Many people believe that adding someone’s name to your bank account can be an effective strategy for protection of assets when attempting to qualify for Colorado Medicaid. This is actually not the case, however. Consider the following situation:
Mrs. Jones’ husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease three years ago and the disease has progressed to the point where he needs long-term nursing home care.
At the time of the diagnosis, she talked to some friends of the family who told her to go ahead and add the kids names to her bank accounts and mutual funds as a way to protect those assets from Medicaid. Now that her husband is in the nursing home she wonders
whether she did the right thing.
Adding someone else’s name to a bank account or mutual fund does NOT transfer the ownership on that account. If Mrs. Jones had a bank account with $20,000 and she added her daughter’s name to the account, the state would say that her daughter’s name was added for convenience purposes only. In other words, the entire account still belongs to Mrs. Jones. So even though the child’s name has been added, the practical effect, from a Colorado Medicaid standpoint, is that there has been no gift and the entire account still belongs to Mrs. Jones.
This is true whether we are talking about bank accounts, certificates of deposit, savings bonds, mutual funds or any other liquid asset. The law says there is no gift until the child actually takes the money out of the account. In other words, using this same example, if Mrs. Jones added her daughter’s name to the account three years ago, there has been no gift made. If her daughter later takes some money out of the account and moves it into her own name, then the gift is made at the time the daughter takes the money out of the account.
This general rule is not true where real estate is concerned. That’s because if someone’s name is added to real estate, at the time the deed is signed and recorded, then a completed gift has been made.
Whether or not it makes sense to add someone’s name to real estate or financial assets depends upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case, and laws can vary from state to state. Be sure to seek the advice of a competent professional before proceeding.
No doubt about it, Colorado health insurance can get pretty expensive. In these difficult economic times, it’s hard to fit insurance premiums into the family budget. Which is why instead of getting traditional health insurance, more and more Colorado residents are turning to health savings accounts (HSA). The reason: instead of paying insurance companies for a service that they may not use, they create a stable asset that grows year-over-year, and acts as a standby fund for emergency medical needs when they occur. In short, health savings accounts combine health insurance and investment.
There are two parts to obtaining an HSA. The first part is a high-deductible Colorado health insurance policy. As of 2009, the IRS defines as high-deductible any health insurance plan with a minimum deductible of $1,150 for single-coverage and $2,300 for a family, as well as a maximum out-of-pocket of $5,800 for single-coverage and $11,600 for family coverage. To get such an insurance plan, just approach a qualified agent or get an online quote from a health insurance website.
Once you have an HSA-qualified policy, you’re eligible for the second part: a health savings account for covering present and future medical expenses. Anyone under 65 may open one with an accredited Colorado health insurance company that offers HSAs.
An HSA can be funded by an employee, an employer, or both. As of 2010, the maximum contribution is $3,050 for single-coverage and $6,150 for families. For seniors 55 years and above, they are allowed to pay “catch up” contributions of up to $1,000 to their accounts. HSAs are open to anyone with a qualified high-deductible plan, including employers of any size, employees, and the self-employed.
You can get a high-deductible health insurance plan without getting an HSA, but as you will see, HSAs have significant advantages that will appeal to the smart buyer:
Numerous tax advantages. First off, all the deposits you make to your HSA are tax-deductible – that is, you can exclude them from your gross taxable income. Second, any interest you earn from your HSA is tax-exempt. Third, when you use your funds to pay HSA-qualified expenses, like doctor’s fees, prescription medicines, and so on, those too are tax-exempt. Lastly, in the event of death, your remaining funds are transferred to your designated beneficiary-tax-free.
Your HSA is a permanent plan. A health savings account endures even when you change your employment status. That is, you get to keep the funds you’ve accumulated even after you leave your job. This applies even if your employer has contributed to your fund.
Your funds may be used as savings. Because of the tax benefit on the interest, you can let your cash grow over the years. Moreover, unlike with a flexible savings account (FSA), any unused funds in your HSA is rolled over to the next year. By the time you reach the age of 65, you can withdraw your funds without penalty and use it however you want. This makes your HSA an excellent means of augmenting your retirement fund, so long as you stay healthy.
