Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, Without Decent Healthcare!

The 2018 Open Enrollment Period to purchase healthcare insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. This is a month and a half less time than was given to sign up in 2016 for 2017 coverage.

If you are:

  • Self-employed
  • Work for a company that does not offer healthcare
  • Unemployed and your COBRA is expiring
  • Underemployed, part-time and have family responsibilities

You may find it more difficult to find information this year because the advertising budget has been cut 90% (from $100 million in 2016 to $10 million). Help with enrollment will also be more difficult this year because funding to grass-roots navigators that assist with signing up was reduced by 40%. Another move by the Trump administration will take the enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, offline for what may be 12 hours, for maintenance every Sunday during the open enrollment period. These cutbacks combined with the shorter enrollment period mean there is less time to ponder your choices and less help to navigate, what many consider, a cumbersome process.

As the economy of the U.S. evolves to include work that is contract labor, start-up entrepreneurs, and small employer service businesses, it can seem that having health insurance is an expensive option that can be put off until you are older. Statistically this choice might seem a safe one to make until your career stabilizes and you are earning more, or you have family responsibilities.

If you have read this far chances are you have more than a passing interest in the topic and I would ask you to consider the following:

  • The current political climate is one in which there is a real chance that pre-existing health conditions will allow insurance companies to require underwriter approval (i.e. charge significantly higher premiums or decide you are uninsurable) anytime in the future. The term “pre-existing” means an illness or injury the insurer randomly decides is connected to a diagnosis. In the future, this could allow the insurer to require underwriting to assess the risk and their willingness to insure.
  • Examples of pre-existing can be as simple as you being treated for an STD like HPV that makes you uninsurable for some forms of cancer 5 or 10 years from now. Or, if you see a doctor for anxiety, you could be labeled pre-existing and unable to get coverage for a heart condition when you are older. Removing a suspect mole could mean you cannot get coverage for skin cancer, etc.
  • Many but not all current legislative initiatives have included a provision that require continuity of insurance coverage to prevent this type of discrimination.

If you are interested in learning more or getting help finding an insurer or policy we can help.

Call us now at 630.858.5483.

3 Reasons To Be Afraid of Being an Entrepreneur

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Do you ever feel that it’s scary to be out in the business world alone?  What is it that is bringing that fear about?  Is it the fear of failure, because you are now an entrepreneur and if you fail you are the only one to blame?  Is it the fear of being successful?  Are you afraid if you succeed that you might become alienated from your current peer group?  Is it the fear of being a sole proprietor or entrepreneur and knowing that every task is ultimately your responsibility?  Or is it even   scarier    to think that you have put your blood, sweat and tears into your business and the thought of turning any part of it over to someone else would just be a nightmare????

Here is what you should be afraid of:

  1. Losing sight of what matters. Think about it…..why did you start your own business to begin with? The most common response people have is, so they don’t have to work for someone else.   You probably were drawn to the thought of having the freedom to make your own schedule.  But if you are like many entrepreneurs, doing it on their own, how much free time do you really have?  Are you working on your business during the day and then in your business all night, while your family is involved with other things and you are sitting at your desk alone trying to figure out how to tweet your latest update?

 

  1. Losing money . As an entrepreneur you might be afraid of losing money by having someone else do a simple task that clearly you can do on your own.  Why should you pay an assistant to keep your schedule, prepare your documents or reply to basic emails when you can spend 2 – 3 hours a day doing it yourself?  Do you know that by doing the ‘basics’ yourself, you are losing even more money than you would if you had to pay someone else to do it?  How?  Because you could be spending your time more wisely.  You could be out networking, meeting with new clients or performing your real work without worrying about the little things.  Every minute that you spend on a task you can easily delegate to a capable virtual assistant is a minute that you are not building the successful business you started out to build.

