Health Screenings Provide Health and Financial Benefits to Businesses

Corporate health screenings are a growing trend for companies seeking ways to reduce expenditures and provide a better quality of health for employees. By encouraging and maintaining the wellness of workers, the possibility of preventing potential health problems increases, which can result in lowering medicals costs associated with treating a condition in its advanced stage. Implementing preventive health care programs that include regular health screenings, immunizations and education is the first line of defense against health problems and rising health expenditures for businesses.

Chronic illnesses and health conditions can decrease employee productivity and increase absenteeism and presenteeism, which greatly impacts a company’s bottom line. In fact, The Human Resources Policy Association puts the annual cost of reduced productivity for businesses between $87 and $127 billion. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and complications from obesity are listed by The Center for Disease Control as illnesses most commonly uncovered during health screenings. If undetected and left untreated, problems resulting from these conditions can disrupt every aspect of an employee’s life, including productivity in the workplace.

“Preventive health care is an efficient and effective method of identifying and treating possible health conditions before they have the opportunity to develop or worsen,” says Dr. Jeffrey Greiff, founder of Flu Busters, a third-party provider of on-site preventive health care for businesses. “When a potential health condition is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be easily remedied and can prevent more serious conditions, resulting in a much healthier patient over time.”

An Employer Health Benefits Survey found from 2002 to 2007, health insurance premiums for businesses increased approximately five times faster than inflation and four times faster than wage growth. As health insurance premiums continue to increase throughout the 2008 – 2009 fiscal year, analysts believe health care costs are a threat to the financial success of American businesses. Businesses are discovering the economic benefits of preventing and identifying employee health problems before they become serious ailments by offering annual on-site health screenings that improve and protect employees’ current and future state of health.

A common deterrent for employees against receiving health screenings and immunization by a primary care physician is that the medical services can interrupt an employee’s busy day resulting in wasted time and energy. Third-party health care providers are gaining popularity in the business world due to their ability to provide on-site services to companies of any size. So, how does it work?

Health screenings are available to companies of all sizes and can be provided on-site by a team of experienced health professionals. Prior to a health screening, information sheets are provided to make recommendations on what screenings would be most beneficial for an employee based on individual circumstances, such as, age, sex and family history. The actual screening takes only minutes and employees receive most screening results within minutes of the actual screening. A post-screening consultation with a registered health professional, as well as an online customized wellness program is offered to address any existing or potential health issues that may have been uncovered in the screening. From the initial screening to the post-screening consultation phase, the screening participants are actively assisted in developing solutions that will enable them to lead healthier, more productive and fulfilling lives.

Even through economic hardships, businesses can still provide employees with quality health care by focusing on prevention. Routine health screenings and immunizations can identify and prevent illnesses, resulting in healthier employees, lower insurance premiums, increased productivity and decreased absenteeism. Businesses that establish a comprehensive wellness plan are investing in their employees, and ultimately, the company’s success.

The Top 10 Mistakes You Can Make to Ensure You Fail in Your Network Marketing Business

This article uses a tongue in cheek approach to point out mistakes that people make in the direct selling industry every day that is detrimental to the success of their own business. Below are ten common mistakes made by people who decide they want to own their own direct selling business and they are not listed in any specific order of importance either.

1. Lie and disrespect everyone around you (Honesty and respect).

If my lips are moving, I’m lying. This product cures every disease on the planet and on Mars. Trust me.

Truth in “who” you are and “what” you do is the foundation of the direct selling industry. You become a personal brand and represent a company, and organization, and a product line. By lying and treating people poorly casts a shadow over you, your company and the industry and people will judge everyone else they come in contact with in this industry with disdain.

You have to be the shining light for all to see that this industry is a legitimate business. People will join you and work with you instead of running the other way. Your reputation and the company’s reputation must pass the TEST so that your business grows.

2. Do not Market your products.

Now that I won my own business people will flock to me and hand me all their money and I don’t even have to get up off my lazy boy chair.

Marketing, meeting with people, or telling others about your business is the only way people know you exist. You have to get the word out about what you do and what you offer. If you choose not to do this portion of your business then you are doomed. You are just as doomed if by chance you don’t know how and are unwilling to learn just the same.

Some key examples of marketing.

  • Prospecting
  • Networking
  • Referrals
  • Word of mouth

3. Closed (do not speak with anyone).

Go away, we’re closed. Come back tomorrow.

Your hours of operation are extremely important. Why would you own a business and not open your shop? How does this apply to me? If you are not speaking to people about your business, then your business is closed. If you are not selling what you offer, then your business is closed. Get the point?

Bottom line is: Closed mouth is a Closed Business. When your mouth is open your business is open.

Word of caution: Do not vomit on everyone about your business. Learn how to work your offerings into conversations without body slamming people right away with your sales pitch. Slapping someone with your pitch before you even know who they are or how you can help them is wrong. You have to build rapport and trust as people buy you before they buy your product or business.

4. Sell for a loss or give away the store- no profits.

Don’t worry I will give you a home boy discount. I will cut you a break and pay for your products myself so you can keep coming back and basking for more.

Undervaluing or devaluing your products is not a smart move. A lot of people will offer their products at wholesale cost or even at a loss in order to attract and keep customers. The problem is that you, more than likely, do not sell enough in volume to make a profit. Businesses that don’t make a profit don’t stay in business very long.

In addition, you tell your customers that your products are overvalued and you don’t believe they are worth the suggested retail cost, and if you don’t value the cost then your customers won’t value the cost either.

