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2017 Marketplace Cost Trends

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Hodge & Midgley

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The open enrollment period for obtaining health coverage for 2017 through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace begins Nov. 1, 2016, and ends Jan. 31, 2017. In order for your health plan to become effective by Jan. 1, 2017, you must enroll in or change your health plan by Dec. 15, 2016.

The 2017 Marketplace looks a bit different than it did last year. To help you make the best health insurance decision for you or your family, the largest changes for this year are outlined below.

Increased Premium Costs

According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), premiums for a midlevel benchmark plan from the federal Marketplace will increase an average of 25 percent, before applying applicable subsidies. This is a significant increase when compared to the 7 percent increase in 2016 and the 2 percent increase in 2015.

Despite this increase, the Obama administration states that about 70 percent of Marketplace consumers will be able to obtain a health plan for less than $100 per month with the use of subsidies and smart shopping.

Increased Availability of Subsidies

Kevin Griffis, a spokesperson for HHS, states the “number of people eligible for tax credits will increase in 2017.” These tax credits (subsidies) are adjusted based on income level, so depending on your income, you may or may not be eligible. Visit www.healthcare.gov/lower-costs/qualifying-for-lower-costs/ for more information or to check your eligibility.

Premium prices will increase significantly, but the increased availability of subsidies is expected to help offset the cost of obtaining health coverage for many consumers.
Decreased Insurance Provider Options

Three major insurers (Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare) pulled out of the Marketplace in many states and will not offer health plans for 2017. Consequently, an estimated 1 in 5 consumers will find only one insurer with offerings for their location next year. Nationwide, however, consumers will see an average of 10 plans per insurer. Careful evaluation of available plans will be critical in finding cost-savings for consumers.

Summary

Although rates are increasing, depending on your location, it is likely that there are affordable health care offerings if all available subsidies are taken advantage of and plans are chosen with care.

The Marketplace website allows you to preview available health insurance plans and estimate plan prices based on your income and location prior to the impending open enrollment period, and even after open enrollment begins. Entering your income and location will help you determine which subsidies you are eligible for (if any) and show you the plans available in your area to help you make the best health insurance choice for you or your family.

Electrical Safety in Your Home

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

shutterstock_50455453Electrical appliances provide convenience and enjoyment for the entire family. However, items such as lamps, televisions and electrical outlets can also pose serious injury risks. To reduce the potential for danger, walk through your home and identify all the items that use electricity. After you’ve done that, use the following recommendations as precautions to reduce the risk of shock and burn injuries.

The checklist includes:

In All Rooms

  • Lights
  • Portable Electric Heating
  • Three-prong Adapters
  • Electrical Cords and Entertainment Equipment
  • Electrical Outlets and Switches
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protected Outlets

In the Kitchen

  • Countertop and Large Appliances

In All Bathrooms

  • Small Electrical Appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors)

In All Bedrooms

  • Electric Blankets

In Basement, Garage and Workshops

  • Fuse Box
  • Circuit Breaker Box
  • Electric Power Tools
  • Electrical Outlets
  • Electric Garden Tools
  • Extension Cords Used Outdoors

Download the Electrical Safety Checklist for Your Home here.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Check Your Tap Water

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

shutterstock_211391710A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research organization, revealed that there are higher-than-recommended levels of chromium-6 in the tap water being supplied to two-thirds of all Americans. EWG published an interactive map that lists its water testing results on a county-by-county basis.

Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical that occurs naturally in the environment and can be produced in high quantities by industrial projects. In addition to being a known carcinogen, chromium-6 can also cause burns, pneumonia and complications during childbirth.

If you live in an area that has high levels of chromium-6, consider purchasing a filter to remove the chemical from your water. The following are the most common filters used:

  • Ion exchange water treatment units—These units are effective in removing chromium-6. However, they need to be monitored, maintained and replaced fairly frequently.
  • Reverse osmosis filters—These filters are often more affordable and practical for residential use and are easier to find at local stores. However, they use much more energy, and you must dispose of the filtered materials.

If you aren’t sure what filter is best for you, visit EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide for further guidance.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

Large Deductible Discount

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Hedda's Hints

We recommend a large Homeowner’s policy deductible. You should save your policy for large losses that create a financial hardship. A pattern of small claims could land you with a sub-standard insurance company where you could pay an outrageous premium. Your policy is not a maintenance contract.   Protect your home’s future insurability.

