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Extremely Useful Tips for First Time Health Insurance Buyers

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There’s nothing quite as confusing and bewildering as realizing you need to buy your own health insurance. The world of insurance policies and deductibles can be an intimidating place for newbies. So we have put together a list of extremely useful tips for first time health insurance buyers which will simplify the process and guide you past making any big mistakes.

Don’t go shopping without doing your research

First time health insurance buyers, STOP. There are some things you need to know before you call that number! Make sure you familiarize yourself with common insurance terms, what they mean, and what things are best for you and your lifestyle.

Health Insurance Terms:

  • Premium: the upfront amount you’ll pay each month to have health insurance
  • Deductible: the amount you’ll pay for health care services before your insurance kicks in
  • Co-payment: Also called a copay, it’s a flat amount you’ll pay for specific services or medication, even if you’ve reached your deductible.
  • Coinsurance: Unlike a copay, which is a flat amount, coinsurance is a fee you pay that is a percentage of the cost of a covered service.
  • Out-of-pocket maximum: This the the most you’ll pay for covered health services in a single year, including your deductible, your copay, and your coinsurance. In 2020, the out-of-pocket maximum is $8,150 for individuals and $16,300 for families.
  • Subsidy: Subsidies are the government’s way of helping you pay for health insurance. Obamacare technically provides three subsidy types: advance premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions and Medicaid (more on these in a minute).

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Conduct a Self Check-up

Determine how much coverage you need — and what you can afford.

If you rarely get sick or injured it might be a good option to go with a higher deductible and lower monthly cost, but if your lifestyle sees you in the doctors office more often than not, look into a low deductible and a low/no copay.

Unless you have a qualifying life event, you cannot apply whenever you want

Yes, that’s right, you cannot go without health insurance for half a year before deciding you had better buy some. Unless you have a qualifying live event, such as pregnancy or turning 26, (you cannot be insured by your parents after your 26th birthday) then you must apply during open annual enrollment. Companies typically hold open enrollment in the fall, while the U.S. government begins accepting applications on Nov. 1.

There are two types of networks

Deductibles and premiums aren’t the only factors to consider when choosing a plan.

You may also need to choose between two types of networks: PPOs and HMOs. A PPO gives you access to a broader network of doctors than an HMO, but PPOs generally cost more. Research what insurance companies your primary care physician accepts before purchasing a plan so as to not lose access to your doctor.

First-time health insurance shoppers may feel lost if they’ve relied on employer-sponsored health insurance up to this point. But health insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you know what you’re looking for, where to shop, and how to keep it affordable, health insurance will be a regular part of your health – and your financial safety net.

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WATCH: Trump’s Speech at the Economic Club of New York

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TRump's Econimc Speach Veterans DAy

Trump’s speech at the prestigious Manhattan club is expected to credit his policies for the strong economic numbers felt during his presidency.. Trump will likely highlight the low unemployment rate and high consumer confidence, as well as wage growth.

The president’s address is also expected to touch on his trade policies, the official said, amid continued negotiations over “Phase One” of a trade overhaul with China.

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Former McDonald’s CEO Stephen Easterbrook Getting Millions Leaving Spotlight on Pay Gap

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Stephen Easterbrook

Former McDonald’s CEO Stephen Easterbrook is getting an exit package of almost $42 million 

At first glance, it might appear that Stephen Easterbrook left his post as CEO of McDonald’s Corporation with peanuts. But a closer look reveals is getting an exit package of almost $42 million after his relationship with an employee was found to violate company policy. The size of his compensation puts a new focus on the widening gap between the pay at the top and the bottom of the corporate ladder.

According to an analysis by executive-compensation experts at Equilar, Easterbrook’s exit package totals $41.8 million, which includes six months of severance pay, shares he can cash out in the future and other equity. And that amount is in addition to $23.8 million in stock options that Easterbrook can exercise now.

“Wow, he is walking away with a lot of money,” says Cornell Law School professor Stewart Schwab, an expert on employment law. “And it comes out as part of the story of just, wow, [the] 1% getsa lot more money than the rest of the workers in this economy.”

It’s relatively unusual for a CEO to receive a severance package after being fired. But the board of directors at McDonald’s determined his firing to not be for cause — a threshold that varies by company. And litigation in a protracted dispute can be tricky and expensive.

Writing to employees this week, Easterbrook said: “I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy. This was a mistake.” No further details were disclosed, but McDonald’s current policy prohibits employees who “have a direct or indirect reporting relationship” with one another from dating or having a sexual relationship.

