November 2018
Do you have children heading off to college this fall? You will want to read the feature article from Commonwealth Financial Network below.  Once a child reaches the age of 18 you may not have the legal authority to act on his or her authority. You may want to look into a Health Care Proxy and a Durable Power of Attorney. 

The cost of health insurance in our country continues to rise at a shocking rate.   Our second feature article this month tells us that employers are possibly shelling out nearly $20,000 to keep employees insured. 
We enjoy hearing from you. Please feel free to contact us by phone at 614-888-2121, toll-free 877-389-2121 or e-mail with any questions or comments.

Important legal documents for college students 
As summer turns to fall, flocks of recent high school graduates leave the nest and head off to college or university for the first time. Their parents are faced with a wide range of emotions as they watch their children prepare to spread their wings as independent young adults.

Until the students demonstrate sufficient maturity and decision-making skills, many parents continue to take an active role in their children's lives. But once a child reaches the age of 18, he or she has all the legal rights of an adult. This means that the individual is legally on his or her own should a health, financial, or legal matter arise.

Even if a parent is paying a son's or daughter's college tuition or claiming him or her as a dependent on tax returns, in most states a parent lacks the necessary legal authority to act on a child's behalf (or even to obtain information!) in the event of an emergency. That's why an increasing number of parents are choosing to have their children sign a health care proxy and a durable power of attorney (durable POA) before they head off to school or soon after.

Health care proxy

When your son or daughter signs a health care proxy, he or she is allowing you to give consent for medical procedures, make health care decisions for him or her, and discuss treatment options if he or she becomes incapacitated. Without a health care proxy, HIPPA laws protect your child's right to privacy. Consequently, you may need a court order to access your son's or daughter's health information or otherwise act on his or her behalf.

It's also important to keep in mind that colleges and universities may have their own medical release documents. Be sure to check with the school and fill out any applicable paperwork in advance.
Although most parents don't want to think about such traumatic situations, it's always better to be safe than sorry. In an emergency, time is of the essence. Having these documents in place will avoid paperwork and red tape, so you can focus on making any critical decisions.

Durable POA

A durable POA gives you the authority, if needed, to handle financial or legal matters on behalf of your child. This can be especially valuable if your son's or daughter's school is far away, or if he or she is studying abroad. Even if he or she is nearby, you may want the ability to sign tax returns, access bank accounts, pay bills, or sign a lease on your son's or daughter's behalf. The durable POA allows you to serve as your child's trusted agent.

The specific requirements of a health care proxy and durable POA vary by state, so consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure that these documents are prepared correctly.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

© 2018 Commonwealth Financial Network®

Getting health insurance through work costs nearly $20,000 
Although premiums have increased fairly modestly in recent years, the growth has far outpaced workers' raises over time. The average family premium has increased 55% since 2008, twice as fast as workers' wages and three times as fast as inflation, Kaiser's Employer Health Benefits Survey found.
Companies pick up most of the tab, shelling out $14,100 a year, on average. Still, workers have to pay an average of $5,550, up 65% from a decade ago. 
For single coverage, total premiums have reached $6,900, on average, up 47% from 2008. Workers contribute roughly $1,200 a year.  
Deductibles also continue to burn a deeper hole in workers' pockets. The average deductible now stands at $1,350, up 212% since 2008. That's eight times faster than wage growth. 

Also, more workers are subject to deductibles -- some 85% in 2018, compared to 59% a decade ago. A quarter of all workers face deductibles of at least $2,000, up from 15% five years ago.
Employers have  sought to limit premium increases by raising deductibles instead. But large deductibles are among Americans' main complaints about their health coverage.
While employers have been trying to rein in health care costs for years, the issue has come into the spotlight once again.

Amazon , Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced earlier this year that they were joining forces to give their combined 840,000 employees better health care choices and bring down costs, both for their workers and their companies.