5. Do not Re-invest back into your business.

Why should you put money back into your business operation? Answer… Operating Costs.

When you sell your products and you spend the money that’s not a good thing. You should set aside the money so you can buy more products, attend trainings and events, and purchase development materials for your own personal growth. When you manage the money from your sales the right way you should never have to use money from your personal accounts after your initial investment. If by chance you are not doing so, start right now. Set up your business budget with a separate bank account as you do not want to co-mingle your business funds with your personal funds.

6. Hire a ton of people.

I need a personal assistant and a driver now that I’m a big hot shot business owner. I’m CEO of my own company!

When starting out you should have no or few employees to help you in your business. In fact, don’t consider hiring for your business until you hit certain levels of success and you have steady income from your business that supports the decision of having employee support.

One are you might consider outsourcing is your personal chores. Hire neighborhood kids to mow your lawn, or delegate that to your children if they are capable and teach them how to operate their own lawn care business.

7. Don’t pay your bills and taxes.

Pay your bills. Nuff said! Hmmmph!

No joke, make sure you pay your bills and on time so you eliminate late fees. This is an area that will help you reduce and eliminate your personal debt. Focus on building your business so that you can set aside some of the money to help pay those bills. Make sure you counsel with a successful leader in your success line so they can guide you and help you to not mistakes that will in turn hurt your business and slow down your business growth.

Taxes – pay your taxes: Self-employment tax, federal, state, and local. Where applicable pay your sales tax as well.

8. Stop learning (Closed mind).

I don’t need that stuff. I’m the smartest person I know. Just ask me, I’ll tell you I’m right.

You should schedule time daily for personal development. Improving your skills or understanding is a must if you want to lead others. No one wants to follow a dummy. Ignorance is a detriment and can only be cured by you spending time reading books and listening to tapes, cd’s, and web/pod casts. Attending your support organization’s or company’s events is very valuable and important for your growth and the growth of your entire team.

If you are the only one in your organization right now, you won’t be for long. At least that’s the goal of not to be the only one in your organization. You must be able to lead yourself if you are to lead the many. Personal development allows you to relate to as many people as you possibly can. Leaders are readers and help others to see the value in personal development.

9. Don’t schedule your time (I’ll work it when I work it).

Come and go as you please, ignore your family time and play video games all day. Wasting time is a primary enemy for this industry.

As an employee we are accustomed to a time structure we must follow. You are mandated when you are to arrive at work, when to take your breaks and lunches and when the work day ends. By the time we get home, most of us don’t want to follow a schedule unless we want to watch our favorite program on TV.

You must work a calendar into your life. Set aside all the time you cannot work your business. This includes work, church, family, volunteering, and any other time that you cannot absolutely use to dedicate to your own business. Then find the time in your weekly schedule when you can dedicate to working and building your business. Hint: You are going to have to give up some TV and video game time until you are making enough money to where you can buy back time from your job.

10. Break the law; don’t follow your company’s policies or code of conduct.

Who wakes up and says today I’m breaking the law?

Keep in mind that your company may offer products in other countries. Also keep in mind that ignorance of the law of another country is no excuse and do not assume what’s legal in your host country is legal in another country.

Make sure your company has authorization to operate in a specific country before you start selling your goods there. Packaging, compensation, marketing, and distribution are all examples of key areas where laws differ drastically from one country to another, and if your company does not have an official operation in place for a specific country than don’t focus on building your business there.

In addition, make sure you know what you can say versus what you cannot say during conversations and presentations. You cannot make or guarantee income claims or health claims. You cannot diagnose or offer cures for disease or health ailments unless you are a certified medical professional.

In conclusion, evaluate your own business and your mental attitude you have relating to each are discussed and see what changes you can make to improve your likelihood of success. No one can guarantee your success and by following this article as a guideline does not guarantee it either. However, by ignoring the basic fundamentals that allow success you almost guarantee your failure. Who wants to improve their chances of failure?

Coffee and direct selling is a perfect match. You don’t have to educate or teach people about coffee. Healthy coffee is even a better product line. People can keep drinking their coffee and now receive better nutrition. They can enjoy and experience a healthy full flavored organic coffee that has over 150 antioxidants infused into very cup with its herbal ingredients.

Travel Inoculation – Know The Facts Before You Travel

There is nothing like the thrill of exploring and discovering other peoples and cultures as we travel the world. However, there is a serious side to travel. Visiting a foreign country also means that we are exposed to bacterias and viruses that we may otherwise not come into contact with in our own country. This is why travel inoculation is so important. In many cases, it can save our lives.

The subject of travel inoculation causes great amounts of confusion and anxiety in many travelers. The type of travel inoculation required will greatly depend on the time of the year that you will be traveling and the geography of the destination that you will be traveling to (e.g. rural, urban or forested areas). Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to be aware of what can be contracted in different parts of the world.

