Health insurance companies are offering their corporate customers rebates to offset premium costs and reflect lower medical spending as patients avoid doctors’ offices, routine procedures and elective surgeries during the coronavirus pandemic.



a person sitting at a desk: ACA Health Experts call center expert, Cynthia Hernandez helps Tiffany Wright get health insurance at the Ahmed and Roshan Virani Children's Clinic, Monday,Nov. 14, 2016 in Houston. It’s likely that 2021 health insurance premiums will remain around the same prices as 2020, experts said.


© Karen Warren, Staff Photographer / Houston Chronicle

ACA Health Experts call center expert, Cynthia Hernandez helps Tiffany Wright get health insurance at the Ahmed and Roshan Virani Children’s Clinic, Monday,Nov. 14, 2016 in Houston. It’s likely that 2021 health insurance premiums will remain around the same prices as 2020, experts said.


It’s unclear how big an impact the rebates, in the form of credits, might have on the premiums companies pay and contributions their employees make. Premiums vary from company to company and, depending on the circumstances, the rebates could lower premiums, keep them from rising or at least limit increases.

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Companies, meanwhile, will decide whether to adjust employee contributions to health insurance premiums based on the rebates they might receive.

Fewer claims were filed during the pandemic, meaning insurance companies paid out less, kept more of the premiums they collect and earned higher profits. As a result, insurers are coming under pressure to return some of the windfall to customers, particularly since the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from keeping more that more than 20 percent of premiums for administrative costs and profits.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance in August that allows insurers to refund the excess profits this or next year as premium credits, which are discounts that reduce the amount paid monthly.

On Tuesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said it would help customers during the pandemic by issuing $104 million in premium credits to employers that it insures. It also said it would adjust the price of 2021 premiums for individual and group plans, saving buyers

Emily Pandise has covered business, tech and media for NBC News since 2017. In her early 20s, she realized she had no idea how to manage her money, so she set out to change her financial habits and learned a lot along the way. Now, she wants to help others do the same with this column, “Ask a Finance Whiz.” You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @emilypandise.

Have a question for Emily? Email us at [email protected]

Hi Emily,

Here’s a big Q I have — how am I supposed to maximize my savings these days? Interest rates are low, market is volatile, we’re in an economic recession, pending election makes any investment risky, the list goes on. I hate to have my savings sitting in a traditional savings account without any growth, but it feels like now is not the time to move money.

Would love to know what the experts recommend for someone trying to plan for some shorter term (5 year) goals.

Thanks in advance!!!!

Aileen

$

Aileen,

I totally understand your concerns when it comes to moving money around, especially right now. One important thing you’re already thinking about is your time horizon — aka, when you need that money. For a short-term goal, you’ll want to keep it low risk. Fortunately, there are easy solutions here: a high-yield savings account, a CD or both.

High-yield savings accounts, or HYSAs, will give you a much higher interest rate than a traditional savings account. The latter averages around .05%, whereas HYSA can go much higher, sometimes up to 2%. Right now, that interest rate may be a little lower than usual because of the Fed’s recent rate cuts, but it will come back up in good time. And .6% is still a step up from

This means that many car insurance customers can make tweaks to their policies without fee or risk of suffering any heavy losses.Experts at uSwitch have urged customers that it could be worth going to firms to waive these fees and make changes which could reduce costs.

They specifically highlight how road users can update their mileage details to reduce their perceived road risk and therefore lower charges.

They warn that if your car is due for renewal, it is worth recalculating mileage based on how much you have driven in 2020.

This is expected to be wildly different from the mileage predictions submitted at the start of last year before the lockdown was considered.

This is especially the case for road users who may have been forced to work from home for long periods and give up a long daily commute.

READ MORE: Car insurance customers can ‘cut the costs’ of a policy today

“So if you want to recalculate your mileage, it could be worth giving them a call to waiver the amendment fee.
“If you have a record of your mileage from the last time you applied for cover, you could use this to calculate the difference used this year.

“If you don’t, you can always sum up how far you’ve travelled each day on average to get a rough estimation.”

MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis has previously urged road users to take advantage of the sudden cut in cancellation and amendment fees to their advantage.

He revealed it was a great time for customers to shop around and switch for a new agreement as drivers would not be liable for costs.

Switching mid-agreement would result in heavy cancellation costs but under current measures, drivers can swap completely free of charge.

He has urged drivers to switch policies regularly to

TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers estimate they have found cost-savings of about $280 million by simplifying and cutting some frills from next year’s postponed games.

The report came as the International Olympic Committee executive board met on-line with officials in Japan on Wednesday.

The savings represent about 2% of the official Tokyo Olympic budget of $12.6 billion.

A national audit last year indicated the real costs might be twice as high as the officials numbers. And the University of Oxford published a study last month arguing Tokyo is the most expensive Summer Olympics on record.

The meter is running even as organizers talk about cuts, which are hard to find because spending on large items like expensive venues has already been completed.

Gakuji Ito, the chief financial officer of the Tokyo Olympics, acknowledged the cost-savings figure was only an estimate.

“How we calculated the cost reductions is something that is unprecedented and it is an initiative no one has every experienced,” Ito said, speaking in Japanese. “From an administrative perspective, we struggled hard.”

About 50 proposed cuts were listed on a detailed document from the organizers. Among them were: changes in equipment and re-configuring venues; fewer decorative banners; a 10-15% reduction in “stakeholders” delegation sizes; fewer shuttle buses; reduction in hospitality areas; suspension in production of mascot costumes; and cancellation of official team welcome ceremonies.

No cuts are planned for the number of sports or the number of competitors.

Also largely untouched will be the opening and closing ceremonies, the heavily sponsored 121-day torch relay, and competition areas that will be seen on television broadcasts.

Yoishiro Mori, the organizing committee president and a former Japanese prime minister, talked about the need to cut back on the extras at the games — mostly for the so-called Olympic Family and VIPs.