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Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43

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When Danni Askini started feeling chest pain, shortness of breath and a migraine all at once on a Saturday in late February, she called the oncologist who had been treating her lymphoma. Her doctor thought she might be reacting poorly to a new medication, so she sent Askini to a Boston-area emergency room. There, doctors told her it was likely pneumonia and sent her home.

Over the next several days, Askini saw her temperature spike and drop dangerously, and she developed a cough that gurgled because of all the liquid in her lungs. After two more trips to the ER that week, Askini was given a final test on the seventh day of her illness, and once doctors helped manage her flu and pneumonia symptoms, they again sent her home to recover. She waited another three days for a lab to process her test, and at last she had a diagnosis: COVID-19.

A few days later, Askini got the bills for her testing and treatment: $34,927.43. “I was pretty sticker-shocked,” she says. “I personally don’t know anybody who has that kind of money.”

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Like 27 million other Americans, Askini was uninsured when she first entered the hospital. She and her husband had been planning to move to Washington, D.C. this month so she could take a new job, but she hadn’t started yet. Now that those plans are on hold, Askini applied for Medicaid and is hoping the program will retroactively cover her bills. If not, she’ll be on the hook.

She’ll be in good company. Public health experts predict that tens of thousands and possibly millions of people across the United States will likely need to be hospitalized for COVID-19 in the foreseeable future. And Congress has yet to address the problem. On March 18, it passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which covers testing costs going forward, but it doesn’t do anything to address the cost of treatment.

While most people infected with COVID-19 will not need to be hospitalized and can recover at home, according to the World Health Organization, those who do need to go to the ICU can likely expect big bills, regardless of what insurance they have. As the U.S. government works on another stimulus package, future relief is likely to help ease some economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but gaps remain.

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Here is everything you need to know about what getting treated for COVID-19 could cost you.

How much does it cost to be hospitalized for COVID-19?

Because of our fragmented health care system, it depends on what kind of insurance you have, what your plan’s benefits are, and how much of your deductible you’ve already paid down.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the average cost of COVID-19 treatment for someone with employer insurance—and without complications—would be about $9,763. Someone whose treatment has complications may see bills about double that: $20,292. (The researchers came up with those numbers by examining average costs of hospital admissions for people with pneumonia.)

How much of that do I have to pay?

Most private health insurance plans are likely to cover most services needed to treat coronavirus complications, but that doesn’t include your deductible—the cost you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in. More than 80% of people with employer health insurance have deductibles, and last year, the average annual deductible for a single person in that category was $1,655. For individual plans, the costs are often higher. The average deductible for an individual bronze plan in 2019 was $5,861, according to Health Pocket.

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In both complicated and uncomplicated cases, patients with employer-based insurance can expect out-of-pocket costs of more than $1,300, the Kaiser researchers found. The costs were similar regardless of complications because many people who are hospitalized reach their deductible and out-of-pocket maximum.

Many health insurance plans also require co-pays or co-insurance, too. Those costs are often 15-20% for an in-network doctor, meaning you would pay that portion of the cost, and can be much more for out-of-network doctors.

Medicare and Medicaid will also likely cover the services needed for coronavirus treatment, but the details on deductibles (for Medicare) and potential co-pays will again depend on your plan, and which state you’re in for Medicaid.

What if I’m uninsured?

It’s not pretty. Some hospitals offer charity care programs and some states are making moves to help residents pay for COVID-19 costs beyond testing. Several states, including Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island and Washington, have created “special enrollment periods” to allow more people to sign up for insurance mid-year.

Other states are requiring coverage of future vaccines or changing rules about prescription medication refills to help people stock up on essential medicines. So far, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Oregon have required insurers to waive costs for a COVID-19 vaccine once one is ready, and the states that have loosened rules to help people fill prescriptions include Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington.

The Commonwealth Fund, a healthcare think tank, has a coronavirus tracker that’s keeping a list of the moves each state has made so far.

There’s no way I could afford to pay out-of-pocket for care. What can I do?

The U.S. health care system doesn’t have a good answer for you, and it’s a problem. But there are a few things to keep in mind that could help minimize costs.

