I would like to talk to you today about Florida Health Savings Account plans (Florida HSA). This is a type of health insurance plan that offers very low cost premiums with a somewhat higher deductible.
Many of you have discovered how great these plans can be and have already taken advantage of them. The rest of you still have a frame of mind that prevents you from buying these cost-saving Florida health insurance plans. You still think that you will be able to buy a plan with low co-pays, covers everything and has a $100 deductible. Then again, many of you still hold on to the hope that Santa Claus is a real person.
Let’s say you are sitting in your living room and a baseball flies through the window. It breaks a pane of glass. You call to have it repaired and the charges total $100. Your homeowner’s policy has a $5,000 deductible so you pay out of pocket.
Chances are you do not spend the next day shouting about your rotten homeowner’s policy that would not reimburse you the $100. Chances are that you do not shout at your home owner’s insurance agent about “What the hell do I pay premiums for?”
Why? It is because you bought the policy to help pay for the things that can happen to a home that cost a lot of money. Situations like a fire or a hurricane. You are smart enough to know that if they paid for the broken window, your homeowner’s plan would be even more outrageously expensive than it already is. You can pay for the window and your children will still eat tomorrow.
The purpose of insurance, any type of insurance, is to provide financial help for those situations that would be a hardship if we had to pay out of own pockets. The degree to which you want to be protected, in other words the amount of compensation you receive and the deductible (the amount you have to pay before the insurance company does), will determine how much you pay for insurance. It is as simple as that.
Those of you looking for a Florida health insurance plan with $10 co-pays, $100 deductibles, vision, dental and a limo to pick you up and take you to the doctor are living in a dream world. Health insurance premiums in Florida, in case you did not notice, are going up each year 8% to 20% depending on the carrier and plan.
Now, let’s talk about an intelligent solution. The rest of this discussion will assume a working knowledge of 4th grade arithmetic. You do NOT have to smarter than a 5th grader to understand all of this.
All of our HSA plans are PPO’s. In other words, if you go to a network provider (physician, lab, testing facility, etc.) you are entitled to the discounted PPO rate for services. You will pay the reduced rate the insurance company pays. A physician visit may be reduced from $100 down to $60 under these circumstances.
You pay a premium each month for the health insurance plan, just like any other Florida health insurance. However, this plan has a somewhat higher deductible and a lower monthly premium. If you meet the deductible, the insurance company pays the rest of your expenses. It is still multi-million dollar major medical coverage.
What about doctor’s visits and prescriptions? You pay them. But here is the catch. Uncle Sam allows you to set up a special savings account. This is an interest bearing account, the money is yours, and it does not disappear at the end of the year.
For every dollar you put into the savings account, you can take a dollar off of your gross income at tax time. Your “Uncle” is helping you to pay for your health insurance. You are paying medical expenses with pre-tax money.
Here is an example. A couple (Male 40 and Female 35) living in Pinellas County would pay $130 a month for a $6000 deductible HSA plan. A plan with a similar out of pocket expense and some doctor co-pays would be $270 a month.
For the privilege of paying a doctor visit for $35 instead of $60, it will cost them more than $1600 a year. From my stand point, that is insane. If something terrible happened to you, the coverage is the same. Actually, you would pay a little less in out-of-pocket expenses with the HSA plan.
If this couple were in a 25% tax bracket and put the $1600 into their Health Savings Account, they would save $400 a year in taxes and get interest on the money as well. If you factor that in, they are paying less than $100 a month for multi-million dollar PPO Florida health insurance. Not bad.
Face it: whether you’re moving to Florida for a year or for the rest of your life, you want to be able to enjoy the things you’ve worked so hard for while you’re here. Luckily, Florida is one of the best states in the country when it comes to keeping your assets safe – be it from creditors or the weather.
Protecting Your Home
Your home is one of the greatest assets you will ever own. Not only is it a large investment, it’s full of your most cherished possessions and memories. There are numerous options available in the state to keep your Florida residence safe from harm.
Though Florida does not require that one own homeowner’s insurance, it is a good idea to obtain it. Homeowner’s Insurance covers costs associated with repairing or rebuilding your home and replacing your personal possessions if they’re lost due to theft, fire or other disaster. In short, coverage could save your family millions of dollars, and lots of stress, should an unexpected disaster occur.
