financial planning

Spring 2023 Issue

Why purchase individual disability protection during residency

physician looking at forms

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 that you have disability protection. But why do this as a resident or fellow, before the dramatic income increase of becoming an attending physician?

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Group disability insurance can coordinate with individual policies 

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

Planning for the unexpected is the only way to protect yourself, your family, your business and your finances. Unfortunately, the death of a loved one or becoming disabled are often unexpected. If you no longer had an income, how would you and your family fare?

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What’s in a financial plan?

piggy bank on pile of money

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

A financial plan is like a roadmap that helps you navigate through the twists and turns of life, whether you’re saving up for a new car or preparing for retirement. Think of it as your secret weapon to achieving your financial goals and living your best life.

Read More…


WisMed Assure can assist you with your Medicare decisions

Medicare keywords chart

By Mary Krueger, Medicare Specialist

Many Medicare eligible participants are familiar with Medicare, but the process is confusing to them so we’re here to assist you with those issues. Here are the answers to some common questions.

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Log in to the new IPFCF portal to ensure compliance

By The WisMed Assure Service Team

The Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund (IPFCF) has implemented a new policy and administration system. The new system allows participants to review correspondence from IPFCF and pay their bill online.

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Why purchase individual disability protection during residency

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 that you 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 your employer’s group plan if applicable and purchase supplemental personal disability insurance when you can better afford it? There are several reasons why this may not be the best choice as you build your overall financial plan.

During your medical residency or fellowship, 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 lock in the price while it’s the most affordable. Additionally, you can purchase a future increase option at this time, allowing you to 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 physicians to enroll for the maximum group benefits that they’re 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 medical professionals, addresses these inherent risks.

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 five 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.

Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810.

What’s in a financial plan?

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

Mark Ziety

A financial plan is like a roadmap that helps you navigate through the twists and turns of life, whether you’re saving up for a new car or preparing for retirement. Think of it as your secret weapon to achieving your financial goals and living your best life.

Now, let’s break it down into the three scenarios we all share: a long healthy life, getting sick along the way or passing away early. We need to be prepared for all of them, and that’s where financial planning comes in handy.

Cash Flow

You might call it a budget, but we like to call it the “4 Fs.” It’s like a secret formula to financial success! You just need to know your:

  • Fixed expenses (the boring stuff like housing and utilities)
  • Future expenses (like saving for retirement or your next vacation)
  • “F”ilanthropy expenses (how much you want to give back to your community)  
  • Fun expenses (the things that make life worth living!)

Once you have these figures down, you can put your cash flow to work and watch your bank account grow.

Eliminating Debt

We all know it’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending. But a good financial plan will help you avoid that and pay off any debt you already have quickly.

Insurance

We might not like to think about it, but getting sick or passing away early is a possibility for all of us. That’s why having the right insurance and right amount is crucial. Health insurance, disability insurance and life insurance are all important components of a good financial plan.

Investing

A well-diversified portfolio with the right asset allocation and asset selection can help you achieve your financial goals. And don’t forget about asset location, putting the right investments in the right account, which can make a big difference in your after-tax returns. Bonus: check out the 7 proven ways to improve performance.

Retirement

Retirement is often the biggest topic that financial planning covers. How much do you need to save for retirement? When should you start withdrawing your money? Which account should you use first? And when should you start taking Social Security? These are all important questions that a good financial plan can help answer.

College

If you have children, college planning is often important. Saving for college is just the beginning – picking the right school that offers grants and scholarships can help cover the costs.

Tax

Taxes can be a huge expense for most people, which is why tax planning is a crucial part of a financial plan. By creating a strategy to manage your taxes, you can keep more money in your pocket.

Estate Plan

Finally, estate planning is something everyone should consider. Who will take care of your finances and health care if you become incapacitated? Who will take care of your children if something happens to you? A good financial plan should include a will, health care and financial power of attorney documents, beneficiary designations and possibly a trust.

Phew! That’s a lot to consider, but don’t worry – you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. A financial planner can help guide you through the process and create a personalized plan to help you achieve your financial goals. Are you ready to take control of your finances and start living the life you deserve?

For personalized help eliminating debt, investing smart and securing retirement, please contact Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® 608.442.3750.

Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®

WisMed Financial, Inc. part of the Wisconsin Medical Society

Winter 2023 Issue

Long-term care insurance – but what if I don’t need it?