If you think you may have the virus, the first step is to call your doctor or emergency department before showing up, the CDC says. This will let them prepare the office and give you instructions ahead of time, but it could also save you money. Getting treated in a hospital will generally start off more expensive than a visit to a doctor’s office. Another cost comes from the “facilities fee,” which many hospitals charge anytime a patient comes through their doors. For Danni Askini’s first trip to the hospital in Boston on Feb. 29, for example, she was charged $1,804 for her emergency room visit and another $3,841.07 for “hospital services.”

Other costs to watch out for include lab tests, which can be “out-of-network” even if the doctor treating you is in your insurance network. It’s always best to ask for information in writing so that you can appeal the bills if necessary, says Caitlin Donovan of the National Patient Advocate Foundation. And appealing is worth it. Often, providers and insurers have reversed or lowered bills when patients go public or are covered by the media.

These problems aren’t coming out of the blue. Even when we’re not weathering a global pandemic, Americans face uniquely high health care costs, compared to the rest of the world, and millions of us already put off medical care because of concerns about how much it’ll cost. But with COVID-19 sweeping across the country, an old problem becomes increasingly urgent: many Americans could still face massive treatment bills, or seek to prevent those by avoiding testing and treatment—worsening the outbreak further.

“If you’re sick, you need fewer barriers,” Donovan says. “But also, it doesn’t help society to have people still crawling around going to their job and getting other people sick.”

By Abigail Abrams March 19, 2020

Source: Total Cost of Her COVID-19 Treatment: $34,927.43

I shot this video to share my experiences living with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I discuss the symptoms I’ve experienced, the treatments that have helped with recovery and the process I’ve been enduring to keep my family safe. Thank you for all of your kind words and support during this event. Positive energy, and prayers will get us all through this and let’s hope for the best outcome in the near future. For more information, including my COVID-19 survival guide, read: https://www.audioholics.com/editorial…  Audioholics Recommendations Amazon Shop: https://www.amazon.com/shop/audioholics Audioholics Recommended Cables: 250ft CL2 12AWG Speaker Cable: https://amzn.to/2vwS9QH Locking Banana Plugs: https://amzn.to/2ZQt15x 9ft 4K HDR HDMI Cables: https://amzn.to/2WiIXeD Audioholics Recommended Electronics: Denon AVR-X4600H 9.2CH AV Receiver: https://amzn.to/2ZTbsCe Yamaha RX-A3080 9.2CH AV Receiver: https://amzn.to/2VzA03v Denon AVR-X6400H 11.2CH AV Receiver: https://amzn.to/2LelABB Audioholics Recommended Speakers: SVS Prime 5.1 Speaker / Sub System: https://amzn.to/2GWoFCn Klipsch RP-8000F Tower Speakers: https://amzn.to/2Vd8QQn Pioneer SP-FS52 Speakers: https://amzn.to/2n7SyIJ Sony SSCS5 Speakers: https://amzn.to/2ndEn56 SVS SB-3000 13″ Subwoofer: https://amzn.to/2XYxqBr Follow us on: Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/audioholics FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/Audioholics GOOGLE PLUS https://plus.google.com/+Audioholics TWITTER https://twitter.com/AudioholicsLive #coronavirus #covid-19

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Deciding To Downsize

Deciding To Downsize

After the kids have grown up and moved out, many Americans are weighing whether to “age in place” or downsize to a smaller home as they head into the next chapter of their lives. In fact, a 2018 study for Fannie Mae predicts a 42% increase in the number of older Americans exiting homeownership between 2020 and 2036, compared with the decade ending in 2018.

To help navigate the decision, here are the most important considerations.

Baby Boomers (Americans born between 1946 and 1964) are sitting on over $6 trillion of home equity, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Whether or not you’ve fully paid off your mortgage, the equity in your home can provide the financial freedom and flexibility to re imagine life during a second (or third) act. To better understand the options and how to leverage existing equity, it’s important to speak to a professional, says Peter Jianette, northeast divisional director at Chase. “Speak to a [Chase] Home Lending Advisor to make sure a plan makes sense.”