 

  1. Wasting Time.  You might find as a new business owner, that it is even harder to manage your work life balance in the beginning.  You no longer have a boss or imposed deadlines, you are truly on your own.  That is probably the best and worst part of being an entrepreneur.  You have no one to report to and no one to keep you on task.  One of the best ways to overcome this is to find an accountability partner, someone that you check in with either weekly or bi-weekly to make sure that you are making the progress you desire.

 

Here at Just In Time Direction we can help with all of these scary issues.  We offer time management assistance, newsletter, blogs and social networking help, and business plans with weekly follow up.  Call us today to schedule a free consultation, don’t be afraid, we don’t bite.

Are High Deductibles Really About Patients Having “Skin in the Game”?

Each year more of us, the insured population, are being rolled into health insurance plans with high deductibles. As a technical matter a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is one with an individual deductible of at least $1300 and at least $2600 for a family.

The reason for high deductibles that is most often given, is consumers (patients) need to have an incentive to not over use health care services. While there may be a certain small sub-set of the insured population that might use these services in a wasteful manner the simple truth is that most people are healthy most of the time. About 50% of the health care spending in a given year, for people under 65, is attributed to just 5% of the non-elderly population. At the other end of the spectrum, 15 percent of the population recorded no spending whatsoever in the year, and the half of the population with the lowest spending accounted for just 3 percent of total spending.

My experience using the healthcare system support these figures. We know preventative care is cheaper in the long run than allowing a condition to fester and manifest into a full blown acute or chronic condition. These expenditures are preventative and discretionary. My major expenditures have been surgeries and treatments that were completely non-discretionary so the presence and size of the deductible and out-of-pocket never entered my decision-making process – I simply had no other choice.

If 20 million more people now have health insurance as a result of the ACA and most people still get their health insurance through an employer why have high deductibles become so increasingly common for both individual and group policies?

The short answer is that health insurance is a business that exists to make money for the stake-holders. These businesses are not very transparent. The obligations of both parties are governed by impenetrable legal language in policy contracts that are written by the legal department of the insurers. The insured seldom have legal advice to help them understand the coverage, conditions and limitations. They often learn what the fine print says after the fact.

Most people believe their insurance is there to help them when they get sick and that their insurer spreads their risk across all their policy holders. This concept of sharing the cost of care for the sick across a broader group is known as risk pooling. The majority of healthy people pay for the few sick ones. Segmenting risk pools has the opposite effect. It saves money for the currently health part of the group while increasing costs for those with health problems.

We’re all small business owners trying to figure out how this works and where things are going. If you have questions or want to discuss please give us a call.

Next time I will go into more depth about policy terms that sound innocuous and are means to segment risk pools and make for money for the insurer.

The Importance of New Year’s Resolutions

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The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

~ Leo Tolstoy

I was at an event recently where the audience shared their personal practices regarding writing New Year’s resolutions. I was shocked to see in that group that only 50% of the participants created resolutions. I am completely ritualistic about starting a New Year. It is a time to revisit my last year’s resolutions and to come up with new ones. During the month of January I also have my annual viewing of the movie Our Town. My dad and I used to watch that together, and as the years pass the poignancy of the message is even stronger. Life passes so quickly and our time with people we love is incredibly precious. The movie really gets me in the mood to tackle my resolutions for the coming year. New Year’s resolutions are an important annual ritual of closure and intention for me.

I start with the list of intentions I had for the past year. What was accomplished, what became less important, and what remains incomplete that is still a goal? The list for the New Year starts with the ones that were unfinished that I still care about. I like to divide what I hope to do in the next year into categories. For 2016 these include health and wellness, work, family, and experiences. At the beginning of the year I jot down things that I’d like to accomplish, and over the next few weeks more things will come up. The process crystallizes my intentions for the coming year, and gives a moment to celebrate the gifts of the past year. We find ourselves a year older and wiser with more clarity to our goals. So often, we keep dragging the same goals and intentions forward to the next year when we clearly no longer have any desire for them anymore. Streamlining our list and releasing that which is no longer useful is an exhilarating and empowering process. Just like Elsa sings in Frozen, “Let it go.” Sometimes it isn’t happening because we really don’t care that much. I am positive that the process of setting annual intentions has given me some real traction knocking items off of my own personal bucket list. There are things I know wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t start imagining it in January and giving it more form throughout the year…

For all of you, I hope that 2016 is a year filled with focus on what you truly want, celebrated accomplishments big and small, wonderful surprises, and loving connections with friends and family!

