Interview with Alan E Smith, Author of “UnBreak Your Health”

Alan Smith has found greater health and happiness thanks to complementary and alternative therapies. A few years ago his deteriorating health took him to the finest medical facility in the world, The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Unfortunately they didn’t have any solutions for his digestive problems. Just a few weeks later he discovered a new book by Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. called “Biology of Belief.” This was the kind of answer he had been searching for-scientific evidence that the energy of thoughts and feelings could directly influence the function of cells. In other words, the right beliefs and attitudes could improve health! Lipton’s book led him to Rob Williams’s PSYCH-K® process. With the first signs of improvement he became so excited about complementary and alternative therapies that he began offering PSYCH-K® in Plano, Texas. The challenge of introducing a new type of healing, especially in a conservative Southern location, was the inspiration for “UnBreak Your Health.”Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Alan. I understand “UnBreak Your Health” is a complete guide to over 300 complementary and alternative therapies. Would you begin by giving us just a taste of what some of those therapies are and what they are treatments for?Alan: Tyler, complementary and alternative therapies, or CAM as it’s called, run the gamut from ancient healing therapies like acupuncture to the latest cold laser technology. Some of them are very specific in purpose like Auditory Intervention Technique for ADD, ADHD and other attention disorders. It’s a treatment developed by a French physician using sound to reprogram the way the brain processes information. Doula therapy was developed by doctors and nurses to help pregnant women have safe and successful birthing experiences. The Ornish Program is the only medically proven therapy to reverse heart disease naturally, and it also was developed by a doctor.The vast majority of therapies in the book however are multi-purpose; they can address a wide variety of health problems, which is one of the reasons there is no disease listing in the Index. I know people are looking for quick, easy answers but that’s not how our health works and by encouraging people to read the whole book they’ll pick up the knowledge that will help them find their own healing path. Therapies like acupuncture, homeopathy, even EFT can be used for a diverse range of health problems.While every therapy in my book will work for someone, nothing in the book will work for everyone. If you accept the instinctive concept that we are whole beings of body, mind and energy/spirit, then you have to appreciate that your illness or disease is unique too. That means your health solution is like a combination lock that only you can unlock. We all have to take responsibility for our own health and learn what our body, mind and spirit or energy system factors are in our unique health problems and how to correct them.That’s not exactly the American way! We like fast, easy answers to everything, usually in the form of a pill, and we want somebody else to take care of us. I often try to explain it with the story about the ancient Chinese Master in the temple talking with a young student. The young man asked his mentor, “Why do we meditate every day, do hours of exercise and till the soil to grow good food?” The old man smiled knowingly and said simply, “If you don’t take care of your house, where you gonna live?”Tyler: Alan, how did you go about compiling the book?Alan: Fortunately my college degree from decades ago was in journalism. Back in the dark ages you actually had to research using libraries, books, magazines and interviewing people. Today the Internet gives you a faster start on research but my background in reporting gave me the framework to produce the book.I will say it was funny how it grew to the size it is now. Originally I started out with about 60 therapies, which was more than double anything that had been written before so I thought the subject would make a beneficial book. But once I started researching a therapy I’d usually discover one or two more that I’d never heard of before. The list just kept growing and growing until I simply drew a line in the sand a year ago and said “Enough!” I’ve probably missed some good ones and I’ve already started collecting new therapies for the next edition.Tyler: How did you decide what to include, or did you have items you chose to leave out for any reason?Alan: I wanted to include everything I possibly could but it, became pretty obvious early in the process that the same basic therapy was often just being tweaked a little so a different therapist could put his or her own name on it. I didn’t need to put 100 versions of the same thing in the book so I tried to set up some benchmarks. One of them was a minimum level of use or having a certain number of practitioners in the U.S. along with other criteria. After all, to be of any benefit people would need to be able to find practitioners all across the country.Tyler: I am intrigued by the title. What do you hope it says to the potential reader of the book?Alan: The title comes from the old expression “You can’t unbreak the mirror” which is similar to the old spilt milk and water under the bridge sayings. The way I explain it is that doctors try to glue your broken health back together with drugs and my book is about everything else so I wanted the title to make the distinction clear. It also tries to say that it is possible to find therapies that not only repair your health but restore it to a better, earlier