For the week of November 10, 2008
Wall Street enjoyed a record Election Day rally on Tuesday with the Dow and S&P both up more than 3
percent and the NASDAQ up more than 4 percent. The Labor Department unemployment report of
240,000 lost jobs came in lower than Goldman Sachs’ estimate of 300,000 but higher than the median
forecast of 200,000. Investors will have more economic data to digest this week with readings on the
labor market and trade deficit due Thursday and the October retail sales index coming out Friday. For
last week, the Dow ended down 3.93 percent to 8,943.81. The S&P lost 3.78 percent to close the week
at 930.99, and the NASDAQ lost 4.27 percent to finish the week at 1,647.40.
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and
cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week”
returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
Medicare Open Enrollment – Open enrollment for Medicare begins Nov. 15 and continues through
Dec. 31, 2008. During this time, anyone covered by the plan can make changes to coverage, including
selecting a new plan for 2009. Medicare offers tools for comparing plans for cost, coverage and
convenience on its website, www.medicare.gov.
Saving Up – Americans have increased their short-term savings even as their investments have fallen
over the past three months. The average American saved $901 in September, up nearly 20 percent from
$756 in August. They have also increased retirement contributions, from $560 in August to $863 in
September, according to the survey by First Command Financial Services. First Command Financial
Services’ Financial Behaviors Index surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers between ages 25 and 70, with
yearly household incomes of at least $50,000.
Two More Years – A two-year increase in the median retirement age over the next 10 years would
increase U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $13 trillion over the next three decades and reduce by
about half the number of boomers who are financially unprepared for retirement, according to research
from McKinsey Global Institute.
Only The Biggest Estates – Only one out of every 106 deaths results in the payment of federal estate
taxes (Source: CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Wall Street Journal, BTN Research).
Pension Limit – Participants in defined benefit pension plans will be able to fund their plans to provide
an annual retirement benefit of $195,000 in calendar year 2009. Twenty years earlier (1989), the
maximum annual pension benefit that could be funded was $98,064 (Source: IRS, BTN Research).
WEEKLY FOCUS – Bridging The Health Insurance Gap
Early retirement has become a part of the American
dream, but the gap between employer-based health
insurance and Medicare may become a nightmare
without proper planning. According to The Retire Early
Homepage, employers often pay 50 percent to 90
percent of the premiums for employees’ coverage.
Individual plans can cost 50 percent to 100 percent
more than equivalent group plans. How can a retiree
absorb that cost? We’ve compiled some ideas to
consider as you search for coverage.
covered under his or her employer group policy?
- Will your spouse still be working? If so, can you be
This may be the cheapest option. Just remember to
notify your spouse’s employer 30 days before you want to be covered by that plan.
- Do you belong to a group – such as an alumni association, chamber of commerce or professional
association – that offers group coverage? In some states, even a sole proprietor can purchase
small group insurance, so hanging out the consulting shingle may give you a premium break. Be
sure to factor in any dues or other fees you will pay for membership in addition to the premium.
- Does your employer’s group policy allow you to convert to an individual policy without a medical
exam? You’ll be paying the higher price for individual coverage, but any pre-existing conditions
covered under the group plan may continue to be covered.
- How close are you to age 65? The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
(COBRA) allows you to continue on your employer’s plan for 18 months after you retire. The catch
is, you pay the entire premium, not just the portion you paid as an employee. This can be
expensive, but again, it allows you to continue coverage for any pre-existing conditions.
- Who else needs to be covered? Under your employer’s plan, you can typically choose coverage for
yourself or for you and your dependents. Medicare will cover only you. Do you have a spouse,
dependent parent or dependent child who will still need coverage when you turn 65? Some
insurance companies base health insurance premiums on the age of the oldest individual covered.
Check multiple companies and try different combinations of family members to get the best rate.
Because health care becomes a significant portion of your expenditures in retirement, selecting a plan to
cover the years between your retirement and your Medicare eligibility can dramatically affect your
finances. We can meet with you and your insurance specialist, or recommend a health insurance
specialist to you. Risk management should be part of any retirement plan, and there’s no greater risk
than the loss of your health. Call our office for an appointment!
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of
the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-
chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common
stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan
Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized
benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies
representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all
dividends. Written by Securities America. SAI#289819
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