The term “annuity,” as used in financial theory, is most closely related to what is today called an immediate annuity. This is an insurance policy which, in exchange for a sum of money, guarantees that the issuer will make a series of payments. These payments may be either level or increasing periodic payments for a fixed term of years or until the ending of a life or two lives, or even whichever is longer. It is also possible to structure the payments under an immediate annuity so that they vary with the performance of a specified set of investments, usually bond and equity mutual funds. Such a contract is called a variable immediate annuity. See also life annuity, below.
The overarching characteristic of the immediate annuity is that it is a vehicle for distributing savings with a tax-deferred growth factor. A common use for an immediate annuity might be to provide a pension income. In the U.S., the tax treatment of a non-qualified immediate annuity is that every payment is a combination of a return of principal (which part is not taxed) and income (which is taxed at ordinary income rates, not capital gain rates). Immediate annuities funded as an IRA do not have any tax advantages, but typically the distribution satisfies the IRS RMD requirement and may satisfy the RMD requirement for other IRA accounts of the owner (see IRS Sec 1.401(a)(9)-6.)
When a deferred annuity is annuitized, it works like an immediate annuity from that point on, but with a lower cost basis and thus more of the payment is taxed.
and went into effect in 2006).
Life insurance (or commonly final expense insurance or life assurance, especially in the Commonwealth) is a contract between an insured (insurance policy holder) and an insurer or assurer, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money (the “benefits”) in exchange for a premium, upon the death of the insured person. Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness can also trigger payment. The policy holder typically pays a premium, either regularly or as one lump sum. Other expenses (such as funeral expenses) can also be included in the benefits.
Life policies are legal contracts and the terms of the contract describe the limitations of the insured events. Specific exclusions are often written into the contract to limit the liability of the insurer; common examples are claims relating to suicide, fraud, war, riot, and civil commotion.
Health / Medicare
In July 1965, under the leadership of President Johnson, Congress created Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. Before Medicare’s creation, approximately 65% of those over 65 had health insurance, with coverage often unavailable or unaffordable to the rest, because older adults paid more than three times as much for health insurance as younger people. In 1966, Medicare spurred the racial integration of thousands of waiting rooms, hospital floors, and physician practices by making payments to health care providers conditional on desegregation.
Medicare has been in operation for a half century and, during that time, has undergone several changes. Since 1965, the provisions of Medicare have expanded to include benefits for speech, physical, and chiropractic therapy in 1972 (Medicare.gov, 2012). Medicare added the option of payments to health maintenance organizations (Medicare.gov, 2012) in the 1980s. Over the years, Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people who have permanent disabilities and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and those who have end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The association with HMOs begun in the 1980s was formalized under President Clinton in 1997. In 2003, under President George W. Bush, a Medicare program for covering almost all drugs was passed (