The McMahon Agency
ASSURANCE VOLUME 05 / JANUARY 2013
LIFESTYLE FAMILY INSURANCE HEALTH TECHNOLOGY
ON SELF IMPROVEMENT
STATISTICS ON SEARCH ENGINE
OF BATHROOMS IN 2013
New year Resolution
G N I S t S u E o R ST you rom F e if L p e e K o How t
From the EDITOR
JANUARY ISSUE 2013
Earl Nightingale tells the story of a preacher driving by a picturesque farm. “The fields were beautifully cultivated and abundant with well-cared for crops. The fences, house and barn were clean, neat and freshly painted. A row of fine trees led from the road to the house where there were shaded lawns and flowerbeds. It was a beautiful sight to behold. So when the farmer, working in the field, got to the end of a row near the road, there preacher stopped his car and hailed him and said, “God has blessed you with a beautiful farm.” The farmer stopped and thought a moment and then he replied, ‘Yes sir, he has and I’m grateful...but you should have seen this place when he had it all to himself.’ You see the farmer understood that he had been blessed with a fine farm, but he was also aware that it was his own love and labor which had brought it to it’s present state.” In this new year we are all given the same 365 days, the same set of finite resources. The question for each of us is what will we do with it. Some will take these resources and do very little, others will take the resources and build a masterpiece. The only difference is what we as individuals choose to do with the resources we are given. I would like to challenge you to set goals and make clear plans of what you want to accomplish this year. Rather than focus on the trials and challenges we all face, I encourage you to focus on the positives which are always there. Write down your goals and share them with your family, friends and coworkers. Put them up on your wall at home, at work and in your car. Keep them in front of you at all times. Well-known speaker Zig Ziglar once said that to be a goal something must be specific and it must be measurable. Be specific in your goals and make you can measure your progress and success. All of us here wish you and yours a prosperous new year.
Ted Baker Executive Editor
INSURANCE & FINANCIAL SERVICES
CONTENTS FAMILY YOU NEED FOCUS TO ACHIEVE SELF IMPROVEMENT IN 2013
THE HISTORY OF NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
The tradition of the New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS STATS
5 WAYS TO BEAT YOUR COMPETITORS AT SEO IN Nowadays, among the sinuous waves of likeminded online sites
YOUR 2013 MARKETING PLAN
It’s time to start planning your budget and marketing for the upcoming year. This is a good time to reach out to your business coach or consultant to discuss strategy
STATISTICS ON EEOC STATISTICS ON SEO
Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012
THE FACE OF BATHROOMS IN 2013 THE BEST SUVS OF 2013! The various motor shows that were organized all around the world in 2012
A RADICAL APPROACH TO BEING LAID OFF: WHEN JUST SURVIVING JUST ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH! HOW TO KEEP LIFE FROM STRESSING YOU OUT
INCOME TAX IMPLICATIONS OF THE HEALTHCARE REFORM ACT - OBAMA CARE They Call It Healthcare Reform
NEW WEIGHT LOSS PILL IS APPROVED BY FDA
MONEY 44 MONEY 2013 AND 2014 BOND BUBBLE - BEST INVESTMENT FUNDS IF BUBBLE BURSTS
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YOUR BEST MUTUAL FUND FOR 2013 AND BEYOND
10 12 14 15
2013 MEDICARE ADVANTAGE GUIDELINES
18 20 26 28
YOU NEED FOCUS TO ACHIEVE SELF IMPROVEMENT IN 2013 If you want to enjoy success with your self improvement goals in 2013 year, you are going to have to stay focused. You have a desire to improve yourself and you really want to achieve the self improvement goals you set for yourself. You start out great but life has a way of getting in our way or distracting us, and before long, we are completely off target. In order to achieve your self improvement goals you need to remain focused.
In fact, success takes a great deal of focus. How many times have you set a goal and been very excited about achieving that goal. A month or so goes by and you realize that you have not stayed focused and therefore not enjoyed the self improvement you expected.
So how do you stay focused in 2013? Well there are a number of things you can try. Write down your self improvement goal and read it every morning and every night. Visualize yourself achieving your goals. You might invest in a few motivational posters for your walls, or how about a handful of stickers. One of the best ways to stay focused is to regularly ask yourself â€œIs what I am currently doing helping me to get closer to my goal, or is it pushing me away?â€? After you answer that question, you will know what you now need to do.
Staying focused on your major goal can be tough, which is why sometimes sticking to one goal is best. If you have previously set a number of goals and you recognize that you have not achieved any of the major ones, then now might be a good time to set one major goal and stay focused on that one goal. Distractions are your enemy. They pull you away from your goal and take you off track. In other words, you lose focus. When this happens, you need to stop, and get yourself back on track again. The sooner you get yourself back on focus, and working back towards your self improvement goals.
It is not always easy to stay focused, but when you recognize this is what you need to do to achieve your goals, but remaining aware of how important your focus is to your success will help you to keep focus in the forefront. Hats off to you for undertaking your self improvement goals. Not everyone is up to the challenge. You have decided that you want to improve yourself and that is the biggest step - making that decision. Now you just need to remember to stay focused and in no time, you will have met your self improvement goals.
The History of New Years Resolutions The tradition of the New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year’s gifts.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
In the Middle Ages, Christians changed New Year’s Day to December 25, the birth of Jesus. Then they changed it to March 25, a holiday called the Annunciation. In the sixteenth century, Pope Gregory XIII revised the Julian calendar, and the celebration of the New Year was returned to January 1.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn’t begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.
