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Bank Branches Without Tellers

There are many online banks out there to choose from, but many of them don’t have a physical place where you can go to do business with them. All transactions are done online, although in many cases you can contact a teller, usually by email, instant message, on video, or by phone. This trend is coming to the big banks as well. The Bank of Montreal, for example, has started opening branches in Chicago that feature video tellers who work out of a central hub, also known as a “customer contact center” and are not physically present in the branch office. The bank provides mortgage and loan experts that travel from branch to branch as needed, using tablets or laptops to connect to the bank’s computers and complete all necessary transactions. Customers can also opt to use an automated kiosk to make investments or apply for loans.
At one time, there were 95,000 bank branches in the United States, but that number has been falling for years. Rural areas and smaller towns have seen bank branches close in a cascade that has left many areas with little or no choice of who they bank with.
The main reason for the growth of tellerless bank branches is, of course, to allow the bank to increase its profit margin. The tellerless branch requires fewer personnel, less square footage, less upkeep, and a smaller investment all the way around, while at the same time still offering services that customers can be charged for. At the same time, though, bank customers are being offered longer opening hours, more autonomy in how they do business with their bank, and more choices in almost all aspects of their financial lives. In some cases, an unmanned bank branch with virtual tellers can be opened in rural or remote areas, giving customers access to bank services that they would not otherwise have.

Credit Score and Online Banking

Our credit scores are becoming increasingly important in our lives. At one time, whether or not you got a loan from a bank depended on the bank manager knowing you and/or your family and judging that you were honest enough, and solvent enough, to pay back what you borrowed. That model has long since been replaced by the ubiquitous credit score. We worry that our credit scores aren’t high enough, or that a mistake on our part – or that of a financial institution, credit card company, or a criminal – will have adverse effects on our credit scores that last for years. These fears are not unfounded. A savvy consumer these days takes an interest in their credit score. They know what it is, what should be on it and what should not, and they know how to repair any damage to it. This is a good thing, because in the world online banking, your credit score dictates how you are treated in the world of finance.
If you are a customer of an online bank – and most of us are – the single most important piece of information contained in your bank records is your credit score. Your credit score will be the deciding factor in whether you are granted a loan or a mortgage, or not. Your credit score will dictate the interest rate of any loan you are approved for. It will decide whether you can be approved for vehicle financing or a new credit card or an overdraft. If your credit score is too low, you will find yourself paying more for financial services that would someone with a higher score, just proving the point that the rich pay less for everything. The moral of the story is, though, that you should know about your credit score, keep careful track of it, and make sure that you work towards increasing your score regularly. You must remember that when the only information the computer has about you is your credit score, your chances of getting good financial services at a reasonable rate are much higher.

Investments with Online Banks

Those with money to invest have for many years relied on investment experts and financial advisors to help them invest their money wisely. Today, we can fill out a questionnaire online and have the computer do the preliminary work of choosing our investments. The final decision is in most cases made by a person, but in many cases the computer’s decision is allowed to stand. This is the face of investing today.
Traditional brick-and-mortar banks are increasing their online options all the time, and many of them – if not most – are now offering customers the option of managing an investment portfolio online, and online banks have made the process easier than you would think possible. It is simple and straightforward to buy and sell stocks online, check investment balances, increase or decrease monthly contributions to your portfolio, and check to see how your stocks are doing.
Some people are comfortable having control over their own investments, managing their own portfolio, and making their own financial decisions, but others don’t feel as comfortable managing their investments on their own. Most of us have little or no training in money management, and investments are often the financial area we know the least about, so a lot of people like to have some sort of help or guidance when it comes to investing their money. Traditional banks offer one-on-one investment counseling, which may or may not be the best advice you could possibly get. Online banks offer some interesting ways to get started with online investing. You will fill out questionnaires to find out what kind of risk you are comfortable with, you can even use a practice account to try out online investing without actually risking any money, and you can take advantage of online education seminars offered by your online bank to help you learn about money management. There are online communities you can join to interact with other investors just like you, and you can even arrange for phone counseling from an investment expert through most online banks. Investing is always a bit risky, but you can minimize the risk by educating yourself and taking advantage of all the help that is offered by your bank.

