What’s Next for Trump’s Tax Reform Plan

Tax reform took on new urgency for the Trump administration after it was unable to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare), but disagreements that persist between the president and GOP leaders in Congress have put any action in doubt for now. The Senate has passed a budget plan, but no specifics regarding tax reform have been worked out yet, leaving the issue’s fate uncertain. For advisors and consumers alike, this means a wait-and-see situation. “Don’t overreact or make any reactionary plans based off of something that isn’t law, but make sure you’re aware of the changes that are being proposed,” says Garrett Oakley, a certified financial planner at Betterment, an investment adviser. Here’s what could be in store on tax reform. Fewer Tax Brackets While most experts agree that the number of tax brackets is likely to be reduced, it’s unclear what …

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U.S. Life and Health Direct Premiums Expected to Decline for First Time in 4 Years

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s U.S. Insurance Market Report: Life and Health, a variety of forces are expected to lead to a 1.2 percent decline in combined U.S. life, annuity, and accident and health direct premiums this year. Experts say uncertainty in the market is the main driver: As companies scramble to outmaneuver each other in the face of changing regulations, direct premiums are dropping. “Competition for market share between life insurance carriers is highly competitive at the moment,” says Anthony Martin, owner of Choice Mutual, a burial insurance agency based in Citrus Heights, California. “That’s caused a number of carriers to continue to reduce premiums, primarily on their term life insurance portfolios.” Here’s what you need to know. Life Insurance: Competition Drives Down Costs Life insurance rates are decreasing for three main reasons, Martin says: First, people are living longer, largely due to advances in health technology. Secondly, …

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Employees Question Making Right Health Plan Choice on Their Own

Employees Question Making Right Health Plan Choice on Their Own

Having a choice of several health plans is important to workers, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study, “Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2014 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey.” Although the research revealed most employees would like more choices than they currently have, the majority (85%) reported they believe their unions or employers selected the best health plan available. “But they are not as confident in their ability to choose the best available plan if their employers or unions did, in fact, stop offering coverage,” Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program, pointed out. Surveyed employees indicated they weren’t highly comfortable using a rating system to choose health insurance on their own. They also expressed doubt that a rating system could help them decide on the best health insurance. When workers do choose between offered plans, the cost of premiums and …

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