement your retirement.  In addition, these plans, as well as term policies, have Living Benefits with Critical * Chronic illness riders that can bail you out when a severe illness strikes.

Learn more by contacting me at or call 1-800-257-1723 x 0101

Brett Arends is a MarketWatch columnist. Follow him on Twitter @BrettArends.This article originally appeared on MarketWatch.

How to lookup fair costs for health care

By | Uncategorized

Ever wonder if you are getting ripped off by your healthcare provider?

Healthcare Services ShoppingHow do you know if you are being charged a fair price for health care services and products? If your health insurance didn’t cover something – how do you know what the fair price should be?

Health care is one of the few professions that doesn’t give a reliably accurate estimate of costs before the buyer receives services.  So before you commit to a medical expense visit this site- .  FAIR Health’s mission is to help you understand your healthcare costs and health coverage and to bring transparency to healthcare costs and insurance.

Do you need help sorting out health insurance and finding an affordable solution?  Call us 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Who Gets The Life Insurance?

By | Life Insurance

States Say, “Not The Ex-Spouse.”

Who Gets The Life InsuranceThe facts of the case are routine. A couple marries. The husband names his wife as beneficiary on his life insurance. They divorce. The divorce decree does not mention the life insurance policy and, years later, the husband dies without ever changing the beneficiary. Under a so-called divorce revocation statute, the former spouse is treated as pre-deceasing the insured. As a result, the contingent beneficiary takes the death proceeds.

About half the states have statutes such as this…and they all contain these exceptions:

  • If the divorce decree requires the insured to maintain the coverage for the benefit of the spouse
  • If the divorced spouse owns the policy, or
  • If the divorced spouse pays the premium on the policy.

These state statutes are relatively new so the courts may not have interpreted the statute yet, which is why there has not been much publicity about their existence.

Here’s what you should do

If you are divorced:

  1. Revisit all revocable beneficiary designations, as these statutes usually apply to all such designations, not just on life insurance. For example, beneficiary designations of a non-qualified plan may be affected.
  2. Seek legal counsel to determine the best course. If you are in the process of securing a divorce, this issue should be raised with your divorce lawyer.

If you have questions or concerns give us a call or click here to set up an appointment to review your policies.

Douglas I. Friedman serves life and health insurers as a trusted resource on marketing practices, regulatory compliance requirements, and the development and introduction of new insurance products. His firm acts as national counsel for estate and business.


Living Benefits Rock – let me tell you why you should get an extra $300,000 coverage for only $13.32!

By | Living Benefits

Here’s a way to increase the value and protection that you get from your Living Benefits Life Insurance…Have your cake and eat it too!

have your cake and eat it too

This year several clients have had to use their living benefit plans. The common theme among them is this: “I am very thankful – it was great to get the money – but now I wish I had purchased a larger policy so that I had still had life insurance!

Based on these clients’ experiences we’ve come up with a concept called “have your cake and eat it too……”

Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say that you currently have a $750,000 policy that’s good for 19 more years. The preferred plus monthly rate is $245.23 with AIG.

With this policy, if you die the beneficiary gets $750,000. If you have an illness that triggers an accelerated benefit (and for this example let assume a 50% acceleration that pays $375,000) you are cashed out – with no more benefit left on the policy.

But what if…

You reduce the benefit term by 4 years and changed the policy to $750,000 for 15 years. Here’s what you could get:

  • If you pay an additional $13.32 per month you could get $300,000 more coverage for 10 years. Wow!
  • If you pass your beneficiaries would receive $1,050,000.  That’s an extra $300,000.
  • If you have an illness that triggers an accelerated benefit (assuming 50% typical benefit) you receive $525,000.


  • Cash out the $300,000 increase in coverage (assuming 50% typical benefit) and get $150,000 benefit and STILL have the whole $750,000 in reserve.

An even better option: You could match the second policy to 15 years for only $33.12 more per month – making it an even better option!

Have your cake and eat it too. Act now before your exam expires or you have another birthday.

Call us 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.

The Future Of Life Insurance May Depend On Your Online Presence

By | Life Insurance

life insurance and selfiesDon’t post photos of yourself smoking on social-media sites. Do post photos of yourself running.

These two suggestions appear in a recent Wall Street Journal article about New York state’s new rules for how life insurance companies can use public data to help set premiums. Such tips — under the heading “what you pay for life insurance could depend on your next Instagram post” — seem ominous, portending a surveilled future where tweeting about rock climbing could hurt your wallet and services exist to curate photos that appeal to insurance companies.