Apply for a Loan Online

For those who bank with virtual banks, applying for a loan online is just another aspect of their normal banking experience. For those who do business with traditional brick-and-mortar banks, the normal procedure for loan applications is to make an appointment with a loans officer, bring in your financial information, and be told on the spot by the loans officer whether you have qualified for the loan or not. Then, after you have signed multiple long forms, discussed the terms of the loan, and submitted all the documentation required by the bank, the money is deposited in your bank account.
Online loan applications are somewhat different. The initial application will be filled out online, and then you will need to either mail copies of your financial information to the bank, or scan the appropriate documents and email them to the bank. There will be a list of what documentation you will need to provide with the loan application form, so you will be aware of what is required. The bank may ask for a copy of your most recent tax return, proof of income in the form of recent pay stubs or proof of self-employment, a copy of your photo ID, bank statements to show how much money you have, and a summary of your assets. They will also do a credit check. This is usually a hard credit check, which can slightly impact your credit score, so make sure you don’t apply for a loan unless you are really serious.
Once you have fulfilled all the requirements for the loan application, have passed the credit check, and have been approved for the loan, the money will appear in your online account to be used as required. The vast majority of the process can be done at any time of the day or night, unless there is a need for you to speak to a bank representative, so you don’t have to rearrange your life to get to the bank during banking hours, and you will probably pay less interest on your online loan than you would with a traditional bank.

Online Banking and Security

Online banking is used all over the world, but how secure is it, really? Is it as secure as traditional banking? Are you more likely to be the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud if you use an online bank? These are questions that are asked by most people who are considering online banking as an option. The short answer to these questions is that you are no more likely to be a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud through an online bank than you are through a traditional bank. The reason for this is that traditional banks now do the vast majority of their transactions online, so they are just as vulnerable to hackers as an online bank – which is not very.
The longer answer to those questions is that all banks use the strongest security measures they can achieve. They hire cybersecurity experts to constantly maintain and upgrade security measures, and they use things like data encryption to prevent anyone but the authorized user to read your bank information. Firewalls and anti-virus programs are used, as well as fraud monitoring programs. Banks do everything in their power to prevent any type of theft from your accounts and private banking information, and for the most part, they succeed quite well in preventing fraudulent activity.
The bank can only do so much, though. You, as the end user of online banking products, need to be watchful as well. Online security only works if the customer is also on guard for problems. You need to check all of your accounts regularly and look for any transactions that you didn’t make. You need to create strong passwords and change them on a regular basis. Your participation in the security process will make your online security as strong as it can be. There is never a zero chance that your accounts can be compromised, but if you and your bank work together, the risk can be minimized.

