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    Shopping for health insurance? Beware that plan you’re buying might fall short

    Marko Geber | DigitalVision | Getty Images

    Open enrollment for health insurance is around the corner. That means if you’re shopping on your own for medical coverage, be on guard.
    New research from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that some insurance agents engaged in potentially deceptive sales practices when marketing health care coverage.

    From November 2019 through January 2020, representatives from the Congressional watchdog posed as customers shopping for insurance. The GAO’s representatives said they had pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, and said they sought coverage for those illnesses.
    Of the 31 interactions the representatives had with insurance agents, there were eight cases in which the insurance professionals engaged in “potentially deceptive marketing practices” – including claiming the pre-existing condition was covered when the health plan documents indicated otherwise.
    In one case, a sales representative told the GAO multiple times that the plan would cover diabetes and the appropriate medication, including insulin.

    The plan’s paperwork told a different story, the watchdog found.
    “Plan documents we obtained after purchase stated that pre-existing conditions and prescription drugs were not covered by the plan,” the GAO wrote.

    Plans that fail to cover pre-existing conditions come with serious financial consequences for individuals.
    “The finding that these people were offered these policies, even when they had disclosed pre-existing conditions was especially troubling,” said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
    “If they make a claim for that condition, it will not be paid,” she said.
    Open enrollment for the federal insurance marketplace kicks off on Nov. 1 and runs until Dec. 15. Get ready to do your due diligence.

    Changes to coverage mandates

    Maskot | Maskot | Getty Images

    Going back to 2014, the Affordable Care Act put in place new requirements for insurance policies sold in the individual health market.
    The law barred insurance companies from excluding coverage or assessing higher premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions.
    It also required those plans to cover a set of services, known as “essential health benefits.” Those benefits include maternity and newborn care, mental health services, prescription drug coverage and more.
    Short-term or “skinny” plans are not required to meet those standards, which means they can exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions and apply annual or lifetime limits on coverage.
    “You don’t know what you need from your coverage until you need it,” said Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, a physician and certified financial planner with Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.
    Customers purchasing these short-term plans may also be subject to medical underwriting, while ACA-compliant plans are guaranteed issued.
    These skinny plans have lower monthly premiums than their ACA-compliant counterparts.
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    Consider that a 40-year-old man who bought a “bronze” level plan on the marketplace could be paying $305 a month in premiums – and that’s before any premium tax credits – while a short-term plan could have monthly premiums that range from $55 to $573, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
    But there’s a trade-off. You’re getting lower premiums in exchange for less comprehensive coverage – which means you could be on the hook for more if you get sick.
    “It’s really critical to remember that you’re buying coverage in case you get sick,” Pollitz said. “If you’re buying a cheap policy that won’t pay your claim, then you might as well flush the money away.”
    Changes to the tax code have also helped short-term plans proliferate.
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did away with the penalty people would pay for going without qualifying health coverage under the ACA.
    As recently as the 2018 tax year, people who went without coverage were assessed a fee when they filed their federal tax returns. Either they paid $695 per uninsured adult or $347.50 for each child or they were assessed 2.5% of their yearly household income.
    Those penalties went away on federal returns in 2019. However, some states — including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.– will still hit taxpayers with a penalty on their state return for falling short on insurance coverage.

    Be informed

    FatCamera | E+ | Getty Images

    Here are a few things to bear in mind as you gear up for open enrollment
    Maintain a healthy skepticism over rock-bottom premiums: You could wind up shelling out if your short-term policy doesn’t cover an illness. “If you see a cheap policy and it’s less than $100 a month, then a red flag should go up,” said Pollitz of Kaiser Family Foundation.
    Ask about premium subsidies if you’re on the marketplace: Plans sold on the federal marketplace cover essential health benefits, but the premiums can be costly.
    A premium tax credit is available to families with income that’s up to 400% of the federal poverty level – $25,750 for a family of four in 2020 — if they purchase coverage through the insurance marketplace.
    Kaiser Family Foundation has a calculator here to help hash out premiums.
    Make sure it’s ACA-compliant: “I recommend that everyone buy coverage that is guaranteed issue – no medical underwriting – and has essential benefits,” McClanahan said.
    “The phrase to use is ‘ACA-compliant,'” she said. “If it isn’t ACA-compliant, then walk away.” More

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    How Congress could still reach a stimulus deal to get more $1,200 checks to Americans

    Niko_Cingaryuk | iStock | Getty Images

    The stimulus stalemate has turned into a high-stakes political battle in an election year.
    But if Democrats and Republicans are able to come to a compromise, Americans could receive more money as soon as October.

