What is an HSA?


What is an HSA?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a savings account just like any other savings account that you would open up at a bank. What is special about this specific type of savings account is that it is tax-deductible. This just means that if you deposit money in this account, there will be no federal income tax on the money at the time the deposit was made. They also roll over every year not spent. The money in this savings account is used to cover qualified medical expenses. What counts as “qualified” will depend on both federal regulations and the institution from which you obtained the HSA.

These savings accounts operate fairly similar to their sister savings account, the IRA (Individual Retirement Account). You are saving money tax-free, but instead of using them for retirement, you are using them to pay for medical expenses. Hence, you will probably be dipping into your HSA throughout the years while an IRA is left alone until retirement. However, if you having extra money in your HSA at the time of retirement, you may withdraw money and use it for non-medical purposes.

Can I open an HSA?

The basic requirements to opening an HSA are 1) Be a United States tax-payer and 2) Be enrolled in an HDHP.  Some other requirements are not being on Medicare and no being claimed as a dependent on your tax returns.

HSAs are savings accounts used by individuals that have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). A deductible is the payment made by an individual before the insurance company covers the medical costs. People with a high deductible will probably want to take advantage of every opportunity to keep costs to a minimum. An HSA allows the individual to save money tax-free in order to provide assistance with paying medical bills.

Where can I open an HSA?

Any bank will give an option to open up an HSA. Some banks will outsource their HSAs to other institutions who specialize in these types of accounts. Opening an HSA is a pretty simple process and can be done online. Get in touch with us at (920) 268-1888 with any questions. If you are interested in setting up an HSA we can help you!

Why is Having Health Insurance Important?

Woman thinking stock photo

Health Insurance?

Insurance is all about risk, chance and possibility. This of course varies for every person. Someone could go his or her entire life paying for health insurance and not have any major health complication that would have made that monthly premium worth it. However, another person could have many different unfortunate medical confrontations that made his or her insurance more than worth it.

These are the factors that insurance companies have to ponder carefully. It is also why actuaries get paid good money to make risk assessments on clients. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is also known as Obamacare, nobody can be denied with preexisting conditions and everyone must have health insurance either through work or purchased on their own.

This, like everything, has two sides. It plays an advantageous role for those who have been previously denied insurance due to their health complications. It also drives a lot of business to health insurance companies and allows them to open new markets and diversify plans. On the other hand, because of all the high risk patients being accepted,  the cost of premiums and minimum amounts to pay in a deductible have gone up for those who are low risk and healthy. This unfortunately affects a lot of young people who are also burdened by student loan debt.

Political ideologies aside, there is no one vastly superior way to distribute healthcare. There are many ways that work in theory. Ideally, we would have a system that would allow healthy competition at national and local levels while maintaining affordability in both the care itself and the cost of drugs. Whether this is done by government regulation or implementing a universal healthcare system is up for the people to decide. Either way, I think everyone can agree that quality healthcare and affordable medicine should be the common vision shared by all.

So why is health insurance important?

We need insurance because when it comes to our health, we don’t want to take chances. We may be healthy today, but we don’t know what tomorrow brings. We need insurance for the peace of mind it brings and the assurance that if we need to go to the doctor or the ER, we are able to do so.

Whether we end up using it or not is beside the point. Having insurance is like going to a restaurant and when the check comes realizing that you forgot your wallet, but you find a $20 bill in your coat pocket that you had forgotten you had placed there.  There are no guarantees in life and there is not much more important in your life than your health. Having insurance is in a way, an investment in yourself.

Our current system mandates that everyone be required to have health insurance. I think we can all agree that having health insurance is important. Whether the government should tell us it is important is up to you to decide.  Just make sure to ask yourself, what would benefit not only yourself, but everyone? And how can we implement a system that keeps healthcare costs down as well as drugs? There are no easy answers to these questions, but informed and insightful conversations that respect others’ opinions will propel us towards solutions that work for everyone.

How to Stay Healthy this Winter


It’s mid-January and we are almost at the heart of winter. The cold makes itself known all the way to the bone. The wind howls through any space that will let it. A white blanket of snow makes it hard to believe that just 6 months ago we were poolside in the midst of blue skies and a green landscape. I guess you have to endure the cold and ice to really appreciate the heat and sunshine.

In the winter it is especially important to make an effort at staying healthy. Due to the weather we tend to be less active, stay indoors and have less social interaction. It is an easy trap to fall into and blaming the weather is an excuse we make all too often. But we must make a conscious effort to stay mentally, physically and socially healthy.

Mental Health

This might be the most important branch of health because it can affect your mood and how you view your physical and social health as well. An important part of staying mentally healthy over the winter is to be engaged. Instead of watching that extra episode on Netflix, you can spend that time reading a book, doing a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle. Just do something that makes you think. Your mind needs to be exercised. Even some simple mental stimulation can feed into some positive thoughts, and all of a sudden the weather doesn’t seem so bad,

Physical Health

This requires some mental fortitude. After finishing a section of your 1000 piece puzzle you might consider a well deserved rest. But wait! We need to get that heart pumping a bit first. Finding things to do during the winter might be intimidating because apathy seems to set in more quickly than usual. But you don’t necessarily need a gym membership or workout routine to stay active. There are typically open gym hours at churches and schools. You can get involved in a team sport or just use the gym for some individual practice. However, the best thing you can do is something so simple you probably wouldn’t expect it – walking. If you can dedicate about an hour of just walking a few times per week (so 3-5 hours per week), you can reap some great aerobic benefits. Walking is one the best and most fundamental exercises you can do, but it is often overlooked because of its simplicity. So start going for regular walks and collect your thoughts, or grab a friend and have a chat. The bottom line is as long as you’re doing something active, you are doing your part to keep yourself healthy. The tough part is making the commitment. It helps to make a schedule. That way you have some structure and some accountability to keep it.