The Julian and Gregorian calendars are solar calendars. Some cultures have lunar calendars, however. A year in a lunar calendar is less than 365 days because the months are based on the phases of the moon. The Chinese use a lunar calendar. Their new year begins at the time of the first full moon (over the Far East) after the sun enters Aquarius- sometime between January 19 and February 21.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.
Although the date for New Year’s Day is not the same in every culture, it is always a time for celebration and for customs to ensure good luck in the coming year.
The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year’s Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune.
Ancient New Years The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 23, although they themselves had no written calendar.
Late March actually is a logical choice for the beginning of a new year. It is the time of year that spring begins and new crops are planted. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary. The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New Year’s Eve festivities pale in comparison. The Romans continued to observe the New Year on March 25, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun. In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the New Year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
Global Good Luck Traditions With New Year’s upon us, here’s a look at some of the good luck rituals from around the world. They are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. AUSTRIA - The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the new year. It’s served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover. ENGLAND - The British place their fortunes for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They believe the first visitor of each year should be male and bearing gifts. Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back. Guests who are empty-handed or unwanted are not allowed to enter first.
WALES - At the first toll of midnight, the back door is opened and then shut to release the old year and lock out all of its bad luck. Then at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened and the New Year is welcomed with all of its luck. HAITI - In Haiti, New Year’s Day is a sign of the year to come. Haitians wear new clothing and exchange gifts in the hope that it will bode well for the new year. SICILY - An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year’s Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck. SPAIN - In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish eat 12 grapes, one with every toll, to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead. PERU - The Peruvian New Year’s custom is a spin on the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the turn of the year. But in Peru, a 13th grape must be eaten to assure good luck. GREECE - A special New Year’s bread is baked with a coin buried in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child, the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year. JAPAN - The Japanese decorate their homes in tribute to lucky gods. One tradition, kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility. CHINA - For the Chinese New Year, every front door is adorned with a fresh coat of red paint, red being a symbol of good luck and happiness. Although the whole family prepares a feast for the New Year, all knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone from cutting themselves, which is thought to cut the family’s good luck for the next year. UNITED STATES - The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the United States is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the new year.
10 08 Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012
1 Lose Weight 2 Getting Organized 3 Spend Less, Save More 4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest 5 Staying Fit and Healthy 6 Learn Something Exciting 7 Quit Smoking 8 Help Others in Their Dreams 9 Fall in Love 10 Spend More Time with Family
The Face Of Bathrooms In
Trends for bathrooms in 2013 have moved towards a look that is more modern and streamlined. Designers are no longer creating clean simple lines associated with chunky and heavy moldings. In essence, such trends are outdated. The modern look is not only appealing to the eye but relaxing and functional. Currently, there are various future bathroom products to choose from and these go a long way enhance the look of this treasured room where people get to unwind.
In the 2013 outlook, there are certain future bathroom products that clearly stand out and these are as highlighted below. • Wall mount toilets and hung vanities will be used to streamline bathroom design. These create a luxurious and spacious look for the simple reason they are mostly made of floating fixtures and what is more, they float over floors. Frameless shower enclosures and large windows are also a smart choice since they create an illusion of increased space and thus, enhance beauty.
Highlights of 2013 Trends
• Now more than ever, there is an emphasis of creating a spa like look. This includes addition of jetted showers, LED showerheads and towel racks. Large bathroom projects will feature heated floors for increasing comfort and warmth.
• Soaking tubs are also expected to feature prominently in the trends for 2013. With these, it is possible to maximize on space and at the same time modernize your bathroom. These do not need any additional plumbing and they come in variety of sizes.
• People are more interested in sun filled and brighter rooms. It is for this reason that the trends for 2013 are going to feature windows that stretch from floor to ceiling. Natural light is the hottest and latest trend and this is for the simple reason it creates natural scenery. With this type of look, a personal spa like retreat is emphasized.
• Thanks to advance in technology, the trends in 2013 are also going to be more environment friendly and conscious. Greening is the way to go and there is bound to be an increase in the use of green products. These will vary from smart heaters to low shower heads, faucets that save water and dual flushing toilets.
Regardless of the design you are interested in, rest assured that trends for bathrooms is 2013 will meet your needs. Majority of these come in creative styles and they are also manufactured using high quality materials. This aspect ensures they last longer and compliment the look of your bathroom as well. Future bathroom products are of the highest quality possible and guaranteed to transform the look of your bathrooms while at the same time increasing the level of comfort.
The Best SUVs of 2013 The various motor shows that were organized all around the world in 2012 were the chosen venues for a number of automobile giants who unveiled their respective SUV models for the 2013 model year. These companies included all the popular names like Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mazda and Cadillac and their offerings of SUVs were quite amazing and each unique in their own way. Some were more practical, offering unparalleled fuel economy, while others focused more on power and style! We have compiled a list of the some of the standout SUVs for 2013 that we think will dominate the market for next year!
unveiled their respective SUV models for the 2013 model year
Cadillac Escalade 2013: The Escalade is a truck-based SUV and is expected to be one of the best SUVs from its competitors. It features a beast of an engine: 6200cc V8. This SUV possesses enough power to tow very heavy weights. Buick Enclave 2013: Powered by an impressive 3600cc V6 engine, the Buick Enclave has made it high on the list of the most desirable truck-based SUVs of the year. The real hook of the Buick Enclave is its looks - it is just one of those vehicles that make you look twice. Mercedes-Benz GL Class 2013: The GL Class is also a truck-based SUV that has clearly set a high standard for its competitors. The SUV comes in two models: one with a 3000cc engine and the other with a 4700cc engine.