Image result for Modular Cabinet and Shelving Set  GIF advertisementsOne crucial consideration when it comes to downsizing is retirement. The Insured Retirement Institute’s (IRI) annual Baby Boomer report has consistently shown that “Boomers are largely unprepared for retirement: unrealistic in their expectations and under-saved.”

Housing may provide a financial lifeline for Boomers. “Collectively, the vast inventory of homes possessed by older Americans”—approximately 46 million homes—“is worth an estimated $13.5 trillion,” according to Fannie Mae.

Rather than dipping into savings or going deeper into debt, older Americans can often leverage the value of their homes to address their retirement needs.

“The best advice when a customer is trying to better understand what is in their best interest— stay or downsize—would be to meet with our One Chase Team,” says Jianette.

Figure out where you want to live and what lifestyle is the best fit. Some retirees find apartment living in urban areas attractive because of access to mass transit, culture and entertainment. Others prefer to live in warmer climates, or want to be near their kids and grandkids.

Whatever appeals to you, make sure you’re aware of market conditions—both where you’re planning to sell and hoping to buy. That will help determine whether now is a good time to sell and what kind of home you can afford.

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The U.S. housing market is strong overall, but the value of your home can and will likely fluctuate over time. While the market is stable today, there’s no guarantee of the future—so that’s a risk to keep under consideration.

Moving can be expensive, even if you’re downsizing. There are also costs associated with both buying and selling homes, including real estate agent commissions, home improvements, transfer fees and taxes.

Some of these costs may be obvious, others less so. That’s why it’s important to use the resources Chase provides to ensure there are no surprises. “We just want to make sure the customers are 100% in the know of what they’re signing up for,” Jianette says. For example, many retirees looking to downsize are surprised to find they may not qualify for a mortgage because their income is greatly decreased from their working years.

“The same underwriting criteria goes for a smaller house—retirees need to be able to qualify for a mortgage on their own,” Jianette explains. “The last thing any lender wants is to put someone in a home they can’t afford.”

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In addition, he notes that while many empty nesters “can afford the general maintenance of the house, rising property taxes can cause uncomfortable stress,” especially for those living on a fixed income.

Also, if you’ve owned your home for a long time—say 15 years or more—odds are it has increased in value, which can mean capital gains taxes when you sell. Speak with your tax advisor about your situation before deciding to buy or sell.

While the details can seem intimidating, you can lean on a Chase Home Lending Advisor to help guide you through the process.

“Our Chase Home Lending Advisors do an amazing job creating a goal-based plan with our customers,” Jianette says, “and discussing what would be the best for that individual customer.”

Chase has mortgage options to purchase a new home or to refinance an existing one. Our home equity line of credit lets you tap into your home’s equity to pay for home improvements or other expenses. Get started online to request mortgage prequalification or with a Chase Home Lending Advisor.

Source: Deciding To Downsize

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Life After Forever 21: How To Reduce Your Personal Cost Per Wear

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Forever 21, the fast-fashion retailer that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late September, announced this week it will be shuttering 200 stores—a fourth of its total worldwide. For a time, founders Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, who established the company in 1984, brilliantly capitalized on American teenagers’ taste for flocking to the mall and buying the latest fashion—-on the cheap. At the company’s peak, they had a combined net worth of $5.9 billion.

But times changed. Foot traffic to malls has declined. Moreover, some Millennial and GenZ consumers are pushing back against fast fashion and looking for more sustainable ways to dress.

The appeal of fast fashion has always been the ability to dress stylishly at a low cost. But dressing sustainably doesn’t have to break the bank—particularly if you think of clothing costs on a Cost Per Wear (CPW) basis. After all, while fast fashion items may be trendy, they’re not exactly known for durability.

Here are five ways to move on from fast fashion, without breaking the bank on a CPW basis.

1. Start Buying “Investment Pieces”

If you’ve ever pulled some new fast fashion find out of the washer to find it’s shrunken, discolored, or otherwise unwearable, you know: Cheap clothing means cheap quality. Fast fashion is inexpensive up front, but it makes you continuously pay to replace defunct items, meaning your overall savings likely diminish (or vanish) over time.

Instead, start purchasing “investment pieces,” or higher-quality clothing items (which often means more expensive) for your closet staples.

