Category Archives: Health Insurance

Don’t Make Health Insurance Mistakes

Don’t Make Health Insurance Mistakes

If possible, you should try to keep your health insurance. Not understanding the requirements and rules of your plan leaves you at risk of inadvertently losing coverage upon retirement. Many mistakenly assume that Medicare will take care of all their health care needs when they turn 65-years-old, but it doesn’t. At that time, you’ll need a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicap supplemental policy.

Smart Investing

Your financial advisor has most likely advised you to maintain a balanced portfolio of both bonds and mutual funds. This is because taxation and inflation can take large chunks out of your income and you need a portal for long-term growth.

Understand Your Retirement Funds

You should review your retirement fund options with your financial advisor, asking as many questions as you need to understand all the options and processes.

Work With A Fee-Only Financial Planner

It’s always best to work with a financial planner to understand all the complexities of financial planning, the various options available, and what might best accomplish your particular needs and goals. Make sure that your financial advisor is fee-only, meaning they are charging you a fee for their advice. The person advising you shouldn’t be someone that may have an alternative agenda, such as selling retirement products.

Postpone Social Security Benefits

It may be better for you to draw from your IRA or 401 (k) plan before applying for benefits through the Social Security Administration, as this could mean your Social Security benefits will be higher. Typically, someone that postpones drawing benefits from age sixty-two to age seventy will see an increase of around 76%.

Postpone Annuities

Annuitization should be postponed until you’re in your early eighties or late seventies. This means the fixed monthly payments won’t have to last as long and will be more apt to cover your financial needs.

Postpone Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a viable option for those running out of money during their retirement years, but this should be something put off as long as possible.

Think Outside The Box

Some may fall short of their financial retirement goals before or during retirement. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It may be necessary to think about communal living. Depending on family dynamics, living with your children may be a viable option.

Arizona Insurance

I am now offering insurance options to the people in the great state of Arizona, give a call 800-240-3390

Identity Theft Busters for Seniors

Identity Theft Busters for Seniors

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the U.S, according to the Federal Citizen Information Center. A Gartner Research study reports that 15 million people were victims of identity theft in 2006 and that someone falls victim to identity theft every two seconds – that’s 28 people every minute!

Victims of identity theft aren’t merely inconvenienced – they pay the price, and it’s usually a hefty one. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, in 2007, each victim of identity fraud lost an average of $6,000.

Seniors at risk

Seniors are just as vulnerable to this insidious crime as anyone else. Many seniors assume they are not at risk because they don’t spend much time online. Although email scams and computer firewall breaches lead to a great deal of identity theft cases, most incidents still occur offline, in the paper world.

Everyone, including seniors, should follow these tips to avoid becoming an identity theft target:

Double-check your checks:

  • Don’t include your full name, home address, phone number or Social Security number on checks – this information is not necessary. If a thief gets hold of your check, it gives him everything he needs to steal your identity. Simply have your first initial and last name printed on new checks
  • Don’t have new checks mailed to your house. Instead, order them at your bank and pick them up there.
  • When paying credit card bills, write only the last four digits of the account number in the check memo line.
  • Use a Uni-Ball 207 gel pen to write your checks. Unlike most other pens, these $2 pens are resistant to check forging techniques.
  • Consider online banking. Not only is banking online quick and easy, but it’s much more secure than putting checks in the mail.

Secure your wallet:

  • Photocopy both sides of your driver’s license, credit cards and any other important items in your wallet. Store the copies in a safe place under lock and key. If your wallet is stolen, you’ll know exactly what is missing.
  • Never carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Memorize your Social Security number and keep the card in secure location.
  • Keep a list of your credit card numbers and each of their toll-free customer service numbers in a secure place in your home. This enables you to cancel cards quickly if they are lost or stolen.

Protect PINs and passwords:

  • Do not write your PIN on the back of your ATM card or on anything else in your wallet.
  • Keep a list of all your important passwords and PINs in a secure, locked place in your home.
  • Use different PINs for each debit and credit card.
  • Come up with cryptic, hard-to-guess passwords. Never use something obvious like your birth date, name or phone number. Use strange combinations of numbers, letters and characters whenever possible.

Safeguard your mail:

  • Use post office collection boxes for outgoing mail. Identity thieves can easily steal mail from your home mailbox.
  • To receive less junk mail with potentially sensitive personal information, opt out of direct mail credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPTOUT (or 1-888-567-8688).