condition. Some of the common traits of these complementary and alternative therapies are that they try to treat the source of a problem, not just the symptoms, which is what most doctors are doing with prescription drugs. By treating the source, and treating all of the problem (body, mind and spirit/energy) you can achieve better health than you may imagine is possible. I know, I’ve been there, and these therapies have restored my health better than I dared to dream possible just a few years ago.Tyler: Alan, will you tell us a little bit about your own medical background and interest in non-conventional medicine?Alan: My “medical background” is that I’ve been a patient of too many doctors for too many problems for too long. I admit right up front that I have no medical training other than being on the receiving end. I’m simply a patient, just like my readers. Maybe that’s why so many people love my little book; it’s designed for people just like them by someone who is just like them.”UnBreak Your Health” is the book I wish had been available a few years ago after my disappointing trip to the Mayo Clinic, as you said, the finest medical facility in the world. The problem is that modern medicine doesn’t have all of the answers. In fact, they still don’t have all of the questions at this point!After days of testing at Mayo I was told, “We have good news and bad news. The good news is it isn’t going to kill you. The bad news is you aren’t going to like it, and there isn’t anything we can do about it.” I kept waiting for the drum roll and a punchline, but there wasn’t one. When you run out of options you become very, very interested in ANY alternative! Unfortunately most of us wait until we’ve run out of options before discovering all of the wonderful therapies available today. I hope getting the word out about my book will change that.Tyler: I understand your interests in alternative therapies began as the result of digestive problems? Will you tell us a little bit about your ailment and the therapy you used to improve the situation?Alan: I hate to get into an “organ recital,” meaning running down all of my health problems, but let’s just say it’s one of the chronic problems that doctors really can’t fix. My particular issue was digestive and in hindsight it was probably caused by more than 20 years of travel combined with the stress of working in a dying industry for too long. It’s not a question of what happens to us in life, it’s how we react that matters. In my case there were subconscious beliefs about work that weren’t helping me at that time. I discovered the PSYCH-K process that provides for direct communication with the subconscious and a way to reprogram subconscious beliefs easily. In my case that helped a lot.I’d like to add that many people have similar problems resulting in a variety of health issues. In many cases what’s happened is that our incredible bodies were never built to handle the stress of 24/7 living like we have today. It’s called the Tiger of the Mind Syndrome. We were designed to deal with the tiger in the bushes with fight or flight, both short-term responses to survival stress. Today the tiger is in our minds and it’s there 24 hours a day, every day. It’s no wonder our bodies break down!Tyler: Alan, I’m intrigued by the Psych-K process. Are you saying then that our mind and thoughts influence our health? Tell us more about how this process works. How do we figure out what the subconscious thoughts are that are causing us problems and how do we change those thoughts?Alan: Yes, and that’s been confirmed by science. Bruce Lipton has new research on the issue but in the 1970s psychneuroimmunology or PNI was created with the discovery of peptides, the messenger molecules that connect the brain to the body’s immune system. It’s the reason you rarely get sick when you’re excited and having a wonderful time in life but seem to catch every bug in the world when you’re depressed and stressed out. Science is just beginning to understand the strength and range of the mind-body connection. In many cases our health problems are really just the body doing what it’s being told by the subconscious mind, the part that controls all of your body’s systems, no matter how destructive or painful it may be.PSYCH-K is based on kinesiology or muscle testing. Much like the autonomic responses used by a polygraph machine to tell truth from lies, your body reacts to statements signaling agreement or disagreement by the subconscious. A facilitator pushes down very lightly on your extended arm after you repeat a statement and when your subconscious mind agrees with it then all of the nerves and muscles work normally and the arm stays straight and strong. If, on the other hand, the subconscious disagrees with the statement then there is a momentary lapse in nerve function due to the confusion or disagreement between conscious and subconscious. This hesitation translates into a weaker arm muscle and your arm “unlocks” and goes down when pushed by the facilitator. It’s a primitive, binary communication system but it offers amazing insight into the subconscious mind. Issues you don’t have a problem with in your conscious mind can turn out to be major problems on the subconscious level.The PSYCH-K facilitator normally uses a variety of Belief Statements to isolate a problem belief by a process of elimination. Once exposed there are several types of Balances used to reprogram the belief to support your best life.Tyler: Our reviewer, Cherie Fisher, mentioned that Network Spinal Analysis is included, a type of chiropractic touch to heal. What might be the benefit of this therapy for people?Alan: NSA is built on a chiropractic foundation, but it’s