    The crux of the disagreement comes down to how much and what kind of aid to provide. However, the  November election could ultimately lead politicians on both sides of the aisle to decide whether or not to budge.
    “We’re in a place where a lot of it is going to depend on the polls right now,” said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.
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    President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that Democrats do not want to give Americans more stimulus payments.
    While both sides of the aisle back a second round of stimulus checks, the Democrats’ proposal has been more generous. The HEROES Act, which was passed by the House in May, called for payments that would increase the amount dependents receive to $1,200, for a family maximum of $6,000.

    “Maybe what you heard a little bit from Trump yesterday was a little bit of a primal scream,” Gleckman said, as the president works to convince the American public that he is successfully handling Covid-19 pandemic and economic response.
    “The question is will he be willing to do something he has rarely done, perhaps never done, in his administration, which is really take the lead on something and stand up and say, ‘This is my legislative priority,'” Gleckman said.

    ‘Heavy-duty campaign season’

    Getting a deal done will not just be determined by party lines. It will also depend on which congressional seats are up for reelection, and how secure lawmakers’ chances are for getting voted in again.
    “We’ve also run now into heavy-duty campaign season,” Gleckman said.
    That creates conflicting issues between the Democratic and Republican base, he said.
    House Democrats in swing districts may feel vulnerable, Gleckman noted, while some Republican senators could be in trouble.

    The whole challenge now is to try to figure out whether or not there’s some middle ground.

    Howard Gleckman
    senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

    Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will likely not forward a bill that has approval from a majority of Democrats and only some Republicans.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the other hand, will likely resist a package that only includes approval from moderate Democrats while leaving out the party’s far-left progressives.
    “The whole challenge now is to try to figure out whether or not there’s some middle ground,” Gleckman said.

    Stimulus checks could go out very quickly

    People wait for their numbers to be called at an unemployment event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on July 15, 2020.
    Photo by Nick Oxford for The Washington Post via Getty Images

    On Wednesday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC that he is the most optimistic he has been that both sides of the aisle can come to an agreement.
    “If there’s going to be a deal that actually helps us make a soft landing, I think that deal has to happen in the next week to 10 days,” Meadows said.
    If Congress is able to approve a bill next week, more money could get to Americans in October before the election, Gleckman said.
    That goes particularly for another round of stimulus checks, which most people now receive in the form of direct deposits.
    The IRS and Treasury Department could get most of that money out to Americans in a “matter of weeks,” Gleckman said.

    A protester blocks the street leading to the Washington, D.C., home of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., demanding the extension of unemployment aid, on July 22, 2020.
    Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

    Enhanced federal unemployment benefits would likely take more time as some states are already struggling to manage claims, he said.
    Any additional aid to states could reach people in a month or two.
    The biggest obstacle right now in getting something done is time, Gleckman said.
    “The closer you get to the election, the more difficult it is to do this, because all of those tensions just get exacerbated,” Gleckman said. “The political rhetoric gets more and more amplified.” More

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    Schumer, Warren propose forgiving $50,000 in student debt for borrowers due to pandemic

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced a resolution Thursday that would broadly cancel federal student loan debt due to the coronavirus crisis.  
    The resolution calls on President Donald Trump to take executive action to forgive up to $50,000 in debt for borrowers.

    The economic aftermath from the pandemic, which caused unemployment to spike and wages to fall, has made it nearly impossible for many borrowers to repay their college loans, the senators said.

