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 …


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, …


What Exactly is a State Health Exchange?

State health exchange, government-run insurance

What is a state health exchange? It is a government-run insurance marketplace and part of the Affordable Care Act program.  The Affordable Care Act requires state Exchanges to provide health insurance information in a manner that is easy to comprehend for consumers. State Exchanges offer information from multiple carriers via information kiosks placed in key locations. Exchanges Have 5 Main Functions: To make comparing plans and prices easy for people. To create competition so people get the best rates. To offer truthful information about plans, premiums, coverage, benefits, and other benefits-related issues. To provide a place to purchase insurance coverage while a person is either unemployed or in transition from one job to another. And, for those who need assistance, to serve as portals where people can check for eligibility and subsidies, and then help them enroll in plans and pay premiums via a call center system. The Exchanges have …