Seven options for saving money on health insurance
By REESE McFADDIN
Owner, Workplace Benefits
Special to CharlestonCurrents.com
15, 2010 -- As we all continue to look for ways to put more money
back in our pocket - reducing interest, cutting out that extra latte
or knocking a few channels off our cable bill -- there's one place
most people just don't think to look: their health insurance.
amazingly, by taking the time to review your plan and consider the
fact that your employer's plan may not be the most cost effective
or the best plan for your needs, you could save hundreds, sometimes
thousands of dollars every year.
day I work with individuals and businesses to help them understand
what they need from their health insurance and evaluate all the
major plans in the state to see what's the right choice for them.
Think about what you need out of a plan. Do you have young children
who need to go to the doctor often and get immunizations? Are you
married? How is your health? Are you planning to have children?
All of these factors can greatly affect what type of plan you need.
are some options I recommend to my clients frequently that they
often don't realize can save them money and sometimes get them better
individual plans for spouses. Having your spouse on your company
policy is not always the most cost-effective choice. You could
save thousands of dollars in premiums by putting your spouse on
an individual plan, especially if one of you is a female of childbearing
individual plans for kids.
Planning to have a baby in 2010? There are individual policies
designed specifically for children, with affordable premiums and
benefits tailored to their needs. These policies usually have
low co-pays for well visits and typically cover immunizations.
your instincts. If you feel like your premiums are too high
in your current corporate policy, you're probably right. If you're
healthy, pursuing an individual policy outside your employer may
save you money.
Savings Accounts (HSA).
If you have a high-deductible plan, you can set up an HSA, which
can be an easy way to save your medical dollars and add to your
tax deductions at the end of the year. They allow you to put aside
money, tax free, in a special account that can only be used for
vs. other plans.
If you're leaving your employer, COBRA is usually a very expensive
option. If you're healthy, consider a high-deductible health plan,
which lowers your premiums, coupled with a health savings account.
Consider an independent individual plan outside your company.
Several of my clients have saved hundreds of dollars a month simply
by taking themselves off of their company plan and finding a different
alternative that provides better coverage while putting more money
in their pocket. Remember, employers are looking out for their
bottom line, too, so their plans may not be the best options for
best advice I can give someone looking for additional savings on
his or her health insurance is to shop around and make informed
decisions. This is no different than picking the right computer
for your family. One computer - and one plan - does not fit all.
Research your options or find someone who can help you sort through
all the insurance mumbo jumbo to find a sensible plan for your needs
and, hopefully, save money at the same time.
McFaddin owns Workplace Benefits (http://www.benefitwork.com).
snow storm (of criticism) for school district Einsteins
ANDY BRACK, publisher
15, 2010 - Hats off to the Einsteins at the Charleston County School
District who closed schools an hour early Friday to deal with inclement
it's obvious the school district's leaders wanted to take precautions
to avoid possible problems from an evening snow that eventually
brought two to four inches to the Lowcountry. But come on, didn't
they go just a little overboard? Did having one hour less at school
make any real difference?
news came late Friday morning that county schools would close at
2 p.m., a quick check of The Weather Channel's hour-by-hour forecast
on the Internet showed that our area would have rain and 45 degree
temperatures at the normal school closing time of around 3 p.m.
other words, even if it had been snowing a little -- and the forecast
called for rain -- it still was going to be warm enough to keep
anything from sticking to the roadways.
all the falderal over closing the schools early was pure nonsense.
It was the kind of decision that gives Southerners and winter weather
a bad reputation. No wonder people make fun of us driving in icy
conditions if we close schools at the drop of a hat. Let's hope
Jon Stewart doesn't get hold of this mastermind pronouncement.
these kind of decisions have ripple effects across the community.
When the county schools close early, other organizations follow
suit. Why? Because they tie their closure policies to the school
policy. And that means many parents have to adjust their work days
to deal with the kids - which is fine, if there is a problem. But
rain and the threat of snow later in the evening?
for the school district: Check The Weather Channel's hour-by-hour
forecast in the future. If there's not going to be anything frozen
out on the roads at 3 p.m., do everyone a favor and suck it up a
little bit instead of wigging out.
wintry weather in Charleston was loads of fun for kids. We heard
peals of laughter and joy outside our windows late Friday. By Saturday
morning, snowmen - whole snow families -- dotted the Lowcountryside.