used to release stress from the body so it can be adjusted, balanced and begin to heal itself. Many people talk about experiencing intense feelings during a session, like reliving and releasing emotional traumas resulting from the death of a loved one. By releasing the tension that’s been held in the body, the spine can be adjusted and health problems corrected.Tyler: Why did you feel the need to write “UnBreak Your Health”?Alan: The simple answer is that I knew from personal experience that somebody had to do it. I know I’m not the most medically qualified person to write a book like this, but I sure know what it’s like to be a person with health problems that doctors don’t know how to fix. I’ve tried to create the book I wanted when I ran out of options. I know what it’s like to hit a brick wall, when you suddenly appreciate the old adage, “without health, nothing else matters.” You trust the doctors to walk on water and to heal everything, but they don’t and they can’t.Where do you turn? What do I do now? How do I even start to find answers? When you’ve been in that situation you know what it feels like and know what people need. They want a wide variety of information but they don’t want a lot of it. They want the USA Today version, an easy-to-read summary and directions to begin finding their own healing path. They want website links so they can continue researching the therapies that attract them and may hold promise for their problems.Most of all, they want hope. They need to hear that even when doctors say there isn’t anything more they can do, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything more that can be done! I hope that “UnBreak Your Health” offers hope to everyone.Tyler: Alan, what makes “UnBreak Your Health” stand out from the other books on holistic medicine and alternative therapies, such as Lipton’s “Biology of Belief” that led you to alternative therapies?Alan: Bruce’s book was about the science and it’s wonderful, but as a cellular biologist he didn’t cover any answers. His one mention of PSYCH-K was buried at the very end of his book. The good news is that his state-of-the-art science adds credibility to therapies people don’t understand or appreciate yet.First of all, “UnBreak Your Health” is the most complete collection of complementary and alternative therapies ever published. It has no diet or supplement listings, it’s all about therapies, and with over 300 in 136 different categories, it’s got a lot to offer.Second, it’s different because it doesn’t offer disease listings in the Index. People actually have to take responsibility for their own health and read the whole book. My publisher and I nearly parted company over this issue because he said successful health books always had listings in the Index. My goal isn’t money or success but to help people find better health and better lives so they need to learn how to open their own health combination locks. I was willing to take the chance on being different and somehow I managed to convince my publisher to go along with it.Third, it has comments from users of the therapies so readers can get an idea of what it feels like and what it really does. Those are the biggest differences and I hope advantages of my book.Tyler: What did you find to be your biggest challenge in writing this book?Alan: Strangely enough the most difficult part was finding testimonials for each therapy. I wanted to add a little human color to the black-and-white definitions and descriptions but it turned out to be quite a challenge.Tyler: Why do you think that is? Are people shy about discussing their health problems, or just admitting they used non-conventional remedies?Alan: Many of the testimonials in the book came from national organizations. While they want to promote their therapy they don’t want to cross the line into the minefield either. It’s the problem of people not wanting to attract the attention of the AMA and mainstream medical-industrial system. They want to exist under the radar because the history of complementary and alternative medicine is filled with stories with very sad endings when people tried to bring new types of healing to the world. That would mean taking business away from the existing medical system which doesn’t let go easily. Remember this is the group that took ten years to accept the research from Australia that ulcers were caused by bacteria. It’s no wonder people in complementary and alternative healing don’t want to become connected to such dangerous activities even in this day and age.Tyler: Alan, if people are skeptical about these non-conventional medicine types of therapies, what reassurance can you offer them?Alan: It’s fascinating that people can be apprehensive about therapies that have been used successfully for hundreds if not thousands of years but feel completely safe taking a new drug that has almost no large-scale track record of safety whatsoever. So many of the treatments being used by conventional medicine have never been properly tested in double-blind research studies and the range of therapies for the same condition across the country can be absolutely scary. Right now I’m reading Shannon Brownlee’s new book “OVERTREATED-Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer” and her research into mainstream medicine today presents a frightening picture. Yet this is the medicine that most people feel safe with!By comparison most of the CAM therapies have evolved by trial and error. In other words, they’re around today because they work. Now the caveat here is that while every therapy in my book will work for someone, nothing in the book will work for everyone. The same can be said for prescription drugs, while they help