Lexus RX 350 2013: Lexus has managed to reach high on the list of mid-sized SUVs with its RX 350. The 3500cc V6 engine is perfect for the size. Mazda CX5 2013: The Mazda CX 5 is a very practical and useful compact SUV that has proven to be a gem for the company. The machine won the Green SUV 2012 award for being the most fuel efficient and environment friendly SUV for that year. The 2000cc engine is enough to provide enough thrust for a good performing mid-sized SUV. LandRover RangeRover Evoque 2013: The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is an elegant compact SUV that comes with a 2000cc engine. Its long nose and fluid lines make this SUV one of the most stylish to be offered to the market.
Porsche Cayenne 2013: Luxury has never seemed so complete when it comes to the Cayenne. This is a mid-sized SUV, and is known for being utterly beautiful, stylish but sturdy. The beast comes in 3000cc and 4800cc models, which both ensure insane acceleration.
BMW X1 2013: Yet another addition to BMWâ€™s impressive fleet of X-series vehicles, the compact X1 has been a favourite among buyers and critics. It features 3000cc engine and great compactness.
Volkswagen Touareg 2013: The German car maker Volkswagen made sure that their SUV offering is nothing but a spectacular blend of stylish looks and insane power. The SUV comes in a number of different models.
Besides these SUV reviews, there are many more amazing models that are counted among the best models. Examples are the Audi Q7, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander. SUV lovers definitely have a lot to appreciate and love in the coming year!
A Radical Approach to Being Laid Off: When Just Surviving Just Isn’t Good Enough! Everyone knows that being laid off can negatively affect one’s health and well-being. Feelings of rejection, being unfairly treated, and fear of the future can lead to stress, resentment, and anger, which can create health problems such as ulcers, headaches, insomnia, and of course, depression. What everyone doesn’t know, however, is that these problems could be minimized if we just knew what was really going on “under the hood,” or what happens in our brain and our body that triggers these negative physical, mental and emotional reactions. In other words, to deal with the trauma of being laid off in a way that goes beyond “just surviving,” we need to understand that the negative emotions and health problems we experience are simply chemical changes in our body triggered by a very specific part of our brain. Here is how all this works: After being laid off we are thrown into “survival mode” by the part of our brain responsible for survival, the brainstem. This lower 20 percent of our brain then triggers the release of “fight or flight” chemicals such as adrenaline, nor adrenaline, and cortisol, which produce emotions such as anger, frustration and resentment. The reason this does not help is that we are not in a “fight or flight” situation! Quite the contrary, what we really need to deal with the situation at hand (being laid off) is access to our best thinking, or the clarity, confidence and creativity that allows us to do more than just survive. What we really need is the ability to shift to the upper 80 percent of our brain (the Neocortex) and shift our focus from stopping the problem (worry, depression and resentment) to starting the solution and moving from surviving to thriving. You see, after being laid off, most of us find ourselves asking
brainstem questions such as, “How could they treat me this way? What did I do to deserve this? Who do they think they are laying me off after I have been a loyal employee for so many years? What am I going to do now?” etc. Basically, we are asking ourselves questions about the problem, which almost always revolve around “Who is to blame?” or “What’s wrong with them? Or what’s wrong with me?” While understandable, these questions only serve to engage the lower 20 percent of our brain, which responds by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension. Of course, this only has us feeling more stressed, frustrated, angry, etc. which again reengages the brainstem and has us feeling “all stressed up and no where to go.” This is why so many people feel trapped, confused and paralyzed after being laid off. They are trying to solve the problem from the part of the brain that is incapable of the kind of clarity, confidence and creativity they need to deal with the situation successfully. What’s the solution? First, we may need to “grieve the shattered dream,” or allow ourselves to feel the emotions of grief over the loss of what we had hoped would be a job where we would finally be recognized for the valuable people we are. After a “good cry” (which often, women are able to accomplish more successfully than men), we will want to shift from a focus on the pain of past to our ability to become more influential in our present and future.
Click here to view How To Keep Life From Stressing You Out Video
If my grown child were in this position, what would I advise him or her to do?
For example we might encourage someone we loved to shift their focus from the past and “Who’s to blame?” to the present and future. We might encourage them to take stock, or become clear about their attributes, or the qualities and characteristics that make them valuable to potential employers. One way of doing this is to ask ourselves the Neocortex question: “If I was the person responsible for hiring, would I hire me?” If so, why? And then make a list of these attributes. You see, we know who we are and what we bring to our roles as professionals better than anyone. And thus, as we become clear about the qualities and characteristics we possess that would be of value to any organization, we begin to recognize our self-worth. This clarity allows us then to look at the world of work from a very different, Top of the Mind perspective. Now we know that some organization will soon be very fortunate to discover that we are available, and therefore we can begin to evaluate potential employers in terms of whether we want to work for them, (a Neocortex perspective) rather than the fear that we are now, somehow “damaged goods” (a brainstem interpretation and certainly not one we would recommend to someone we loved). It also makes it easier for us to contact our friends and let them know of our availability. Because rather than coming from the shame and/or resentment of being laid off (brainstem),we now
know that when our friends recommend someone as qualified and valuable as ourselves to their friends and colleagues, it will reflect positively on everyone! Plus, this clarity of our value and worth allows you to go into future interviews confident in the fact that this organization would be fortunate to have someone like you working for it. This confidence is contagious in that when prospective employers sense that you are confident in yourself, they can be more confident in making the decision to hire you. It also allows you to respond to questions and participate in the process of finding a new job from a more creative perspective because you are coming from the clear, confident and creative part of your mind. Bottom line: when we want to do more than “just survive” after a lay off, we must access the part of our brain responsible for more than just survival. We must access the wise, supportive and intelligent “Top of the Mind” and treat ourselves like we would treat someone we loved. Then, as we take this loving wisdom and apply it to our lives, we too move from surviving to thriving and are able to bring our best to life and our new position!