    “The current public health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the urgency to respond to a student loan crisis that continues to disproportionately affect Black borrowers and other borrowers of color, women, veterans and low-income families,” Ashley Harrington, the advocacy director and senior counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, said in a statement.
    “We applaud Senators Warren and Schumer for drafting a plan that would provide crucial student debt relief to at least 44 million borrowers who owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans.”
    Joining the resolution are Senators Sherrod Brown, D-OH, Richard J. Durbin, D-IL, Bernard Sanders, I-VT, Tammy Duckworth, D-IL, Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Edward J. Markey, D-MA, Cory Booker, D-NJ, Robert Menendez, D-NJ,  and Ron Wyden (D-OR), according to a statement.
    The Department of Education has offered some relief by pausing payments on federal student loans until the end of the year. It remains to be seen if borrowers will get more assistance in a second stimulus package.
    In the meantime, even private student loan servicers are now amenable to temporary hardship accommodations, often on a case-by-case basis.
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    9 million Americans will get letters about missing stimulus checks. Here's where those notices are going

    Sarah Casillas | DigitalVision | Getty Images

    The IRS has a message for about 9 million Americans: You could still be eligible for a $1,200 stimulus check.
    The government has sent out about 160 million stimulus checks since legislation authorized those payments in the spring.

    Still, millions of Americans have yet to receive any money for one key reason: They typically don’t file federal tax returns, usually because their income is too low, and consequently do not have information on file with the IRS.
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    Those Americans have until Oct. 15 to use the tax agency’s non-filer tool to register to receive their payments this year. Those who cannot access the online tool can file a simplified paper return instead.
    The IRS is mailing about 9 million letters to Americans to notify them of the deadline as part of its last push for a public awareness campaign that began in March.
    Receiving a letter does not guarantee that an individual or family is eligible for the money. They must also meet certain qualifications, including having a valid Social Security number, holding U.S. citizen or resident alien status, and not having been claimed as someone else’s dependent on a federal income tax return. More information on eligibility requirements can be found on the IRS website.

    The agency released a state-by-state breakdown including how many letters will go out in order to help local and state officials and organizations get the word out about the coming deadline.
    The chart below shows which states are receiving the most letters, as well as which areas are receiving the most notifications based on their populations. More

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    Nearly 8 million people may get a piece of $2.7 billion in health insurance rebates this year

    zoranm | E+ | Getty Images

    Your health insurance company may owe you some money.
    Depending on how you get your coverage, you could be one of the 7.9 million policyholders expected to get a piece of about $2.7 billion in premium rebates from various insurers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. While such refunds are issued yearly, the anticipated amount would be nearly double the $1.4 billion issued last year.

    Generally, you’re more likely to get a rebate — or already have received one in recent weeks — if you have an individual policy (including through a state health exchange or the federal one) or participate in a small- or large-group plan, said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow with the foundation. Many of the biggest U.S. employers choose to self-insure, which means their plans don’t have to adhere to certain requirements placed on insurance companies. Different rules also apply to Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

    The average rebate in 2019 was $208, although that figure varied widely from state to state. In Kansas, for instance, each eligible person got an average of $1,359, according to Kaiser research. In Delaware it was zero.
    So why are  rebates going out? Basically, insurance companies that sell group or individual policies must adhere to a “medical loss ratio” that requires the insurer to spend no more than 20% of premiums paid by enrollees on administration, marketing, salaries and the like. The remainder, 80%, must be spent on health-care costs and certain other expenses related to patient health. (Sometimes that ratio is 85/15.)
    Each year, the ratio is calculated based on a rolling three-year average, Pollitz said. So the rebates this year are based on data from 2017, 2018 and 2019. Insurers typically either send a check to policyholders or deduct the rebate from premiums (and send a check to individuals no longer enrolled but due a piece). 
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    There’s also something else at play, however: Insurance companies aren’t having a bad year, profit-wise. While they’ve paid out for claims related to treatment of coronavirus patients, they’ve paid far less than projected on claims related to elective medical procedures, Pollitz said.
    This means their ratio may be out of whack for 2020 — which would potentially cause even bigger rebates next year.
    Or, insurers can take action this year to bring that ratio into line.
    “For example, if they reduce their premium now, the [ratio] looks better,” Pollitz said.