many they can literally kill others.Tyler: In considering an alternative therapy, what caution should people have? How does someone know if a therapy is legitimate or just a scam?Alan: First of all you have to realize that anything that can be a catalyst for your own healing, even if it’s just switching on your placebo effect, is a valuable therapy. That’s why some of the craziest things still produce amazing results for some people. My advice is always to check out the national organizations, read the books that are available on almost every therapy and learn about the technique. Ask around and see what experiences others have had with it. Even if the process is legitimate you also need to check out your local practitioner’s qualifications. Just as there are good doctors and bad doctors, the same applies in the CAM world. If you take the time to do a little research, you’ll either get a comfort level with the process or you’ll want to walk away from it. It’s when we jump off the cliff without checking how deep the water is that we get into trouble.Tyler: I understand the response to the book has already been phenomenal. Will you tell us a little bit about the book’s history since publication and what you attribute its success to?Alan: Since I’m a new author I don’t really know if the response has been phenomenal, but I know my publisher seems to be happy at this point. I started doing radio interviews even before the book was available to start spreading the word that there is hope out there. I guess the subject is interesting to people because I keep getting radio hosts to talk with me. I’ve got one coming up with KGO radio in San Francisco on January 26th with Joanie Greggains. She has one of the top-rated health programs in the country.I have to say it’s an amazing feeling to have someone respond to an interview. I just did one with Cathy Blythe at KFOR in Lincoln, Nebraska, and when I called one of their local bookstores after the program, the buyer said she’d already had 5 people in looking for the book…within an hour of the program!On the other hand, I’ve been very surprised at how the mainstream media ignores anything to do with complementary and alternative therapies. They might do a token story or two once in a while but most of the time it’s drugs, drugs and more drugs. They act like they’re afraid to give anything CAM credibility or perhaps they’re just protecting one of their biggest advertisers. I’ve contacted dozens of health reporters at newspapers, radio and TV stations across the country in the last few months and like the doctors they cover, the subject is just too far outside their comfort zone. Even the local media here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area have ignored everything about my book even though I’m a local author, and an award-winner at that. Most of them wouldn’t even accept a free copy of the book. It just shows we have a long way to go in this country to open eyes and minds.Tyler: Thank you, Alan, for joining me today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information might be found there about “UnBreak Your Health”?Alan: Absolutely! The website for the book is easy to remember since it’s the name of the book, it’s http://www.unbreakyourhealth.com. Your readers will find reviews, radio interviews and links to every therapy included in the book. As I said, this is simply the place to start a journey toward better health, not the end.

Small Business Health Insurance – An Employer’s Guide to Getting Small Business Health Insurance

Saving on your small business health insurance can be a challenge. But there are ways to overcome the financial obstacles and get the coverage necessary for your business. There are two major benefits of employer-based coverage. First these plans, although expensive, usually carry the best all around protection for you and your employees. Second, providing benefits plays a key role in attracting and retaining quality employees.Why is coverage for small businesses so much more than for large corporations?Health insurance for small businesses cost so much because of the high quality coverage concentrated among a small group of people. Every individual within the group represents a different level of financial risk to an insurance company, and this risk is added up and spread out among the group. Large corporations pay considerably less because the risk is spread to such a large group, where small business owners can see unreasonably high increases in premiums due to one or two members. Small businesses also have to insure their employees under state mandates, which can require the policies to cover some specific health conditions and treatments. Large corporations’ policies are under federal law, usually self-insured, and with fewer mandated benefits. The Erisa Act of 1974 officially exempted self-funded insurance policies from state mandates, lessening the financial burdens of larger firms.Isn’t the Health Care Reform Bill going to fix this?This remains to be seen. There will be benefits for small business owners in the form of insurance exchanges, pools, tax credits, subsidies etc. But you can’t rely on a bill that is still in the works, and you can’t wait for a bill where the policies set forth won’t take effect until about 2013. Additionally, the bill will help you with costs, but still won’t prevent those costs from continually rising. You, as a business owner, will need to be fully aware of what you can do to maintain your bottom line.What can I do?First you need to understand the plan options out there. So here they are.PPOA preferred provider option (PPO) is a plan where your insurance provider uses a network of doctors and