Income Tax Implications of The Healthcare Reform Act - Obama Care
On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Landmark Health Care Reform Act and was immediately challenged in court. The result was that many people were left confused about the law and itsâ€™ effect your personal bottom line and taxes in particular. The new law which incorporates a slew of new regulations and requirements for businesses and individuals is intended to increase the number of people covered by medical insurance and by doing so reduce the cost for everyone. The Health Care Reform Act commonly referred to as Obama Care is being phased in over the course of eight years with the vast majority of the law in place by the end of 2014. One of the ways the law is intended reduce costs is through the creation of state-based exchanges. These exchanges allow lower income individuals and families to purchase coverage by taking advantage of cost sharing. Small businesses may also purchase
insurance through the state exchanges and take advantage of similar cost benefits. The state exchanges will be available to individuals and families who are between 133-400% of the federal poverty level which is incomes from about $23,050. to $92,200 for a family of four. The Health Care Reform Act, Obama Care does require that individuals without employer provided health coverage purchase their own or be subject to a tax penalty. The penalty for not purchasing coverage is based on income and therefore varies. The tax penalty will be eased into effect and at itsâ€™ maximum will run from $695 to $2,085. per year. For a family of four with a household income of $50,054. the average tax penalty will be about $1,251. per year.
The majority of households, estimates range from 70-80%, who do not have some form of employer based health coverage will be eligible for premium support and as such will have access to state exchanges. The average family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year will pay about $3,400 a year for insurance. The cost for an average family of four breaks down as follows: Household Income: $50,000. Total Cost of Insurance: $17,853. Tax Credit: $14,468.
Final Cost to Taxpayer: $3,385. The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation website provides a great tool to calculate your actual cost for health insurance beginning with the year 2014. The health reform subsidy calculator allows you to put in your family income, size and your age and calculates exactly what your costs will be.
Employers In most cases businesses who employ more then 50 people, full-time, will be required to provide health insurance coverage under this law. The law states that if you have more then 50 full-time employees and at least one of them receives the premium support tax credit a fee (tax penalty) of $2,000 per full-time employee (excluding the first 30) will be assessed. This applies only to employers who do not offer health coverage already.
For employers who do offer coverage but still have a full-time employee who receives a premium support tax credit the employer will have to pay a tax penalty of $3,000. for each full-time employee receiving a credit or $2,000. per employee, excluding the first 30, whichever is less. It is important to note that all the tax penalties for employers pertain
They Call It Healthcare Reform
They call it healthcare reform, but under the new law some Medicare beneficiaries and providers will cover more of the costs. So, it’s not really cost reform; it’s cost reallocation? Well maybe it’s a little of both. Medicare has been around since 1965, about 46 years, providing access to healthcare for seniors age 65 and older. If you thought the program had been around longer-it hasn’t. It’s a fairly modern answer to one of society’s big challenges, how to provide quality healthcare for everyone. And the U.S. is a little late coming to the table when it comes to establishing broad health benefits for its citizens. Today, Medicare covers about 47 million Americans, making it the nation’s largest health insurance program. So, the way Medicare operates has a significant impact on the country’s healthcare. And on our pocketbooks. In fact, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one in every five dollars spent on health services in 2008 were spent through Medicare. Since its enactment, spending on Medicare has grown to be a larger and larger share of the U.S. federal budget and gross domestic product (GDP). And a larger share of consumer spending. The trend is expected to continue as prices for health services continue to rise, the number and complexity of services increases, and the number of enrollees goes way up as the population ages.
HEALTH That’s why there’s a big push for continuing retirement healthcare reform. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) implemented in 2010 is expected to reduce overall spending on Medicare. But where will those savings come from and who will pay? Under the new law, Medicare savings are expected to come from reduced annual feefor-service payments to providers, changes to payments for Medicare Advantage plans, reduced payments for preventable hospital readmissions and home health services. Beginning in 2015, there will be a 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) charged with recommending Medicare program changes if spending growth exceeds specific limits. To give that group some clout, a supermajority vote will be required by Congress to override the Board’s recommendations. We know-there is a lot of concern about this panel setting policy without public input. But as it stands, this group could very well find ways to reduce Medicare spending by continuing to push more costs to enrollees and providers. And under the new law there will be more enrollees who fit the high-earner income levels requiring them to pay higher premiums for Medicare Part B (physician service). That’s because the law temporarily eliminates the annual inflation adjustment for income levels, freezing them at 2010 levels until 2019. So, the income thresholds for higher Part B and Part D premiums are now fixed at $85,000 for an individual and $170,000 for couples through 2019. Then there are incentive plans intended to improve the quality and coordination of care, produce efficiencies and, ultimately, program savings. And if you’ve been to a hospital lately, you know firsthand the need for improvement. What we wouldn’t do for better communication among providers, and between providers and patients. And whether you were the patient or a visitor, you can’t help but long for better quality care. Let’s face it, if you end up in the hospital today, you had better have an advocate to help oversee your stay, or it’s very possible you will end up with an infection, won’t make a full recovery or could even become a statistic.
