As corporate America continues to search for creative ways to streamline costs and reduce expenditures pertaining to medical expenses, more companies than ever are offering High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with a companion Health Savings Account (HSA) option. Two-thirds of companies with 1,000 employees or more are offering this HDHP/HSA option. The popularity of the HDHP/HSA combination has increased substantially over the past decade. As of 2014, 17.4 million people were enrolled in HDHP/HSA compared to a mere 3.2 million in 2006, a five-fold increase in just 8 years. In short, an HDHP is a pre-tax medical plan that requires the employee to absorb the cost of medical expenses up front to a defined dollar amount to satisfy a deductible before the traditional medical plan provides coverage. In addition to reducing medical expenses by shifting the cost burden onto the employee, the employer circumvents the 40% excise tax that the Affordable Health Care Act will impose on high-value insurance plans beginning in 2018. These plans may be a win-win for both the employer and employee. Continue reading "Utilizing A Health Savings Account (HSA) As A Health Care Cost Containment Play While Augmenting Retirement Savings"→
A few weeks ago in this space I recommended that people investing for retirement should avoid the overpriced stock and bond markets and any imminent market correction and instead invest in themselves, namely by paying down their mortgage. It's a 100% guaranteed risk-free investment, and the amount of money you'll save will dwarf the return you might get on bank CDs. And it will make your household budget in retirement a lot easier to balance.
But one way NOT to pay off your mortgage is by calling one of those outfits that promise to help you pay off your loan early, for a fat fee, of course. They often advertise a "biweekly" mortgage in which you agree to send them one-half of your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks. By doing that, you're essentially making one extra mortgage payment a year, thus paying down your loan faster.
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