specialists. Whoever provides your care will file the claim with your insurance provider, and you pay the co-pay.Who am I allowed to visit?Your provider will cover any visit to a doctor or specialist within their network. Any care you seek outside the network will not be covered. Unlike an HMO, you don’t have to get your chosen doctor registered or approved by your PPO provider. To find out which doctors are in your network, simply ask your doctor’s office or visit your insurance company’s website.Where Can I Get it?Most providers offer it as an option in your plan. Your employees will have the option to get it when they sign their employment paperwork. They generally decide on their elections during the open enrollment period, because altering the plan after this time period won’t be easy.And Finally, What Does It Cover?Any basic office visit, within the network that is, will be covered under the PPO insurance. There will be the standard co-pay, and dependent upon your particular plan, other types of care may be covered. The reimbursement for emergency room visits generally range from sixty to seventy percent of the total costs. And if it is necessary for you to be hospitalized, there could be a change in the reimbursement. Visits to specialists will be covered, but you will need a referral from your doctor, and the specialist must be within the network.A PPO is an expensive, yet flexible option for your small business health insurance. It provides great coverage though, and you should inquire with your provider to find out how you can reduce the costs.HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) are the most popular small business health insurance plans. Under an HMO plan you will have to register your primary care physician, as well as any referred specialists and physicians. Plan participants are free to choose specialists and medical groups as long as they are covered under the plan. And because HMOs are geographically driven, the options may be limited outside of a specific area.Health maintenance organizations help to contain employer’s costs by using a wide variety of prevention methods like wellness programs, nurse hotlines, physicals, and baby-care to name a few. Placing a heavy emphasis on prevention cuts costs by stopping unnecessary visits and medical procedures.When someone does fall ill, however, the insurance provider manages care by working with health care providers to figure out what procedures are necessary. Usually a patient will be required to have pre-certification for surgical procedures that aren’t considered essential, or that may be harmful.HMOs are less expensive than PPOs, and this preventative approach to health care theoretically does keep costs down. The downside, however, is that employees may not pursue help when it is needed for fear of denial. That aside, it is a popular and affordable plan for your small business health insurance.POS (Point of Service)A Point of Service plan is a managed care insurance similar to both an HMO and a PPO. POS plans require members to pick a primary health care provider. In order to get reimbursed for out-of-network visits, you will need to have a referral from the primary provider. If you don’t, however, your reimbursement for the visit could be substantially less. Out-of-network visits will also require you to handle the paperwork, meaning submit the claim to the insurance provider.POSs provide more freedom and flexibility than HMOs. But this increased freedom results in higher premiums. Also, this type of plan can put a strain on employee finances when non-network visits start to pile up. Assess your needs and weigh all your options before making a decision.EPOAn Exclusive Provider Organization Plan is another network-based managed care plan. Members of this plan must choose from a health care provider within the network, but exceptions can be made due to medical emergencies. Like HMOs, EPOs focus on preventative care and healthy living. And price wise, they fall between HMOs and PPOs.The differences between an EPO and the other two organization plans are small, but important. While certain HMO and PPO plans offer reimbursement for out-of-network usage, an EPO does not allow its members to file a claim for doctor visits out its network. EPO plans are more restrictive in this respect, but are also able to negotiate lower fees by guaranteeing health care providers that it’s members will use in-network doctors. These plans are also negotiated on a fee-for-services basis, whereas HMOs are on a per-person basis.HSA (Health Savings Account)An HSA is a tax-advantaged account used to pay existing and future medical expenses. HSAs are used in conjunction with high-deductible health plans (HDHP), which will make some with pre-existing conditions ineligible. Also, HSAs must be funded with cash. Communicating the terms of this account to your employees is important, as a large number of HSAs are underfunded or improperly funded. The health savings accounts were signed into the law by George Bush in 2003, and have become an affordable alternative to a group health plan.When inquiring about an HSA, there will be a few things you will want to clarify. While HSAs generally cover routine medical expenses and copays, some can provide dental and vision care as well. And since HSAs can be combined with certain compatible plans, it is important to understand how money from the account will be allocated. And finally, you will want to know about cashing out your HSA balance. The amount is taxable and could be subject to a ten percent excise tax.HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement)An HRA is exactly what it sounds like. The employer reimburses the employee for