When it comes to possible efficiencies, just think about the hospital billing process. After a hospital stay, you get separate bills for doctor and hospital services. You may even get bills from doctors you didn’t even know treated you or what they treated you for. That bill may arrive months later. And there is really no way to verify that you received the service. Nor is there a way to challenge the amounts you’re being charged. Come on! Is it really $10 for an aspirin? Really? Can you say “simple fraud prevention?” Clearly, reforms are needed. The reality of a hospital stay doesn’t look anything like what you see on TV. And every business can find ways to implement best practices and become more efficient. It’s just a question of what should be changed and how it will be paid for until the associated savings are realized. Implementing efficiencies is one of the few areas where true cost savings are possible. But watch out for the tendency to cut costs by simply shifting them to the patient, doctor or back to Medicare.
There are also provisions in the law that will increase Medicare spending, offsetting some of the planned program savings. For instance, the law phases in coverage that closes the Part D prescription drug gap (“doughnut hole”) by 2020. And there is an annual wellness visit and other improvements in coverage for preventative services. Providing those additional services may be important and may provide cost relief for recipients, but the coverage will certainly add costs to the Medicare program. So, here again the costs haven’t been eliminated; they’ve merely been shifted. The law even includes provisions that produce revenue for Medicare, including an increase in the Medicare payroll tax for high earners, those with incomes of $200,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a couple. And, there are new fees directed at drug and equipment manufacturers. Here again, no real cost elimination. The revenue inflow to Medicare will come from some
In addition to monthly premiums, Medicare enrollees contribute to the cost of care through deductibles and coinsurance. And, some healthcare services like vision, dental, hearing and long-term care arenâ€™t covered by Medicare, so you must either purchase separate insurance, pay for the services yourself or forego having that test or procedure. Here again, beneficiaries continue to shoulder the costs. So, while overall the new law should save the Medicare program money, the impact on beneficiaries and vendors will vary. Those who use fewer health services will carry less of the financial burden. And, those with higher incomes will pay a bigger share
for their benefits and a bigger share of their own and othersâ€™ expenses.
reaching implications for the government, providers and beneficiaries.
Because Medicare is such a large part of the federal budget, the program will undoubtedly be central to the deficit reduction conversation. And that may mean more change is coming.
And no matter which course is chosen, or which political party gets to set the course, it is very clear that someone will pay more.
Some proposals for additional reforms expand caps on Medicare spending growth, increase beneficiary contributions even further, delay the age of Medicare eligibility and expand the scope of the advisory Board. We can either, bite the bullet and pay more, find new sources of revenue to fund the program or overhaul these benefits completely. Itâ€™s a challenge with wide-
For people 65 and older, get reliable information about Medicare and Medigap insurance, including help to compare prices of Medigap plans in your area.
2013 Medicare Advantage Guidelines
Just recently, the Obama administration sent out the 2013 payment and policy guidelines for health insurers in the United States that want to participate in the Medicare Advantage program. According to the administration, the proposed changes to the guidelines would result in lower premiums and stable or improved benefits. Since the guidelines did not include an official preliminary estimate for the net average percentage change in reimbursements, it left a lot of insurers and financial markets clueless about the potential impact of the 2013 Medicare Advantage guidelines on the industry. Low Premiums And Stable Benefits Will Likely Continue Private health care plans in Medicare popularly called Medicare Advantage Plans and prescription drug plans (Medicare Part D) have reasonably low premium charges and stable benefits. Federal officials believe that this trend will likely continue for 2013.
The officials released a growth percentage for Medicare’s per capita expenditures and stated that this will be used to determine and set rates for Medicare Advantage plans in 2013. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency who manages the federal health care program for seniors, the guidelines for 2013 projects an overall annual growth rate of 2.47 percent and 2.3 percent per capita growth rate next year. In a statement released by the agency, “This positive growth trend will help ensure that beneficiaries maintain a choice of plans without significant increases in premiums or decreases in benefits.” CMS officials added that the net all-in-figure for 2013 and final rate announcements will be unveiled and published on April 2, 2012. The CMS said that it is accepting public comments on the 2013 payment and policy guidelines for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. According to the Advance Notice and draft Call Letter for 2013, the CMS will exercise its authority granted by the Affordable Care Act to deny bids from plan insurers that proposes “too significant” an increase in beneficiary cost-sharing or a decrease in benefits.