Later in the day, much of the snow had melted away, leaving the
stubs of snow families in yards around local communities.
our time with snow was a minor inconvenience, just think of what's
been happening in the nation's capital. A sister who lives there
reports there's been more than 50 inches of snow this season. Over
the last week, she's been socked in at her home near the U.S. Capitol.
Most businesses and government offices closed for much of last week,
leading snowbound residents to do everything from those projects
that have been waiting for a long time to going stir crazy.
weekend's snowy blustering reminds us that it's fine to taste what
the rest of the country deals with annually. But a taste is just
enough. One of the main reasons we live here is our temperate winter
climate. Another: To ensure the survival of the mosquito in our
Brack, publisher of CharlestonCurrents.com, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
people forget Sanfords are 'a broken family'
article on Sanford this morning. People are so quick to criticize
and I think they forget that this is still a broken family involving
real human beings!
Tina Arnoldi, Mount Pleasant, SC
shouldn't just go away; no one has to buy book
Sanfords are not going away, and as far as I'm concerned, neither
of them should. They are each human, going through tough issues
of life as we all are. Just because something is not pretty doesn't
mean we pretend it's not there. If writing
the book helps in Mrs. Sanford's healing, the boys' healing
or anyone else's healing for that matter, GREAT! If it's just fun
for someone to read, GREAT! If the book gives people jobs and fuels
the economy, GREAT! If people are not interested, just don't buy
the book. Thanks for the article.
Tina Newton, Mount Pleasant, SC
a comment or want to vent? If you have something to
say about leadership in South Carolina, the state of baseball
today, good barbecue or something about your community's government,
drop us a line to: email@example.com.
Please send no more than 200 words and include contact information
(phone number, hometown) so we can get in touch with you.
public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents
to you at no cost. In this issue, we turn the spotlight on Charleston
Green Commercial, a full-service commercial property management
company that pays attention to detail, provides exceptional personal
service and is committed to adding value to buildings. Offering
professional property management, consulting and other services,
the company strives to improve clients' bottom lines with superior
service, accessibility, reliability and a wealth of knowledge of
the Charleston real estate market. By blending use of proven contractors
and contacts with environmentally-conscious practices, the company
helps clients stay on the leading edge of commercial real estate
debt paid, aquarium makes plans for anniversary year
South Carolina Aquarium has paid off what remained of its debt,
just in time to make this year's 10th anniversary celebration even
sweeter. The facility opened in May 2000 with a total debt of $11.75
million. Officials announced Friday that over the course of the
past decade, 50 percent of the debt payments had been paid through
profitable business operations and the other 50 percent through
private donations. Twenty-two percent, or $1.3 million, of the total
amount provided by private donations came from the Spaulding Paolozzi
officials also reported that attendance was up 11.5 percent last
year, even in the face of the economic downturn. The Charleston
Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates the aquarium's annual economic
impact at $153 million, and the attraction sustains 2,100 local
debt relief, aquarium executives say, the facility will be in a
position to invest in additional programs and benefits for guests.
An albino alligator - one of fewer than 50 in the world - will be
on exhibit beginning March 20, and a 4-D theater is expected to
open later this year. Throughout 2010, original exhibits will be
enhanced. For example, the Carolina Seas exhibit just finished a
complete renovation, including refurbishing to the coral and new
species within the tank.
programs for children will continue to be a focus; to date, nearly
90,000 school kids have enjoyed the aquarium's free Structured School
Programs, and all South Carolina teachers get free admission. In
addition, the aquarium recently invested in a new program, Aquarium
Rovers, which allows the facility's experts to take animals such
as boa constrictors and penguins into local classrooms.
facility's focus on conservation will be further strengthened, officials
said, with on-site educational classes as well as business practices
that include extensive recycling and the use of biodiesel to run
the aquarium's generator.