Virtual Banking

We are living in a world where traditional physical infrastructure is rapidly being replaced by virtual everything. We can buy everything from clothing to groceries online, and have it delivered to our doors. We shop for real estate, vehicles, and even life partners in virtual marketplaces designed specifically for the modern consumer. We play games with friends in virtual reality, and we interact with others through virtual platforms. It stands to reason, then, that we are also doing our banking in the virtual world.
In recent years, depending on where you live, your choices of which bank to do business with may have become much more limited. Banks have been closing smaller branches all over the country, and many small towns and villages have found themselves with few or no bank branches. The reason given by the big banks for the closures is the expense of owning and maintaining brick-and-mortar branches, paying personnel, upkeep, maintenance and repairs, and all the other expenses that go along with that system. In our capitalist system, banks need to increase their profits every year, and closing branches saves them money that can then be counted as profits.
Closing branches in smaller population centers may increase profits, but it doesn’t increase business. Once a bank closes a branch in a small town, it is obvious that fewer people will be using that bank. They will switch to a bank that has an open branch or reduce their banking business to the bare minimum to avoid having to travel to the bank. Banks have been forced to find an alternative way to retain business while still saving money, which has given rise to the virtual bank.
Banking online is nothing new to most of us – it’s been a normal way to do our basic banking for years. The range of services that can be accessed through virtual banking is growing all the time, making it possible now to manage investments, transfer money between banks, and do almost everything you could do in a brick-and-mortar bank branch without ever leaving home – all you need is a computer and an internet connection. What if you could find a bank branch nearly anywhere?
Banks have begun to install virtual branches in shopping malls, in small-town supermarkets, in little corners of gas stations, and in convenience stores. These bank branches are machines about the size of an ATM, but with many more functions. You can pay bills, transfer money, deposit checks, even access a virtual teller for help with some transactions, in some cases, and get answers to your questions. All transactions are done online, with no physical bank teller involved.
You may be asking what the difference is between online banking and virtual banking. Online banking is done through major, well established banks – it is simply a convenient feature that they provide their customers, and all online transactions are still going through the normal banking system. Virtual banking is banking done entirely online with a bank that has no branches – no bank branches are necessary. The entire bank exists only online, which gives it a number of advantages over traditional banks. Overhead costs are extremely low, there are very few employees, and since the cost of running the bank is so low, they can offer customers more attractive interest rates than are offered by the traditional big banks.
In order to begin doing online banking, you simply have to use your existing bank information to access your bank’s online features. Your online banking usage is only an addition to your physical bank account that you started in person at your local bank branch. Online banking tends to be somewhat limited, in that there are only certain types of transactions allowed through online banking, with most important things having to be done at a physical branch. You can’t arrange a mortgage – or even a small personal loan, in almost all cases – through online banking. You must go to the branch and apply in person, meeting with a loans and mortgages officer and bringing physical copies of all the required documents – proof of income, tax returns, and whatever else the bank requires.
Virtual banks work differently from conventional banks. They have no open branches. You can get a debit card, but if you want to withdraw cash from your account you will need to use your debit card in an ATM that belongs to another bank. You can be charged a fee for every ATM withdrawal you make, but some virtual banks will reimburse you for the fee as part of your account privileges. Depositing cash to your virtual bank account can also be a problem since there is often no place where you can do that. Most people deal with the issue by first depositing the cash in a traditional bank account and then transferring money to their account in the virtual bank. In most cases you can snail-mail a check to the bank’s only office, but that is a slow and inconvenient way to deposit money. Some virtual banks partner with credit unions or larger banks that do have branches open, which allows the virtual bank’s customers to do a limited number of transactions through their branches and ATMs. There are some virtual banks that allow their customers to scan a check with a cellphone or tablet and have it deposited to their account. The check will then have to be mailed to your bank, but the funds can be deposited as soon as you scan it, in most cases. The most convenient way to deposit money to your virtual bank account is to use direct deposit.
There are several advantages to using a virtual bank – the bank never closes, for one thing. You can conduct your banking business at almost any time you like, anywhere that you have internet access. Another advantage is that your virtual bank will almost always offer features that online banking with a traditional bank does not. You can invest your money with the help of your virtual bank, apply for loans and mortgages online, enjoy free checking with no strings attached, and do other things that you would need to visit your bank branch for normally. Virtual banks also use very little paper – account statements are online and can be printed by the customer if they wish, but the bank doesn’t send out paper statements as a matter of course – so they are quite environmentally friendly compared to a traditional bank. One of the biggest advantages to dealing with a virtual bank is the cost. Traditional banks almost always charge high fees for overdraft usage and other features, but virtual banks have such low overhead costs that in many cases they offer the same features and services as a traditional bank without charging anything. Mortgages and loans can be offered at lower interest rates too, which can save customers thousands of dollars over the term of the loan.
There are some drawbacks to virtual banking, though. If you can’t access a traditional bank’s online features, you always have the option of going to a branch and doing your banking there, but if your virtual bank is offline for any reason, you have no alternatives. And your virtual bank’s website will, at some time or another, be down for maintenance if nothing else. If there is an internet problem, you could find yourself unable to access your bank accounts as well, which could cause some fairly serious problems. Another drawback to virtual banking is that you cannot develop a business relationship with a person. At a traditional bank, people often have one employee that they like to do business with because that person understands their financial situation and works with them to solve problems or conduct the more complicated banking transactions. You won’t have that option with a virtual bank. There are usually online message options available, or even telephone enquiries, but you will not be able to speak to anyone in person.
I think it is safe to say that the future of banking will be increasingly automated, with software gradually taking the place of people. If current trends are anything to go by, jobs in the financial sector will disappear at an alarming rate. Experts predict that up to 50% of the jobs in the financial industry will be lost to automation within the next 20 years. This is certainly not the only sector of the job market that will suffer this fate, which means that there are people all over the world who are discussing the changing nature of work and what the world will need to do when there simply aren’t enough jobs to keep a significant part of the working-age population employed. Those who work in the banking sector today would do well to plan ahead for just such an eventuality, since the financial industry appears to be ideally suited to the application of software.