Cholera can be caught from contaminated food, particularly shellfish and water. Symptoms include severe diahrrea and vomiting. Cholera immunisation is no longer necessary for international travelers. However immunisation against Cholera for aid workers staying for long periods in known high risk areas, or those who have an underlying gastro-intestinal condition, is highly recommended. Countries: African, Indian, Far East, Central and South American subcontinents, and parts of Eastern Europe

Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated food, water and personal contact. It is associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea. Travel inoculation of combined Hepatitis A and B, or Hepatitis A and Typhoid, should be given 2 weeks prior to departure. Countries: African, Indian, Far East, Central and South American subcontinents, and parts of Eastern Europe

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver which can be fatal. This disease can be contracted through contact with infected blood (e.g. in drug transfusion), bodily fluids (e.g. in sexual intercourse), blood-to-blood contact (e.g. sharing of contaminated needles), or by a human bite from an infected person. Hepatitis B is easier to catch than HIV as it is more concentrated in the infected person’s bloodstream and can exist on surfaces outside the body. Travel inoculation is administered in 3 doses, the second dose administered one month after the first, and the third dose administered five months later. Once a blood test proves your immunity, you will be protected for life. A combined Hepatitis A and B inoculation is available. Countries: Sub-Saharan Africa, most of Asia and the Pacific Islands, the Amazon:

Japanese Encephalitis is a disease that is passed on to humans through bites from infected mosquitos normally in tropical surroundings. The symptoms are mild, although in severe cases, the disease can cause brain inflammation. Travel inoculation should be administered one month prior to travel in 3 doses. Countries: Far East, South-East Asia, tropical North-East Australia

Malaria is a tropical disease that is passed on to humans by mosquitos carrying this virus. Symptoms appear 10 days to 4 weeks after infection and include fever, chills, flu-like symptoms of muscular aches and headaches, diarrhea and nausea. A course of anti-malarial tablets must be started up to 3 weeks prior to departure, should continue to be taken abroad, and taken for a further 4 weeks after return. Extra precautions such as mosquito nets and insect repellants must be used as the tablets are not 100% effective. Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

Typhoid fever is the result of a bacteria contracted from contaminated food, water and person to person contact in areas where hygiene is poor. Causing fever, diarrhoea, and serious illness, Typhoid can be fatal. The inoculation should be administered one month prior to departure. However, care should still be taken with food (e.g. do not eat fruit unless you have pealed it yourself), water(e.g. drinking only bottled water with seal intact) and personal hygiene as the travel inoculation is not 100% effective. A combined Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccine is available. Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

Yellow fever is a serious viral disease that is found only in tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa and is also spread by mosquito bites. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, jaundice and bleeding. This disease can be fatal, and some countries, particularly East Africa, require a certificate of vaccination prior to entry. The travel inoculation should be administered 10 days prior to departure date and lasts for 10 years. Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

Meningococcal Meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis that affects the brain membrane. This infection can be spread by direct close contact with nose and throat discharge (e.g. through sneezing) of an infected person. Symptoms include high fevers, severe headaches, discomfort when looking at bright lights, purple bruising, vomiting and sometimes chills or fever. There are 3 strains of the disease that are not covered in the common preventative immunisations commonly vaccinated for in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. These uncommon strains, A, W, and Y, can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia requires vaccination of pilgrims to Mecca during the Hajj. Travel Inoculation should be administered 3 weeks prior to trip. Countries: Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Saudi Arabia

Poliomyelitis (Polio) is caused by a virus that can be contracted from contaminated food and water and person to person contact. Particularly common in Indian subcontinents and sub-Saharan Africa, those infected are often unaware of that they have the disease. In severe cases, it can cause paralysis and difficulty in breathing. Polio is immunised against in countries like the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, as a preventative measure, check with your doctor prior to your trip for a booster dose. Countries: Indian subcontinents and sub-Saharan Africa

Tick-borne encephalitis is a disease that is passed on to humans from bites of infected ticks (e.g. while hiking or camping in Spring or Summer). This disease causes brain inflammation, and can at times even be contracted through unpasteurised milk. The symptoms are flu-like. Short term travel incoculation against this disease is available from your doctor. Countries: Heavily forested areas of Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, parts of China

Rabies is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected animal, most commonly a dog, and it commonly fatal. A dog with rabies can be recognised by foaming or drooling from the mouth and highly aggressive behaviour. Symptoms include extreme thirst, spasms, fear of water and paralysis. Doctors recommend preventative travel inoculation against this disease when traveling to areas where medical attention may not be readily available. Countries: All regions of the world where medical attention not available.

All travelers should assess their own risk by considering the nature of their travel, and while travel inoculations work, travelers must never assume that they are 100% effective all the time. That is why every health and hygiene precaution must still be taken in preventing the illness. A successful trip depends equally on the preparation we make ahead of the trip and the precautions that we take while we are on our journey.

Public Health Insurance – An Essential Lifesaver For the American Health System

There is much debate about the type of insurance proposals that will be required in the new health system currently being negotiated in Congress. President Obama has just come out in support of a public health plan, which is opposed by private insurers who say that they could not compete with a public health plan that didn’t have to make a profit. Supporters of the public plan proposal correctly say that it would give people more choices and create more competition. Opponents argue that private health plans would go out of business, leaving only an entirely government-run health care system.

Of course all sides are exaggerating and taking up extreme positions. They will all in time compromise and hopefully reach some form of agreement. The sad part is that at present they don’t seem to be thinking of the person at the center of all this – the patient. It is widely acknowledged that health care costs far too much in this country, while at the same time at least 47 million Americans are uninsured. So, from a patients perspective, if you do have health insurance, you are paying way too much for it, and getting poor value, and if you don’t have it, then you just continue to suffer. What a dreadful choice. What an indictment of America.

The goals of overhauling the health care system are to lower costs and extend care to the uninsured. Obama wants a bill on his desk in October at the latest. Where can Congress begin to compromise, and why is it that Republicans in particular, believe that public health plans are likely to be so dreadful. What is the evidence for this belief beyond their own philosophical ideas. They regularly bring up the supposed ogre of “socialized medicine” whenever public plans are discussed, but there is no evidence whatsoever that countries with more federal control over their health systems, especially in Europe, have worse health outcomes that the USA. In fact the contrary is true, health outcomes are much better overall, and cost a lot less money per capita of population.