health care. As an employer, you will usually have the option to contribute to a reimbursement fund, or to pay fees as they are incurred. These reimbursements can be deducted from your taxes, and are tax-free for your employees, saving you both money.Some providers empower employers by giving them more options. HRAs, unlike HSAs, don’t have to be funded with cash money, placing a book keeping entry on your balance sheet is enough. You can usually control aspects of your arrangement such as reimbursement limits, whether you or your employee pays first, and if the previous year’s funds roll over.HRAs are becoming a more popular option because of the control it has given small businesses. Combined with a high deductible health plan (HDHP), an HRA could be the most cost-effective solution to your small business health insurance problems. It’s always best to compare these plans to PPOs, HMOs, and EPOs to know what works best.Fee for Service (FFS) or Traditional IndemnityA fee for service plan is the most flexible small business health insurance option. You choose your doctor, and your hospital. You can see a specialist without a referral. This flexibility, however, comes with more out-of-pocket expenses and higher insurance premiums.The typical FFS plan has a deductible ranging anywhere from five to fifteen hundred dollars. After this amount is reached, the provider will pick up eighty percent of your medical bills, and require you to pay the remaining twenty percent. Because of the rising costs of health care, and the potential for a small number of doctor’s visits to cost thousands, these plans can become incredibly expensive.Flexible Spending Account (FSA)A flexible spending account is a savings account to be used for medical expenses, and is funded by pre-tax dollars. Using pre-tax dollars means that your employees will actually show that they have less income, and will therefore have less taxes withheld. As an employer, you set the limit on contributions to the account per year. In addition to the employee contribution, you can also credit the account, or fund it completely from your general assets.An FSA, especially if combined with an HDHP, can significantly reduce the costs of small business health insurance.You should be forewarned, money from FSA accounts cannot be rolled over. They are, however, available to use for two years and two and half months after the benefit year. A terminated employee won’t be able to use leftover funds, unless there is a positive remaining balance and COBRA is elected.Small business health insurance providers have made significant improvements in their services to simplify the administration of your plan. With HRAs, FSAs, and HSAs, your employees can use debit cards for medical transactions. Be sure to research this thoroughly. You will want to be sure your debit card plan is IRS compliant, and that you can use a large number of pharmacies. You should also pick a plan that can verify eligibility on the spot. Talk with your agent about linking transit, parking fees, and prescriptions to the same card. When picking the debit card options, please be sure to clarify the details of the substantion process. This is IMPORTANT! With other plans, the provider may assign someone to manage your plan. Or you may have to hire someone. Still, you should be able to login to your account and print insurance cards, important papers etc.The next thing you can do is thoroughly assess your needs. Being that every member of your small business plays a key role in its success, it is vital that their needs are met. And understanding these needs is crucial to finding the right plan. Find out about chronic illnesses, and additional information related to past health issues. Know what your employees think about health insurance, and get them involved in the process.Hiring an agent or a brokerFinding and understanding small business health insurance can be a daunting task. While some choose to go it alone, others need some professional assistance. You need to understand the difference between an agent and a broker, and how you can get the most from either of them.A brokerBrokers function independently and usually work for several different companies. Since they have a variety of resources, they can usually provide more options and a better overall view of the marketplace. Brokers will assist you by evaluating the costs and designs of plans from your local major carriers. The cost isn’t everything, you want to get the coverage that you need.Ask the broker how he or she is getting paid for their services. They should readily divulge that information. Some brokers may charge you a flat free. Some receive a fee from an employer, while others receive a commission from the insurance provider. Any commissions could be reflected in your premiums, but not to the point that you should worry.An agentAgents typically provide services for one company. They have a closer relationship to the insurance company than a broker would, giving them more leverage to make alterations to your plan. In some cases they can offer a particular plan for less than a broker, and may have access to additional services like worker’s compensation. To find out what different providers have to offer, talk to more than one agent. It may be time-consuming, but it could bring you closer to the most cost-effective solution for your small business health insurance.One of the common options presented by agents is the employee-elect option. This is an arrangement where employees pick the plan they prefer. Those who don’t need as much coverage won’t be forced to pay so much, and those who do need it can get it without increasing the financial burden of the company as a