Types of Insurance Plans to Avoid

Most adults have to deal with a multitude of different insurance policies throughout their lives. We have car insurance to renew yearly, life insurance policies to pay premiums on every month for the rest of our lives, health insurance that is a constant worry for many, and every time we turn around, someone is trying to sell us another insurance policy.
There are plenty of insurance policies that will benefit you if you ever need them, but if you add up all the money you pay for insurance every month you will probably come to the conclusion that you should only be paying for the insurance that you really need, and let the rest go. Here are some of the kinds of insurance that should be avoided, so you don’t waste money on useless policies:
Identity Theft Insurance: Identity theft is a very real threat that can cause havoc in your life if it happens, but if you sign up for a free credit tracking service and keep track of what is on your credit report yourself, you won’t need identity theft insurance to do those things for you. You do need to be diligent about keeping track, but most of the online services will send you a monthly report. All you have to do is look through the report for any items that didn’t originate with you, and then you can take the necessary steps to correct it. This is pretty much exactly what the company that is trying to sell you identity theft insurance will do.
Credit card payment insurance: Owners of credit cards are always being offered this type of insurance, and many are tempted to take it. The problem with it is, the premium is tied to your credit card balance, so if you carry a large balance on your card, your premiums will be very high. If you have life insurance, it would probably be enough to cover any credit card debt you might leave, which makes the payment protection plan unnecessary. If you do get this kind of insurance, be sure you understand fully what is being covered and under what circumstance you can make a claim. Some policies only pay the interest on your card for a limited amount of time, making them not much use at all.
While it may sound mercenary, and maybe not quite civilized, insurance is one place where you really should be asking “What’s in it for me?”

Insurance Agents Compared to Insurance Brokers

The biggest difference between insurance agents and insurance brokers is who they work for. An insurance agent works for one insurance company and is authorized to sell only that company’s insurance policies. They are required to offer what the company instructs them to offer, which gives them fewer options regarding what policies they can offer their clients. The insurance agent’s loyalty must be to the company they work for, and not to the client buying the policy.
An insurance broker, on the other hand, does not work with only one company. Most insurance brokers have business relationships with several different insurance companies and can therefore offer their clients the best possible deal regardless of where it comes from. This means that they are working for their client in ways that an insurance agent cannot do.
An insurance agent is paid somewhat differently than an insurance broker, as well. Both of them a primarily paid by commission – they earn a commission on every sale they make. The agent, however, works directly for the insurance company, which sometimes pays them wages on top of their commissions, often with benefits and pension plans. The insurance broker, however, is an independent agent, and as such doesn’t get a regular wage – they are fully dependent on commissions. They are also responsible for their own health insurance, pensions plan, and business expenses.
Both insurance agents and insurance brokers need to be licensed to practice and must meet whatever continuing education requirements there are in their state, but the insurance broker needs to know about more policies and offerings than the agent does, simply because the broker is able to sell a lot more products. The insurance agent, on the other hand, only needs to know about the products their company sells.