New Weight Loss Pill Is Approved by FDA
The new weight loss pill Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride), made by Arena Pharmaceutical’s company has been recently approved by the FDA. This is the first drug for long-term weight loss that has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in 13 years. Belviq works by activating the serotonin 2C receptor in the brain which could help you eat less by feeling full longer after small meals. When used with a combination of a balanced diet and exercise, this prescription helps individuals lose about 5% or more of their beginning weight. According to Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “Obesity threatens the overall well-being of patients and is a major public health concern. The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese” or overweight patients who have one other weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes or high cholesterol. Adults who contain a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher (overweight) are approved for this drug which should be available in the first quarter of 2013. This is also for adults who are obese with a BMI of 30 or higher. Approximately 36 percent of adults in America are obese, which is roughly 30 more pounds over a healthy weight. Those extra pounds increase the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, many other types of cancer, sleep apnea and other debilitating and chronic diseases. There are about 42 percent of adults who are projected to be obese by the year 2030 if something isn’t done to stop the trend. There were three randomized, placebo-controlled tests that contained approximately 8,000 overweight and obese patients, with and without type-2 diabetes, treated for 52 to 104 weeks. These trials were used to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Belviq. The results show that individuals who took Belviq for at least 12 months had an average weight loss of 3% to 3.7%.
It will be mandatory for the drug’s manufacturer to conduct 6 postmarketing studies, including a long-term cardiovascular outcomes trial to assess the effect of Belviq one the risk for major adverse cardiac events such as stroke and heart attack. The heart function valve of about 8,000 patients was assessed by echocardiography in the Belviq development program. The FDA says that individuals with congestive heart failure should be cautious when using this medication because it has not been studied in patients with serious valvular heart disease. The Belviq weight loss pill may cause disturbances in memory or attention. The FDA also says that Lorcaserin should not be used during pregnancy. According to the Food and Drug Administration, there “was no statistically significant difference between lorcaserin and placebotreated patients.” In 1997, the weight loss drugs fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were taken from the market after evidence discovered that they caused heart valve damage. The effect is assumed to be related to activation of the serotonin 2B receptor on heart disease. When used at the approved dose of 10 milligrams twice per day, Belviq does not appear to activate the serotonin 2B receptor. The Belviq weight loss pill has an approved label that recommends patients to discontinue use if they fail to lose 5% of their body weight after 3 months because these patients are unlikely to achieve much weight loss with continued use, says the FDA. The most common side effects of Belviq in non-diabetic patients include dizziness, headache, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, and constipation, and in diabetic patients are low blood sugar, back pain, fatigue, cough and headache. Belviq is manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH of Zofingen, Switzerland and distributed by Eisai Inc. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
5 Ways to Beat Your Competitors at SEO in 2013 Nowadays, among the sinuous waves of like-minded online sites, it is an ardent job to make your presence felt. It is amazing how even rare and distinct niches have too many contenders vying for the top spot. It can be assumed that each one; or at least, most of them, is aware of the potency of SEO and the key principles (content and keyword experimentation are on priority). Yet, there are a few ways to overshadow your competitors at SEO. Here are 5 of them:
5. Mobile optimization - Nowadays, most sites are getting mobile optimization for the simple fact that many visitors are connecting and visiting via phones. Awareness about certain factors is a must here. Flash sites don’t appear too schematically on Androids and mobile apps; thus keep your site clutter-free; and with minimum graphics and images. On a different platter, work on your link building and meta-tags (that is important).
1. Be knowledgeable about what they miss - Your niche may have a fundamental upheaval coming up. It is like stocks and indices; if you know whether they will fall or rise, you can make a fortune. For instance, a neglected location may suddenly get very viable in future if an industry or an engineering college is being set there (for services site). Choose your meta-tags with cautious research and be aware of the areas your competitors have ignored.
These technicalities will help you sail over and ahead of your competitors at SEO, and by extent, in online business.
2. Be discrete - it is foolhardy to follow the footsteps of a successful competitor with a blindfold. The other site may have anticipated a few right notes, but there is every chance that he has overstuffed his streams with garbage on separate fronts. Reference and analysis of the competing site at SEO is only to find out its high and low points; and then working accordingly. Horse may be expensive; but its hooves won’t gain you too many corns! 3. Buy and apply software - It is viable to use credible software and Google Analytical Tools for the gradation of your site. One such software that gives you an exact analysis of how exact keywords are faring vis-à-vis related keywords would be immensely helpful. Your sequential work should be on the integration of these keywords until you chance upon the exact success formula. Be pro-active; don’t settle down with a pre-conceived theory that your competitor is ahead of you on every count. 4. Competitor’s SEO activities - Nowadays search engines, especially Google, have got quite smart and probing. Using techniques directly in violation with Google Guidelines can fast gain you a reservation in the sandbox. Check your SEO’s sites and give special credence if there are sudden quick changes. Of course, vitalities like quick navigation and neat front page are a must. Analyze the essentials that are gaining your competitor special brownie points. Make a detailed reading of how your competitor goes around link baits, content marketing and the accumulation of press releases. Keep a suggestive yet compact tone in your content.
Your 2013 Marketing Plan It’s time to start planning your budget and marketing for the upcoming year. This is a good time to reach out to your business coach or consultant to discuss strategy. If you’re attempting to write your own marketing plan this year, here’s a basic outline to help you get started. You don’t need an MBA to make a plan for your business, but you do need to be thoughtful about each aspect of the outline. Don’t under estimate getting help to work your way through the process. Your consultant or coach can help you see sides to your business you may not have considered otherwise. Competitive Analysis You should revisit this every year. New players or new key players may have emerged in the past 12 months that you haven’t researched. Compare these top players with your company to examine your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you develop an idea of your competitive advantage to exploit in the upcoming year. Establish Marketing Objectives Your business plan may state your objectives that you’re continuing to try to achieve. This is a good time to make sure your goals are still in-line with where you and your company are. Make sure your objectives, both long and short-term, are specific and measurable. Examples of good marketing objectives are: Improve customer loyalty (by generating X% of repeat business in the upcoming year) Gain at least 30 more clients in X segment this year Reduce marketing costs/waste by $X in the first quarter Sell 100 products per week
BUSINESS Target Audience Analysis This is another aspect you’ve probably included in your plan that you need to revisit. You may have discovered new targets in the last year or decided to widen your reach. You need to include information regarding the lifestyle and demographics of your audience(s). This should give you a clearer idea of how to appeal to them.