If you have a mortgage, the lender will require you to obtain full insurance coverage on the structure, including flood insurance (if you are in a flood zone), fire, liability, windstorm, etc. Your city or county may also require liability coverage if you own things like swimming pools or certain types of pets. Liability insurance covers injuries to other people or damage to their property for which you are responsible. This type of coverage is built in to the general types of policies listed above.
If your Florida residence is a condo, you’re in luck. Florida requires that condo associations provide a minimum coverage to collective property, meaning that at least some part of your home is always protected even if you don’t have a personal policy in place. (Coverage can vary widely, so contact your association president for full details of your association’s coverage.)
Still, because condo insurance is limited, you may still opt to purchase personal insurance of your own. For those areas not covered in the association policy, you should consider purchasing Condominium Interior Insurance, which covers things like your wallpaper, trim, built-in bookcases, cabinets, fixtures, carpets and more.
We all know how hard it is to get health insurance coverage if one has a pre-existing condition. The same goes for homeowner’s insurance for high-risk areas prone to flood, hurricanes and other natural disasters. To help, Florida established the Citizens Property Tax Corporation in 2002 to ensure that property insurance is available to all Floridians, regardless of risk zone. Citizens is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation, whose public purpose is to provide policyholders with affordable property insurance protection.
Other Types of Protection
Protecting your Florida residence from weather and other unexpected incidents is just one part of the equation. It’s also important that you keep your home safe from creditors should an unexpected financial situation occur. Thanks to Florida Homestead Protection, your homestead property is exempt from creditors so long as you are a permanent Florida resident, and the property is your primary residence. (As mentioned in Chapter One, this protection does not protect against creditors who have a connection to the property, such as mortgage lenders, etc.)
The Florida government has historically defined homestead quite liberally, including not only single-family homes, but condos, mobile homes, etc. Because it offers unlimited monetary protection, some may opt to invest liberally in their residences as a way of protecting their assets. Still, while it protects a lot, Florida Homestead Protection does not protect one’s home from tax liens, mortgages, HOA assessments or mechanic’s liens. (Note: second homes, investment properties, properties titled in irrevocable trusts or other partnerships are also not covered with this protection.)
Beyond the Home
It’s true that for most families, their home is one of their most valuable assets. Still, most families have lots of other things that are valuable to them, from jewelry and savings accounts to retirement accounts, business acquisitions and more.
Amid widespread health care reform in Florida and a heated national health care debate, both Republicans and Democrats worry about potential changes to the Florida health care system. Florida Democrats, who are in favor of health care reform efforts, worry that an up-and-coming GOP Senate candidate may pose a serious threat to the quality of the Florida health care system.
Republican Marco Rubio has, until now, not appeared to pose a serious threat to health care reform in Florida. However, as the Republican candidate continues to build support for his nomination to the GOP Senate seat, Democrats are growing increasingly concerned about what Rubio might do if elected to office. Most importantly, Democrats worry that Rubio will repeal Florida health reforms if he is elected.
That’s no wonder; Rubio has said himself that he plans to repeal Florida health insurance reforms if he wins the Senate seat. That repeal, he said, could mean decreasing health costs for Florida residents and improving health care accessibility for all. The Democrats, however, don’t see it the same way, and are calling Rubio “nothing more than a typical politician who is in the hands of the health industry,” said Eric Jotkoff, Florida Democratic Party spokesman.
According to Jotkoff and a press release issued by the Florida Democratic party, if Rubio does indeed have an alliance with Florida insurance companies, as the Democrats suspect, Florida residents will have to pay more for their healthcare than ever before. Moreover, such an alliance would increase the federal budget, reduce health care access, and create financial difficulties for many Florida residents participating in the Medicare program.
“By pledging today to repeal health insurance reforms Marco Rubio not only promised to add to the federal budget deficit and deny Florida’s families access to health care, but Rubio’s repeal would also force senior citizens to continue paying for the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs out of their pockets by re-opening the Medicare Part D donut hole,” said the Florida Democratic Party in a press release issued earlier this month. Rubio’s repeal also means that he wants allow insurance companies to deny coverage when you get sick because of a pre-existing condition.”
As health care costs continue to increase, including the costs of health insurance plans, one of the best things that Florida residents can do to help protect their health and their wallets is to enroll in a health insurance plan now to lock in the monthly premium rates before they increase.