Find out more about the aquarium, an underwriting partner of CharlestonCurrents.com,
needed for Festival of Houses and Gardens
Historic Charleston Foundation is looking for volunteers to help
with its 63rd Annual Spring Festival of Houses and Gardens, which
takes place March 18 through April 17. More than 600 people volunteer
each year for the event, which is the organization's largest fundraising
effort. The tours provide both visitors and volunteers with a rare
opportunity to explore the gardens and interiors of some of the
finest private homes in America.
can serve in several capacities, including docents (describing the
room to which they are assigned to visitors using information provided
by HCF), garden docents (describing gardens to guests), street marshals
(assisting visitors with directions to tour sites and general information
provided by HCF) and hosts and hostesses (pouring wine and lemonade
for visitors during the Glorious Gardens receptions).
should be able to attend one of these three training meetings: March
2, 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Seacoast Church, Mount Pleasant; March
8, 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., John Wesley United Methodist Church,
West Ashley; or March 15, 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., the Charleston
you'd like to volunteer, go
here to fill out an online form or find out how to get more
Way tops $10 million in pledges despite recession
United Way had its 12th consecutive record-setting campaign in 2009,
raising $10,109,128 in pledges - an increase of $200,000 over the
previous year at a time when virtually every other United Way in
the nation saw their fundraising decline because of the ongoing
challenges of the economic downturn.
more the need, the more our donors are looking to make charitable
investments that deliver high returns," said Christopher Kerrigan,
president and CEO of Trident United Way. "Our focus on education,
income and health has really reverberated with contributors."
the fundraising goal is particularly noteworthy in a year when 13,000
more people are unemployed than in January of 2008. That translated
to about $1 million in lost pledges even before the campaign began.
largest overall campaign was at Santee Cooper. Under the leadership
of CEO Lonnie Carter, employee contributions and corporate gifts
added up to $560,000.
largest employee contributions came from Roper St. Francis Healthcare,
led by CEO David Dunlap, who is also the board chair for Trident
United Way. Employees at RSFH pledged $478,000. Employees of The
InterTech Group, led by CEO Anita Zucker, pledged the most per person,
at more than $4,000.
us your reviews
If you have a review or recommendation of a book, movie, restaurant
or local arts endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to
editor Ann Thrash.
Make sure to include your name and full contact information.
history of this small, brightly colored warbler (Vermivora bachmanii)
is closely tied to South Carolina. The species was discovered by
the Reverend John Bachman in 1832 on the Edisto River a few miles
north of Jacksonborough. In 1833 John J. Audubon painted a male
and named the species after his friend Bachman. The Bachman's warbler
is believed to be extinct. The last acceptable report was made in
1958, when John H. Dick photographed a male in Charleston County
near the original discovery site.
on historical collections, the Bachman's warbler is believed to
have once been common and widespread in the Southeast. The warbler
inhabited the edges or open interiors of swamps. Most of the few
nests that have been found were in thickets of cane and brambles.
Initially the species apparently benefited from the activities of
early settlers, both Indians and Europeans, who created suitable
openings in the forest. By 1900, however, the species had become
rare, perhaps due to extensive destruction of hardwood swamps for
agriculture. At the same time, large areas of the warbler's wintering
grounds in Cuba were destroyed for agriculture.
Bachman's warblers have been found on territory since 1961. Through
1978 at least six reports had been made from I'On Swamp, north of
Charleston. Despite extensive searches, none of these has been verified.
Excerpted from the entry by William Post. To
read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina,
check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information
used by permission.) To
read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina,
check out The
South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used
encourage you to check out our sister publications:
a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead
of what happens at the Statehouse. It's free.
Clips -- a
daily news compilation of South Carolina news from media sources
across the state. Delivered by email about the time you get
to work every business day. Saves you a lot of money and time.
Sign up for a free
trial subscription today.
Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for
the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.
-- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic
and sensible social, political and economic approaches to
improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
is provided to you twice a week by:
P.O. Box. 22261 | Charleston, SC 29413
We hope you'll
keep receiving the great news and information from CharlestonCurrents.com,
but if you need to subscribe,
Report LLC. All rights reserved. CharlestonCurrents.com is published
every Monday and Thursday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261,
Charleston, SC 29413.
from the Carolinas
got under way last weekend, and while there are no Charlestonians
in the Games, there are two athletes with South Carolina ties and
four more with North Carolina connections. Keep an eye out for these
folks from our neck of the woods (more or less) on the medal stands:
is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what
we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
Lincoln, 16th president of the United States (1809-1865)
Thursday: Feb. 18, downtown Summerville. The monthly
Third Thursday promotion in historic Flower Town has a February
theme of "Fall in Love with Downtown Summerville." Stores
will be open until 8 p.m. for shopping and strolling, and restaurants
will be offering dinner. More info: Online
"Sickly Season": 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, Charleston
Museum, 360 Meeting St., downtown. Charleston was the unhealthiest
of the 13 original colonies, and during the 18th and 19th centuries,
diseases of epidemic proportion plagued the city and hampered its
grown. Museum Curator of History Grahame Long will give a presentation
titled "Infections, Afflictions, and Perilous Prescriptions:
Charleston and 'The Sickly Season.' " Free and open to the
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 20, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting
St., downtown. Sponsored quarterly by the Junior League of Charleston,
Community Day gives visitors a chance to enjoy the Gibbes Museum
at no cost. Nature is the theme for the event, which includes art-making
activities for kids. Scheduled activities include a musical performance
by students from Memminger Elementary at 10:30 a.m. and a book reading
by Christi Sanford, author of the "Legare the Lizard"
series, at 11:15 a.m. Beverages will be provided by Rising High
Seafood Dinner: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 20, Restaurant
at Middleton Place Plantation, 4300 Ashley River Road. The South
Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative and the restaurant
will present a dinner featuring sustainable seafood, with a portion
of the proceeds benefitting the Initiative. Reservations (required):
577-FISH (3474). More
Society Oyster Roast: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Feb. 20, Charleston
Visitor Center Bus Shed, 375 Meeting St., downtown. The Charleston
Charitable Society's 17th annual oyster roast is a benefit for Carolina
Autism and is the Charitable Society's first joint event with the
Palmetto Society. Tickets include oysters, chili, beer and wine;
Soul Function will provide the music. Cost: $20 in advance, $25
at the door; available
online or at South Carolina Bank & Trust branches at 46
Broad St., 315 Folly Road and 1032 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
ONGOING AND SOON
Game Night: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 22, Holiday Inn Express,
120 Holiday Drive, Summerville. The American Business Women's Association's
Jessamine Chapter of Summerville will hold a game night fundraiser
and silent auction to benefit women's scholarships. Open to the
public. Guests are invited to bring their favorite game and/or team.
Prizes, food and beverages provided. Cost: $10 ticket donation.
Reservations requested. Contact Shirlie
Taylor, 873-6769 or get
in Crisis Tour: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Feb. 23, Recital Hall,
Simons Center at the College of Charleston. Michael Kaiser, president
of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., chose Charleston for
his only South Carolina stop on his 50-state Arts in Crisis Tour.
He will speak about current challenges and opportunities for arts
organizations. The Charleston Concert Association is hosting the
program in partnership with the S.C. Arts Commission, the City of
Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, and the College of Charleston
School of the Arts. Free and open to the public, but advance registration
is required; e-mail or call
to speak: Noon, Feb. 23, Charleston Music Hall, 37 John
Street. Attorney Ted Sorensen, former key aide to President John
F. Kennedy, will offer reflections to students at the Charleston
School of Law. The public is welcome, but is asked to reserve a
here for more.
Golf Classic: Feb. 23, Wild Dunes Resort's Links and
Harbor Courses, Isle of Palms. Sponsored by the Charleston Metro
Chamber of Commerce to offer businesses five hours of uninterrupted
networking with key clients, customers or contacts. Tournament (captain's
choice format) includes 60 teams on two full courses; each team
gets 18 holes of golf with lunch and beverages, followed by a reception
and dinner at the Sweetgrass Pavilion. Registration begins at 10
a.m.; shotgun start at 11:30. Cost: $800 per team or $200 per individual.