As a physician who has lived and worked in the USA, Australia and Britain, and who has an interest in how health services are organized, I think America could move forward in a relatively simple way as long as we always keep the patient at the center of any health system we plan. It is essential that we do not design a health system primarily to protect profit levels for some or all of the various constituents, whether they be providers, health insurers or pharmaceutical companies. We have the opportunity of picking the best parts of other health systems from around the world and including these in the eventual plan to reform American health care, and we should learn from other countries.

What should we do?

Firstly we need a public-private partnership philosophy. Australia is a good example where this works excellently. That means public and private, not just private. American core business and social philosophies are based on capitalist principals so any new approach to health care must combine the need for profits in certain sectors of the health system, with the need to develop a number of core public health services that may be less likely to ever achieve a profit. Funding for care has to involve choice and should be provided in many instances through payment for annual or episodic whole of person care, rather than on individual piece rates as at present. These capitated payment systems work well for Kaiser Permanente, and in Britain. The primary gain from this approach is that it tends to force more resources into the prevention of illness and wellness promotion, rather than into the treatment of illnesses that have already commenced.

The public component of the health care system, seemingly strongly supported by President Obama, would include universal basic health insurance as well as catastrophic care insurance. We know that this type of system works well in America and is widely accepted and popular, because we have the very successful example of Medicare for seniors. Effectively broadening the base of Medicare for other populations would prevent many of the bankruptcies caused by healthcare costs, and would cover many of the current uninsured. Public insurance would then be likely to pay for many emergency and geographically isolated health services, as well as public health services, pre and postnatal and early child care as well as care of some special populations who cannot afford private health insurance such as the unemployed, and certain impoverished or geographically isolated groups. Medicare for seniors would of course continue. These are areas where there will be less competition from private insurers who have typically kept away from them, but of course any private health insurers would be able to enter these markets and compete if they wished.

The private component would be funded with the aid of broader tax incentives or similar financial tools to encourage most people (or companies) to take out private insurance. The aim should be that at least 80-90% of the population should have private insurance, whether it be comprehensive insurance, or top-up insurance to support core government provided insurance. It is important to reach this level of insurance to ensure that we all are financially responsible for at least a reasonable proportion of our health care costs. Here the Republicans are right as it is important that we do not see health care as something that is provided for free. The private sector should offer a full range of services from birth to death, but the industry should be more carefully regulated so that they would, for instance, be prevented from excluding patients on the grounds of pre-existing conditions. They should also have the ability to charge extra for certain “non-essential” services such as cosmetic surgery.

These ideas are taken from what I consider to be the best parts of the American, Australian and British health systems. No country has a perfect health system, and no country ever will. America can afford to choose the best from other countries as it debates how to improve its health care system. Lets hope that Congress can be creative, look outwardly, and not get bogged down in political dogma.

Business To Business Blog Sites – Capturing Top Internet Real Estate

Capturing and developing real estate has been good short and longterm investment strategy for many savvy investors. What I have found is most successful business to business blog sites are also capturing and controlling certain pieces of internet real estate called keyword searches. When these keywords are requested by a user, the search engines will have categorized and indexed content that best meets the search requirements, a formula known as algorithm, and deliver most relevant information to the individual requesting information. If your blog is top in the search engine rankings it will be your content and information that will be delivered for easy access and reading.

In my experience, prime real estate on the internet can be just as valuable as downtown space in Manhattan when monetized properly. Location is just as important for your business to business blog as it is in real estate. Success for an online marketer and blogger lies in how many people can find them on the internet. Obviously the more people who view their content the more followers and eventual brand awareness and sales they will have. I know those who blog for business that are not great communicators of the written word but do wonderful as a result of high page rankings. High page ranking is the real estate all online marketers wish to capture. Eighty percent of business to business blog success comes from search engine optimization and cross linking strategies that are not readily known by the average blogger.

6 Solid Reasons to Have a Business to Business Blog

1. Low Capital Investment – and minimum fees to maintain site. The only real investment is your time used for blogging. This gives back a high ROI for blog for business owners.

2. Time, Freedom and Flexibility – if you start out part-time with your business to business blog you can have your blog sizzling in as little as 60 to 90 days following a consistent step by step blogging system. Increasing your business through blogging can provide you with choices over time on how much you want to work or how little you want to work. No more missing your children and grandchildren’s little league games, school plays or family birthday parties because your current work schedule does not allow time off. You can now be in control of your own destiny.

3. Free Training and Education is available that will show you step by step how to set up your business to business blog for maximum Search Engine Optimization and build a campaign from scratch.

4. Blogging Communities or Networks are available where your posts are placed on the front page of the network and indexed according to industry and niche for easy identification by search engines for ranking. These blog networks have a vested interest in helping you succeed.

5. E-commerce – covers nearly all industries on the internet. Setting up a blog for business strategy eliminates saturation possibilities as there are so many niche products and industries to market. The world is your oyster. Pick any affiliate program to market and receive both initial income and residual income. Or simply continue to build your current business to business blog sites promoting your current company or product line, you are in control and can monetize for local, national or international traffic and business.

6. Income Earnings – can be substantial through blogging when you monetize your blog for Google AdSense as well as affiliate products. Substantial monthly incomes are being earned. Diversification of your marketing is a solid and profitable strategy.