In reality, it has long been the case that what you pay for life insurance could at least be affected by your next Instagram post. It is already legal, and increasingly common, for life insurers to use so-called “nontraditional” sources of public data — including credit scores, court documents, and motor vehicle records — to inform insurance underwriting decisions, though few use actual social media data.

New York is simply the first state to release guidelines around this practice, and its ruling is that nontraditional data is okay so long as a company doesn’t discriminate by factors like race, religion, and sexual orientation. Other states are likely to watch and follow suit. (The New York State Department of Financial Services, which released the guidance, declined to make a spokesperson available for comment.)

Life insurance companies want to update their methods and make their businesses more efficient. Consumers fear their public information being misused in discriminatory ways. The nature of the industry doesn’t do anything to alleviate those fears, either, because life insurance inherently differentiates between people; different factors cause people to pay different premiums. Government regulators want to balance the interests of both customers and businesses, but it’s not going to be simple.

At its most simple, life insurance is an attempt to financially protect others in the event of an unexpected death. You pay a premium, and if you die within a certain amount of time, the insurance company pays survivors. If not, the insurance company keeps that money. The process of setting premium rates can be slow and invasive. (It also varies by company, since underwriting methods are considered trade secrets.) Typically, a client will fill out an application that includes medical history and questions about smoking and other lifestyle habits. In other situations, they will also undergo an examination that can include an electrocardiogram and analysis of blood and urine samples. Underwriters with experience in actuarial science take all of this information to calculate levels of risk and set a rate.

Algorithms speed up this process — though there aren’t many cases where a decision is entirely automated — and can make it more precise. Sometimes, the algorithm will greenlight a person so they don’t have to go through the invasive medical tests. The convenience of immediately receiving a policy is appealing to those who don’t want to wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment, and that can lead to more life insurance policies being purchased. And while life insurance sales have traditionally been face-to-face interactions with agents, that mode is quickly falling out of favor, meaning that algorithmic processes are better for online sales.

Nontraditional data comes into play in two different ways. First, bulk, de-identified data is used to train those algorithms so they learn, for example, that a credit score of 450 corresponds to a 20 percent higher risk of death. This data comes from the many vendors of consumer data that collect, build, and sell catalogs of this information. Then, when Jane Doe goes to buy life insurance, a separate program will search the web for her existing public records to feed to the algorithm.

However, using social media data specifically is rare, according to Aite Group senior life insurance analyst Samantha Chow. Out of 160 insurers investigated by New York state, only one used social media and other internet activities in underwriting, according to the Journal, although some vendors did pitch data based on such details as “condition or type of an applicant’s electronic devices” and “how the consumer appears in a photograph.”

And when social media is used, it’s usually to reduce fraud. Tools like Carpe Data use names, emails, and birthdays to look for information on the internet that might show whether someone lied on their application about smoking or drug use. The results won’t be used to decline an applicant, but they can be used to move someone into a riskier rating class with higher premiums, says Chow.

All this is okay, in theory, says New York state, but there is “strong potential to mask the forms of discrimination” that are prohibited by law. As a result, it’s the insurer’s job to make sure the process isn’t discriminatory, which is easier said than done.

It’s simple for an algorithm to not explicitly use racial factors like “Asian”or “black” or any of the protected classes the New York guidance mentions. But if the model includes whether someone streamed Crazy Rich Asians or Black Panther, “you have a proxy for race in your model,” says Madeleine Udell, a professor of operations research at Cornell University. Plus, when models get complicated, it can be hard to pinpoint which exact factor caused a certain outcome.

Most consumers won’t understand the technology, and there’s a limit to what transparency can achieve when it doesn’t come with power. Some bargains are what Tschider calls “adhesion contracts,” where one side has a lot more power than the other. We can’t negotiate with privacy policies (which nobody reads), and the most transparent policy in the world doesn’t help if we really need to use the service.

In New York, “everyone is doing their due diligence” to understand what it means to not be discriminatory, according to Diane Stuto, managing director for legislative and regulatory affairs at the Life Insurance Council of New York. It will be easier for some to comply than others, and the result may be that certain companies decide not to offer algorithmic underwriting in New York anymore. “We want to be able to offer these programs because we think they’re the future, so we’re grappling with details and trying to figure out what this means,” Stuto says.

