DOL Proposes Changes to AHP Rules

President Donald Trump issued an executive order last year to expand access to association health plans (AHP). The Employee Benefits Security Administration, part of the U.S. Labor Department, recently issued proposed rule changes that would help expand AHPs under the Affordable Care Act. It’s an effort to help provide more options for small employers looking for other insurance plans besides the small group health insurance market, which has been plagued with higher prices and fewer coverage options. “Association health plans are typically offered as packaged insurance programs to employers within a certain geographic region, such as from local chambers of commerce, or industry, such as statewide trade associations as a benefit of membership of the association,” says Chris Wolpert, managing member and employee benefits adviser at Group Benefit Solutions, an employee benefits management firm. Expanding the rules could mean changes for the insurance industry. Here’s what you need to know. …

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Will a Government Shutdown Damage the U.S. Economy?

The federal government shut down for the first time in a little more than four years after Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a last-minute deal to keep funds flowing for another few weeks. The immediate and most visible impact will be in the government’s day-to-day operations. Many departments and offices, like the Department of the Treasury, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Library of Congress, will be closed, and nonessential federal employees across the government would stay home. Families hoping to take their kids to a national park will usually be out of luck in a shutdown, but the Trump administration hopes to keep some of them open. Meanwhile, the men and women who protect our food supply and national security will still be doing their jobs – without pay. But beyond the individual workers and families affected, could a short or lengthy shutdown affect the broader U.S. …

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What You Need to Know About Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies made big news in December when the leading cryptocurrency, bitcoin, lost about a third of its value in a day. The tumble raised questions about cryptocurrencies in general — are they good investments? Can they really take the place of mainstream currencies? What does the future hold? Understanding cryptocurrencies is key to getting the most out of them. They are are a nontangible form of currency that exists exclusively in a digital database called a blockchain, says Fred Schebesta, CEO and co-founder of Finder.com, a financial comparison website. They let users transfer real-life assets such as cars, money and property instantly and without the involvement of third parties. They represent an opportunity for financial professionals, but like any investment they need to be carefully researched before you jump in. “Approach all tokens with a sense of discovery and skepticism,” says Joseph Bradley, director of investor relations at Apex Token …

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Bonding With Your Portfolio

Nearly all investors realize the importance of diversification to the investment process. Many may not be as familiar with the importance of asset allocation— dividing your portfolio into the appropriate mix of stocks, bonds, and cash. Although assets can also include real estate (homes, vacation homes, and rental properties) or business ownership, the most widely held asset classes are stock, bonds, and cash. In a strong economic climate, the potential for gain when stocks perform well opens up. Typically, most people who invest in the stock market also see value in having a liquid cash reserve set aside for emergencies and larger expenditures. But, what about bonds? Are they affected by economic swings and what are the risks involved? There is interest rate risk associated with investing in a bond or bond mutual fund, referred to as an inverse relationship. This means that as interest rates rise, generally, prices of …

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