whole.How to Save On Your Small Business Health Insurance PlanWhat’s important to remember is that there really is no inexpensive solution to health care. Even if your initial premiums are reasonably low, they could rise significantly at your next renewal. So saving money on small business health insurance is about doing a combination of things simultaneously to get good rates, and to then maintain those rates.. And it will require a consistent effort from you, your employees, and your insurance provider.First, you can save yourself money by reading the fine print. You need to know exactly what your plan does and DOESN’T cover. There are also state mandated coverages. For example, in states like Illinois, your insurance must cover mammograms. Also, understanding the ins and outs of your plan will give you and your employees a better idea of how to deal with your insurance.Next, you should shave unnecessary benefits. After reading all about your plan, you will find coverage for things you may not need. Eliminating these benefits can significantly drop monthly small business health insurance premiums. For example, eliminating coverage for brand name medications can reduce costs by more than 25 percent.Wellness program have worked wonders for small businesses. A wellness program is any program designed to promote healthy living within the organization. Weight loss competitions benefit every participant. Add a financial incentive for further motivation. Stock the work fridge with water, and leave literature about healthy living lying around. Search the internet for calorie counting charts. Raising awareness entice workers to make positive changes. Active, exercising, diet-conscious employees have stronger immune systems, more vitality, and more productive workplaces. They also don’t deal with as many health issues. Fewer doctor visits and hospitilizations will help maintain lower annual premiums, because it will prove to your insurance provider that your business is a low financial risk.Increasing your co-pay and deductible can go a long way towards cutting costs. For instance, raising co-pays by just ten dollars has saved companies as much as thirteen percent on their premiums. A higher deductible will significantly reduce your monthly premium. To lessen the financial burden of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), combine them with an HSA. Combinations like these have saved both business owners and employees bundles of cash.Check into getting a nurse hotline. A nurse hotline is a toll free, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week service. Employees can get medical advice from qualified, registered nurses. This method has deterred a large number of people from emergency visits, and it can also be used for preventative care as well. Insurers like Nationwide have them, or you may have to purchase from a third-party provider.Increase the size of your group to reduce your monthly small business health insurance premiums. In a survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans, small businesses who employed ten people or less paid forty three more dollars on average than businesses with twenty six to fifty employees. Check around with other businesses owners, or fellow members of business organizations. Some states also have small business groups and pools for this purpose. Check with your state Chamber of Commerce and Department of Insurance.Beware of heavily discounted plans. First, there are numerous scammers trying to get your money. They promise low rates, and usually cover little to nothing at all. The internet is notorious for swindlers trying to hustle you out of a buck. If you are going with a company you aren’t familiar with, please do your research. On another note, even reputable companies present problems. In an attempt to gain market share, Blue Cross offered small businesses discounted rates in 2008. For 2009, some of these same businesses were set to see increases of as much as 47% in their premiums. As the costs of medical care increases, the costs are shifted from the insurer to the insured, and discount plans become overpriced plans quickly.Shop around. As mentioned before, talking to different agents will expose you to the best that insurance providers have to offer. Ask other small business owners about their providers. You can use trusted online resources like Netquote and Ehealthinsurance to shop around instantly. These services also let you compare plans side by side, and allow you to purchase your plan online. Even after you get your initial plan, it’s good to annually reevaluate your coverage. This will keep you on the up-and-up about what the market is offering. Keeping costs down is an ongoing effort, especially with rates and plans changing all the time from company to company.Share some of the costs with your employees. Raising employee contributions isn’t a popular option, but it may be one of the only ways to absorb costs and maintain small business health insurance coverage. Communicate with your employees about how to keep costs down, and remind them that their increase is your increase as well.The sad truth is that, no matter how many cost-cutting methods you apply, your insurance premiums are expected to continually rise. In addition to this, you can’t prevent every health problem with exercise and higher co-pays.The Health Care Reform Bill won’t kick in until about 2013, so waiting on its benefits won’t do you any good. There is definitely a need for change, because the current system discourages competition and growth. With smaller businesses functioning as the backbone of this ailing economy, company medical insurance must BE affordable, and STAY affordable.

