Health Insurance Options For Entrepreneurs
One of the most important benefits employed people enjoy is health insurance coverage. It is also the single most costly expense for self-employed entrepreneurs. So what can you do to reduce ever increasing costs of health care coverage? Here are a few tips.
1. If a medical bill seems excessive, try negotiating
Your doctor or the office manager who handles billing will probably be flexible, provided you make a valid case. When one woman in Texas was charged $900 for surgery and "consultation," she explained that she had visited the hospital just once, for surgery; her bill was promptly cut by $370.
2. Contact a medical bill "auditor"
Several services have a medical bill "auditing" system that evaluates your medical bills to determine if errors occurred in the billing process. Considering that 97 percent of hospital medical bills contain errors, it's no wonder why out-of-pocket medical expenses are on the rise for consumers. Because the typical hospital bill is extremely complicated, often containing several hundred line-item charges, there is ample opportunity for computer mistakes and accidental human error. Do a Google search for medical bill auditors to find companies offering this service.
3. You may get a tax break on your medical bills
Keep all your medical bills together and add them up at tax time. If they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, you may deduct the excess. Please note that these items also may be included in the total: the cost of eye glasses, contact lenses, physical therapy, x-rays, hearing aids, psychiatric care, insurance and transportation to the hospital or doctor's office (at 30 cents a mile). There are phase-outs in some cases based on adjusted gross income. Check with your professional tax adviser.
4. Deduct 100% of your healthcare costs from your taxes
The IRS allows all self-employed to deduct 100% of health care costs from their taxes by using Section 105 of the Internal Revenue Code. To receive this deduction, you must do the following:
a) Hire your spouse as an employee of your business.
b) Have your spouse receive health insurance in his or her name, and include the family on the policy.
c) Pay your spouse a salary that will cover the costs of the insurance.
d) Talk to your tax professional about planning for Section 105 on your taxes.
We all know your spouse is active in your business. Now, you can equally recognize their contribution he or she makes ? and get Uncle Sam to give you a tax break.
5. Help for families with kids -- CHIP
All states have established new programs that help lower income families with children to pay for health insurance for their kids. Financed partly by the federal government, the Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) operate either as an expansion of the state's Medicaid program or a subsidy for basic private health insurance. Eligible families may be able to access coverage for their children at greatly reduced premiums which will vary depending upon family income. Contact your state Department of Health or Insurance for more information.
6. Shop around
Hospital costs vary widely, especially between urban and rural facilities. If your doctor has admitting privileges at more than one hospital, find out if you can be admitted to the one that's less expensive. Keep in mind that hospitals operated by non-profit foundations are usually less expensive than investor-owned, for profit hospitals. To find out how much your local hospitals charge, ask your doctor. Many states have Health Services Cost Review Commissions, which compile such data.
7. Check for free clinics in your community
You and your entire family can save hundreds of dollars by taking advantage of the many free screenings, immunizations, and other health clinics offered by your local community or a town near you. Numerous community hospitals and social services can provide blood pressure checks, shots for your children, free contraceptives and/or advice, and other preventative health care at little to no cost.
8. Get a second opinion out of town
Believe it or not, your chance of undergoing an expensive surgery or preventative procedure may depend solely on where you happen to live. Statistics show that the frequency in which certain medical procedures are performed varies widely from location to location. For example, residents of New Haven, Conn., are twice as likely to undergo a coronary bypass operation as residents of Boston, Mass. What's the reason for this discrepancy? One Dartmouth Medical School expert, John E. Wennberg, M.D., M.H.P., explains that certain operations are simply more fashionable in some parts of the United States than others. So, if you plan to get a second opinion prior to surgery, consider going to a specialist in another city. In addition, try to find out what the surgery rates for your procedure are in different cities. HealthAllies.com also offers this service online at www.healthallies.com. To get the names of second-opinion doctors in your region, call the U.S. government's toll-free second-opinion hotline at 1-800-638-6833.
9. Don't pay double for a second opinion
As you make arrangements for a second opinion, ask your doctor to send copies of your medical records, x-rays, and lab tests to the second-opinion doctor. These tests don't need duplication; your second doctor will have the information he or she needs ? and you don't pay double.
10. Emotional stability
Your mental health is equally important as your physical health. Do you have blue days once in awhile, or struggle with gray winters? St. John's Wort, an over-the-counter herbal supplement, has been proven to increase positive moods. Before rushing to your family physician for medication to make you feel better, try supplements with a combination of expressing your feelings with friends and a healthy lifestyle. Mood stabilizers are some of the most costly medications on the market today. However, you should be aware of the signs of stress or even depression. Give yourself a simple screening test:
Do you have feelings of sadness and/or irritability?
Has there been a loss of interest in pleasure activities you once enjoyed?
Have there been changes in your weight or appetite?
Have you noticed changes in your sleeping pattern? Are you feeling guilty?
Do you have the inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions?
Are you fatigued or have a loss of energy?
Do you experience restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others?
Do you have feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness?
