December 2018 E-News: What to Do If You Miss ACA Open Enrollment, Agency News, Texas Trivia, Recipe of the Month & More!



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What to Do if You Miss ACA Open Enrollment

Even though the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act effectively repeals the tax penalty for not having health insurance, individual plans are still an important safeguard against unexpected medical bills. Moreover, they also cover many preventative procedures, such as annual wellness visits and vaccinations.

But the open enrollment period, the time insurance carriers must accept you regardless of any pre-existing conditions, was shorter this year than in years past, running from November 1 through December 15. If you miss your enrollment deadline, you may still have options.

Special Enrollment Periods
First, you may qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). This may apply if you go through a qualifying life event. If you qualify for a SEP, you have up to 60 days after the date of the event to enroll in an individual health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. Examples of qualifying life events include:

  • Marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death in the family, or adoption
  • Change in residence
  • Loss of health coverage (i.e. layoff from employment)


You may also qualify for a 60-day SEP if one or more of these qualifying life circumstances apply:

  • You become an American citizen
  • You are released from incarceration
  • You lose eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program


Group Plans
If you don’t qualify for a SEP, you may be able to get ACA-qualified health insurance by becoming an employee at a company that sponsors a group health plan.

Generally, you can enroll in your employer plan during an initial enrollment period, which can occur at any time of the year. As long as you take the opportunity to enroll when you’re first eligible, during the initial open enrollment period set up by your employer, you won’t have to wait until the annual period.

Short-term Health Plans
In a pinch, you may be able to qualify for a short-term medical (STM) insurance policy. These will provide very basic insurance coverage for a limited period of time, which varies by state. Federal rules now allow for up to 364 days and up to three renewals, but many states are enacting much more restrictive guidelines.

STM plans generally cover emergency room visits, hospitalizations, lab and X-ray fees, and outpatient surgical procedures. They exclude preventative services and prescription drugs, except during a hospitalization.

STM plans are not ACA-compliant. They provide less coverage and often exclude pre-existing conditions. There’s no guaranteed issue provision, which means carriers can turn you down based on your medical history.

While these plans are not a substitute for an ACA-compliant insurance policy, they may be appropriate while you’re between jobs or waiting for a qualifying life event or open enrollment period to come around.

Critical Illness Insurance
You may also be able to obtain critical illness coverage. This will pay a lump-sum cash benefit if you are diagnosed with a condition covered in the policy, such as cancer. While you can expect a medical records check and potentially a medical exam, there’s no open enrollment period for these plans, and you can enroll in them at any time during the year.

If you miss open enrollment period this year, don’t give up! You should still protect yourself against unexpected medical costs as best you can. Call us today and let us help you explore your options.

We Are Here for You!

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.

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AGENCY NEWS
  • We are excited to announce Brittany Tumlinson has joined the Traditions Insurance Services team! Brittany will be our newest Customer Service Representative and we are thrilled to have her with us. Welcome, Brittany!
  • Traditions Insurance Services will be in Kerrville, TX on Dec. 5-6 to attend a Spring update training class.
  • Marcie Ramm will be representing TXINS at the 57th Annual Louisiana Beekeepers Association Convention on Dec. 6-8 in Sulphur, LA. Beekeeping experts Randy Oliver, Dr. Juliana Rangel, Pierre Lau, and other industry leaders will be on hand to answer questions and share knowledge on beekeeping best practices. To learn more, click here.
  • All agency locations will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 24-25 and Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. We wish all of our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
  • Happy December birthday to Marcie Ramm, Allison Silvas, Janet Corson, and Hector Gutierrez! We hope you enjoy your special day!
  • Happy December work anniversary to the following TXINS staffer: Brad Davison-1 year. We are thankful you are a part of the TXINS team!
  • Congratulations to Larry Staha, Kenneth Trochta, and Antonia Cisneros for winning November’s Texas Trivia Contest. We hope y’all enjoy your free Whataburger gift card! Don’t miss your chance to win a $5 Whataburger gift card in our Texas Trivia contest….check out this month’s question below!

David Green celebrated his 2nd work anniversary in November. Congratulations, David! We are happy you are a part of the TXINS team!

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Get Ready for Winter Weather

We’ve already experienced a few cold blasts here in Texas and more are well on their way. So it’s time to get winterized! Here’s a quick checklist to help get prepped for winter weather and save time and money…two things we never seem to have enough of!

1. Heating

  • Test run your heating system to make sure it’s working.
  • Replace the filters throughout your home.
  • If you have a propane furnace, have your fuel storage tank topped off and ready to go.
  • Clear any obstacles to heating vents so air can flow freely. Check for carbon monoxide leaks. For added an added precaution, install a carbon monoxide detector. Many newer smoke detectors have carbon monoxide detectors built in.

2. Doors and Windows

  • Examine for potential leaky doors and windows where warm air can escape.
  • Caulk or apply weather stripping around problem draft areas.

3. Gutters and Downspouts

  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are cleared of leaves or other debris. Wet leaves add significant weight and volume and when frozen, can increase the risk of damage.

4. Roofing and Chimneys

  • Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles and have them replaced. 
  • Check flashing around chimneys and other roof projections, which are often the source of leaks. Repair, if necessary. 

5. Pets

  • Don’t forget about your outside pets. If you can’t bring them inside when severe winter weather hits, provide a warm, safe place for outside pets to shelter. Warm blankets, heating lamps, or even a bed of straw will help them retain body heat and ward off winter weather. Remember, if you’re cold, they’re cold!

 

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Recipe of the Month:
Crock Pot Creamy Hot Chocolate

Author: TheCountryCook.net
Prep Time: 5 min  |  Cook Time: 2 hrs
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • mini marshmallows for serving

Instructions:

1. In a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker, combine all the ingredients. Stir well.
2. Cover and cook on low for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally as it warms up.
3. It’s ready when all the chocolate chips have melted and mixture is warm.
4. Ladle into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream and a mini candy cane.

*For peppermint hot chocolate, add in a couple of teaspoons of peppermint extract instead of vanilla extract. For an adult version, add Kahlua, Peppermint Schnapps, or Rum Chata.

 

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Texas Trivia

Even though not born in Texas, President George H.W. Bush called Texas home. After he graduated from Yale University in 1948, George moved his family to Midland, where he began working in the oil industry. After several successful oil-related jobs, George turned his focus to politics, ultimately becoming the 41st President of the United States. After his presidency, President Bush settled in Houston and was often seen out and about town. He and Barbara also had an apartment in College Station where they were important members of university life. His presidential library is located on the campus of Texas A&M University.

President Bush passed away on November 30, 2018 at the age of 94. In the photo above, his service dog Sully lies in front of his casket. Who is Sully named after? Email us your answer. If you are one of the first three people to answer correctly, you’ll win a $5 Whataburger gift card! 

Show Your Spirit, Texas!

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Congratulations to Kim Kessler of Needville, TX for being our November Referral Program winner. Thank you for your referrals, Kim!
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From our customers…

“My agent explains everything to me so well and helps me understand my policy.”
Kari Bures – Ganado, TX

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is proud to be an independent Trusted Choice Agent. We provide our clients with a choice of companies, offer complete customization of policies, and advocate on our clients’ behalf to ensure each receives quality service and quality product. We are committed to providing competitive pricing and unparalleled customer service. You have our word on it.

 

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