The Home 
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Evil bedbugs will devour your blood, wallet

Bedbugs are gross, incredibly expensive to get rid ofIt starts small: waking up with a few itchy red bites on your skin, and maybe finding some of their empty shells in your bedroom. But a bedbug infestation can eventually get really, really bad, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars to resolve and potentially torpedoing your home’s value in the process.
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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Was Lasik Surgery Worth It?

Today the Your Take is a bit of a selfish question about Lasik, something I’m starting to consider more seriously again. I first wrote about this a few years ago when I considered Lasik eye surgery but never pulled the trigger (I went as far as to schedule just one consultation but was a little turned off at the “used car salesman” sales tactics).

If you’ve had Lasik, I’m curious if you thought the laser surgery was “worth it?” Everything I’ve ever heard from people has been positive, outside of the relatively high costs, and I’m curious to hear from people on both sides. Are there folks who were unhappy? How much did it cost and where was it performed? Are there folks who can be more specific about what they like about their experience? I’ll probably consider it next year, especially since it seems the liquid travel restrictions on flights won’t be lifted anytime soon, and was trying to gather more information.

Thanks!


 Insurance 
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Over-The-Counter Not Eligible for Flexible Spending Accounts in 2011

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in March made a bunch of major changes to health care in America and one of them was to flexible spending accounts. Starting in 2011, over-the-counter products will not be eligible for flexible spending accounts. In fact, they will not be reimbursable under FSAs, health savings accounts (HSA), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) unless they are prescribed by a physician. There is only one exception and that’s for insulin.

This means that the days of loading up on band-aids, Tylenol and Advil, and other products you pick up in the drug section of your supermarket are no longer eligible unless your doctor prescribes it. While the rules on what is necessary documentation for reimbursement have yet to be introduced, this might start introducing additional paperwork at the doctor’s office. Advising to take two aspirin and calling it a day might have to come with a prescription.

Also, annual contribution limits to your FSA will be limited to $2,500 a year.


 Personal Finance 
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Sick Happens: How to Prepare for an Illness or Injury

Yellow AmbulanceThis latest guest post is part of our Financial Contingency Plan series and is written by none other than Donna Freedman, so please give her a kind Bargaineering welcome!

How many sick days do you have? Five? Assuming you have any at all.

Maybe you’ll never need them. But one good case of the flu in January and you’re out of luck for the rest of the year. So that strep throat you catch in April means chipping away at vacation time – assuming you have any.

Time to start thinking about how you’d handle a major ailment. Or even a minor one.

Shout-out to all you part-time workers, or to anyone else living close to the bone: How much would it take to topple your budgetary house of cards? If you missed a week’s salary, would you be able to pay your rent?

Think about these things now, before you have to – not from a gurney in the ER.

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 NEWS 
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Details on Health Care Law’s Under-26 Coverage Rules

StudyingAs you may recall, the health care bill that was recently signed into law included provisions for the extension of dependent health insurance to those under 26. Specifically – “Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.”

This week the government released the details of how this would work.
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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Health Care Reform Bill

You knew this was coming. :)

On Sunday, the House passed H.R. 3590, the Senate version of the health care bill, along with another bill (H.R. 4872 Reconciliation Act of 2010) to reconcile differences. HR 3590 was signed into law on Tuesday and the reconciliation bill, which the Senate passed yesterday.

Overall my feelings on the bill are mixed but mostly positive. I like the reform elements like preventing rescission and excluding children for coverage for pre-existing conditions. I love that we are moving a little towards preventative care versus prescriptive care, I’d like to see more of that. I’m a little mixed at some of the small business elements where employers are forced to buy insurance, but I think they are palatable because they don’t take into effect unless you have over 50 employees. I’m indifferent to the various Medicare and Medicaid elements that affect doctor payments because I am unfamiliar with how the system actually words (vs. on paper).
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 NEWS 
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House Passes Health Care Reform H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

As you’ve no doubt heard, last night the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a vote of 219-212. 3590 then heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature into law. The House also passed HR 4872 Reconciliation Act of 2010, which now heads to the Senate for a vote, needing only a simple majority. Regardless of how you feel about health care reform in general and the bill specifically, it’s important to understand what’s inside because it will affect you and your family.

Fortunately, we can rely on a straightforward recap by Reuters plus a few details from the Tax Foundation. There will be no commentary on my part to get in the way of the facts, just what’s in the bill if it’s signed by law.

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 Personal Finance 
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Insider’s Look at Drug & Vitamin Expiration Dates

VitaminsAfter my last post on drugs, vitamins and expiration dates, I received an anonymous email from someone who claims to work in the pharmaceutical industry. They wanted to share some insider knowledge on how drug and vitamin expiration dates really work. A lot of it confirms and expands on what I wrote initially but includes some first hand knowledge that corroborates what I’ve only found researching online.

So while I can’t confirm he or she works in the pharmaceutical industry, I have no reason to believe (and I think you’ll agree) what he or she says is true.

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