Insurance Agents

Insurance is necessary for almost everyone in today’s society, and most of us have several different types of insurance. We have auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, insurance on our credit card balances, insurance when we travel, life insurance, and more. It is important for us to understand each policy we have, so that we know what to expect should we ever need to make a claim. Too many people feel like they’ve been blindsided when they have something go wrong and they assume that their insurance will cover it, only to find out that their particular policy does not include that thing. You can avoid this kind of scenario if you make the effort to understand the terms of each insurance policy you have, and if you are careful to clarify any details you don’t quite understand with your insurance agent. An insurance agent you can trust is an invaluable asset – they can save you from making insurance mistakes, find you the best possible deal for your money, and are always up to date on new insurance rules and policies.
In many cases, an insurance company gains the trust and confidence of their customers due to their insurance agents. The insurance agent’s job is to sell insurance, of course, but they are also the front-line representatives of their employer, the insurance company. As such, they are the ones who are responsible for customers coming back year after year to renew or update insurance policies. For most people, having an insurance agent who is familiar with their insurance needs, their budget, and their lifestyle is a comforting thought, and knowing who to call in the event that you do need insurance coverage can make a stressful situation much easier to deal with.
There are two types of insurance agents – there are captive agents, who work for an insurance company and sell only the products that that company offers, and then there are free agent insurance agents (commonly called brokers) who work for an insurance brokerage and can sell policies for several different companies. They are required to be licensed to sell each company’s policies, though – they can’t just sell a policy and expect the company to honor the terms of the policy if the company has no working relationship with the broker.
The selling side of the job may be the main focus of an insurance agent’s day, but they have other duties as well. They process insurance claims, helping clients to navigate through the terms of the policy and helping to complete all the necessary paperwork that goes along with it. Usually, when a client has had something happen that means they need to make a claim on their insurance, their lives are somewhat disrupted, and they may be having trouble coping with their changed circumstances. Having to negotiate through the confusing language of an insurance policy is often more than they can do. That’s where an insurance agent comes in, and this is where people start to feel that they can get control of their lives again, if they have a good insurance agent who makes things go smoothly for them.
The third aspect of an insurance agent’s job is keeping themselves educated and up-to-date on insurance policies and the insurance business as a whole. They need to read insurance business literature to keep current on changes to policy and procedures. They need to attend educational seminars and/or classes to be sure they are keeping their knowledge base current, and they need to have a good working knowledge of all of the rules and regulations governing the insurance business. It helps if they are good at math, since crunching numbers is an integral part of the job.
When you are choosing an insurance agent, it is important to know both the reputation of the company they work for, and the reputation of the agent themselves. You can search for reviews on both, and while it is great to learn some things that you may not have known, you should be careful of taking reviews at face value. It can be hard to tell whether a review is an honest critique or an attempt to make someone look bad for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance. Online reviews can be a good tool, but they are only that – one tool in your box of ways to evaluate a potential insurance agent. The Better Business Bureau can be a good source of information as well, as they can tell you about any unresolved disputes an insurance company may have.
Even after you have chosen an insurance agent, you will need to be vigilant about your insurance policies. Keep in mind that your insurance agent’s job is to sell insurance. That means that making a sale may be more important to them than your budget, your welfare, or even the outcome of any claims you might need to make. You will need to be your own best advocate, and make sure that you understand every policy well before agreeing to its terms. It is easy to compare insurance companies and policies online (although figuring out the premiums can be somewhat harder since they are not always available online) so spending some time researching what you need and where you can get it is always a good idea.
Your insurance agent will almost always emphasize the good aspects of any policy they are trying to sell you and minimize any bad points it may have. This means that you will need to be on the alert for aspects of the policy that will not benefit you, such as high deductible, high premiums with low payouts, overly specific requirements for what would qualify as a legitimate claim, and clauses that reduce or eliminate your insurance coverage under certain circumstances. You will need to make sure you clearly understand what coverage you are buying, and if what the agent is offering is not what you need, don’t hesitate to say so. The agent may be required to offer you a certain policy first, but if you reject that policy they can certainly find you others that night suit your needs.
One thing that you must do before signing an insurance policy is read it. Ask to take a copy home so you can read it and write down any questions you have about it. Then meet with your agent again and don’t sign anything until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction. There is always a lot of fine print in insurance contracts, and even though it is boring and often hard to follow, it is always a good idea to invest some time in making sure you understand the coverage you are getting and the results you can expect should you ever need to make a claim on your insurance. One of the easiest ways to make sure you understand your insurance policy is to write out a long list of things that you might want to make a claim for, and then find the relevant section for each possible calamity and see if the coverage you would get in that situation would be adequate. For example, if one of the items on your list is “theft or vandalism” then you would look for a clause with a similar heading in the contract, and see what it covers you for under those circumstances. If you think the coverage is not good enough, it might be a sign that you need to change that section of the policy or change to a policy that has better terms for that clause.
If you have found an insurance agent that you can work well with, it can be hugely beneficial to you to maintain that relationship over the long term. If you ever had to make a claim on your insurance in the event of a house fire or similar catastrophic event, having an insurance agent that you’ve dealt with for many years can be greatly beneficial. Your insurance agent can vouch for your character, in effect, by telling his company that you are a long-term member with no history of fraudulent or frivolous claims, and as a result, you may get your insurance payout more quickly and easily than you would have otherwise. An agent you have dealt with for years will know your preferences, understand your needs, and will be able to offer you the best deals their company offers, as well as advising you of changes to policies or rules or laws. If you ever have to make a claim, it will be much easier to get through the process with the help of an agent that you know you can trust.
Most of us don’t like paying insurance premiums, and we don’t like being forced to pay ever increasing amounts of money to insurance companies, but until the requirements change, the best we can do is find an insurance agent or a broker that we can trust and work well with, and make the best of it all.