Getting your hands on the best Colorado health insurance you can afford may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be when you know what you’re doing. Read on for some tips to help you find the best Colorado health insurance plan for your budget.
Know your options
To obtain a plan, you can either buy individual health insurance or you can get group health insurance through your employer. There are several kinds of plans to choose from. Here is a brief primer.
FFS (Fee-for-Service) – A fee-for-service plan will pay a specific amount for each service rendered by your health care provider. There are limits, called “allowable amounts”, that the plan can pay. You should clarify these limits and other details with your insurance company. FFS plans are not very popular in Colorado because, in general, we have good access to PPO and HMO networks. As such, you can usually get a better value by opting for a PPO or HMO plan.
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – In this plan type, you are limited to the health care providers within the HMO network and often times are assigned to a primary care physician (PCP). Your PCP helps to “manage your healthcare”.
PPO (Preferred-Provider Organization) – This plan resembles that of an HMO, except that you may use providers outside of the network, although at lesser rates and benefits than any of the preferred providers. In addition, with a PPO you generally have the flexibility to see any specialist without first having to get a referral from your PCP.
HSA (Health Savings Account) – A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax advantaged savings account that allows you to set aside money for health care. This savings account is paired with a high deductible health insurance plan – the result being affordable yet comprehensive health coverage.
Study and compare plans
Given that you have a wide variety of plans to select from, don’t just get what your neighbor, co-worker, or best friend got. Each person has different needs and your insurance should be capable of meeting those needs when the time comes. Ideally, you should base your choice on these criteria:
the quality of the medical care you will receive
the coverage of your plan
how much your premiums will cost
Consider all these factors and weigh the cost with the benefits. Don’t shortchange yourself by getting affordable health insurance but with mediocre coverage – when the worst happens, you’ll be the one left holding the bag.
Look for alternatives
Having a hard time getting insured? Getting adequate health insurance in Colorado depends in some ways on your current health, family, and employment status. If you find that you have been denied or can’t afford health insurance, don’t despair. There are several programs you can turn to.
Medicaid – You may qualify for this if you already have a pre-existing condition and are in a low income bracket. Find out if you are eligible for Medicaid by contacting the Colorado Medicaid Program at 1.800.221.3943 or 1.800.659.2656.
Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) — Colorado provides plans for children from low income families through the CHP+. There are several rules pertaining to income brackets and family sizes.
Medicare – Another program you can turn to if you have a pre-existing condition or disability. Normally you would have to be 65 years of age or older to qualify, but you still can access this program if you have a condition that is expected to last more than one year or is considered fatal.
CoverColorado — This is a state-run program that sells health insurance to a select number of high-risk individuals–people turned down by other Colorado health insurance companies due to a serious medical condition or disability.
Get Expert Advice
Let’s face it, health insurance policies can be hard to comprehend without some guidance. In Colorado, as anywhere, the right advice can give you the coverage you want while saving you hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a year. You can get advice from two sources: a good agent or a health insurance website.
You can source a good agent from friends and family members. As a criteria, a good agent won’t just help you find the right policy; they will provide service before, during, and after the policy has been sold. That means helping you helping you update your plan, being upfront about the rules and limits of your coverage, and helping you sort out claims issues if and when the need arises. In addition, a good agent will monitor your policy over the years to ensure that you are still getting the best value for your premium investment.
Understandably, some people don’t have time to go from agent to agent. If that’s the case, a health insurance website is the way to go. Look for an insurance website that is backed by a well-established insurance agency that offers a variety of services, and who are tried and tested experts on Colorado health insurance.
Read Your Policies
In the end, its all about knowing what you own. Don’t rely on blind faith that you’re getting the right health plan for your money. If you’re not sure about the terms, clauses and limits in the document, talk to an expert about it. And finally, don’t be afraid to say no. As Warren Buffett said, “If you don’t feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don’t own it for 10 minutes.”
Chosen well, your health insurance can save your life and preserve your family’s standard of living. It’s worth doing and it’s worth doing right.
