disability insurance

Fall 2022 Issue

Affordability testing

By Chris Noffke, GBDS, CSFS, Vice President of Employee Benefits

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought a lot of extra work to employers and insurance companies. Whether you are pro-health care reform or against it, per the Health Affairs article, the ACA has not made insurance more affordable.

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Don’t forget to call your mom – and your insurance agent

By WisMed Assure Service Team

With the intention of easing administrative burden for WisMed Assure client physicians, several of our Medical Professional Liability carriers have significantly reduced or suspended asking for renewal applications over the past few years. While this does save time, renewal applications were an opportunity to touch base, review and discuss any changes to your practice that could impact your premium or coverage.

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Year-end tax planning for 2022

By Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®, Senior Advisor, WisMed Financial

Want to put thousands of dollars back into your pocket? Who doesn’t. Choices you make during your employer’s open enrollment period and for year-end tax planning can really add up.

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Graded premium disability? Yes, you can!

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I recently worked with a young physician to set him up with personal disability protection to provide some financial security if life throws him and his family a curve ball. Prompting our planning was that one of his peers in the general surgery specialty sustained a serious hand injury, ending his ability to perform hands-on surgery.

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5 ways to develop inclusive hiring practices

By Society Insurance Human Resources, reposted with permission from Society Insurance

Inclusive hiring practices recognize diversity and embrace a wide range of perspectives that candidates from all walks of life bring to the organization. And according to research from Monster, “Four in five (86%) candidates globally say diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace is important to them.”

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Graded premium disability? Yes, you can!

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

I recently worked with a young physician to set him up with personal disability protection to provide some financial security if life throws him and his family a curve ball. Prompting our planning was that one of his peers in the general surgery specialty sustained a serious hand injury, ending his ability to perform hands-on surgery.

He didn’t have personal disability protection, and although his group benefits offered some benefits, it fell well short of what he envisioned for himself and his family of four. Though he had looked into coverage in the past, he thought that it was too expensive at this point in his career. Why not wait until his income was more substantial and coverage was more affordable? Unfortunately, waiting changed his financial world forever.

Perhaps if our physician member had explored graded premium disability insurance, he would have elected to purchase the protection at a very affordable price, thereby protecting his income throughout his lifetime.

So, what is graded premium disability insurance? The premise is that as your income increases, your premium increases. Premiums start out at a much lower price early in your career, compared to traditional level premium coverage. Each year, premiums will increase slightly. When you’re on a tighter budget, it enables you to put the amount of coverage needed in place, and it can never be taken away. Making graded premium disability coverage more beneficial is that you can elect to lock in your premiums at any time you choose! In other words, you can convert to a level premium policy when your income and budget allows you to do so.

When I work with our residents, fellows and young physicians, we always look at graded premium plans as an option. We almost always package this with a future insurability option, so you are guaranteed to increase your benefits in the future, with no medical underwriting, as your income increases. You are able to put disability protection in place by using a graded premium plan, where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so. You always want to acquire the most coverage you can, and as early in your career as possible!

As a young member in the medical profession, don’t make the mistake of assuming your budget does not allow you to purchase disability protection. Yes, you can! Life happens and it truly throws us curveballs. Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this quick online form or call 866.442.3810, and let’s determine if a graded premium disability plan can protect your financial world!

Is your group disability insurance good enough?

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to evaluate your disability protection, determining if you’re adequately covered and address any potential holes or gaps in your coverage. A common theme I hear when talking with our members is, “I have disability insurance coverage as part of my employee benefits, so do I really need personal disability protection?” For physicians and medical professionals, the answer is almost always yes!

Typical limitations of group coverage

First, there is a cap on the amount of benefits that will be paid out for a claim. If the maximum benefit amount is $10,000 per month and as a physician you’re earning $300,000 per year, you’re not even covering half of your income. Are you willing to roll the dice for a potentially devasting and dramatic lifestyle change?