Health Insurance

There are many different forms of health insurance in the United States, most of them costing the user large amounts of money. The United States is the only major developed country that does not provide health care to its citizens. Recent events in the United States government indicate that health insurance programs will be changing in the near future, but there is no clear indication of what form those changes will take. At present, some of the types of health insurance are the Affordable Care Act plans, Medicare Health Insurance, Supplemental Health Insurance, and AARP Health Insurance. This article will give a quick synopsis of each of these types of plans, their similarities, and their main differences.
The Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is a collection of different insurance plans to suit different income levels, health care requirements, and family size. Each individual or family is required to calculate their own projected needs for health insurance each year, use a mathematical formula to calculate their MAGI (Modified Gross Adjusted Income) for the coming year, determine if their income level qualifies them for any if the cost assistance programs available, estimate to the best of their ability how much in total they can afford to spend on insurance premiums, deductibles, copays, and other expenses, and from that choose a plan that works for them. The process is complicated, time consuming, stress-inducing, and difficult to navigate through, but for most people in the target income levels, health insurance can be arranged for a relatively low cost – the plan website quotes premiums of $50 to $100 per month. You must keep in mind, though, that since the insurance companies are in it to make a profit, all of the money that they pay out for health care must be less than the amount they take in in premiums. Plans differ by state, as do coverage amounts, premiums, copays, and networks. The ACA allowed nearly twenty million people to access health insurance who were not previously able to afford it.
Medicaid Health Insurance is the medical plan signed onto law by the Federal Government in 1965. It provides health insurance to low-income Americans who could not otherwise afford to access health care at all. The program underwent a massive reform and expansion in 2014, and now covers over 80 million people in the country. Those who qualify for coverage under the Medicaid plan are senior citizens, people with disabilities, children, and low-income working parents. The program costs users much less than other forms of health insurance, thereby allowing more people to access needed medical care. Medicaid covers those with chronic conditions, as well, which some insurance plans do not do. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is in some areas a division of Medicaid and in other areas a stand-alone program, that provides children of families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid with health insurance, as well as the parents. CHIP also covers pregnant women, to ensure that they receive adequate prenatal care. This improves the outcomes of pregnancies all over the country. As with the ACA, while Medicaid and CHIP are jointly funded by the federal government and the states, and, while the basic rules concerning who must be covered are set out by the federal government, each state has its own set of rules and regulations superimposed on the basic plan provided by the federal government, making the actual delivery of Medicaid and CHIP slightly different in each state.
While most people under the age of 65 can find adequate coverage through one of the available programs, there are situations where an extra health care policy can be beneficial. Supplemental Health Insurance plans are extra insurance plans separate from the ACA (also known as Obamacare) or Medicare or Medicaid or CHIP which are available to purchase for those who wish to add to their existing health care plan. These plans are sold by private insurance companies, so there are a lot of them to choose from, but they are regulated under different rules than either the ACA or Medicaid and it is important to understand the differences before making a purchase. These plans serve to fill in the gaps left in ACA plans or Medicare, giving the plan holder help with co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. They can be a big help by reducing these expenses and helping to pay for prescription drugs as well. Some of the available supplemental plans cover dental expenses, while others cover vision care expenses, and some cover both. This can be a great help for a family, since dental