For many small business owners, it can be a very difficult and frustrating task to find a Colorado Springs Accounting firm that really understands the unique accounting needs that small businesses have; one who has hands-on experience and a thorough understanding of the specific accounting challenges you as a business owner face everyday. Ok, so you are not a company like, say, Kinko’s, Chili’s, Target (and you would probably never want to be!), but your need for an accountant, or bookkeeper who is thoroughly familiar with small business accounting and tax codes is just as vital to your success as those large corporations having an accountant that is familiar with corporate finance.
Unfortunately, most business owners (and the general public) tend to view accountants and bookkeepers as just “numbers crunchers” and to a certain extent, this is true. However, much like the medical and legal professions, accountants and bookkeepers can have varying degrees of specialties in areas such as: small business or corporate accounting, tax accounting, IRS resolution, and the like.
This oversight has caused many business owners to obtain the services of an accountant or bookkeeper not familiar with the specific accounting needs of their small business. Why is that so important? You see, unless a Colorado Springs accountant or bookkeeper specializes in small business accounting, there is a high probability that they are not thoroughly familiar with the massive tax codes and complicated IRS rules regarding the state of Colorado. For this reason, they are oftentimes very conservative with your tax deductions, which can oftentimes result in you having to pay additional (unnecessary) taxes, or receiving a lesser tax refund amount. For this reason, it would be a good idea to consider obtaining the services of a Colorado Springs Accounting firm that specializes in small business accounting and bookkeeping.
Some other commonly overlooked factors when considering an accountant or bookkeeper for ones small business are items such as, operating systems used, customer service philosophy, fee structures, operating policy and the like.
With this in mind, the million-dollar question now becomes… “Ok, so how can I know if a Colorado Springs accountant or bookkeeper is right for my small business?”
A helpful free resource that can help you in your search to find an accounting firm that would be an ideal match for you and your business is available by way of a Free E-Book titled: “7 Money Saving Tips To Finding The Right Accountant For Your Business”. The information contained in this FREE E-Book has saved hundreds of Colorado Springs business owners a lot of time, money, and frustration in their search for an accounting firm for their business. I am sure it can do the same for you.
Over the years, the education level in the State of Colorado has seen a gradual and sincere raise. With the increase in the quality of learning, professional graduate schools and learned faculty, today Colorado is one of the many favorite places for the students aspiring for a Degree in Accounting.
The Colorado accounting schools focus on providing the student with not only good education but the faculty also motivates the students for the real world expertise. The graduates of these great colleges grab jobs within the first six months of their course completion. These schools are committed to success.
Talking about the accounting schools, Colorado is considered to be the home to many of the best institutions where the students can seek knowledge, skills as well as qualifications that are necessary in order to pass the different professional accounting examinations and certifications. Also there are loads of online schools that provide accounting as well as bookkeeping programs that are made available to the Colorado students.
These schools are located in various parts of Colorado such as Denver, Aurora, Greeley, and Littleton and so on. The top five Colorado Accounting schools are as under:
Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University, Colorado Springs.
University of Phoenix, Southern Colorado Campus.
Westwood College, Denver North.
Argosy University, Denver.
Colorado Technical University, Denver.
Although these are just a few schools where you can study for an Accounting Degree in Colorado, there are also loads of schools providing specialized accounting degrees. Every school has its own curriculum and teaching pattern but all the degrees that are offered by these schools are equally good. In Colorado, accounting degrees mean a lot and they require proper learning and training. Thus the various programs that are provided by these schools aid the student to achieve that particular goal. These different Colorado Accounting Degree programs include degrees and courses like:
Graduate Certificate in Financial Analysis.
Masters in Accounting and Financial Management.
BS in Business / Administration.
MBA in Accounting.
Associates Degree in Accounting.
AS in Business Management Accounting with an emphasis on Property Management.
These schools provide comfortable and convenient locations for classes. They also have several online learning and teaching programs. Thus, they are not only high quality but highly accessible too!
Studying for an Accounting Degree in Colorado will help you make a difference not only to your future but will also assist you to be able to make a difference to others lives as well. The unique pattern of study and methodology prepares students to achieve the one thing they aspire – success. Not only can the students then earn more in life but the can lead a long and fulfilling one at that.