There are many different types of health plans and health providers. In order to find the right health plan for their specific needs, lifestyles, and budgets, Florida residents should consult with a qualified health insurance plan broker who can help compare health insurance plan offerings and rates to find the best one for each individual applicant. For example, Florida residents may be able to receive health insurance plans through their employers in addition to health insurance plans that they qualify for on their own. Even if a Florida resident is able to get a health insurance plan through an employer, he or she may be able to get a better rate on a plan he or she gets independently of the employer.
One of the most popular health options is a Health Savings Account plan, which allows participants to save money into a high-interest yielding savings account that they can earmark to pay for health insurance expenses. With a Health Savings Account, participants will also receive a tax deduction for the funds they deposit into their Health Savings Account and use on qualifying medical expenses. Also, Health Savings Account options come with high deductible health plans that have low monthly premiums, significantly reducing participants’ monthly health care expenses.
Whenever enrolling in a new health ins. or changing health ins., it is important for individuals to speak with an experienced health insurance advisor to ensure that they have all the information they need to make a wise financial an healthcare decision for their specific needs, budgets, and lifestyles.
Working in the money part of a business is always confusing. Some people may call you the bookkeeper and others will say you’re in the accounting department. So what is the difference between the two?
First let’s take a look at accounting. This will help you to better understand what each is and what they do in a business. The accounting department is responsible for many things in a company. It tracks any and all financial transactions with a systematic record process. It performs reports and analyses all financial aspects of the company. The accounting department handles all incoming bills as well as outgoing,. There are some companies, usually smaller ones, which incorporate the bookkeeping method into their accounting.
Usually there is an accountant for the accounting department and they are responsible for overseeing the money for the business. They also take care of taxes for the company as well as any audits that may come up. They keep track of all assets for the company and all accounts receivable and payable.
Bookkeeping in a way is much like the word. All money transactions for a business are kept track of by a systematic method of record keeping. Bookkeeping, however, does not deal with analyzing the financial part of the company. It simply is a method of recording all of the financial transactions. The name bookkeeping came about as a result of all of the records being kept in a large book. The bookkeeper writes down all entries and then posts them to a ledger. This helps to track incoming and outgoing money for the company.
There may be some companies that still use the book method for their bookkeeping department but most companies use a software program meant strictly for bookkeeping. When money is tracked in this manner, you still need to keep up a cash book, a daybook and a ledger. When it comes to bookkeeping you will notice that there are two different kinds: single entry and double entry. Many companies like the double entry method as you have a way to double check your original entry. In single entry you are putting an entry in your book either under credit or debit and it is all under one account where a double entry you are putting the entry in twice, once on a main account but in the main account are pages for each individual account so that you may check your entries at any time to see that all adds up.
The way a company handles its finances mainly depend on how large or how small it is, both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. The larger the company is, you will find that they have an entire department devoted to accounting.
There are many people who need to hire accountants. Some of these people are business owners and have specific needs. Others are simply individuals that do not have the expertise to take care of accounting tasks. There are a number of options related to finding a qualified accountant. There are accountants who work alone for their customers.
These accountants often have long lists of clients. It is sometimes difficult to get onto their client list. Accounting firms are popular locations to find a Certified Public Accountant. These firms staff a number of accountants. This provides customers with many opportunities to hire services. There are some accountants who specialize in specific types of financial work.
Some accountants are experienced in a variety of fields. Considering this before you hire someone is important. Depending on your individual needs, you will want a specific type of accountant. Many people hire accountants for tax preparation. This is a once a year expense for them.
Others require year around service from their accountant. It doesn’t matter, which category you fall into. There are easy ways to find an accountant. The internet has become of the best tools for this process. You will be able to find locations that are nearby. This is a convenient way to search for an accountant. As you search for the right accountant, there are certain things to look for. Here are some of the common tasks that these professionals provide
Businesses in different fields have embraced the benefits of the internet. For this reason, many accountants offer online accounting tasks. These services are performed from one remote location to another one. This is a very convenient way to have these tasks completed. Communication with your accountant can be done completely electronically. There are a number of great online accounting services. Most accountants these days operate through the use of quality software. This makes them knowledgeable about the services that clients need.