If your company is currently blogging for business or looking to begin a blog for business site, you must focus on capturing as much real estate on the internet through popular keyword searches as possible. There are a tremendous amount of opportunities to create real wealth on the internet today even more so than have been in the past. Ranking an article and blog page is so much easier than ranking a website ever was. It must work, as you are reading this article. If you truly have a desire to take your company to the next level consider a business to business blog where you can tailor your message to an individual niche market as well as to mass audiences.

The Importance of Securing the Correct Travel Insurance

Traveling with the family is one of the most keenly anticipated events for anyone who wants to get a much-needed break. The same event may turn out to be a taxing experience if family members are not insured sufficiently. This is where the travel insurance comes into the picture. Travel insurance is extremely important for those going on a travel, particularly those going on a long distance air or ship travel. Travel insurance provides a number of features, which covers the traveling family from unforeseen happenings during the trip. Travel insurance will ensure that the family gets to enjoy their trip whole heartedly without worrying about the various minor external factors.

Your insurance covers the traveler from various unforeseen events such as trip cancellation due to various unforeseen events including ill health, weather conditions and airline strikes. In the case of accidental death of the traveler, the family will be compensated with the insured amount. There are occasions when the traveling family has to but accommodation, food and clothing due to flight delays. In such instances, the insured person will be able to get the amount reimbursed. Travel insurance also compensates the traveler for any damages done to their personal baggage and also if the baggage gets lost. Medical insurance protects the travelers from expenses incurred on treatments received for any ailment during the vacation stay in a foreign land. These are some of the unexpected events that can be managed by taking travel insurance.

Before starting the trip, one might question the need for any insurance, as all the events are unforeseen, which may occur or may not occur. But since the family is traveling to a foreign land, chances of unforeseen events are relatively high. To cover against the negative effects of these events, one needs to be sufficiently covered. There are many public and private insurance companies, which provide travel insurance protection packages for the traveling public. There are online informational web sites, which can be used to compare the insurance premium that one needs to pay for getting coverage. These web sites compare the premiums charged by various companies and provide it to the user, after the user provides the necessary information such as the period of travel and number of members traveling.

Health Savings Accounts Should Be Available to All Americans

All Americans should have the right to save for current and future healthcare expenses with pre-tax dollars. Health Savings Accounts provide some Americans with precisely that opportunity, but it is too limited in its scope to benefit the majority of the US. I love the concept of Health Savings Accounts (HSA), if you’re not familiar with them they are savings accounts in which money can be put away for future medical expenses on a pre-tax basis. In order to be eligible for an HSA you must be covered under a qualifying high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These are health insurance policies that typically cost less because they require their holders pay a high deductible (typically greater than $1000 annually). Unfortunately, the eligibility requirement to participate in a health savings account precludes the majority of the population from receiving a privilege that should be as basic as saving for one’s own retirement.

In a recent response from my Congressman, he suggested I consider using a sister product, the Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Although beneficial, the benefits of an FSA fall short of the benefits in an HSA; primarily because the balance of unused money in an FSA expires annually where an HSA rolls over from year to year. This is a monumental difference. With an HSA I have a means to cover current and future medical expenses which can accumulate to a retirement vehicle which becomes available for any purpose at age 65.  The rollover benefit becomes an even greater benefit when you consider the funds in Health Savings Account are eligible to pay the premiums on Cobra. Contributing to an HSA provides financial resources to use should one lose their job. Americans can use their HSA to pay the necessary 102% of their health premiums through COBRA or they may roll the money into a less expensive high deductible health plan (HDHP) with the resources to meet the high deductible.

Let’s look at a couple of case studies.

Dick and Jane

Dick and Jane are engaged. Jane has been submitting $2600 into and HSA for the past five years. During that time she has only consumed $1600 in health care costs that means Jane has been able to build up a health nest egg of $11,400. After they are married Dick begins carrying Jane as a dependent on his health care plan which does not qualify as a high deductible health care plan. Under current laws, Jane would be forced to discontinue contributing to her HSA, but it if all Americans were eligible for this savings incentive she wouldn’t have that problem. Instead they could increase their contribution $5,150. After a year, Dick may lose his job, but the family has been able to save $16,550. Their healthcare nest egg provides Dick and Jane with additional options. They may select to continue their current coverage through COBRA or they can select an alternate health care option. If COBRA were to cost $400 a month they can utilize their HSA funds. With these funds they would have the means of paying for coverage for 41 months. They could also choose to purchase independent health coverage. Their $16,550 nest egg minimizes their risk on a high deductible healthcare plan. They could conceivable absorb a $10,000 deductible and reduce their monthly payment to about $200, or half the cost of their cobra payment.

Scott and Laura

In the scenario of Scott and Laura, Scott is a severe asthmatic. His condition leads to a hospital stay about once a year costing about $3000. He must also have continuing medication at a monthly cost of $112. Scott and Laura are both on her employer’s group health plan. They pay $112/month with a $500 deductible and a 20% coinsurance. Their annual healthcare responsibility is approximately $2610 with insurance or approximately $4340 without insurance. Their insurance saves them approximately $1700 annually from paying full price on their medical care. Their FSA saves them about 20% (their tax bracket) on their prescription charges. Because Scott and Laura will lose the money in the FSA if they don’t spend it by the end of the year, they only save the cost of Scott’s prescriptions. Now, if Laura loses her job their healthcare future becomes much less secure because Laura’s plan was not HSA eligible, they do not any residual savings from their health care expenses nor were they granted guaranteed tax savings from their medical expenses. If they keep the medical insurance they clearly need through COBRA they now need to pay $400/month. These annual premiums total $4000 alone meaning that Scott and Laura only save about $340 a year by having health insurance. This does not include the cost of any of the co pays. Keeping the insurance could increase their medical expenses to about $6000 a year or $550/month at a time when the family income has been reduced. Scott and Laura have a very difficult choice to make in regards to their healthcare. Should they continue with coverage or should they let the family health insurance lapse?