One option could be to do an algorithmic impact assessment and run tests similar to the one that Udell described. Even private companies could be required to do these assessments, which means asking questions like: What kinds of data do a company use and why? What are you testing with and without? “It’s not enough to share the code,” says Selbst. “They need to be able to show that they tested for bias, and what kinds of considerations went into it.”

Both he and Swedloff agree that requiring companies to examine their practices is the first step to coming to terms with when it’s okay to charge some groups more. “The most important thing from impact assessments is understanding the rationales that companies go through and making sure they are actually thinking through and doing their homework the best they can,” Selbst continues. Part of the reason we don’t agree on when it is okay to discriminate and when it isn’t is because we don’t have full information about what’s going on. “We don’t understand what the decisions are that lead to these algorithms,” he adds. “Once the public understands that, we can have more reasoned debates.”


By Angela Chen@chengela  Feb 7, 2019, 11:45am EST

A new health insurance solution for the pre-Medicare individuals

By | Health Insurance

Bridge to MedicareThis plan carries you all the way to Medicare Age 65 without a rate increase!

We have a budget-conscious insurance solution for baby boomers age 62-64+ who are looking for a less expensive health insurance option before they are eligible for Medicare. It’s a great solution for:

  • Individuals who have left their employer health plan and want a less expensive solution than COBRA
  • Those who believe they cannot afford an ACA plan
  • Those who are in good health and don’t have ongoing medical expenses
  • Those seeking a temporary health plan as a result of a non-permanent need

This plan combines health insurance coverage for larger expenses with fixed first dollar benefits to supplement many routine types of medical expenses. Plans also include prescription drug benefits and additional non-insurance medical services like telemedicine, reduced-cost vision exams and eyeglasses, hearing benefits and emergency helicopter services.

Coverage is for unexpected large medical expenses up to $250,000 or $500,000 each year. Here’s how the plan works:

  • You are responsible for paying your deductible amount first, and then 20% or 30% of your medical bills up to a $10,000 coinsurance limit. After you hit the $10,000 limit, the plan will pay 100% of your covered expenses up to the 364 days maximum you have chosen for the policy
  • Your out-of-pocket expenses are capped, up to a maximum covered amount each year
  • Every 364 days a new policy begins – until age 65

Helps supplement the out-of-pocket cost of your medical expenses, giving you fixed, direct payments for when you have routine medical services like:

  • Doctor office visits
  • Preventive care
  • Testing
  • Outpatient surgery
  • Short hospital stays and more!

Plus get these extra Non-Insurance Benefits!

  • Telemedicine reimbursement for that includes low-cost doctor consultations
  • Eyewear and hearing aid discounts
  • Emergency helicopter evacuation

This plan is affordable, predictable & the LAST POLICY YOU WILL NEED until Medicare – All in ONE package – ONE Solution –

Do you need help sorting out health insurance and finding an affordable solution?  Call us 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.


This plan is not for individuals who could qualify for an Obamacare premium tax subsidy or have $10,000 a year or more in routine, ongoing out-of-pocket medical expenses. If a health care provider has informed you that you could have significant medical expenses in the future, it is best to enroll in a plan on the federal or state health insurance exchanges.

Are your life savings at risk?

By | Health Insurance, Living Benefits

Don’t let rising Critical – Chronic Illness costs put your life savings at risk.

Call 1-800-257-1723 for a free quote now.

More than half of Americans over 65 will need Critical – Chronic Illness care at some point in their lives. Costs for this care are already high and are expected to continue rising. Neither health insurance nor Medicare typically cover all the costs of Critical – Chronic Illness. Where does that leave you?

Let us show you how we can turn your life insurance – even a term policy with no cash value – into an asset that you can spend when you suffer a Critical or Chronic Illness.

From Mark Deschenes: “I just had ANOTHER policy payout.  (Here’s the payout letter!)

image (1)

image (2)

It was a $200,000 policy sold 10-22-2015.  The guy paid $225 a month for 3 years and 3 months – and now is cashing it out for $93,445.21 due to cancer.  He paid $8,775 premium and got $93k – they are very thankful.  Everyone says that they just wished they had a bigger policy.

Find out how simple and affordable Critical – Chronic Illness insurance can be.


Gum infection linked to Alzheimer’s disease, new study suggests

By | Health Insurance

Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by a gum infection, according to a new study.

