How to Negotiate Your Health Care Costs

Increased participation in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) puts increased pressure on the consumer’s wallet and in turn, more patient responsibility to understand what they are paying for their health care services. The problem – health care pricing has always been a mystery. It only makes sense that educated consumers should be able to compare prices for health care services, as you would any other product or service before buying. Unfortunately price transparency in health care is rare, and many doctors are unable to keep up with what their recommendations will cost the patient. There is a movement happening however, that aims to uncover the mystery of health care pricing and empower patients to make informed health care decisions. It is no secret that price disparities in health care services exist and prices may vary depending on where you receive treatment. However, you may be shocked to find out just how large these discrepancies can be. According to a recent WSJ article, “a hospital in Pennington, N.J., charged $3,036 for a diagnostic and screening ultrasound, Read on! →

Cheryl Sherrard quoted in Charlotte Business Journal

February 27, 2014: Cheryl Sherrard quoted in Charlotte Business Journal’s January 10th edition of the Financial Planning Special Report, END OF STATE TAX CREDIT BRINGS COLLEGE SAVINGS INTO FOCUS. The Special Report focuses on North Carolina 529 Plans and the recent decision by the NC General Assembly to do away with the state tax deduction that families saving for college have enjoyed. You must be a Charlotte Business Journal online subscriber to read the full article. For those who are not subscribers, you can read an excerpt from the article below, containing Sherrard’s advice for college savings. Cheryl Sherrard, director of planning for Clearview Wealth Management, says college costs are so unpredictable, families should combine a 529 plan with other approaches to fund higher education. “Until the time your child makes a final decision about college, you don’t know what the costs are going to be, and that occurs the spring prior to fall semester,” Sherrard notes. She counsels clients to set up a 529 to build up a baseline of savings for education, but she also encourages them to Read on! →

Cheryl Sherrard, CFP(r) quoted in Credit.com’s blog, “A Valentine’s Day Warning: 45% of Divorcees Didn’t Talk About Money Before Marriage”

February 27, 2014: Cheryl Sherrard, CFP(R) quoted in Credit.com’s blog about discussing finances before marriage. An excerpt from the post is below and the full article can be read here.   It helps to set aside time to sit down and go over the whole financial picture. Cheryl Sherrard of Clearview Wealth Management in Charlotte, N.C., listed in an email some discussion topics for couples considering marriage: The assets and debts each person brings to the table Personal spending habits Spending limits — for instance, discuss any purchases more than $100. Joint or separate accounts How to share or split up living expenses Attitude toward debt

Speed Bumps Ahead?

The first six weeks of 2014 have been nothing to cheer about in terms of market performance, with the major indices down anywhere from 5-7% (although they have bounced back with S&P500 Index down only 0.75% YTD) and questions popping up about economic growth. Of course, the question investors are likely asking is whether we are at the start of a longer-term downtrend or merely a speed bump in the road. The best way to approach this question is to think about what areas of the economy are unlikely to be very affected by an economic slowdown. Traditionally, when it appears the market is in for a sustainable downtrend and economic growth is slowing or reversing, areas of the market known as the defensive sectors have held up better than those known as cyclicals. Sectors such as utilities (people always need power), health care (people get sick in any economic environment), and consumer staples (the need for toilet paper stays relatively constant), have been considered defensive. Interestingly, thus far in this pullback, only the utilities and health care sectors have Read on! →

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) – February 2014 Newsletter

Enrollment period for 2014 has come and gone. If you are like many workers in the U.S. you probably noticed changes in your health care benefit offerings. For the first time in a long time, many workers are weighing their options for health care coverage as high deductible health plans with health savings accounts are becoming more the “norm” for health care benefits. As health care continues to evolve and take shape, employers and employees are adapting to keep pace. In an effort to reduce costs in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and increase employees’ engagement in their own health care decision making, employers across the country are beginning to shift their focus from the traditional health care plans (HMO/PPO) to high deductible health plans (HDHP) coupled with health savings accounts (HSA). According to a 2013 survey[1] on the ACA’s impact on employer sponsored health care, one in four organizations (24.5%) is increasing their emphasis on an HDHP with an HSA, while an additional 14.3% are assessing the feasibility of adding one. If you have not yet been Read on! →