Consider increasing your deductible to at least $1,000. The discount can be substantial. See How Much You Can Save!

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Top Turkey Tips

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

Whether you’re tackling a Thanksgiving turkey for the first or hundredth time, our top tips will ensure your big bird is the best it can be.

shutterstock_3222960771. Thawing a frozen turkey requires patience. The safest method is to thaw turkey in the refrigerator. Be sure to plan ahead — it takes approximately 4-5 days for a 20-pound turkey to fully defrost.

2. For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was purchased fresh or frozen. Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for fresh.

4. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.

5. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).

6. Don’t be a peeping Tom (no pun intended)! Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you’re only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

7. Remove the turkey from the oven and use an instant-read thermometer to determine temperature; it should read 165 degrees F at the thigh when it’s done. If you stuff your turkey, check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well; it should be at least 165 degrees.

8. Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 25 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.

9. Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife.

10. Before you get started with the cooking, browse our best turkey recipes to find the perfect bird for your Thanksgiving feast.

Turkey Trots in the DC Area

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Family Health & Safety

shutterstock_153409217This holiday season join friends, family, co-workers and neighbors and participate in one of the Turkey Trots in Washington, DC, Maryland or Northern Virginia. Some are for charity, some are just for fun. All will help you burn a few calories before the big Thanksgiving feast! Here is the 2016 schedule of Turkey Trots, Runs and Races:

In Washington, DC

Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger– November 24, 2016, 8:30 a.m. Beginning at Freedom Plaza, between 13th Street, NW and 12th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Sponsored by SOME (So Others Might Eat), this popular 5K fun run and family walk benefits programs for the homeless, and helps SOME to serve more than 800 meals to the hungry every day of the year.

Cranberry Crawl 5K/10K Run and Race Walk – November 19, 2016, 7:50 a.m. East Potomac Park Golf Course, 972 Ohio Drive SW, Washington DC (703) 481-3530. The annual turkey trot is sponsored by Potomac Valley Track Club.

In Maryland

Turkey Chase Bethesda–Chevy Chase YMCA – November 24, 2016, 8:30 a.m.

9401 Old Georgetown Rd. Bethesda, Maryland (301) 440-1854. 10K Race and 2 mile Fun Run. Every Thanksgiving for the past 25 years, thousands of runners have gathered in Bethesda to run in the Turkey Chase in support of the YMCA’s Youth and Family Services, YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club Foundation.

In Northern Virginia

Turkey Trot 10K/ Turkey Trot Miler
November 19, 2016, 8:30 a.m. Marine Corps Base Quantico LeJeune Hall, Quantico, Virginia. Organized by the Marine Corps Marathon, participants will kick off their Thanksgiving Day celebration with a preemptive strike against those extra holiday calories by traversing Russell Road with scenic glimpses of Chopawamsic Creek, heading back east to pass by Butler Stadium and completing their 6.2 miles at Lejeune Hall.

Alexandria Turkey Trot
November 24, 2016, 9 a.m. George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia. DC Road Runners Club, a local group affiliated with USA Track & Field, sponsors an annual race on Thanksgiving Day. Food donations support ALIVE!, a nonprofit organization serving Alexandria’s needy.

Arlington Turkey Trot – 5K Fun Run/Walk
November 24, 2016, 8 a.m. Christ Church of Arlington, 3020 North Pershing Drive, Arlington, Virginia. The run goes through Lyon Park and Ashton Heights and raises money for three local Arlington charities: Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless, Doorways for Women and Children and Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Fairfax Turkey Trot
November 24, 2016, 9 a.m. Mantua Swimming Pool , 9330 Pentland Place, Mantua, Virginia. Proceeds to benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation to support programs that help veterans thrive after they return home.

Freeze Your Gizzard 5K Cross Country Race
November 19, 2016, 9 a.m. Ida Lee Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Dr., Leesburg, Virginia (703) 777-1368. Food donations will benefit Loudoun Interfaith Relief, the largest food pantry in Loudoun County and an organization providing support to homeless shelters, low-income senior citizen housing centers and after school programs for at-risk children.

Virginia Run Turkey Trot
November 24, 2016, 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day 5k Run/2k Walk. Virginia Run Community Center, 15355 Wetherburn Court, Centreville, Virginia. Proceeds benefit Life with Cancer, a non-profit organization that enhances the quality of life of those affected by cancer by providing education, information and support.