If you’re struggling to justify a $100 work blazer, do the CPW math in your head: Divide the item’s total cost by the number of times you expect to wear it. For example, if you wear the $100 work blazer twice a week  (or 100 times per year, assuming a two week vacation) that means the cost per wear is $1 per wear—-if it only lasts a year. Assuming it lasts two years, you’re down to a $0.50 CPW. That’s the same CPW as a $25 blazer that lasts six months.

You get the idea. A quality blazer could end up with a lower CPW than the cheap version.

Today In: Money

2. Take Advantage of Rewards, Cash Back and Loyalty Programs

There are ways to save on more costly clothing items—-not only looking for sales but also being strategic in how you pay for purchases.  Using a cashback rewards card, for example, will give you instant savings. The Citi Double Cash Back card, for example, grants 2% back on every purchase.

If you really want to maximize your savings though, you could super stack your purchase with an online cash back portal, like Rakuten (formerly eBates) which can sometimes offer as much as 10% cash back while shopping.

You could even take it a step further by enrolling in specific stores’ loyalty programs—-which are making a comeback. After a certain amount is spent at the store in a given time period, you could be eligible for a discount on your next purchase. The North Face’s loyalty program, VIPeak, rewards members with 10 Peak Points for every $1 spent online and in retail stores. Points can be redeemed for discounts on purchases.

Read more: The Best Cash Back Credit Cards

Read more: Loyalty Rewards With No Credit Strings Attached

3. Don’t Shy Away From Consignment

If you don’t frequent thrift and consignment stores, let me tell you a secret: You’re missing out.

I used to be someone who hated thrifting—not because I’m too pompous to wear secondhand clothes, but because giant thrift stores overwhelm me. After moving to New York, however, I’ve learned that they are worth the extra effort (and hour) to sort through their massive collections.

I recently bought five cashmere sweaters for $3 each. Last year, I managed to find a vintage little black dress by Dolce & Gabbana for $80—with the tags still on. If you take the time to really dig through those racks, you can find high-quality clothing for low prices. (Just imagine the CPW on those sweaters!)

4. Sell Items You No Longer Want

Fast-fashion contributes to the appalling amount of clothing discarded each year. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the main source of textiles in municipal solid waste is discarded clothing; in 2015, it comprised 6.1% of total waste that year. Synthetic materials found in this clothing can take hundreds of years to biodegrade.

If you buy quality items, and at some point they no longer suit you, you can sell them.

Apps like Poshmark, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace make selling unwanted goods a breeze. I personally use Poshmark, mainly for its convenience; instead of having to coordinate busy schedules with someone, I just pack up the item and drop it off at the post office instead. (This convenience, though, does cost money: Poshmark takes a cut of your sale.)

Old jeans too worn to sell? Recycle them at Madewell and the retailer will give you a coupon for $20 off a new pair, while turning the denim into housing insulation. (Look for more such initiatives as the fashion industry confronts its sustainability problems.)

5. Rent One-Time Outfits

Special events usually call for one-time outfits. As ridiculous as it sounds, be realistic: Things like wedding guest and formal gowns are often worn just once.

Instead of spending hundreds on one-time outfits—and then letting them collect dust in your closet—consider renting these pieces instead. Online services like Rent the Runway and Le Tote pride themselves on sustainable fashion. For example, a $750 Badgley Mischka gown can be rented on Rent the Runway for only $130. Most offer monthly memberships, too, which means you can swap out trends in your closet for a fixed cost each month.

Since many consumers are renting a single item, in theory, the demand for clothing production will lessen, which makes these items “sustainable.”  (A new peer-to-peer rental app in England aims to take this one step further by arranging for customers to rent each other’s clothing, so no new items are bought by the service.)

Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a personal finance writer on the Money and Markets team at Forbes. Previously, I covered personal finance at other national web publications including Bankrate and The Penny Hoarder. I’ve been featured as a personal finance expert in outlets like CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News Radio and more. When I’m not digging up the best ways to manage your money, I’m out traveling the world. Follow me on Twitter at @keywordkelly.

Source: Life After Forever 21: How To Reduce Your Personal Cost Per Wear

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