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Practice Fireplace & Home Fire Safety

As the weather turns cold, there are few things more satisfying and enjoyable than a warm fire. An article by the U.S. Fire Administration and an accompanying checklist provide useful tips for protecting your home from the single greatest holiday season threat to your home: FIRE. – David

Fireplace & Home Fire Safety

Published: December, 2013 By U.S. Fire Administration, a division of FEMA
Photo by Brian Patrick Flynn (see Original_Brian-Patrick-Flynn-Holiday-House-fireplace-room)

More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels.

Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) encourages you to practice the following fire safety steps to keep those home fires safely burning. Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You!.

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The Affordable Care Act: Continued

The ACA- Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”, is not a new law, but 2014 is the big year when the most impactful parts of the law get implemented.  By purchasing coverage through the Federal Exchange, individuals can qualify for tax credits called subsidies.

Changes in 2014-Subsidies

Subsidies are the most intriguing feature of the new law.  In fact, subsidies are precisely how Obamacare will make health insurance “affordable;” lower income individuals will qualify for a subsidy, funded by the tax-payors, to offset the cost of their premiums.  The below points summarize the parameters regarding subsidies:

  • A health insurance subsidy is a tax credit
  • The subsidy can be paid to the Insurer by the Government on a monthly basis, thereby lowering one’s monthly premium payment.
  • The “MAGI”-Modified Adjusted Gross Income- is the basis by which the amount of subsidy an individual qualifies for is determined.
  • Those earning between 100% and 400% of Federal Poverty qualify for a sliding scale subsidy: that’s about $11,500 to $46,000 for an individual and about $23,500 to $94,000 for a family of four. Only individual plans purchased through a Federally Facilitated Marketplace (the FFM) are subsidy-eligible.
  • (Small business owners qualify for additional tax credits by purchasing plans on the Small Business Health Options Program Exchange called the SHOP)

To date, four carriers – Coventry, Consumer’s Choice, BlueCross BlueShield of SC, and BlueChoice Health Plan – offer plans through the FFM.  If you think you qualify for a subsidy, contact Sandhills Insurance Group for assistance with applying for coverage: or call (843) 251-4896.