Had they been able to contribute to an HSA, their scenario may have looked a little different. Scott and Laura would still have the same policy but chose to contribute the maximum allowable to their HSA. From the $5150 they withdrew $2610 for healthcare expenses leaving $2540 to accumulate over for the next year. Over the course of 5 years they have accumulated $12700 in the HSA. If Laura loses her job their options look much more promising. They can more easily absorb costs of COBRA and provide for the costs of their existing coverage for their entire 18 month term of eligibility. By making wise decisions in time of plenty, Scott and Laura would be able to prevent financial devastation or public dependence in the future and still provide the means to maintain their health needs. All health consumers should have the option to participate in an HSA and receive the corresponding tax benefits. The opportunity to participate in an HSA should not be tied to a high deductible health insurance plan. As it is written an HDHP with an HSA discriminates against most Americans, namely, consumers whose employers don’t offer a qualified high deductible healthcare plan and those who may have regular health needs which require a more generous health plan including young families who may need maternity or well child care.

Ironically, those ineligible to participate are doubly discriminated against. Not only do they lose the opportunity to financially prepare for the future healthcare needs, but it actually results in having higher healthcare costs. Here’s how:

1. High deductible health care plans often attract the healthiest segment of society, and when you remove the healthy consumers from the general insurance pool, rates rise to cover the lost revenue and higher payout per consumer.

2. Non participants must pay deductibles and uncovered health care from post tax dollars or they must try to forecast their annual health expenses through a flexible spending account (FSA). If they underestimate, they are again paying for expenses with post-tax dollars and if they overestimate they lose the unspent balance.

3. Individuals who have continuing healthcare needs are at the mercy of their employer for continued coverage. The loss of employment often means the loss of health care and can bring great personal risk and financial hardship.

By eliminating the requirement that an individual have a HDHP plan, you open the door for many more participants. These are people who need to hedge against risk in their health and financial well-being. When you allow people to pay their insurance premiums with their HSA, you grant them a means of planning for their health future, without discriminating based on their health care needs. Nationally, you increase the savings rate, sending more money into banks, and driving down your uninsured among the unemployed. Fewer people are dependent on government healthcare subsidies because they were able to plan during times of plenty. You open a door for increased retirement savings and, by giving people access to their funds when healthcare is needed, you limit some of the draw on government resources because they don’t end up on state sponsored plans.

10 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask When Hiring An IT Service Provider

Based on the premise that small- and medium-sized businesses oftentimes lack specific criteria to go by when seeking to hire an IT services provider for their everyday Information Technology needs, the following list is a handy “cheat sheet” that addresses 10 main questions businesses should ask a potential IT service providers when seeking and comparing IT services:

1) What specific hardware and software products, packages, and offerings does your IT company provide or resell that would make our business more effective and productive?

  • For example, if you’re a small business, certain phone systems will work better, and are licensed to work better for, small businesses of approximately 100 employees or less. Some even have constraints down to 50 employees or less or have constraints about how many locations they can service at once. Once the potential IT service provider tells you of the specific products they resell or offer, do your own online research and find out what the world wide web has to say about the differences between major communications companies and the appropriateness of their products for certain business sizes. Some communications product providers have initially aimed their products towards large-scale businesses and may only now be breaking into the realm of providing products that meet the needs of small and medium business. Each product, whether it’s a VoIP phone system or data backup hardware, has clearly stated constraints for number of users and business size before more upgrades or additional licensing are required. You’ll be in the know ahead of time, before hiring an IT service provider, if you “do your homework” on the products they intend to resell to you.

2) Of the services, hardware, and software you’ll be providing, will any of them actually lower our Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the short-term or the long-term? If so, how?

  • For example, installation of a new VoIP phone system may certainly produce a high initial cost, but when you consider that once installed, the new internet-protocol phone system will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in long-distance calling fees and between-site calling fees, that initial cost may be well worth the long-term savings. Moreover, new mobile phone apps and other unified communications methods and media are currently changing the way small and medium business do business by allowing your office phones to be duplicated on your mobile phone as if you’re never out of the office, or by streamlining your overall client communications to come to one place, saving you time and money, especially if your business requires you to be out of the office, in the field, or traveling often.

3) What is your fee structure and how is it advantageous to my small- or medium-sized business?

  • Fee structures come in many shapes and sizes, and those that are right for large enterprises are most often not right for small- and medium-sized businesses. While buying into an “incident-based” fee structure may be tempting in that you only pay for each occurrence of an IT problem, the unfortunate backlash of that fee structure is that, in their own attempts to make more money, some IT service providers may not create a solution that is a long-term fix for your problem. In fact, the IT provider may purposely only do enough to solve or “work around” the problem in the moment of the incident instead of creating an IT environment that prevents future incidents. In other words, on an “incident-based” fee structure, an IT company is actually monetarily encouraged to fix problems in pieces and not as a whole so that there’s another future incident waiting just around the corner that the IT company can be additionally paid for at a later date. This point begs for an answer to the next question:

4) Is your approach to IT solutions a reactive or preventative approach? Is it your approach to deal with our IT issues separately as they arise or to deal with our IT issues holistically?