For information on more fun runs throughout the year, see Best Running Events and Marathons in the Washington DC Area

Source: dc.about.com

November Events 2016 in DC

November 7th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

shutterstock_493381651The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host lots of annual festivals and special events. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information.

Fall Theater in Washington DC
With dozens of performances around the region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the season.

Washington Redskins
Enjoy the football season and cheer for DC’s team.

Washington Wizards Basketball
See NBA games live at the Verizon Center or enjoy the national broadcasts throughout the season.

Alexandria Film Festival
November 10-13, 2016. The festival includes a variety of films screened in and around the City of Alexandria, Virginia.

Museum Shop Around at Strathmore
November 10-13, 2016. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Shop at 16 museum shops under one roof at the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, Maryland (301) 581-5100.

Veterans Day
November 11, 2016. Honor American veterans at this event and/or attend a wreath-laying ceremony at one of the monuments in Washington, DC. See the schedule of this year’s events.

Manassas Veterans Day Parade
November 12, 2016, 11 a.m. Manassas, Virginia. The community parade includes military and high school bands, pipe and drum corps teams, military units from the various Armed Services, military vehicles, and members from local veteran organizations.

FotoWeek DC
November 12-20, 2016. The annual celebration of photography in Washington, DC, will feature programs including a photo contest and juried exhibition, gallery openings, lectures, educational workshops, portfolio reviews, book signings and more.

Holiday Craft Shows
Throughout the month of November, you will find lots of arts and crafts shows ideal for shopping for unique holiday gifts. Find here a variety of craft shows in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

National Harbor Christmas Tree Lighting
November 13, 2016, 5-7 p.m. Waterfront Plaza, National Harbor, Maryland. The waterfront community will kick off the holiday season by lighting up the sky with fireworks and a 65ft Christmas tree decorated with 20,000 lights. Sip some hot chocolate and enjoy story-telling, an ornament-making workshop and holiday music.

DC Cocktail Week
November 14-20, 2016. More than 50 Washington DC area restaurants and bars offer specially priced cocktail and food pairings to entice guests to try something new. This is a great opportunity to check out the local happy hour scene.

Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade and Illumination
November 19, 2016. Gettysburg, PA. Abraham Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address” and the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery are commemorated with a special ceremony, a parade and an illumination of the cemetery.

ICE! – Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort
November 19, 2016 – January 1, 2017. The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice weighing 1.5 MILLION POUNDS! hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit. This is an interactive holiday attraction you won’t want to miss.

Six Flags America – Holiday in the Park
November 19, 2016-January 2, 2017. Upper Marlboro, MD. The amusement park offers a holiday celebration featuring millions of glittering lights, holiday entertainment, seasonal treats, Santa’s Village, and many popular rides.

Turkey Trots in the Washington DC Area
Various Dates. A variety of organizations in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia sponsor walks and runs to raise money for charity.

Presidential Turkey Pardon
Each year, the President pardons a turkey and spares its life in celebration of Thanksgiving. See photos!

Thanksgiving Parades
Attend the annual Thanksgiving parades in Reston, Virginia and Silver Spring Maryland.

Thanksgiving Weekend in the Washington, DC Area
Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the holiday season and many wonderful activities and events begin in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Here are some ideas of fun things to do during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Black Friday in Washington DC
November 25, 2016. The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. Many stores open early and offer big sales for the holidays. See the schedule of store openings in the DC area.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
November 25, 2016 – January 6, 2017. Learn about the Christmas traditions of George Washington and his family, meet historic characters and tour the Mount Vernon Estate by candlelight.

City of Alexandria Holiday Tree Lighting
November 25, 2016, 7-9 p.m. Musical entertainment with a visit from Santa Claus in Market Square, 301 King St. (703) 838-4844

Small Business Saturday in the Washington DC Area
November 26, 2016. The Saturday after Thanksgiving has been designated as a day to shop for the holiday season at locally owned businesses to support the economy.  See a guide to Washington DC area neighborhoods that have a number of small businesses.

Nutcracker Performances
Enjoy the Christmas holiday classic ballet at a theater in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. Schedules vary, but many theatres begin their performances in late November.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Find dates and times for Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the Washington, DC area.

Christmas Light Displays
Celebrate the holiday season with a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, DC area’s spectacle of lights at a local park in DC, Maryland or Virginia.

Source: dc.about.com