A growing number of companies are also contracting directly with hospitals and providers to take care of their workers, according to a National Business Group on Health study released in August.  General Motors  and Henry Ford Health System in Detroit recently set up such a contract. The six-hospital system will provide access to more than 3,000 primary care and specialty doctors, as well as hospital, emergency room and pharmacy services, to nearly 24,000 salaried GM workers and their families.  
Some employers are looking to limit their networks to certain high-quality providers, which allows them to lower costs. Some 11% of companies said they've implemented these performance-based networks, up from 3% in 2014, according to a survey released earlier this year by PwC, a consulting firm. Another 34% of firms said they were considering these networks.  
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What's happening now

Ticketmaster slapped with  class-action lawsuit  over scalping

More than one in three Americans  eat fast food every day  and we eat it all day long.

Being too frugal might cost you money.
A mixed September but strong quarter for U.S. stocks
September started with some volatility, but it ended on a positive note for most U.S. markets, capping off a strong third quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) led the way for the month with a return of 1.97 percent, and the S&P 500 followed with a 0.57-percent return. But the Nasdaq Composite could not overcome the early declines, finishing the month down 0.70 percent. Despite its poor performance in September, the Nasdaq did end the quarter largely in line with its peers; it returned 7.41 percent for the quarter compared with 7.71 percent for the S&P 500 and 9.63 percent for the DJIA.
These solid returns were supported by strong fundamentals.  
Per FactSet, as of quarter-end, the estimated third-quarter earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 was 19.3 percent. This would be the third-highest quarterly earnings growth rate since early 2011 and would come on top of a 25-percent growth rate in the second quarter. Ultimately, fundamentals drive long-term market performance. So, the strong expected earnings growth is worth our attention. From a technical perspective, all three indices were well above their 200-day moving averages for the month and the quarter, which indicates the trend remains positive.
Concerns around a slowdown in global trade and weakening emerging market currencies caused volatility.  
For developed markets, the MSCI EAFE Index gained 0.87 percent in September and 1.35 percent for the quarter, despite periods of heavy volatility. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index didn't fare as well, losing 0.50 percent for the month and 0.95 percent for the quarter on fears of a currency crisis and trade worries. Both indices remained below their 200-day moving averages, suggesting investors remain wary of the perceived higher risks outside the U.S.
Fixed income also had a challenging month but managed to post a gain for the quarter. The Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index declined by 0.64 percent for the month. For the quarter, however, the index eked out a small gain of 0.02 percent. These lackluster results were driven by rising rates, which negatively affect bond prices, with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield going from 2.87 percent to 3.05 percent during the quarter. Rates were driven up by signs of rising inflation as well as Federal Reserve (Fed) action. The Fed hiked rates in September and is expected to do so again in December. High-yield bonds, which are typically less influenced by interest rate movements, had a stronger month and quarter, returning 0.56 percent and 2.40 percent, respectively.
Economic expansion inspires confidence
The economic news for the quarter was substantially positive. High confidence levels were matched by strong spending growth for both businesses and consumers. In one surprising development, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index spiked to an 18-year high in September. This index is well above the levels seen in the mid-2000s and sits near the all-time highs set in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Consumers were not alone when it came to improving confidence for the month. After declining in July, both the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Manufacturing and ISM Nonmanufacturing indices bounced back significantly in August. The rise in the ISM Manufacturing index-to a 14-year high-was especially notable and showed that manufacturers remain quite confident in the ongoing economic expansion despite headwinds such as a strong dollar and trade concerns.
Rising confidence leads to higher spending
Although these high levels of confidence are encouraging, a willingness to spend does not mean much without a similar uptick in the ability to spend. Fortunately, a combination of strong job growth and rising wage growth helped on that front. Stronger-than-anticipated wage growth in August took the annual rate to a nine-year high. This increase, combined with the 201,000 new jobs that were added in August, pushed consumer spending power and kept the labor market strong. The unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent, a multiyear low, whereas the more comprehensive underemployment rate fell to a 17-year low (see Figure 1).
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