  • A move within the IT industry from “a la carte” problem fixing to holistic solutions begs the question of whether an IT service provider is simply a reactionary entity that comes to fix problems as they arise or if they’re looking at the “big picture” of your business’s IT needs. Instead, many IT service providers and savvy businesses today are realizing that cost savings increase when the IT needs of a business are examined and troubleshot as a whole, preventatively. As a simple example, instead of performing data recovery after the crashing of one employee’s computer, a holistic IT company would have saved time and money by creating a monitored data backup plan with the hardware and software to perform backups well before someone’s computer crashes. As another example, instead of upgrading a business’s network whenever the size of the company increases due to a few new hires, a holistic approach would examine the projected growth of the company and request to implement network changes that can handle the growing workload before multiple potential hires are officially working and before company growth becomes a network-overload issue. A holistic approach does require though that an IT service provider conducts periodic assessments of things like how well your servers are functioning, how overloaded your network is or isn’t, and whether security and data backup practices are continually effective.

5) How will you solve IT issues that need immediate fixes before downtime negatively affects my business? Will you be responding remotely? If so, what happens when a remote fix is found to not be possible? Do you have someone in our local area that can respond on-site if necessary?

  • An IT service provider’s reaction time is crucial to your business experiencing as little downtime as possible. While remote fixes to your computers and your networks are often a cost-efficient solution for both your business and for the IT service provider, if there’s a server issue, you may oftentimes be in need of an IT professional that can be on-site to fix the problem hands-on. For businesses like stock brokers that use their computers to conduct real-time monetary transactions on a daily basis, excessive downtime can lead to a large loss of profit on behalf of clients that can then become upset and question your business’s validity. Avoid this problem by having a plan with your IT service provider ahead of time that notes exactly how much reaction time will be allotted for. If your IT company cannot be on-site within, say, an hour, you may want to consider another provider that can be there even quicker. This would mean contracting for services with a local IT provider, or at least contracting with a distant IT provider that has service professionals in strategic cities that are either close to or within your city.

6) How will productivity and cost-savings be shown? Is your IT company able to quantify the gains created by changes you’ve implemented within my business?

  • A periodic report sent either electronically or on paper, should be something your potential IT service provider can produce without a lot of effort. That’s because if they’ve chosen the proper products to boost the productivity of your business, and they’ve taken an initial baseline of the business’s productivity, quantifiable gains and losses should be easy to illustrate in a “productivity report.” This means a report that will answer questions like: how much faster is the server working after our recent upgrade? How much money are we saving per month now that we’ve upgraded to a VoIP phone system? How much faster is the website loading now that we’ve addressed latency issues? How many more calls can our business receive and handle simultaneously now that we’ve added more phone lines? How much more protected from outside and inside security threats are we now that we’ve implemented network security products and building surveillance cameras?

7) How are data backups implemented by your IT company? Do you provide emergency monitoring of our servers and networks? What happens in the case of a security breach?

  • A reputable IT service provider will be wise to perform periodic assessments of data backup systems and actually verify that those backups are working by attempting to retrieve random sets of data in a real-life application, such as pulling up accounts payable documents from three months ago and seeing if they can be opened without incident on an accounts payable employee’s computer. If the files are backed up but won’t convert to data that’s readable (i.e., if it reads as coded nonsense), then that’s a sign that data backup may be being performed but may not be accessible or usable when retrieval actually needs to occur. In addition, your networks, servers, and even your business’s buildings aren’t only under threat during business hours, so many IT providers provide 24/7 monitoring that shows up on an “on-call” IT phone that gets handed off between knowledgeable IT employees who can be “on call” throughout the night and respond quickly even if a server fails at 3am.

8) How does your IT company ensure the internal and external security of our networks, our websites, our VoIP phone system, our online admin areas, our passwords, and our building?

  • Though all of these security services may not apply to your small- or medium-sized business, those that do beg these important security questions. Proficient IT service providers can easily answer all of these questions by sharing with you what products and methods they implement in order to uphold the security of your business. They may recommend high-resolution security cameras, policies that ensure only administrators have access to crucial areas of your network, methods of storing passwords that aren’t on a sticky note in someone’s desk, and of course, firewalls and security software that ensure your website is hacker-proof. If the IT service provider you’re interviewing doesn’t have a quick, tried-and-true solution to your specific security needs, you’re better off finding a provider that does.

9) What certifications, qualifications, and most importantly, what experience does your IT staff have that will benefit my company?

  • While a common standard of having Microsoft and phone-system-brand certifications is common amongst the staff of many IT service providers, the real question is if any of the IT service provider’s employees have gone above and beyond to obtain not-so-common certifications and qualifications that make that IT service provider more of an expert in certain areas than the next. More importantly though is whether their experience matches and goes beyond their certifications. An IT professional going through a training course to obtain a certification is great, but oftentimes applying that knowledge in the field is a whole different ball game. Many IT service providers have decades of combined experience amongst their employees and have also kept current on applicable certifications, which is the type of pairing of education and experience to look for. If your server goes down, you’ll want an IT professional responding that fixes serves all the time, not one who’s checking his textbook for the next troubleshooting step.

10) Probably the most important question to ask, beyond obvious considerations of available products, potential costs, procedures, and so forth, is to ask: Is your IT company a good fit for my company, and if so, how?