Tax preparation is one of the most common services that customers require. Individual tax preparation can be a simple service. In most cases, this is a single or joint tax return scenario. Businesses of different sizes pose some of the more complex tax preparations. The more complex the service, the longer it may take. Most accountants charge their customers per hour of work. This is something to consider when having this sort of work done.
Bill auditing is something that many businesses are interested in. This is a service that accountants are able to provide for them. Individual accountant may offer this type of service. Large firms most often have this and other services available to customers. Visiting an accountant’s website is a good way to determine what they offer. This is also a way to determine their experience level and qualifications.
Payroll preparation is one of the most important tasks for any business. Small businesses tend to not require this sort of service from an accountant. Larger businesses, however, find these services convenient. They feel secure that the work is being done by professionals. This presents them with a worry-free way to conduct business.
The Florida 529 plan is a state-run college savings plan of the state of Florida. There are two versions of this plan here – the Florida College Investment Plan and the Florida Prepaid College Plan. This article provides information on the basic features of these two Florida 529 plans.
The Florida College Investment Plan
The Florida College Investment Plan is a savings plan that allows the accountholder to make an educational investment plan up to the tune of $341,000 for a single beneficiary from all Florida accounts. Installments are allowed for the investment, where accountholders must make an initial contribution of at least $250 and then manage the later installments as they wish. However, the amount must not go below $25 in a month.
This plan has three kinds of investment options:
1. Static Investment Options – There are four portfolios in these plans – the US equity, balanced, fixed income and money market.
2. Age-based Investment Options – This contains five age bands within the fixed income and the US equity portfolios. The beneficiary has to be allocated to one of these five age bands.
3. Underlying Investments – Here investments can be made in privately managed portfolios such as the US Trust Company, Northern Trust Investments, State Board of Administration, Trusco Capital Management and Deutsche Asset Management.
The person investing in the plan, i.e. the accountholder, is free to direct the benefits of this Florida 529 plan in his or her own name, or in the name of the beneficiary, or in the name of a particular educational institution. The name of the beneficiary can be transferred at any time.
The Florida Prepaid College Plan
The Florida Prepaid College Board runs this prepaid program. Account holders can make a plan as soon as the kids are born. A contract for a child below one year would range from $3,511 for two years at community college to about $35,740 for four years at the university. People can purchase credit hours for their children’s future education. These packages are in the form of 120 credit hours for a four year university plan, 60 credit hours for a two year community college plan and a combined plan of 60 hours for both community college and university.
The account holder can direct the benefits to public universities in Florida, or to a regionally accredited nonprofit institution. The payments are done in a lump sum amount or in 55 installments that must end in October one year prior to that of seeking admission in college.
The state of Florida accounts for more than ten percent of all mobile homes in the nation. This means that more people live in manufactured homes in this state than in any other. With the risk of hurricanes in some areas of the state, many people are recognizing the need for a solid and dependable homeowner’s insurance policy for their mobile home in Florida.
The process of securing homeowner’s insurance for a mobile home is very similar to that of a traditional home. There are ways to save on insurance costs and it takes a bit of knowledge and some time to realize those discounts.
Before a person even considers ways to save money on their mobile home insurance policy they must first find out how much they can expect to pay. The best way to do this is by contacting several different insurance companies and asking for quotes. Insurance companies gladly give out free quotes as they recognize this as a good way to make initial contact with prospective consumers. Have a clear replacement value in mind for your mobile home, as well as the range of coverage you want, before you contact any agents for quotes. This way you’ll be prepared and it will enable you to gather quotes that all offer the same or very similar levels of coverage.
In terms of hurricane coverage for residents who do own mobile homes in Florida, it’s wise to understand the details. Florida recently enacted new insurance rules pertaining to all types of home including mobile homes that provides more protection for the homeowner after a hurricane. This includes a mandatory checklist that explains what is and isn’t covered during a hurricane, so the homeowner can be fully aware of what limitations are in place. Insurance companies are also required to completely disclose how much the potential deductible would be. This really helps the homeowner understand the full burden of the cost they’ll be expected to pay.
Mortgage companies in Florida are professional and regulated organisations involved in the business of money lending to prospective clients who may be looking to purchase a property. The Florida mortgage market though has taken a bit of a beating over the last couple of years with the credit crunch, so times are harder for buyers if they haven’t got a large deposit or particularly good credit. However, there are always companies looking for new business and if they found your circumstances and application to be favourable then they will be happy to move forward with your application.