Choosing Our Path

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As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that just closed, turn around—which puts the door behind us—and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls. The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what lies before us now is the rest of reality.  

~ Excerpt from Let Your Life Speak, by Parker J. Palmer

For Christmas my mother gave each of her seven children the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer. Each book included a handwritten note about what she thought we may find in Parker Palmer’s search for a vocation that may be relevant to our own personal journey. It is a beautiful book, and I found embracing the no’s in our life to be particularly poignant. How many times are you with a dear friend or family member listening to them process the untenable? There is no way to retell their story with a happy ending and blaming themselves is always completely unsatisfying. Sometimes it is so much more rewarding to look away from the locked or broken door. The entire world opens up in front of you.

At Just In Time Direction we often meet with people that have worked in a career for many years. They have been successful in projects or businesses, and have hit a juncture where they can no longer settle for what their career is offering. We rarely work with someone starting their career with an amazing technology innovation to bring to market.

Hard Luck Cafe
Hard Luck Cafe

Our customers are more often successful searchers who believe something more is possible. They are usually financially in good shape and may be in a changing work situation, or they may hear a calling to something more fulfilling and want to explore stepping off the linear path. They are excited and afraid and are often tempted to turn back. It is so exciting when they choose to stay the course.

Aspiring entrepreneurs and new business owners always have limited resources—particularly time. They don’t have the time to figure out what they need to know and what they don’t know. So often taking the leap to business ownership is followed by drowning in unexpected details. What industry will I be in? What structure should I choose? What skills and talents do I have? Where do I need support? What do I think I know that is wrong, and what do I need to know that I have no idea about? The list goes on and on, and wrong or avoided decisions can derail the dream. It is good to remember that there are many that have walked the path before and they are eager to share lessons learned with other seekers. Sometimes the best answer to the daily grind can be “no” in service to a more heartfelt, unique, and personal “yes”.

Reflections on Motherhood

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Things get much better when we internalize 2 truths-

1. Nobody owes you anything (no, not even a thank you)

2. It is actually you who owes the world and its denizens. You take up space (physical and emotional). And you better have something good to show for it.                     

                                                   Seth Godin

 

 

It is startling to read these points so close to Mother’s Day, and to realize how well they capture the gift of being a mother. Clearly, my three sons were born knowing they did not owe me anything. They learned to walk holding my hand, and I was a cheerleader in their moves towards greater independence. And the way they saw it, I was meant to be that kind of permanent and uncomplaining fixture in their lives.

Kids give you lots of opportunities to think about what you care about, what feeds your soul and what doesn’t. As a mother you let go of all but the most important pieces of your old life, and the most important pieces find a new Petri dish to flourish within. The lessons I learned from my sons helped me to get less concerned about what the world owed me and more focused on what I owed the world—and more importantly, myself. For me, poetry, writing, journaling, social justice, and meaningful work all rose to the surface. I outsourced house cleaning from the beginning of our childbearing years, recognizing that one woman cleaning house for four boys/men was a recipe for resentment.

So, though I part ways with Seth Godin a bit and believe that, like my sons, I do not owe any more than my kids do, I want to thank my amazing sons Devin, Mason, and Harte for unapologetically teaching me that my life and joy are my own responsibility. On the way to that lesson, we have laughed deeply, shared our struggles and accomplishments, and reflected on best options in each of our lives. We have also played together and watched more Sports Center than I EVER would have chosen. Being your mother has been an honor and a privilege and nothing like I thought it would be. As my own mother suggested about my siblings and me, each of you has been an exciting ride to places I would never have had a chance to go to without you. Thank you for the ways you have transformed who I am and how I live my life through travelling this road together.