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

We all know the risks of a long-term care event devastating our family’s finances as well as our mental and personal well-being. Roughly half of those who reach the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care assistance during their lifetime.

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Rising health insurance premiums

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

Health insurance premiums are constantly on the rise. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “U.S. health care spending grew 2.7 percent in 2021, reaching $4.3 trillion or $12,914 per person.” Everyone from employees to employers are feeling the squeeze of high-cost premiums.

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Exercise your financial muscles to get financially fit

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

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” This ancient advice from Proverbs illustrates the importance of financial fitness.

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Medicare questions to ask

By Mary Krueger, Medicare Specialist

Before enrolling in Medicare, there are several decisions Medicare recipients need to make regarding their existing coverages or changes in their health insurance needs.

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Small business claims that can be surprisingly expensive

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

While running a small business, there’s a decent chance that throughout its course you’ll have to file some sort of insurance claim (often unexpectedly). Whether due to fire, theft, on-site injury or other incident, some experts estimate that 75% of small businesses faced an insurance-worthy incident just last year.

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Long-term care insurance – but what if I don’t need it?

Tom Strangstalien

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

We all know the risks of a long-term care event devastating our family’s finances as well as our mental and personal well-being. Roughly half of those who reach the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care assistance during their lifetime. What this means for a married couple is likely one of them will incur costs for long-term care. Because of the astronomical odds, the cost of long-term care insurance is certainly not inexpensive.

Despite the odds, the biggest objection that I receive when formulating a plan for one of our members when it comes to long-term protection is, “If I don’t use it all the money that I spent will be wasted.” Plus, we’re all invincible superheroes anyway, right? “It will never happen to me, so I’ll just save and invest the money and take my chances.” Thankfully, with the evolution of long-term care planning over the past few years, there is another alternative that makes a great deal of sense!

The life insurance industry has existed much longer than long-term care insurance. Actuaries, as it pertains to life insurance, have these statistics down to microscopic precision in calculating how long on average a person will live and what sums of monies will be paid out and when. When it comes to long-term care, this really isn’t the case, and is in part why the costs of protection are high. As consumers of life insurance, we also know that without a doubt the benefits will be paid out, and what we have paid for the benefits. In addition, we have the added benefit that the proceeds will likely be income tax free.

Are you aware that there are now policies where some or all of the life insurance benefits can now be utilized for costs incurred for long-term care while you are alive? And on a tax advantaged basis? All proceeds of the policy will be paid either in the form of long-term care protection or a life insurance benefit to named beneficiaries. If the policy is in force, the money is guaranteed to never be wasted!

These policies can also involve some dual planning, such as a charitable gift or estate planning scenarios if the proceeds are paid out in the form of a life insurance benefit. Lastly, these plans are priced attractively, as actuaries know exactly what benefits will be paid out and on average when.

I am a big advocate of this relatively new concept in planning for long-term care. If you haven’t addressed long-term care as part of your overall financial portrait, I would encourage you to promptly do so. You may be very pleasantly surprised by the cost to benefits ratio! At WisMed Assure, we are always here to help!

Reach out to me and my team at WisMed Assure at insurance@wismedassure.org, complete this quick online form or call 608.442.3810.

Exercise your financial muscles to get financially fit

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

Mark Ziety

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” This ancient advice from Proverbs illustrates the importance of financial fitness.

There are many ways to gain control of your finances; you can increase earnings, decrease spending, start saving more (short-term and longer-term) and implement debt management. For many, earnings are difficult to influence in the short-term, so tackling the spending side of the equation will yield the quickest results. Below we consider six principles that will help you get into financially fit shape wherever you find yourself in life.

Six principles for financial fitness

 “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”—Benjamin Franklin

  • Set goals. If you don’t have concrete financial goals, both short and long term, reaching some kind of level of financial fitness becomes much more problematic. Simply put, you don’t have a destination. You are financially adrift. As George Harrison has noted, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

Short-term goals you might consider: Establishing an emergency fund with three to six months of cash or saving for a vacation, a car or a down payment on a home. Long-term goals: college savings for your kids and saving for retirement—at least 15%.

