3 reasons to consider a group legal plan

Being a parent is a balancing act. You are constantly being pulled in different directions and it can be challenging to manage all the things you need to get done. Your company’s open enrollment period is a chance to take stock of benefits that can help you manage some of the issues you face.
One often overlooked benefit is a group legal plan, which provides access to a nationwide network of attorneys for help with personal legal issues for around $20 a month. Here are just a few reasons why a legal plan can be a valuable benefit for a parent:
It helps with the things keeping you up at night. Have you considered who would take care of your children if something happened to you or your spouse? Or what if someone in the family became disabled? Do you have financial and health care directives in place to protect your family? If you have kids, you need to have estate planning documents. A group legal plan covers the cost of drafting documents like wills and powers of attorney for you, your spouse and dependents.
It can help protect or restore your identity. Identity theft is on the rise, with child identity theft quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing identity theft crimes. Contacting creditors and other agencies to resolve an identity theft issue can be very time-consuming and costly. In fact, the average cost to resolve an identity-theft issue, including legal fees, is around $1,300, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study cited by CSID. Access to identity theft assistance through a group legal plan connects you to experts who can do the work for you, saving you time and money.
It helps with buying or selling a home. Having children can mean having to move to a bigger house. There are numerous legal issues involved in buying or selling a home. Attorneys can review contracts, draft documents related to the purchase or sale, as well as attend the closing for you. A legal plan provides you with access to an attorney to guide you through the homebuying or selling process, taking away the stress of dealing with complicated paperwork and legal issues.
It can help with school-related issues. As your child enters school, there are many complicated issues he or she may face. Dealing with special needs requests, administrative hearings at school or even juvenile court for traffic infractions are all legal issues that can be difficult for most parents to maneuver without legal help. When you are enrolled in a legal plan, it’s like having an attorney on retainer. You can contact an attorney for any questions you have related to issues your children face throughout their school years.
Having access to affordable legal help through a group legal plan can help you navigate many of the issues you face as a parent. If your company offers this benefit, it’s one to consider this open enrollment season.

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Step-by-step game plan to save the most on Black Friday

(BPT) – Pretty much every American knows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big days for sales. But for many, Black Friday is more than just a chance to save big; it’s a tradition in its own right.

And this isn’t a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

In fact, the age group that is into Black Friday the most is millennials. Sixty percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 say they are excited about shopping on Black Friday, according to a recent Flipp survey conducted by Ipsos. Clearly, shopping great sales is as hot as ever with this younger generation.

This year, we’ll probably see even better deals, and more people than ever will be flocking to the stores. This means that you’ll need a strategy to get the things you need at the price you want.

To help you do this, here’s a game plan to follow from Lauren Greutman, Flipp App Savings Expert.

  1. Create a budget. On average, shoppers plan to spend $475 over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday time frame. Create a budget outlining how much you want to spend on high ticket doorbuster items, or if you’re buying gifts, make a budget for each person on your list. This way, you stay on track of your spending and don’t fall for every deal in-store.
  2. Go digital. Rather than shuffling through dozens of paper circulars searching for the best Black Friday deals, join millions of others by using the free shopping app, Flipp. This ingenious app brings hundreds of digital circulars right to your phone. Search for products by name and Flipp will show you all the deals in your area, or build an in-app shopping list that automatically shows you deals for everything on your list, making it easy to plan ahead and save.
  3. Focus on the big items. There’s a secret to shopping that often holds true: the bigger the item, the bigger the savings. So if you have a long list and don’t know where to start, look to the higher ticket items, like electronics. This is where you’ll catch the biggest windfall, and your bank account will thank you!
  4. Check out the store before Black Friday. Check the store websites for “Store Maps” the days leading up to Black Friday, so that you can find where the doorbuster deals will be in-store and plan your route. Keep in mind that stores keep their best deals in the back of the store.
  5. Research store policies in advance. Once you’ve mapped out where you need to go, be sure to call the stores in advance so that you clearly understand their policies on price matching, returns, exchanges and gift receipts. A little planning in this department could save you a lot of headaches!
  6. Buy gift cards. To save even more money, buy gift cards at your grocery store the days before you shop. This works great if your grocery store offers gas points for money spent at the store. Many stores offer additional gas points for gift card purchases in the days leading up to Black Friday.
  7. Know the “best” deals aren’t always the best. This may seem counterintuitive; after all, Black Friday is all about deals, deals, deals. But keep in mind, just because you get a monster discount doesn’t mean you’re getting the best product. It’s all about doing your research beforehand so you don’t end up buying a super cheap, low quality item.

With so many opportunities to save money and items to cross off your shopping list, the excitement that comes with Back Friday can be a little overwhelming. Using a free shopping app like Flipp, can help you stay organized, plan ahead and stick to your game plan.

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5 steps to prepare for open enrollment

(BPT) – Millions of Americans will select or switch their health benefits plan during open enrollment, so now is the time to prepare for that decision that usually happens once a year.

More than 70 percent of Americans say they are prepared for open enrollment, yet most people struggle to understand basic health insurance terms, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey. Only 9 percent of survey respondents could successfully define all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum.

To help people make the most out of their health benefits, Rebecca Madsen, chief consumer officer of UnitedHealthcare, offers the following five tips.

1. Know your open enrollment dates

Open enrollment isn’t the same for everyone, so there are key dates to keep in mind depending on your situation:

* For the more than 177 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many companies set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.

* For the more than 59 million seniors and other people enrolled in Medicare, their open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

* Health insurance marketplace or individual state exchange open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

For most people, changes made to coverage during open enrollment take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

2. Take time to review your options

Every person or family has unique health and budget needs. Take the time to explore your options, and understand the benefits and costs of each health plan so you can find the coverage that works best for you and your family members.

* Check if your current coverage still meets your needs and if your benefits will change next year.

* Determine if the plan is a good fit for your budget, and pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

* Make sure your medications are covered. Even if you don’t expect to change plans, it’s important to ensure your drugs will still be covered next year.

3. Make sure your doctor is in your plan’s care provider network

Even if you don’t make any changes, it’s a good idea to ensure that any doctor you see regularly — or plan to visit in the coming year — is in your benefit plan’s care provider network. If you plan to visit a doctor or hospital outside of the network, be sure to understand how your costs will differ from a network care provider because those costs will most likely be higher.

Also, check if your plan includes 24/7 telehealth services for consultations on minor health issues. Often, telehealth — online, or virtual, visits with a doctor over a computer, tablet or mobile phone — is available to people enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans and group Medicare Advantage plans, as well as select individual Medicare Advantage plans. Virtual visits may provide convenient and affordable access to care for minor medical issues, including allergies, bronchitis and seasonal flu.

4. Don’t forget about additional benefits

Additional benefits such as dental, vision, accident or critical-illness insurance are often affordable options that can protect you and your family. For people enrolled in Medicare, many are surprised to find that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services. But many Medicare Advantage plans do, often at a $0 monthly premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare.

5. Take advantage of wellness programs.

Some health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals or stopping smoking. Programs are designed to reward people for making healthy choices and being more engaged in improving their health.

Visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com for articles and videos with information about health benefits and health insurance terms.

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