Watch your trash:

  • Never throw personal documents in the trash. Many identity thieves go “dumpster diving” to find your personal information.
  • Buy a shredder and use it. Shred anything that includes sensitive information, including receipts, credit card offers and applications, medical statements, bank statements, credit card bills, insurance forms, expired credit and debit cards and loan statements.

Act quickly:

If your wallet is stolen or if you believe someone has stolen your Social Security number or other personal information, do the following immediately:

  • File a police report to document the theft.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus and ask them to place a fraud alert on your Social Security number. (The three credit bureaus are Equifax: 800-525-6285, Experian: 888-397-3742 and Trans Union: 800-680-7289.)
  • If your wallet is stolen, call your credit card companies and cancel all your missing cards.
  • Check your credit report to see if any fraudulent accounts have been opened.
  • If your wallet contained any checks or ATM cards, notify your bank right away.
  • File a fraud complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit reports three times a year. Take advantage of this offer and request your credit report every four months. If you notice any fraudulent accounts opened under your name or any other suspicious activity, immediately report it to one of the credit bureaus and follow the other steps listed above.

I did several hours of research on identity theft and wrote a small book on the topic.   If you have any questions regarding identity theft , send me an email and I would be more than happy to help you out.

May 15 Effective Date

Last chance to get a May 15 effective date for the following plans:

Premera Blue Cross of Washington (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Premera Blue Cross of Alaska (Individual Plans including Medicare Supplements)

Lifewise of Washington (Individual Plans)

Time is running out to enroll Children under age 19 in Washington State

Washington Children only Policy

I would like to draw your attention to my previous post about Individual Health Insurance for Children in Washington State Time is running out to get children health insurance in Washington State, during this open enrollment period.  Get a hold of me today to get help figuring this all out.  — Brian Gruss 509-927-9200


Understanding Common Health Insurance Terms

Understanding Common Health Insurance Terms

Whether you are searching for health insurance now or already enrolled in a plan, you may find the plan terms, or coverage descriptions, to be difficult to understand. Don’t worry. You are not alone.

Below is a list of common health insurance terms to help you understand what your health insurance plan has to offer:


The deductible refers to the amount of money the insured is required to pay out-of-pocket before accessing benefits from the insurance policy. Deductibles are usually setup on a policy (starting with the effective date of the policy) or calendar year basis, and start over each year. Some services, such as doctor visits and prescriptions, may be available without first satisfying the deductible. Usually there are separate individual and family deductible amounts. Many policies place a cap on the number of individual deductibles that need to be met for a family regardless of the number of family members.


After an insured’s deductible is met, most policies require the insured to pay a percentage of each claim. For example, with an 80% co-insurance plan, the insured would pay 20% of all bills once their deductible was satisfied.

Out-of-Pocket Max

In most cases, the out-of-pocket max refers to the maximum co-insurance that an insured is required to pay before the policy picks up 100% of eligible costs. Some policies include the deductible as part of the out-of-pocket maximum.

Lifetime Maximum

The amount of money the policy will pay during the life of the policy. This figure is often set at $1 million per insured, or some variation thereof, but some policies offer an unlimited lifetime maximum.


These are items or medical services that are not covered by the health plan.

Pre-existing Condition

A medical condition diagnosed prior to the effective date of the health plan. If someone can document at least 12 months of continuous coverage, most health plans are required under HIPAA to cover pre-existing conditions. Some policies, such as short-term or temporary plans, do not cover pre-existing conditions regardless of whether a person has had prior coverage.

Coordination of Benefits

If the insured has two or more insurance policies, such as being covered by a spouse’s insurance plan along with their own, that would cover payment for certain conditions, the the secondary insurer would pay only for expenses not covered by the primary insurer.

Medical Necessity

A medical procedure or service must be performed only for the treatment of an accident, injury or illness and is not considered experimental,
investigational or cosmetic.

Participating Provider

A physician or other medical provider has agreed to accept a negotiated fee for services provided to members of a specific health plan.  These
providers are often called “in-network.”

Usual & Customary Rate (UCR)

This is a reduction in the payment of benefits on a claim which is justified by the insurance company as “the going rate” in a certain
geographical area.

Allowed Amount

The amount of the billed charge the insurance company covers. For an in-network provider, this would be equal to the negotiated rate. For other providers, this might be based off a usual and customary rate for a given area.