Low Cost Health Insurance Options Are Overlooked

Let’s stick with the concept that something is better than nothing. Low cost health insurance alternatives are the only solution to millions of people right now. If you’re uninsured you either don’t have a job, don’t have enough money to pay for an expensive plan or you don’t have good enough health for a standard plan. Which category are you in?This article is dedicated to a couple of overlooked health care options that millions of uninsured Americans can afford yet they don’t have. Spreading awareness about these options is vital in helping improve our health care crisis.The negative affects of not having health insurance are very straight forward. You end up with medical collections that ruin your credit and tax payers cover your bill. This is one of the reasons health care costs keep going up as the insured are now under more strain to help compensate for all the uninsured. Finding a low cost health insurance alternative that actually is within your financial budget can save you from adding to this problem.There are two plans cheaper than short term health insurance that stick out and remain ready and waiting for you to jump on. The great thing about these plans is you don’t have to worry about being turned down. Anyone under 64yrs of age can enroll. If you’ve already checked for a short term plan and can’t afford the premium then this is your solution. One of these two low cost health insurance options will be within your reach.Your first option is a form of supplemental health care. A fixed indemnity plan pays you a fixed amount of cash when qualified medical services are needed. The coverage is very broad and for many individuals a fixed indemnity plan is all they will ever need. Only a major, life changing health condition would be enough to outweigh the protection of these plans. A fixed indemnity plan is one of the most valuable dollar for dollar health care options available today.The plan provides network discounts like an HMO, so you save money on your medical needs. Most insurers give you a card that you use like a credit card when you need a medical service. Fixed indemnity plans are low cost health insurance plans simply because you pay the monthly premium and don’t have to worry about a deductible or co-insurance costs. There is a set cash amount credited you for each service you receive. For example, a visit to your doctor would bring you a $50 credit. If you needed a name brand drug prescribed while you’re there, you would receive a $25 credit for the prescription.The plan also covers allergy shots and immunizations, outpatient medical events, surgery, anesthesia, ground and air ambulance, emergency room or urgent care and inpatient hospital confinement. The primary insured on the plan also receives a built in life insurance policy to cover final expenses. If you’re stuck in the hospital, you’ll receive $2,000 a day for illnesses and $4,000 a day for injuries. As you can see, there is plenty of value in these plans, but how much do they cost you might wonder?The cost of your premium for a fixed indemnity plan is based strictly on your age, but can also be affected by where you live. Pre-existing conditions are not covered under these plans so you’re not penalized for any health conditions including smoking. In most cases, the premiums are slightly higher than short term premiums…usually between $20-$50, depending on the deductible and co-insurance you might choose for a short term plan. As stated though, you avoid the cost of deductibles and co-insurance with a fixed indemnity plan.For a base example, a 35 yr old male would pay $120 a month. This same male with an equal aged spouse and one child would run a monthly premium of $330, a slight discount for family pricing. By way of comparison, you could easily pay $330 just for yourself without factoring in the rest of your family or deductibles and co-insurance using a traditional health insurance plan.We highly recommend Assurant Health’s “Health Access” fixed indemnity plan. It’s a very mainstreamed, popular choice used by many large scale companies like Wells Fargo for their employees. This is a tremendously underused health care plan that millions of uninsured people need to start considering as soon as possible.The other option is a simple health discount plan. This is by far the cheapest route and for good reason. Health discount plans are not insurance, so technically it really isn’t low cost health insurance. Regardless, it remains at tremendous value when utilized.You receive discounts on services you select that cover your entire family. There are three choices you can choose to receive discounts for and we will again use Assurant’s Discount Plan for this example. You can pick any combination or all of the discount options to customize your plan.The first option is the medical discount plan which saves you up to 40% on physician and hospital services, prescriptions, dental and eye care. This option costs $20 a month. The dental and vision plan provides discounts on a broader range of services including eyeglasses and vitamins for $10 a month. There is also a prescription discount plan for $8 a month that covers additional drug, hearing and nutritional care.Combining all three plans together provides substantial discounts for your family for about $38 a month. This is as cheap as health care plans get. The sad fact is that there a countless uninsured families who could easily afford the $38 a month for a discount plan like this and they go without. If you can afford to combine both of these low cost health insurance options together we strongly suggest you do.Having a fixed indemnity plan with a health discount plan on top of it makes sense. You’ll maximize your protection and still be paying far less than you would with any standard health insurance plan. It all comes down to understanding your health care options and being proactive.You’ll need to check to see if your state will allow you to enroll in either their “Health Access” fixed indemnity plan or the Health Discount Plan as coverage isn’t available in every state.These plans need to be utilized on a much greater level if America’s health care problem is going to start improving. Now that you’ve read this page, spread awareness!