    Already, many insurers have changed their cost-sharing structures temporarily to reduce the amount that their policyholders pay out of pocket, including through reduced premiums or waived co-pays, for example. In typical years, this type of mid-year shift on premiums is disallowed, but the federal government has eased rules to permit it.
    “The thought was that people who are struggling during the economic crisis would appreciate this relief and help some to maintain coverage they might not otherwise be able to afford,” Pollitz said.
    As for what could happen to your monthly 2021 premiums, early estimates by insurers have been all over the board — some have noted a modest decrease while others have pegged an increase in the double digits, according to Kaiser research. Basically, uncertainty persists in the industry.
    Although the average of all the early estimates landed fairly low, “most insurers reserve the right to come back and amend their filings,” Pollitz said.
    “So it’s really hard to say at this point what will happen,” she said.
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    Cramer to investors: If Congress approves a stimulus bill, 'you can't be out of this market'

    CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday that investors will want to have money in the stock market if Congress approves another coronavirus relief bill. 
    “If we get a stimulus package and you’re out of the market, you will feel awful,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.” “I do feel the stimulus package is very hard to get. But if we do get it, you can’t be out of this market.” 

    Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been locked in a stalemate since late July after key provisions of the March $2.2 trillion rescue package expired. The two sides are largely at odds over the scale and scope of an additional relief package, with Democrats favoring more expansive legislation while GOP negotiators have been pushing for a more limited bill. 
    President Donald Trump, who took some executive actions last month designed to extend aid to unemployed Americans, indicated at a news conference Wednesday evening that he would be willing to support legislation around $1.5 trillion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has repeatedly called on Republicans to support a bill worth about $2 trillion.
    On Wednesday morning, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, one of the administration’s main stimulus negotiators, told CNBC that he was “probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal in the last 72 hours than I have been in the last 72 days.” 
    Cramer has warned that without additional stimulus for the U.S. economy, devastated by business restrictions designed to limit the spread of Covid-19, the stock market’s rally from its March 23 pandemic low could be a risk.
    Tech stocks, which have been the main driver of the market rebound, experienced weakness this month, pushing the Nasdaq last week briefly into a correction by dropping over 10% from its record high on Sept. 2. Tech stocks were falling again Thursday.

    Cramer reiterated Thursday, before the stock market opened, that investors should probably take some profits in tech, even if there is a stimulus bill approved. “Just cut down the exposure to the highest tech stocks,” he said.
    Also on Thursday, Cramer expressed concern about the signal that the doubling of Snowflake stock on its first day of trading sends about the overall market.
    “I think that the amount of money that the institutions had to spend to be able to get their second half of Snowflake after they get their first part on the IPO shows that there is very little discipline,” Cramer said earlier on “Squawk Box.” “That does not bode well.”
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    Op-ed: What matters for cannabis investors heading into the November elections

    Chopsticks are used to carry the buds as card-carrying medical marijuana patients watch a weighing at Los Angeles’ first-ever cannabis farmer’s market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer’s of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state.
    FREDERIC J. BROWN | AFP | Getty Images

    Chuck Schumer on Tuesday highlighted what many following the cannabis trade already knew: Cannabis is a bipartisan issue that will be a pivotal election issue with votes attached to all political supporters. 
    Cannabis investors also know there are two reasons why leading cannabis companies in the U.S. are outperforming even the manic market moves of Apple and Amazon over the last six months: opportunity and execution.

    So, who should be more excited about embracing this generational movement, investors or politicians?  And with so much hope around the November election, will the politicians seize the cannabis moment or kill the buzz? 
    After years of playing second fiddle to Canadian cannabis companies who were able to list on U.S. stock exchanges and raise money from U.S. investors while they could only do this in Canada (or anywhere not in the USA), U.S. cannabis companies have recently stepped to the front of the pack. And after more than two years of promise with no delivery, the cannabis industry is finally delivering profitability.
    Second-quarter earnings from the largest U.S. focused companies showed not only robust sequential and year-over-year growth, but free-cash-flow generation and yes, wait for it, EBITDA.  Many cannabis companies are bringing earnings dynamics to the party that was previously all about the extraordinary opportunity in legal medical and adult cannabis markets.
    As for cannabis politics, the legislative future of the industry will not be won or lost this November in the White House, but rather Congress.
    The cannabis industry is not particularly thrilled by the prospect of a second Donald Trump term or a Joe Biden presidency. The current president appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, who removed Obama-era protections given to the industry. Biden, meanwhile, has opposed marijuana reform for his entire political career, as both a senator and vice president. Biden’s eventual position on cannabis may be coming from his VP running mate, Kamala Harris, who has championed important cannabis legislation (despite a rather harsh stance on the subject as a prosecutor).