care for a whole family can be extremely expensive, as can eyewear for several people. Supplemental plans, as with all insurance plans, need to be looked at closely before purchasing them, to make sure that they will provide good value for the money. Some plans only cover you when you are within a certain area, so if you plan to leave home you will need to look at buying traveler’s insurance. For those over age 65 on Medicare, a supplemental plan can be highly beneficial. Some of the available supplemental insurance plans for Medicare include Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part C with Drug Coverage, Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage, and Medigap. These programs can make a huge difference to someone on a fixed income, making prescription drugs affordable and filling in the gaps in Medicaid so that far less must be paid out of pocket by the senior citizen.
The American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, is a huge organization, part of it non-profit and part of it for-profit, originally formed with the idea of being dedicated to bettering the lives of people as they age. They provide help for people over age 50 in various ways all across the country. The organization has many different branches, including the AARP Insurance Plan. This is a system by which private insurance companies are allowed to use the AARP name to sell insurance policies to its members, and the private insurance companies pay the AARP for the privilege. Critics of the program say that in some cases, inferior policies are sold to AARP members for exorbitant prices, and include coverage that is far less than what the policy holder could have gotten for the same price from an insurance policy not affiliated with the AARP. The reputation of the AARP is such that people will assume they are getting a good deal simply because the policy carries the AARP logo. The Medigap policies “sold” by the AARP are a lucrative business for the organization.
People who are between the ages of 50 and 65 and who are not covered by an employer health plan, often have a great deal of trouble getting and keeping medical coverage at all. Most insurance companies are not willing to provide insurance to those who already have existing health problems, and age 50 seems to be where a lot of peoples’ health issues seem to become worse. This makes this age group expensive to provide health care to, and therefore reduces the insurance company’s profits. This means that many people between the ages of 50 and 65 are left without health insurance at what may be the most vulnerable time of their lives because the insurance companies cannot see a way to make a profit from them, and therefore will not sell them health insurance plans at all. The ACA went a long way towards correcting that deficiency, but the program still has gaps for some people. The AARP plans can provide the additional coverage needed to fill in those gaps and give people in that age group full, secure coverage. As with any insurance plan, though, it is imperative that any prospective buyer read the plan carefully and do the homework required to make sure that the coverage you are paying for is adequate. There have been reports of policies being sold to AARP members that pay only $1000 for a procedure that costs several times that much, and there is no cap on how much the policy holder is required to pay out of pocket. These types of clauses are the ones that a prospective buyer should be looking carefully for – a policy with a clause like that is most certainly not worth the money.
In conclusion, health insurance in the United States is a huge, complex system that is far more expensive than is warranted by the outcomes it produces, and far less efficient than its high costs would suggest. The introduction of the ACA was intended to improve outcomes, which it may have done due to increased coverage of those who previously could not afford health care at all, and reduce prices, which it has not proven to do in any significant way. The ideal solution for medical care in any country appears at this time to be universal, or single-payer health insurance. Of all the systems that have been developed worldwide, that seems to be the one that provides the best outcomes for the lowest prices. The most efficient and successful healthcare system in the world according to the World Health Organization is France, with the United States coming in at number 37 on the list, even though the US spends more than twice as much money per capita. Perhaps it is time for the US to look more closely at universal health care.

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