Social Health 

Last but not least is social health. In the winter it is especially tempting to stay home and just do your own thing. OK, maybe you can’t have picnics and barbecues like in the summer, but I would be willing to bet there is a coffee shop close by. Get some friends together and catch up or discuss some current events or even a book. Meet at someone’s house to play games or have a party around a sporting or political event. Make it a weekly or biweekly thing to meet with people! We humans crave interaction, and a couple laughs and a stimulating conversation is just what the doctor ordered. The winter can be long and dreary, but if you spend some time with others who are going through the same thing, then it doesn’t seem so bad. Empathy and mutual support can go a long way, but you have to make the effort.

Final Thoughts 

Mental, physical and social health tend to run in unison. Either you have them all or you lack them all. If you make time for these things now, you will thank yourself later. Your overall health and the functionality of your immune system directly correlate with the combination of these 3 things.

Now, I realize we all have busy schedules and sometimes doing even a few extra things per week seems like an unrealistic expectation, but I encourage you to make the effort to do so. If you have to, maybe cut something out of your current schedule. You can even combine some of these activities to make better use of your time. For example, playing a game with your family can serve as mental and social stimulation, or a walk with a friend can serve as physical and social. Your health is very important. Don’t jeopardize it because of apathy, and don’t use winter as an excuse.

Have a productive winter and stay healthy!

What does Health Insurance Brokerage mean?



What is a Brokerage?

We find brokerages in many different areas of business.  We usually find them in the insurance and financial industries.  A brokerage simply acts as a middleman between sellers and buyers. Sellers don’t always know how to connect with potential buyers and buyers don’t always know where to look. Thus, we have an intermediate group that connect the two.

So, What is a Health Insurance Brokerage?

A health insurance brokerage is an intermediary between health insurance companies (also called health insurance carriers) and people who need health insurance.  Here at Cliff Consulting Group we have contracts with all major carriers.  This means we can sell insurance to consumers on their behalf.  We, therefore, connect consumers to carriers and vise-versa.

The advantage of using a health insurance broker is that we can look at all the plans for all the carriers that we are contracted with and choose the best one for you.  If we put you on a plan, but later we find a better plan with a different carrier, no problem!  We can switch you to that better plan.  We do this all at no cost to you!  That’s right, you don’t pay us any money!

In contrast, an individual insurance company who is marketing to you can only put you on one of its own plans. There is no shopping around different companies.  You only have the options that the individual insurance company provides you.  You could also shop around yourself, but chances are you are not too familiar with the intricacies of the health insurance industry. Also, the healthcare.gov site is not always the easiest to navigate. We have licensed agents that are experienced in the industry. We know the industry and how to get you the best plan. Why wouldn’t you want someone experienced helping you get the best health insurance plan for you? Especially, when it’s free! So get started now!

How does a Brokerage make money?

There might be one lingering question in your mind, how does a brokerage make money if we don’t pay them? That’s a great question. A brokerage is usually a commission based company. This means that a brokerage gets paid a percentage of a sale by the seller. The buyer usually only pays the seller. However, typically in the situation of a financial brokerage (for example, selling stocks) there is a fee for each transaction. Some health insurance brokerages may follow a similar practice by charging a fee for consultation.

Cliff Consulting Group does NOT charge anything to the consumer. We only receive commission payment from our contracted carriers for connecting you with them. You pay us nothing. It isn’t often that you see a professional helping you make an important buying decision for free, so take advantage of the opportunity!

Ring in the New Year with a New Health Insurance Plan

As 2015 comes to a close, we find ourselves right in the heart of the health insurance season.  We know it can be a stressful time of year.  The holidays are ending, we go back to school and work, and the winter ambiance is finally starting to set in.  We hope you have had a chance to spend time with family and friends over this holiday season and wish you many more happy years to come.

Part of enjoying those many years and great moments together is staying healthy.  That is where we can help!  If you or your family is still looking for health insurance or for a more affordable plan, we can assist you in that process. Being covered is a necessity to keep you and your family healthy, but why should it be stressful too?

Health insurance – like any field – can be complicated because it comes with all of its own terminology and legislation that can make it confusing.  We are here to explain what you need to know and assure you that you get the best policy that fits your needs and for the best price.  We are contracted with many local and national carriers so we can shop around and help you along the way.

If you are looking to change policies, we can certainly help you there too.  What a great time to do it too!  A new policy for the new year. Get in touch with us with any questions or concerns at (920) 268-1888  or browse plans on our website and Get a Quote Here.

All of us at the Cliff Consulting Group team wish you and your families happy holidays and a happy new year!

Principles and Covenants of CLIFF Consulting Group, Inc

To us, this is the Opportunity COST of successful consulting:

Compassion – Giving for the sake of giving rather than for the sake of gaining.

Giving… even when there is no short term compensation. Giving above and beyond for every individual client and the universe will reward you.

Owning your own performance – Spending time self-evaluating and finding reasons to reach your goals rather than pointing fingers at others. One needs to be in the “Getting it Done” business… and not the “Excuse” making business in order to be successful.

Sharing – Inviting passionate individuals to share in the fruits of our success. Grow your business by finding qualified individuals with entrepreneurial and “giving” qualities.

Truth – Honesty, integrity, and truthful consultation lead to durable and everlasting business relationships.