In this file photo, the brain of an older individual shows the early stages Alzheimer's disease. A new study suggestions a gum infection might be linked to the disease. (Photo: DEPARTMENT OF ANATOMY AND NE)

In this file photo, the brain of an older individual shows the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. New study suggestions a gum infection might be linked to the disease. (Photo: DEPARTMENT OF ANATOMY AND NE)

The study, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, suggests the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis that destroys gum tissue in the mouth is linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers observed the bacteria in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They also conducted tests on mice that showed the gum infection led to increased production of amyloid beta, a part of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Despite significant funding and the best efforts of academic, industry, and advocacy communities, clinical progress against Alzheimer’s has been frustratingly slow,” Casey Lynch, author of the paper and CEO of pharmaceutical company Cortexyme, said in a statement. “The Science Advances publication sheds light on an unexpected driver of Alzheimer’s pathology.”

Cortexyme, which funded the research, is designing a series of therapies to treat the gum infection that plan to go to Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

No cure currently exists for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. The disease that begins with memory loss affects as many as 5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Do you need help sorting health AND dental insurance out and making the right decision for you and your family?  Call us 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.

, USA TODAYPublished 2:20 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2019 | Updated 12:41 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2019

People are dying YOUNGER — New Report

By | Life Insurance

Protect your family (1)Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that overall U.S. life expectancy seems to have peaked.

Average U.S. life expectancy at birth fell to 78.6 years in 2017, from 78.7 years the year before, and down from an all-time high of 78.9 years two years earlier.

Life insurers use their own private mortality data, and general life insurance industry mortality data, to design and price life insurance policies and annuities. Some of the top mortality experts in the world are the life insurance and pension actuaries who work on Society of Actuary (SOA) mortality analyses.

Three SOA actuaries — R. Jerome Holman, Cynthia MacDonald and Peter Miller — recently released a new mortality report, “U.S. Population Mortality Observers: Updated with 2017 Experience.”

The report could help how life insurers design and price products such as life insurance policies and annuities. Higher death rates typically hurt the performance of life insurance policies but may improve the performance of annuities and other products with longevity-related benefits streams, such as disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

Here’s a look at five things that happened to U.S. mortality in 2017, drawn from the new SOA report.

1. 2/3 of ALL of us will pass BEFORE age 85!

In 2017, 878,035 of the 2.8 million people who died were ages 85 or older.

About 658,000 were ages 75 to 84, and about 532,000 were ages 65 to 74.

2. The “oldest old” U.S. residents looked worse in 2017.

When the CDC published mortality data for 2016, factors such as drug overdoses hurt the life expectancy of young adults and middle-aged adults.

That year, the life expectancy for people ages 65 and older, and for people ages 85 and older, continued to improve.

In 2017, the mortality rate for people ages 85 and older increased 1.4%.

The only other age groups that had a worse increase in their mortality rates were the 34-44 age group, with a 1.6% increase in its mortality rate, and the 25-34 age group, with a 2.9% increase in its mortality rate.

3. Women are controlling diabetes better than men are.

In 1999, diabetes killed about 83 women for every 100 men who died from the condition.

In 2017, female-to-male diabetes death rate ratio fell to 64 to 100.

But the female-to-male mortality ratio for Alzheimer’s and dementia increased to about 133% in 2017, from about 121% in 1999.

For a look at female-to-male death rate ratios for five common conditions, see the data cards in the slideshow above.

4. Something went wrong with efforts to control diabetes in 2017.

In 2017, the overall mortality rate from diabetes, for both men and women, went in the wrong direction: It increased 2.1%.

The overall diabetes mortality death rate fell 1.2% in 2016, and an average of 0.6% per year from 2011 through 2016.

5. Young adults in high-income counties have had problems.

The SOA team broke out separate data for age-adjusted death rates for counties in the top 15% in the United States in terms of income.

When the SOA team created a table showing how the age-adjusted death rates changed each year from 1999 through 2017, for each age group and income group, they found that people ages 25 through 34 the suffered from the worst death rate change numbers.

People ages 25 through 34 in the highest-income counties had the worst death rate change numbers of all.

The age-adjusted death rate for all causes of death, for all Americans, improved an average of 1% per year.

For all people ages 25 through 34, the age-adjusted death rate got worse: It increased an average of 1.5% per year.

For people in the 25-34 age group in the counties in the top 15% in terms of income, the death rate deteriorated even more: It increased an average of 2% per year.


Now is the time to review and augment your family life insurance protection.

People are dying sooner rather than later & this means you should focus on having larger face amounts, include living benefits, and purchase now before life insurers raise rates.

Contact Mark Deschenes at 1-800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment.