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However, lower-cost plans will likely see a rise in price, according to a new study.

By Money Staff Sep 5, 2014 11:38AM

This post comes from Dan Mangan at partner site CNBC.


CNBC on MSN MoneyPrices for benchmark Obamacare insurance "silver" plans are set to drop an average of 0.8 percent next year in 16 major cities—while the lowest-cost "bronze" plans in those areas are looking at a 3.3 percent rise, a new analysis released Friday found.


Pills © CorbisThe report by the Kaiser Family Foundation also suggests that because of variation in price changes, current customers should shop around to make sure they're getting the best possible deal before re-enrolling this winter.


Many people will be automatically re-enrolled in their current plan unless they select another one when enrollment resumes Nov. 15.


"You could end up paying more if your insurer is no longer offering one of the low-cost plans, so you should look carefully at your options," said Larry Levitt, Kaiser's senior VP.


Still, Kaiser foundation president and CEO Drew Altman noted that overall 2015 premium prices are not dramatically higher than this year's.

 

Business travelers should research and weigh the pros and cons of buying travel insurance.

By Cheapism.com Sep 5, 2014 11:15AM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyTravel insurance is popular among families planning vacations, but is extra insurance a smart move if you're a business traveler? As an employee traveling on business, your company likely holds a policy that covers you. If you're self-employed, however, the insurance decision and the consequences of that choice fall squarely on your shoulders.

Airport check-in © Comstock/CorbisTravel insurance typically costs 4 to 12 percent of the overall cost of a trip. As with any policy, be sure to read the fine print to see what's covered and what's not.

For example, some travel insurance doesn't cover pre-departure cancellation for independent contractors or the self-employed. And, as with most forms of insurance, there are deductibles; typically, in this case, for baggage, medical care, and car rental.

Two well-known providers of travel insurance are Travel Guard and Travelex. The latter offers a plan specifically for business travelers that includes coverage for trip cancellation arising from business-related reasons. Frequent business travelers may want to consider an annual plan, such as Voyage from Travel Insured or the Annual Executive Plan from Allianz, which cover every trip during the year. This arrangement is simpler and potentially cheaper than buying a policy for each travel event.
 

A new study reveals a widening divide between the eating habits of the rich and poor.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 4, 2014 5:27PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyYou often hear about income inequality and gender inequality in the U.S. But what about food inequality?


Groceries © Tetra Images/CorbisAccording to a study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine, Americans' eating habits made some improvements from 1999 to 2010, but it's not across the board.


"On an index of healthy eating where a perfect score is 110, U.S. adults averaged just 40 points in 1999-2000, climbing steadily to 47 points in 2009-10," The Associated Press said.


Not everyone is experiencing the benefits of a healthier diet. There is a big difference between what the rich and poor eat.


While higher scores indicate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, plus a low risk for chronic illnesses and obesity, lower scores reveal the opposite. Low-income adults typically had lower scores when the study started, averaging about four points lower than their more wealthy counterparts. By 2009-2010, the scoring divide grew to six points. The AP said:

 

A new report shows the U.S. is ill-equipped to deal with the housing needs of a growing aging population.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 4, 2014 5:22PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe U.S. doesn't have adequate housing for its aging population, and the problem will get worse as the number of people 50 and older explodes.


Couple looking at computer © CorbisThat's the warning in a new study  by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation. The number of Americans age 50 and older will reach 132 million by 2030, a whopping 70 percent increase since 2000. But the U.S. doesn't have sufficient housing, housing that’s accessible, affordable, well-located and coordinated with senior support and services, to meet the needs of its growing elderly population.


"High housing costs currently force a third of those 50 and older -- including 37 percent of people 80 and over -- to pay more than 30 percent of their income for homes that may or may not fit their needs, forcing them to cut back on food, health care, and, for those 50-64, retirement savings," says a report press release (.pdf file).


Housing issues for an aging population include:

 

September is devoted to one of the most important financial products being sold today -- one you might not own. What is it? You'll have to click to find out.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 4, 2014 1:26PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAre you ready for this?


September is … wait for it … Life Insurance Awareness Month.


Insurance © NULL/CorbisNo, no! Don't go!


I know. The title of this article is a bit of an exaggeration, but only by a little. Life insurance really is life-altering. I don't just say that as a personal finance writer who's been covering life insurance topics for years. I say that as a young widow with five mouths to feed who knows firsthand the relief that comes when the life insurance check arrives and you realize -- at least financially -- everything is going to be all right.


And, be honest, you wouldn't have clicked if life insurance was in the title, right?


But since you're here, let’s do a short and sweet overview of your life insurance options. This is for you folks who feel that insurance is too complex for the average person to understand. It's not. Here are the basics of what you need to know.

 

You don't need much cash to make small home improvements that upgrade your quality of life. Here are 23 ideas.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 4, 2014 1:16PM

This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News. 

 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAre you dreaming of improving your home, but you don't have the budget to do big remodeling? If so, there's still plenty you can do to scratch the home-improvement itch.


Here for 23 cheap ways to spruce up your home for $50 or less.

 

Even if mistakes on your credit reports aren't your fault, you still have to deal with them -- or your finances will suffer.

By Credit.com Sep 4, 2014 12:26PM

This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site Credit.com.


Credit.com on MSN MoneyIf you have seen wrong information on your credit report -- and plenty of people have -- you’ve probably wondered how it got there. After all, if the statements you get from your lenders are accurate, shouldn’t your credit reports be?


Worried man © Corbis

Credit reporting agencies manage billions of pieces of information about our credit histories, though, and there are several ways mistakes can happen.


1. Consumer errors

Although many of us apply for loans and credit cards online these days, there will still be times when you fill out an application by hand. If your handwriting is unclear, or if you make a mistake filling it out, that error will be entered into the creditor's system and may make its way to a credit reporting agency as a result.

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has warned card issuers to clearly explain their balance-transfer promotions to consumers.

By Credit.com Sep 4, 2014 11:00AM
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneySome credit card issuers are misleading consumers about the real cost of balance transfers and low-interest promotions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced Wednesday. The agency did not name any culprits, but issued a general bulletin alerting banks that they risk inviting an enforcement action if the deceptive marketing continues.


In its bulletin, the bureau said some card issuers fail to clearly explain that consumers who take advantage of low-rate periods for purchases or transfers risk paying higher rates if they fail to pay off the entire balance when the promotional period ends.


Credit card © Fancy, Veer, Corbis, Corbis“Credit card offers that lure in consumers and then hit them with surprise charges are against the law,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Before they sign up, consumers need to understand the true cost of these promotions. Today, we are putting credit card companies on notice that we expect them to clearly disclose how these promotional offers apply to consumers so that they can make informed choices about their credit card use.”


This "gotcha" primarily affects consumers who normally pay their balances in full to avoid interest charges. With virtually all credit cards, carrying a balance of any type or amount means you lose the benefit of the grace period. So if you take advantage of a low-rate balance transfer but then charge additional purchases to the card, you will end up paying interest on those new purchases immediately, not once the balance of those additional purchases goes unpaid at the end of the month, like many cardholders who pay their bills in full every month expect.

 

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