Do you have thoughts of suicide or death?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, consider consulting your family physician. If they recommend mental health treatment, it is more cost-effective to have your family physician prescribe mood stabilizers instead of seeing a psychiatrist. However, follow your doctor's instructions on counseling and referrals to mental health professionals.
11. Order your prescription drugs by phone, web or mail
There are many discount prescription drug benefits available for a modest cost. Communicating for Agriculture and the Self-Employed offers a free prescription card through PCS. This program saves its members up to 40 percent at over 55,000 pharmacies nationwide. On average, CA members save $9.39 per prescription order. You can enroll free on their Web site at www.selfemployedcountry.org.
12. Ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs
Medicine marketed under its scientific name is usually 50 percent cheaper and just as effective as brand-name versions. In addition, look for generic drugs in the medicine you purchase over the counter. For example, 100 generic aspirin may cost $1.79; the same ingredients packaged under a well-known brand name can cost more than $5 for 100 tablets. Consider, also, just how important the new easy-to-swallow products are to your comfort. The lesser price of some medicines may be comparably easier to swallow when thinking about your budget.
13. Get enrolled in a group plan
For self employed people including those involved in small businesses, individual health insurance can be extremely costly ? sometimes as much as 30 percent of your take home pay. By joining associations like National Association for the Self Employed (www.nase.org), you have the opportunity to enroll in a group insurance plan with unique built-in cost controls.
14. Choose a higher deductible
Often for the healthy family, the number of visits to the doctor totals less than $250 a year, a normally low deductible rate. This low deduction rate, however, can end up costing you more in the form of higher premiums. If your family has enjoyed good health for a number of years, you may want to switch to a higher deductible of $500 or $1000. You'll notice greatly reduced premiums.
15. Pay premiums annually
You avoid the service fee and may also receive a discount from your insurance carrier. Check with your insurance agent about how much money you can save if you pay your premium one time during the year.
16. Make sure there's a ceiling for out-of-pocket expenses for catastrophic illnesses
About half of individual policyholders lack this important provision, according to insurance experts, who recommend a major medical policy with a stop-loss clause limiting policyholder payout to $2,000 or $3,000.
17. Get educated about your health
Invest in your health by becoming information-rich. Read publications about health care. Pay special attention to free wellness publications like Inside Mayo Clinic at www.mayo.edu/healthinfo/public.html or have on hand a book on medical self-care, like The AAFP Family Health and Medical Guide and The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. A wealth of information is also available on the Internet.
18. Take advantage of free health advice
For free information booklets from the U.S. government about nearly every health care topic you can imagine, simply write to the Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, Colorado. The government offers several dozen booklets on topics ranging from nutrition, medical problems, mental health, to drugs, exercise and weight control. To receive a catalog explaining these booklets, write to:
Consumer Information Center
PO Box 100
Pueblo, CO 81009
www.pueblo.gsa.gov (you can download booklets from this site)
Once again the U.S. Government comes through by providing a number of toll free health care information phone services. Topics are numerous, including hearing aids, cancer information, Alzheimer's disease, drugs and pregnancy issues. For information on the health topics and phone numbers, call the National Health Information Center at 1-800-336-4797.
19. Brush up on first-aid skills and become CPR certified.
Proper treatment of various accidents may reduce the number of visits to the doctor, and can save lives in an emergency. It's important to always keep an updated medical kit in your home or office.
Here are the basics for your first-aid kit:
bandage supplies, including a roll of 3 inch wide gauze, individually packaged 4 inch sterile gauze pads, a roll of 1 inch bandage tape, butterfly bandage tape, and scissors elastic bandages cotton swabs sterile dressings or towels pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) anti-inflammatory medicine (ibuprofen) ipecac syrup (for use on advice of medical professional to induce vomiting) tweezers hydrogen peroxide skin creams, including hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion and antibiotic creams an antihistamine (diphenhydramine for allergic reactions) flashlight eye patch arm sling tongue depressors (to be used as a finger splint) ice pack re-hydration fluids (such as Pedialyte or Infalyte)
20. Take a lifestyle approach to wellness ? every day
Take charge of your health by making simple changes in your lifestyle. By following these seven basic rules of good health, you'll improve your chances of living a long, healthy, active life.
Get eight hours of sleep per night.
Eat breakfast every morning.
Cut down on snacks between meals.
Keep within 10 pounds of your recommended weight range. If you're unsure what your weight range should be check with your doctor.
Exercise aerobically for at least 30 minutes three times per week.
Don't drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
Take recommended dosages of vitamins and supplements.
Copyright 2004, Monikah Ogando, Ogando Associates, Inc.
Monikah Ogando is a highly skilled facilitator and charismatic speaker. She continues to inspire her audience through her expertise in Business Development, leadership effectiveness, individual accountability and the values that guide excellence.
She practices what she speaks: an entrepreneur, Monikah leads her own two companies, consulting firm Ogando Associates and Exodus House Publishers and is a Team Member of Solo-E.com.
Business Insurance ? And What You Need To Know
Getting your business up and running is exciting, challengingand hard work. You're finally making money ? and you are thedriving force that is making your business grow. But have...(related: Insurance)
What Should I Do About Billing Problems When Using Hsa Money?