    Cannabis legislation needs the Senate and the current majority leader is not publicly onboard – despite his state having made significant commitments to hemp/CBD and cannabis. 
    Before the coronavirus pandemic and election season amplified political turmoil in Washington, it almost seemed like U.S. elected officials were working together on bi-partisan cannabis legislation.
    Republicans and Democrats both came together to pass the historic First Step Act, which reduced the amount of time prisoners serve for minor drug related offenses. Lawmakers in the House voted to move the SAFE Banking Act into the Senate (with 91 House Republican votes in favor), where it was expected to pass and finally provide the cannabis industry access to the federal banking system. 
    Decriminalization and expungement are the core issues Senator Schumer focused on when discussing the future of cannabis legislation and where there is extreme opposition in the Senate. Despite the industry’s classification as an essential business during Covid-19, and it’s role supporting the U.S. economy during a time of mass layoffs and furloughs, cannabis remains illegal on the federal level.  
    Because of the federal restrictions, U.S. cannabis companies cannot bank legally, raise money in traditional capital markets, and endure punitive and financially devastating tax laws. The SAFE Banking act is a great first step towards solving the complex banking issues that will lead to much needed reform in the cannabis marketplace, and investors know that banking and tax reform for the sector will equal another massive round of rerating for the sector.
    Yet investors must recognize despite the optimism for change in November, D.C. is a slow-moving machine and meaningful and long overdue criminal justice reform is going to take time absent major political change in the Senate. If there is real change, the prospects of the MORE Act and it’s long overdue criminal justice reform and expungements could very well become reality. 

    What’s the clearest path to cannabis victory?:

     The most efficient way to achieve major policy victories is through the SAFE Banking Act and STATES Act (the latter of which would prevent federal interference in states where cannabis is already legalized). Both pieces of legislation enjoy bipartisan support: SAFE already passed Congress, while a Republican and Democrat both introduced STATES (Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren). 
    The SAFE Banking Act would provide cannabis a pathway to updated regulatory guidance and allow the industry access to the federal banking system. The STATES Act would essentially deregulate cannabis from the federal level to the state level (where it belongs given that so many states have legalized the substance), unchaining markets and allowing growers, retailers, and patients the ability to access the plant-based medicine with ease. While decriminalization and post-conviction relief are very important measures, we need to use the momentum at our back.  
    For investors looking to November, it will be up to Congress to determine the future of cannabis. By safeguarding existing state laws on cannabis  and providing future access to legitimate financial institutions, lawmakers will lock in progress and pave the way for full legalization and a more sensible justice system. When that legislation is ultimately combined with the operational execution/profitability we are currently seeing by top companies in the sector (see Curaleaf, Cresco Labs, Trulieve, GTI, Terrascend), the next wave of rerating will be here. 
    Is it time to invest in that future now? Markets don’t ring the dinner bell and often reward those who sit at the table early for major secular investment themes.
    Are you sitting down yet?
    Tim Seymour is a CNBC contributor and trader on CNBC’s “Fast Money” and senior advisor to the JW Asset Management Cannabis Growth Fund, portfolio manager of the Amplify Seymour Cannabis ETF, Ticker CNBS, Follow him on Twitter @timseymour
    Brady Cobb is the CEO of Bluma Wellness-One Plant.
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    These hidden fees are taking a bite out of your retirement savings

    Ariel Skelley

     The cost of investing in your 401(k) plan at work is hitting new lows. Too bad hidden fees can chomp away at your savings.
    Generally, it’s cheaper to invest in your retirement plan at work, versus going out on your own to shop for mutual funds.