Second, group disability coverage contains “offset provisions.” This means that if you are drawing payments from other sources upon incurring a disability, the benefits paid by the group policy will be reduced pro-rata. These sources could include things like social security, liability settlements, workers compensation payments, employer provided retirement plan replacement benefits and other accident or short-term disability plans. A properly designed personal disability plan will not contain such provisions.

Next, group disability plans are not portable. In other words, if you change your place of employment or go into practice on your own or as an independent contractor, you will lose the disability protection. If you have incurred some health issues, coverage then can be very expensive or not available to you at all. This is why it’s so important to get a personal disability plan in place as early in life as possible.

Benefits of personal disability insurance

With a personal disability insurance plan, there are many optional benefits available to you. It’s not a one size fits all plan like a group plan tends to be. You can elect additional coverages such as:

  • student loan payment coverage
  • inflation protection
  • catastrophic coverage
  • partial and residual disability coverage levels
  • future increase benefits (you can increase the amount of benefits as your income increases with no additional medical underwriting)

What I want you to take away from this article during Disability Awareness Month is this: take a few minutes and review your current disability protection. If you do not yet have a personal disability plan, get one as soon as possible. Don’t roll the dice with your biggest asset – your ability to earn a substantial income! As the independent insurance agency of the Wisconsin Medical Society, we can shop all of the major insurers, review your current group plan and design a plan that will fully protect you and your family for your lifetime.

As your financial partner, your WisMed Assure team is here to take care of your personal financial security so that you can take the best possible care of yourself, your family and your patients.

For additional information regarding disability insurance, contact WisMed Assure at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this online form or call 866.442.3810.

Why Residents Need Disability Protection

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

As a resident or fellow, your biggest asset is quickly becoming your ability to earn an income. Until you become independently wealthy and can sustain a loss of earning power without consequence, it is imperative to have disability protection. But why do this as a resident or fellow, before the dramatic income increase of becoming an attending physician? Can you wait, get on my employer benefits group plan if applicable, and purchase supplemental personal disability insurance when I can better afford it? There are several reasons why this may not be the best choice as you build your overall financial plan.

While a medical resident or fellow, you are entitled to a base amount of coverage without being required to provide proof of financial qualification. Additionally, WisMed Assure works with several insurers that provide discounts to many of the residency programs. Furthermore, Wisconsin Medical Society Members are eligible for even more discounts. Throughout your career, these savings can add up to a monumental amount of money.

Disability insurance protection increases in cost as we age – it will be more expensive every year. By getting a policy early in your career, you’re locking in the price while it’s the most affordable. Another consideration is to purchase a future increase option at this time, where you can increase your protection as your future income increases, without the imposition of any more medical underwriting.

Group disability insurance coverage is a wonderful benefit, and I almost always advise to enroll for the maximum group benefits that you are eligible for, however it often has limitations. It may be capped at an amount that is insufficient to replace your total income if disabled. Portability is also a concern – if you change employers or career paths, the coverage will be lost. Almost always, group coverage contains offsets where any benefits attained from other sources will decrease the benefits paid out by group coverage. A solid personal disability policy, specially designed for physicians and those in the medical field, addresses these inherent risks.

So where should you obtain this vitally important coverage at the most affordable price? Only purchase personal disability insurance coverage through an independent agent who can offer plans from multiple companies. Never allow yourself to be sold a policy by a representative who offers only one plan, and thereby has an innate conflict of interest. The plan should be designed for you, not just a standard policy.

WisMed Assure exists for your benefit and offers plans from the Big 5 insurance companies, with plans specifically designed for physicians. Reach out to us and let us design a plan that fits your needs. James Dahle, MD, of The White Coat Investor states, “Early in residency, buy as large of a high-quality, specialty-specific, own occupation, individual disability insurance policy as an agent is willing to sell you.” Take care of this urgent financial chore today.

For additional information regarding disability insurance, contact WisMed Assure at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this online form or call 866.442.3810.