Strategy Selection There are several strategies you can choose to implement depending your goals and target audience. You might want to focus on why you’re different (Differentiation), that you have the lowest price (Cost Leadership), focus your efforts on niche targets (Niche Focus), or a combination of these strategies. Identifying your strategy and writing it down will help guide your decisions for the rest of the marketing year. Strategy selection is a great opportunity to visit with a consultant if you haven’t so far.
Marketing Mix (The 4 Ps) For those not familiar with the four Ps, we won’t go into a lot of detail here, but you can research the popular concept online. You’ll want to re-establish the first three Ps before diving into the fourth P - promotion.
Promotion (The 4th P) The list of ideas are endless here. Consider your budget, human resources and your strategy when deciding what items you’d like to include in your upcoming year’s marketing plan. Here’s a short list of programs or ideas to consider: • • • • • • • •
Social Media Loyalty Programs Public/Media Relations Traditional Advertising Online Advertising Email Marketing Personal Selling Trade Shows and Events
Make sure to include a timeline for your promotions and get with your marketing company now to start planning your 2013 projects. Items that will include graphic design and printing need to get on your marketing manager’s calendar sooner than later, especially if kick-off for any of your campaigns need to start in the New Year. Good luck! Curious what you need to market your small business efficiently and effectively? Jessica Scanlon, the author, owns and operates Hot Dog Marketing in Austin, TX. Hot Dog Marketing is more than an advertising agency or a graphic design firm. We’re a full-service marketing and communications services company that specializes in helping small businesses. Not only will you get valuable advice when you work with us, but we offer 100% fulfillment of your marketing plan. Visit the author’s page to find out how to contact us for a free initial consultation!
EEOC Compliance Information in 2013
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (also known as the EEOC) is the foremost authority on rules and regulations of discrimination when employers hire their employees. It is their job to enforce these laws that make it illegal to discriminate a potential employee or job applicant because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. On the flip side of this, it is illegal to discriminate against someone because he or she complained
about discrimination in any form. In other words, if they filed a charge or participated in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, you canâ€™t discriminate against them. Needless to say, EEOC compliance will be a huge help during the hiring process going into 2013. If you do disregard EEOC regulations, it can tarnish your companyâ€™s image and compromise your integrity as an employer. The increase of hiring via internet
applications and the use and abuse of web tools such as social networking, complying with EEOC is more important than ever. EEOC compliant software is defensible against the aforementioned bullet points of hiring discrimination. It is a totally unbiased software that sees no color, race, religion, sex or age - which is totally goes in line with EEOC regulations. Surprisingly, compliance also pertains to
job advertisements. Many times, you will see ads that require a certain amount experience or even target “recent college graduates.” Based on the regulations of the EEOC, it is also “illegal for an employer to publish a job ad that shows preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of their race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.” That being said, the aforementioned ads, in a very subtle way, violate EEOC regulations. To offset the chances that this can happen, EEOC compliant software has the ability to create job ads that steer clear from such violations and make ads that write out exactly what you are looking for in a potential employee. With EEOC compliance software, companies can avoid any problems when it comes to breaking any of the rules and regulations of the EEOC. If you are an employer with a company of at least 15 employees, it is ideal that you use the software so that you are covered because compliance does not only pertain to the recruitment process. It also includes all types of work situations, including a dismissal of an employee, promotions, harassment of any kind, training, wages, and benefits. The software would definitely be a huge help in all of those
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History of Employee Charges Of Discrimination
The number for total charges reflects the number of individual charge filings. Because individuals often file charges claiming multiple types of discrimination, the number of total charges for any given fiscal year will be less than the total of the ten types of discrimination listed. The data are compiled by the Office of Research, Information and Planning from data reported via the quarterly reconciled Data Summary Reports and compiled from EEOCâ€™s Charge Data System and, from FY 2004 forward, EEOCâ€™s Integrated Mission System.
Every now and then, you’ll hear from the jaded webmasters who have invested in SEO a few times and wasted their money. After that, you’ll hear about discussions about black hat and white hat SEO. As a webmaster, you don’t have time to worry about all this chatter. That’s understandable. You need to get the important things done. To start things off, you should get your minimum viable SEO right and then move onto building your site. You can turn to the more advanced SEO tactics to really help make some strides with your traffic. And take the word ‘advanced’ with a grain of salt, it’s not that bad once you get into the flow. Keep the following statistics in mind as a reminder that investing more into your SEO efforts later will pay off handsomely:
• • • • • • • •
Google owns 65-70% of the search engine market share. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. MarketingCharts reports that over 39% of customers come from search The search engine industry is estimated to be worth more than $16 billion. There are over 100 billion global searches being conducted each month. 88.1% of US internet users ages 14+ will browse or research products online in 2012. Search directly drove 25% of all online U.s. device purchases in 2010. 82.6% of internet users use search.