McDonald’s latest disclosures show that in 2018, Easterbrook made $15.9 million. That’s 2,124 times more than a McDonald’s median employee — a part-time crew member working in Hungary. According to Glassdoor, a U.S. crew member at McDonald’s makes an average of $9 an hour.

McDonald’s did not respond to NPR’s inquiries, including those about median salary in the United States.

“A big story of the income inequality and explanation for it is that top executives, and in particular the CEO, does have the exploding pay compared to the rank and file,” Schwab says. “And this is an example of that.”

Easterbrook joined McDonald’s in 2015, and his tenure was praised by company watchers. The fast-food chain’s stock price hit historic highs under his efforts to revamp both the restaurants and the menu.

But Easterbrook also presided over the company as it faced allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female employees by male co-workers and managers. (To be clear, his departure does not involve harassment allegations.)

In May, workers in 13 U.S. cities staged protests against low pay and the company’s handling of alleged sexual harassment. In recent years, dozens of McDonald’s workers have filed sexual harassment complaints, alleging everything from lewd comments and groping to retaliation

“What we see all the time from minimum-wage workers is that once you complain, retaliation is common,” says Sharyn Tejani, director of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which works with victims who allege sexual harassment.

“That takes the form of losing shifts, losing your job, not being able to stay at your job, being disciplined. And … they don’t have any cushion,” she says. “And when you compare that to what happens to somebody like the CEO, it’s clear that there’s a structural problem here.”

Following worker complaints, McDonald’s announced in August that it would introduce an anti-harassment training program for U.S. workers. The program, which began in October, trains restaurant supervisors and crew members on how to create a safe workplace and defuse difficult situations.

Earlier in the year, McDonald’s also made an unexpected commitment to no longer lobby against minimum-wage hikes at the federal, state and local levels. In mid-2015, McDonald’s added at least $1 an hour more to the local minimum wage to employees of the restaurants owned by the corporation. The majority of McDonald’s locations are owned by franchisees.

In 2015, research by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education found that more than half of fast-food workers rely on public assistance programs like food stamps. The research did not specifically focus on McDonald’s.

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McDonald’s CEO fired for consensual relationship with employee

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McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook out after ‘poor judgment’ involving relationship with employee

McDonald’s board voted to remove CEO Steve Easterbrook, the fast-food giant announced on Sunday, citing “poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee.”

Chris Kempczinski, the current president of McDonald’s USA, has been named CEO effective immediately. He will also join the board.

“Kempczinski succeeds Steve Easterbrook, who has separated from the Company following the Board’s determination that he violated company policy and demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee,” the company said.

McDonald’s CEO Easterbrook, who is divorced, wrote in an email to employees that the consensual relationship “was a mistake.”

“As for my departure, I engaged in a recent consensual relationship with an employee, which violated McDonald’s policy,” Easterbrook wrote. “This was a mistake. Given the values of the company, I agree with the board that it is time for me to move on. Beyond this, I hope you can respect my desire to maintain my privacy.”He also said that his time as CEO “have been the most fulfilling years of my working life.”

RELATED: McDonald’s chief people officer is leaving the company in the wake of its CEO’s departure

RELATED: Extremely Useful tips for first time Health Insurance Buyers

Easterbrook had served as CEO since March 2015. Easterbrook, who is British, joined McDonald’s in 1993 as a financial reporting manager based in London. Throughout his career, he served as the global chief brand officer, president of McDonald’s Europe, and CEO of McDonald’s U.K. He also spent time as a McDonald’s restaurant manager. On a now-removed corporate webpage, McDonald’s said Easterbrook led its turnaround “by sparking the evolution of its company culture.”

Enrique Hernandez Jr., chairman of McDonald’s board of directors, called new CEO Kempczinski “the best leader to set the vision and drive the plans for the Company’s continued success.”

“He has the right mix of skills and experience to lead us forward having run our U.S. business, where franchisees are delivering strong financial and operational results, and overseen global strategy, business development and innovation,” Hernandez said in a statement. “In particular, Chris was instrumental in the development of the Company’s strategic plan, which has enabled global growth and leadership, and has overseen the most comprehensive transformation of the U.S. business in McDonald’s history.”

Meanwhile, Joe Erlinger, president of the international operated markets, will take over Kempczinski’s most recent role as president of McDonald’s USA, effective immediately.

Shares of McDonald’s closed down 1.4%, -$2.76, on Friday to end the week at $193.94.

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