  • Know which of the four buckets your income lands in. Use the four Fs: Fixed, Future, “Ph”ilanthropy and Fun.
    • Fixed are your survival expenses like housing, utilities, groceries and transportation. It is not recurring subscriptions each month – those belong in the Fun category.
    • Future is often retirement savings, but shorter-term goals like paying cash for a vehicle or college expenses for kids belong here too.
    • A financially fit person has extra to help those in need, so Philanthropy is one of the four buckets.
    • Fun rounds out the buckets and is self-explanatory.
  • Your lifestyle shouldn’t exceed your income. If it does, you are burning through savings or taking on debt, and your stress level will reflect it.

Excessive spending leads to financial stress rather than financial fitness. You want financial space in your life. You want ‘money at the end of the month,’ not ‘month at the end of your money.’

  • Invest wisely. The proper mix of investments will be influenced by your financial goals, both short and long term, and other various factors. A diversified portfolio that crosses the spectrum can reduce risk and enhance your return over the long run.

“Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack!” advises John Bogle, founder of Vanguard. In other words, diversify!

We are here to assist you with that. Our recommendations are tailored to your financial goals and your unique circumstances. Accumulation of wealth over a longer period is our goal. We believe it should be yours, too.

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas,” says Paul Samuelson, the first American to win the Nobel prize in economics.

  • Enjoy your retirement. Many enter retirement after accumulating wealth over decades. They have learned how to save. For some, suddenly relying on that savings rather than earning income from labor seems like a daunting leap, one they may be ill-prepared to make. It doesn’t have to be that way.

While your tolerance for risk (losing money) may change, we might recommend a portfolio that allows for a degree of growth and a spending rate that ensures your finances last longer than your retirement.

  • Protect your assets. Do you have life insurance, health insurance and personal liability insurance? Do you have a will and estate plan? Who are your beneficiaries? What happens if you become disabled? Do you have a trusted advisor to handle your affairs?

If you own your home without a mortgage, do you have homeowners’ insurance? Surprise, not all do. If you rent, renters’ insurance is cheap. It’s a must-have protection.

Absorbing the fundamentals—the foundation for success

Every situation is unique. You may have mastered the fundamentals, and only need to apply the principles we highlighted selectively, plugging small holes and shoring up your finances. Or a more aggressive approach might be in order. Focus on one theme at a time. Some might apply, while others don’t.  

Having said all that, you are not alone on a financial lifeboat. We are always here to assist.

For personalized help eliminating debt, investing smart and securing retirement, please contact Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF® 608.442.3750.

Mark Ziety, CFP®, AIF®

WisMed Financial, Inc. part of the Wisconsin Medical Society

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 608.442.3810, and let’s determine if a graded premium disability plan can protect your financial world!

Summer 2022 Issue

Do you have the old or the new life insurance?

By Tom Strangstalien, Insurance Advisor

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month and is the time when I urge all our members to take a moment to reflect on the life insurance protection they have in place. Not too long ago, life insurance (especially term life), was generally viewed as a commodity.

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Build your financial wisdom

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

Join us for online educational sessions presented by WisMed Financial exclusively for Wisconsin Medical Society members. Session topics include retirement planning, social security and tax planning.

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Open enrollment

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

We’re rapidly approaching autumn and it’s time to start thinking about your open enrollment. Many companies fail to properly do an open enrollment, or maybe it’s your first time.

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Workers’ Compensation rate changes & good news for health care professionals

By Brian Fowler, WisMed Assure Account Director

Starting October 1, 2022, Workers’ Compensation rates in Wisconsin will drop for the seventh year in a row. Unlike many other states, Work Comp rates in Wisconsin are set by the state and are the same for every insurance carrier. The decrease is 8.47% over all employee classifications.  

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$111,000 more from Social Security

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

With more than 2,700 rules and 567 separate filing strategies for Social Security, 96% of people fail to make the optimal claiming decision and miss out on $111,000 of benefits for the average household.

$111,000 – that’s a lot of money. Let’s look at some of the rules for Social Security so your decision is better informed.

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How to prevent floods from damaging your business

photo of cars on a flooded road

By Society Insurance Team, reposted with permission from Society Insurance

The continued impact of extreme weather events isn’t lost on businesses: according to one report, businesses can expect to see roughly $13 billion in flood damage in 2022. Tornados, derechos, and severe thunderstorms all threaten billions in damage, but with spring just ahead, let’s focus on how you can protect your business from the threat of flooding.

Businesses everywhere are susceptible to flood damage—so how can they prepare?

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