SEO, SPOTLIGHT 24 EYE-POPPING SEO STATISTICS
2013 And 2014 Bond Bubble - Best Investment Funds If Bubble Bursts investors who thought they owned the best mutual funds, bond funds? Big money will flow to the money market (the safe haven). It will also search for the best alternative investment. For most people the simplest way to invest money in this alternative arena will be through specialty equity (stock) funds that invest money in stocks of companies involved in specialty areas like precious metals, energy, basic materials, and real estate. These should be the best mutual funds and your best investment to earn higher returns if the bond bubble bursts and the stock market in general tumbles.
If the bond bubble bursts in 2013 or 2014 it will be headline news and it’s best to know where your best investment funds - the best mutual funds to invest money in - are now. The best mutual funds to invest money in will invest your money in what are called “alternative investments”. If you are not familiar with these specialty funds, it’s time to pay attention.
I suggest that alternative investments are your best investment if the bond bubble bursts in 2013 or 2014 because tangibles like basic materials (like copper and aluminum), oil, and real estate have an INTRINSIC VALUE. They are not just financial assets like stocks and bonds. The best mutual funds will be those that invest money in these areas (for you). Here’s the logic.
There IS a bond bubble because bond prices are absurdly high, which has resulted in record low interest rates. If you are an average investor your best investment vehicle takes the form of mutual funds; but it’s your job (or your financial planner’s job) to find the best mutual funds to invest money in. Most investors (and financial planners) see only 3 basic choices to invest money in: safe investments, bonds, and stocks. Alternative investments like gold, silver, basic metals, real estate, natural resources, and other commodities and TANGIBLES are too often ignored.
The bond bubble bursts - which means that BIG investors sell bonds and send bond prices into a tailspin. The really big investors (like insurance companies, pension funds, and mutual fund companies) SELL as much and as fast as they can. FEAR strikes the stock market and heavy selling sends prices (in general) down. Bond funds are pummeled and DIVERSIFIED equity (stock) funds are severely bruised. Where will the big investors invest money now? Since they’ve just cashed in billions and billions in the markets, the money they’ve taken in has to go someplace. And what about average
The best investment strategy for 2013 and 2014 will be to cut your exposure to bond funds and general diversified stock funds. The best mutual funds to invest more money in: money market funds for safety, and specialty funds that invest in the “alternative investment” arena for growth and higher returns. The best investment portfolio should include all 4 asset classes: cash (safe investments), bonds, stocks, and alternative investments. Should the bond bubble burst in 2013 or 2014 high uncertainty and risk will make it difficult to invest money and find the single best investment or best mutual fund. Spread your money around and diversify across the 4 asset classes to achieve true balance. That’s the best investment advice I can think of. Author James Leitz teaches investment basics, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and how to invest in his investing guide for beginners called INVEST INFORMED. Put Jim’s 40 years of investing experience to work for you and get up to speed at http://www. investinformed.com. Learn how to invest.
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Find the best stock fund and you’ve found the best mutual fund for 2013 and beyond. The best stock fund features good dividend income, growth, and lower risk than average in the stock category. Go with one of the largest and best fund companies and increase your returns by significantly lowering your cost of investing. Even though the best mutual fund for folks who prefer less risk and good returns has been one that invests in bonds in recent years, the risk vs. profit potential now favors a well selected stock portfolio. Why? With interest rates near all-time lows, bond dividend yields are low and risk is higher than previous to 2012 and 2013. The best stock fund to lower your risk would be labeled as LARGE STOCK VALUE, and would sport a dividend yield of about 3%... from one of the best fund companies. This offers the average investor better dividend income than all but the riskiest bond investments, as well as long term growth potential. It might also be labeled as LARGECAP EQUITY INCOME, and would hold stocks like Exxon, Microsoft, AT&T, and GE in its portfolio.
In order to get the best mutual fund you’ll need to go with one of the best fund companies. Why? Only the best companies can offer higher dividends and better net performance consistently. How do they do this? They offer low-cost investing: no sales charges and low yearly expenses. The two largest investment companies in America operate this way: Vanguard and Fidelity. Check them out on the internet and compare cost and performance in the stock (equity) category. Then search for your best mutual fund, the best stock fund, by comparing their dividend yields. Look for a yield of about 3%. A higher dividend makes a stock investment a bit safer, because even in a bad market you have dividends working in your favor. If 2013 turns out to be a great year for the stock market, those labeled as large-cap value or equity-income will not be the best mutual fund in terms of performance, because they are relatively conservative in nature. On the other hand, if things get dicey in the markets these should be your best stock fund due to their conservative nature.
Keep in mind that NOTHING is normal in today’s economy or markets. Super low interest rates mean that truly safe investments pay record low returns (almost nothing), and bond investments become less attractive and riskier. That’s why the best mutual fund in 2013, for folks who want to earn higher dividend income with growth potential, is one that invests in high quality dividend-paying stocks. And remember, in your search for the best stock fund it always pays to go with one of the best fund companies. Low cost means higher returns in any market environment. Author James Leitz teaches investment basics, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and how to invest in his investing guide for beginners called INVEST INFORMED. Put Jim’s 40 years of investing experience to work for you and get up to speed at http://www. investinformed.com. Learn how to invest.
Your Best Mutual Fund for 2013 and Beyond
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Published on Jan 9, 2013