    For example, the average expense ratio for an equity mutual fund in a 401(k) plan was 0.39% in 2019, according to the Investment Company Institute. In comparison, the general average expense ratio for equity mutual funds was 1.24%.
    Investors are also generally paying less to invest in their plans now than in previous years: Back in 2000, plan participants were paying an average expense ratio of 0.77% for a stock mutual fund in their 401(k).

    Nevertheless, the cost of investing tells only part of the story.
    Participants are still shelling out for other plan expenses — and they continue to dig into their pockets for one-off costs, including distribution fees once they pull cash from the 401(k).
    Even splitting a retirement plan account in accordance with a divorce settlement — known as a qualified domestic relations order — carries a fee that ranges from $200 to $500, according to new data from Human Interest, a plan provider specializing in small to medium-sized businesses.

    “This is a place where there are a bunch of hidden fees, and what can you do as an employee?” said Jeff Schnebel, CEO of Human Interest. “Not a lot.”

    Downward pressure on 401(k) costs

    There are two major drivers behind falling investment expenses in 401(k) plans in recent years.
    First, back in 2012, the Labor Department mandated fee disclosure for retirement plans.
    That effort required plan service providers to formally divulge their costs to employers, so that plan sponsors could ensure the fees were reasonable.
    Employers are also required to provide 401(k) investors with fee disclosures at least annually. Check with your benefits representative if you haven’t received one. You’re likely able to access it online through your plan’s recordkeeper or you may receive a disclosure on paper in the mail.

    Those fees don’t get headlines because that’s not what 401(k) lawsuits are focused on.

    Aaron Pottichen
    senior vice president at Alliant Retirement Consulting

    Second, plaintiffs’ attorneys began pursuing large retirement plans in court. The lawyers would allege that employers breached their fiduciary responsibilities by choosing costly investments that underperformed other low-cost funds.
    Even with those developments, high costs may still lurk — particularly for plans with fewer assets and less bargaining power. Businesses with higher asset levels tend to be eligible for institutional pricing, which helps keep costs down.
    For instance, total plan costs can vary from 0.38% for the largest plans to 1.42% for the smallest plans, according to an analysis of 22,000 retirement plans conducted by Morningstar.
    Small plans — those with less than $1 million in assets — can have investment expenses as high as 0.95% and plan expenses of 0.47%, Morningstar found.

    One-off costs

    Shapecharge

    You don’t hear much about check fees and other one-off expenses from retirement plans because they depend on specific events at the employee level.
    “Those fees don’t get headlines because that’s not what 401(k) lawsuits are focused on,” said Aaron Pottichen, senior vice president at Alliant Retirement Consulting in Austin, Texas.
    “These one-off fees are based on specific actions employees take as opposed to being in the plan,” he said.
    But those expenses could sting for savers with smaller balances or for retirees who kept their savings in their 401(k) and draw down a check every month.
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    “A younger investor with $1,000 saved who’s being charged $50 here and $25 there — that could be your entire return if you’re earning 5%,” said Tony Isola, a certified financial planner at Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York.
    What a service provider charges for a task, like reversing an excess contribution to a 401(k) plan, will vary from one company to the other.
    “For some of these transactions, there’s legitimate work that needs to be done behind the scenes to make sure the paperwork is correct,” said Pottichen. “Distributions, loans, hardship withdrawals and qualified domestic relations orders have the highest fees.”

    What you can do

    Employers ultimately are responsible for choosing vendors, but employees should keep themselves informed of extra fees that might ding their accounts.
    “The vendor has a fee schedule for these one-off fees and expenses, and it’s usually a document that will be provided to the participant,” said David Blanchett, head of retirement research at Morningstar Investment Management Group.
    Still, if you’re retiring, and you’d rather avoid a monthly fee for taking a distribution, talk to your employer.
    “Go to your recordkeeper or your employer and ask how you can erase the fee if you’re taking periodic distributions for income,” said Pottichen.
    “Plan sponsors want to keep assets in the plan because if they have higher balances, it helps bring down costs,” he said. More