Bouche: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 26, Halsey Institute
of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston, 161 Calhoun St. The
event, the unofficial kickoff of the BB&T Charleston Wine +
Food Festival, benefits the Lowcountry Food Bank's Kids Café
and Backpack Buddies Programs and the Halsey Institute. Jim 'N Nick's
Bar-B-Q will "Pork from Around the World" tastings, and
Whole Foods will offer an open wine bar. Cost: $20 per person at
the door; RSVP no later than Feb. 24 to 747-8146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Angel Get-Together: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28, grassy
area near Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside St., downtown. The Charleston
Parks Conservancy will host a social for old and new members to
get acquainted and learn more about the group. Food, games and prizes
along with opportunity to learn about upcoming events and volunteer
needs. The organization works to support local public parks by planting
and maintaining green spaces and promoting the history and beauty
of local gardens. For more info or to register as a Park Angel (it's
this Web site.
Women": 3 p.m. March 7, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135
Meeting St., downtown. The Charleston Chamber Opera and the Gibbes
will present an afternoon of opera in the rotunda, the setting for
the "Whistler's Travels" special exhibition. Soprano Patrice
Tiedemann, mezzo soprano Lara Wilson and baritone Paul Soper will
explore the life and loves of artist James McNeill Whistler (who
was married but had several lovers, one of whom bore him several
children and another of whom raised his son by yet another woman).
The clever mix of art song, opera and theatrical flair will include
the music of Debussy, Saint-Saens, Mahler, Gilbert & Sullivan
and others. Tickets: $10 museum members and students; $20 nonmembers.
online, at the museum store or by calling 722-2706, ext. 18.
House Furniture Tours: 4 p.m. March 18 and March 19,
and 10 a.m. March 20, Heyward-Washington House, 87 Church
St. downtown. The Charleston Museum's Heyward-Washington House will
host furniture-focused tours with special information on the significant
18th-century English and Charleston-made furniture collection housed
there. Visitors can learn about Charleston cabinetmakers, locally
harvested and imported wood, and the influence of Thomas Chippendale.
Reservations not required. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children (free
for museum members). More info: 722-2996, ext. 235, or visit
Street Reopening: 6 p.m. April 1, Dock Street Theatre.
Gala concert planned by Spoleto Festival USA for the reopening of
the theatre after three years of renovations. Performances include
a sneak peek of the Spoleto opera "Flora," which was first
performed at the Dock Street in 1736. Events include champagne reception,
performance and seated dinner. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000.
Call 579-3100 or buy
Ladies Easter Promenade: 11 a.m. April 3, Meeting Street
between Broad and South Battery, downtown. Members of the Hat Ladies
and their families will take their annual elegant stroll down one
of the city's most recognizable streets in honor of hat-wearing
traditions. Free. More
info online or call 762-6679.
& Garden Tours: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 9 and April
10, downtown Charleston. The Garden Club of Charleston offers
its 75th annual walking tour of private homes and gardens in the
Historic District. Homes also feature flowers arranged by garden
club members, and refreshments will be served in one of the gardens.
All proceeds benefit the garden club's year-round maintenance of
several public gardens, including those at the Manigault House,
the Heyward-Washington House, the Gateway Walk and the Healing Garden
at MUSC. Tickets: $35. Details: http://www.thegardenclubofcharleston.org
by Christo: 5:30 p.m. April 13, Memminger Auditorium,
56 Beaufain St., downtown. Internationally known artist Christo
will visit talk about his work in a slide presentation and lecture
sponsored by the Gibbes Museum of Art. Christo and his late wife,
Jeanne-Claude, have collaborated throughout the world on large-scale
art projects using fabric, including wrapping the Pont-Neuf bridge
in Paris, the 24½-mile-long Running Fence in Sonoma and Marin
counties in California, and The Gates in New York's Central Park.
Tickets (in advance only): $25 for museum members, $35 for nonmembers,
and $15 for students (with ID); available at the Gibbes Museum Store,
by calling 722-2706, ext. 22, or online
through April 6.
Picky Eaters Group
On Jim Fisher
Rural Mission's needs
Fish to buy
guide book for kids
looks at success
all of the cuts
look at summer camps
should get out
at White House
on working with Boeing
library text questions
for King Day