The mortgage lenders can act as agents between the client and lenders or specifically as the lender itself, dependent on the circumstance. They can also offer refinancing options for current homeowners who may be looking to free up some of their capital in the short or long term. Either way, you should be looking to speak with a reputable Florida mortgage lender so ask your local realtor if he has any recommendations to offer. In the meantime here are the top 3 Florida mortgage lenders in no particular order.
1. Florida Mortgage Corporation. These guys were established in 1989 and is a member of the better business bureau and hold an A* rating with them. They have all manner of solutions regardless of your circumstances. Definitely worth looking at when trying to find a Florida mortgage lender.
2. Transcon Lending Group. This company offers a huge variety of mortgage options from 100% mortgages, reverse mortgages, refinancing and much more.
3. Mark Foreman Finance. This company specialises in providing Florida mortgage lending to expat buyers. The expat level of investment in Florida accounts for a significant percentage of the total business so I though it relevant to include some specialist expat FL mortgage lenders. These guys are in face America’s No1 mortgage broker for expat buyers.
Single family home or condo, Florida beach property is the dream of many. In today’s real estate market, can that dream become a reality? Is the Florida Beach for Sale? Is now the time to buy? It is and with so many advantages to living in Florida, many thousands of people will buy Florida beach condominiums or homes in Florida retirement communities this season. Who are the people that will buy these Florida beach condominiums and homes in Florida retirement communities? First, there are Americans from the northern and mid western states who are relocating to Florida or buying second homes there mainly because of the weather. A new trend finds home owners bringing their parents with them. Since people are living longer life spans now, taking care of one’s parents for as long as possible is often a much more comfortable and economical solution than having them live alone or in a group living arrangement.
The other major group of Florida second home buyers is foreigners. According to a 2005 study by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 15% of the home sales in Florida that year were to international buyers from over 100 different countries. 87% of the realtors who were part of the Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida survey in 2005 said that they had completed at least one sales transaction with an international buyer in the preceding 12 months. And of those, 66% of them said that international buyers accounted for 25% of the sales they transacted in that same 12 month period.
Not surprisingly, the international buyers tend to purchase homes in the larger cities in Florida. Over 30% of them buy homes in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area alone. Orlando, Naples-Fort Myers, Sarasota, and West Palm Beach all are popular locations with foreigners as well. Less than 8% of sales to international homebuyers tend to take place in cities or locations not mentioned above.
Europeans are the largest group of internationals who purchase a vacation home in Florida or relocate to Florida, accounting for 58% of the total. One country, the United Kingdom, accounts for the majority of international buyers in Florida; approximately 1/3 of all home sales in Florida to international buyers were to people from the UK. Interestingly, foreign buyers also are more likely to pay cash for their Florida home – about 36% of them will buy this way as opposed to just 10% of Americans who are buying a second home in Florida.
In selecting a Florida accounting firm to take care of your business and personal financial needs, you need to consider important information before handing over the reigns, so to speak. Even if you just need to take care of tax paperwork for the years end, ongoing services through the years or investment information, your accountant can assist you. The chosen accountant should have an excellent personal relationship with you or with your business and be in good spirits with the Internal Revenue Service. When selecting a firm to handle your needs please consider a few things:
· How is their staff trained? Do they all have a bachelor’s degree in the financial field? Are they all certified public accountants? This is important to know as you want someone with the best expertise in the arena to handle your money or your businesses money for you. How much experience do they have in dealing with tax laws? Once thing that you never want to mess up on is your taxes!
· Is the firm you are looking at registered with the Better Business Bureau? Are they in good standing? How long has the firm been in operation and can they give you references from past customers?
· Do they have a specific area of accounting they like to deal with? Some prefer the corporate atmosphere, while others prefer to deal with private parties. Not all accounting offices are the same. Small business book keeping, is handled in a different area than a corporate account.
· Where is their office located? Can you make an appointment and go see the person handling the account? This is vitally important to the overall relationship with the accountant of choice. You do not want your accountant to be someone that is outsourced to a different country!
· Is the accountant or accounting firm accessible? I mean can you call the team or person handling your accounts directly? A great working relationship not only builds rapport, but keeps the bond strong and a loyal accountant and client!