  • IT service providers are usually accustomed to servicing certain business sizes or types. Oftentimes many small-city providers are dealing mostly with small and medium businesses while others within larger cities are mainly accustomed to working for large enterprises. You’ll want to match your business with an IT service provider that has a host of solutions tailored just for your business size. In addition, your business type is also a factor in that there’s a big difference between the IT needs of a stock broker whose commodities and sales are all online as compared to a retail store that holds a lot of valuable merchandise on a sales floor with glass front windows as compared to a large, barley marked warehouse that’s piled high with boxes of expensive equipment. The stock broker will need heightened online and network security while the glass-front retail shop may need heightened security cameras placed outside the building while the warehouse may need heightened security inside the warehouse and a strong server for mass inventory data. Ask potential IT service providers if they’ve ever serviced the type of business or a similar type of business as yours and if they answer “no,” you’re going to better off with an IT service provider that’s accustomed to working with your business size and type.

Therefore, following up on the premise that small- and medium-sized businesses oftentimes lack specific criteria to go by when seeking to hire an IT service provider, this list of ten basic questions will certainly have your business moving along the right path towards choosing an IT service provider only once for your business instead of going through several providers before finding the right one. This 10-question list is your small- and medium-sized business guide to honing in on the most qualified IT service provider because of its ideal fit with your business.

Become a Home Based Travel Agent – 3 Perks of Running Your Own Agency From Home

The article below will talk about how to become a home based travel agent and 3 perks that come along with being this type of business owner. The internet changed many things, but one of the biggest things was how people book their travel. Many don’t use travel agents anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make money in the travel industry.

1. Travel Discounts: When you become a travel agent you gain many perks including discounts on your travel. If you choose to get certified you will receive discounts on hotels, cruises, air travel and more. It isn’t the main reason to become one, but it is nice to get these discounts and the amount of money you save adds up to a great deal over time.

2. Your Own Schedule: Unlike working for a brick and mortar agency, which is also not as necessary in today’s internet world, you can set your own schedule when you work from home. You can decide what kind of agent you want to be, what kind of places you want to research and book, and whether or not you even want to plan trips for people. It is completely up to you how you want to run your travel business.

3. Many Ways to Make Money:It used to be that in order to make a commission as a travel agent you had to make a sale; but the internet has changed all that and now there are many ways to make money as a home based travel agent. You don’t even have to sell any travel in order to make money in the travel industry, you can do so by simply creating a website and talking about travel if you wish. But if you love to plan trips and that is something you want to do, then there are still many ways you can make money doing that too. You can make money through Google AdSense, as an affiliate for travel companies, you can even become a condo broker, the opportunities are endless and are definitely not restricted to just scheduling and selling a vacation.

Above we talked about how to become a home based travel agent and just a few of the perks that come along with being one. Not only do you get travel discounts, get to make your own schedule, but there are so many different ways to make money as an agent these days working from home you no longer have to slave away in the hopes for a small commission. In fact, it is possible to make money with a travel website without ever booking a vacation, you can pick and choose how you want to earn a living as a home based travel agent.

Student Health Insurance is Meant to Be Affordable

Student health insurance is meant to be affordable. Health insurance coverage is vitally important while a student is in college!

Insurance health coverage is mandatory for all eligible college students . During the time you are registered at the University, you are required to enroll in the U-SHIP Basic or Prescription Advantage coverage , or waive enrollment by providing evidence that you have health insurance coverage that is comparable.

Student health insurance is billed annually at the beginning of the academic year and appears on your first statement for tuition and fees.   Student Health Services is an ambulatory clinic only, and does not provide major hospitalization or treatment outside of the clinic. Student health insurance coverage is only one of the options available to provide for your medical needs and protect you in the case of an emergency until you graduate. In addition to the student health coverage plan offered by your school, you may be able to remain on your parents’ group health plan. Students enrolling (or already enrolled) must request the graduation extension which will expire one year from the student?s graduation date. Please keep in mind that there can be no break in coverage from the original plan and the extension. Students wishing to be enrolled by the College in the Student Insurance Plan should verify the charge on your student account.

Students who provide proof of continuous enrollment in an alternative U.S.-based health insurance plan with comparable benefits are able to waive out of the SHIP coverage each semester. Students enrolled in SHIP are eligible to purchase coverage for their spouse and/or for any dependent children under the age of 19 who reside with the student.

Students with limited out of area coverage or otherwise inadequate coverage are urged to carefully review their options before waiving the SHC sponsored insurance plan. Deadlines to waive the insurance are prior to the first 14 days of the semester. Students will still be free to choose alternative insurance so long as their plan’s coverage meets or exceeds the minimum requirements listed at the bottom of this page. In order to use alternate insurance, students must complete and submit the Student Health Insurance Waiver form no later than the 20th day of classes each semester.

Health coverage for students is generally considered to have the advantages of a large group plan without the usual high cost large group insurance requires. Student health insurance is a way to ensure you can get medical care when you need it, at a price that is affordable. Health insurance for students is typically less expensive than a traditional individual health care plan and is tailored to the needs of the typical college student. Student health coverage is also required for all commuter international students, student-athletes, and Nursing and Physical Therapy students. Marymount University allows F-1 International Visa students as well as Nursing and Physical Therapy program students to opt out of the University’s health insurance plan by showing proof of existing coverage and completing a waiver form.

Student health coverage is generally considered to have the advantages of a large group plan without the usual high cost large group insurance requires. Student health insurance is a way to ensure you can get medical care when you need it, at a price that is affordable. Health coverage for students is typically less expensive than a traditional individual health care plan and is tailored to the needs of the typical college student. Student health coverage is also required for all commuter international students, student-athletes, and Nursing and Physical Therapy students.