If you run into a billing problem or misunderstanding with a hospital or doctor's office for which you're planning to use money from your Health Savings Account (HSA), you could be in trouble.This article will help you understand how hospital and doctor visits are different when paying with a Health Savings Account. Not better or worse, just different.If you have an HSA, you must have health insurance. It's a requirement. However, if you are using money from your HSA, it means that you haven't hit the deductible of your policy yet.In this particular situation, life is a bit different when it comes to resolving billing disputes with hospitals.Insurance companies have a comprehensive system for d...(related: Insurance)
Check Out The Variety Of Auto Insurance Texas Style
They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and this is true when you look at the wide variety of different auto insurance companies offering auto insurance. Texas drivers have to consider four main options when they choose an auto insurance company....(related: Insurance)
Do You Know What The 7 Home Insurance Plans Are?
Most people don't realize that there are 7 different homeowners insurance plans that insurance companies can offer. Each plan is different from the other 6 based on the circumstances that it covers. Additionally if consumers are familiar with any of the plans it would be plans that involve parts of option 2 and option 3. You'll see why as I explain each plan in more detail...(related: Insurance)
The Importance Of Travel Insurance
You've finally saved enough to go on that dream vacation you've been planning. Now you're wondering if you should buy travel insurance. Do I really need to go to the extra expense? All I can lose is my luggage, right?Guess again! Anything can go wrong while you are traveling, and I strongly favor buying a policy.Most travel insurance policies are designed for a variety of travel needs but, I emphatically advise reading the fine print of any policy you purchase regarding any deductibles and health situations. You many find your policy won't cover pre-existing conditions that may cause a problem, or that the medical coverage is only for an injury or an illness -- not both. For emergency aid, travel insurance polices are generally dependable and affordable, but there a...(related: Insurance)
Everybody Wants The Best Term Life Insurance Quote
The information you need about the best term life insurance quote is only a click away when you search for term life insurance online. You don't even have to know anything about the insurance industry to get the best term life insurance quote from an online insurance company.So many life insurance companies have an online presence that you can shop for anywhere from one year to 30 year life insurance terms. Term life insurance is cheaper than whole life insurance because your family only collects a settlement if you die during the term of the life insurance. If you are still alive at the end of the term, then you have to start looking all over again for the best term life insuran...(related: Insurance)
Consumer Directed Health Plans
Most of you have heard about "consumer directed health plans". The Bush administration has been a strong supporter of this concept as a way to get a handle on soaring healthcare costs. The recent inaugeration of Mr. Bush signals that consumer directed health plans will increasingly make up a larger percentage of group medical plans over the next several years. In the past, consumer directed plan designs have taken on many forms: Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).Many experts consider HRAs and HSAs to be the first generation of viable consumer directed health care products. HRAs are typically pair...(related: Insurance)
Health Insurance Online - Save Today
It is now possible to thoroughly research and buy health insurance online. Without health insurance, the smallest of incidents, accidents, or illness can leave you with expensive medical bills that most people would have difficulty paying. Even a short check up at the doctor's office for a sore throat, or minor illness can cost a couple hundred dollars. It's important for everyone to obtain health insurance, no matter how healthy you tend to be- because you simply cannot pre...(related: Insurance)
Disability Insurance For The Long Term
Disability insurance covers you for an extended period of time. Should you be injured or take ill and as a result be unable...(related: Insurance)
About Online Term Life Insurance Rates
Online term life insurance ratesHow simple it is today finding online term life insurance rates. At the click of your little mouse, fingers on the keyboard off we go into the world of cyber space. Never before have we had...(related: Insurance)
Inside-information Regarding Your Motor Vehicle Accident Insurance Claim
Here's some "Inside-Info" you must know so you won't be taken advantage of on your motor vehicle accident insurance claim and also: SO YOU CAN COLLECT EVERY DOLLAR THAT'S OWED TO YOU !The following 8 are just "The Tip Of The Iceberg":#1. There are situations where you can collect for your "Lost Wages" even if you were paid by your employer and/or collected "Sick Leave" while unable to work.#2. You can collect money and be reimbursed for any and all "Over The Counter" (non-prescription) medication you purchased during your recovery.#3. Under normal circumstances unless a claim ends up in court (several years after impact has taken place and you are fully recovered) you do not have to agree to be examined by the insurance company's doctor.#4. There are many times t...(related: Insurance)
Life Insurance Settlement
A new financial tool is now available for senior citizens. Life Insurance Settlements are quickly becoming a way for seniors to receive money from an under performing or costly life insurance policy.A life insurance settlement is the sale of a life insurance policy (whole life, term, universal life, etc.) covering the life of one or more individuals with an "ascertainable and limited" life expectancy. A life insurance settlement is usually most beneficial seniors over the age of 65.Some basic qualifications for a life insurance settlement are the above-mentioned age and health requirement, policy is assignable and beyond the contestability period, and the policy must be ...(related: Insurance)
Life Insurance Basics
One of the most important things you can do as parents is to ensure the financial welfare of your children in the event of your death. Life insurance is the best way to be rest assured that your children will be taken care of if you die. Although we never like to think of that ki...(related: Insurance)