True North Business Consulting

Business Makeover: Health Insurance Facts

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Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of law, marketing, insurance and project management.
Health insurance is a hot topic, as the President tries to press forward on Universal Health Care. Universal health care is healthcare coverage for all eligible residents of a country, which covers medical, dental and mental health. In most countries is it paid for by the public in the form of taxes. The United States does not have this type of system for all its citizens. Medicare gives health insurance benefits, under age 65 with certain disabilities and to those with End-Stage Renal Disease. To understand the topic, there needs to be a discussion of the basics of health insurance.

At least 15% of people in the United States are uninsured. Those that are insured, who are not Medicare participants have one of the three basic types of health plans:

• Health Maintenance Organizations: HMO Plans pay for your coverage in advance, rather than paying for each health-related service separately. For the price of a monthly premium, your HMO will offer you a range of benefits from preventative care to dental or vision coverage. You choose a primary care physician and will need referrals to specialists. You pay a co-payment for each visit.
• Preferred Provider Organizations: PPO Plans negotiate lower overall fee arrangements with an assortment of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other health providers. Your cost-sharing rate will be lower in-network than out, but you still have the freedom to step out of the network for treatment if you prefer.
• Fee-for-Service Plans (Indemnity): This plan reimburses medical providers for each service received on a case-by-case basis. A Fee-for-Service plan requires payment of an annual deductible before it begins to reimburse the insured for covered services. It also gives family members the freedom choose doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
The problem with these plans is the cost and coverage. The deductibles that need to be met prior to the insurance becoming effective can be high as a cost cutting technique. It is not unheard of for a deductible to $4,000 to $6,000. In an average year most individuals and families will not meet that threshold, therefore paying their medical expenses out of pocket.
The other issue is that most employers do not cover health insurance fully. A percentage is taken out of each paycheck. This lessens the take home pay.
Then there is the 15% that do not have insurance. Prior to Massachusetts making health insurance a requirement, it like New Jersey required the hospitals to take in charity cases. Currently in Massachusetts with some exceptions, individuals who cannot show proof of health insurance coverage that meets the standard of minimum creditable coverage by Dec. 31, 2007, will lose their personal income tax exemption when filing their 2007 income taxes. Failure to meet the individual mandate in 2008 will result in a fine for each month the individual does not have coverage. The fine will equal 50 percent of the least costly available insurance premium that meets the standard for minimum creditable coverage. Other states do not have any system, leaving the uninsured to navigate.

The uninsured can be further broken down by those who are employed, but their employers are not required by state law to provide any health insurance as a benefit; the unemployed; and those that have pre-existing conditions which make them uninsurable.

Universal health care may or may not be the answer. There are multi-level issues, which need a multi-level approach. When looking at this complicated issue, discussions should focus on how to lower healthcare cost, retain quality, lower deductibles and decrease the cost of health insurance.

Business Makeover: Evolving Your Business

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Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business. True North focuses on helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of law, marketing, insurance and project management.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average U.S. worker changes careers 3-5 times during their lifetime. In today’s economy I do not see it feasible. Changing careers requires, more often than not, a large investment and sometimes an uncomfortable amount of risk.

I believe that already existing skills can be changed and repurposed with a limited investment.

I am looking forward to taking a mediation course in March, which will certify me as a Massachusetts mediator. This alone can not be the focus of my business. Yet, it works well within my business service parameters and it was a course at a limited cost. I can offer another service to my clients.

Offering another service

Think about the service you are currently providing. Is there something you can add that will work in conjunction to your business plan? Is there something from your past you can tap into? For example, you may now be a weight loss coach, but previously you were a fitness instructor. How about offering small, at home, group classes? These are many people that feel uncomfortable in a gym atmosphere.

Don’t let your old skills go, revive them and reuse them. Be green and recycle.

Every service provider uses some sort of product consistently in their business enterprise. Or there are products that work well with your business. I receive mail catalogs that contain many different products, products that people are not aware of, which could be stocked in your office. Are you an acupuncturist who helps neck and back injuries? Then why not sell not just herbs, but other products that can help your patients? It requires some effort to find a product you can support, which fit into your business, but there can be great monetary rewards, especially if you deal directly with the manufacturer.
Think of the convenience you are bringing to your clients. With you they can get many services. You have so much expertise, and it can work well together. Take a look at the True North Business Consulting Blog to see the Remarkable Women post for some great examples of how you evolve your business beyond your dreams. You can also look at what Jenifer Gebhard is doing to help her business take off.

Remarkable Women

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Interviews with author, Adriana Trigiani, writer, Amanda Vogel, attorney, Susie Moniz and executive producer, Sera Gamble


Acupuncture Clinic

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Interview at Chinese Medicine Tools about my tips to help your acupuncture clinic.

Go and have a listen for some important tips.

Business Makeover: Making Legal Decisions

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I was reviewing a contract for a client who was offered what seemed to be a great business opportunity. No money up front, but a share in the profits. It seemed to good to be true, and as I read I found numerous issues which needed to be discussed.

In speaking with my client I found the need to backtrack and explain and define many terms that as a business person she needed to know to be able to make daily decisions. The words tumbled out of my mouth, “Each decision has legal ramifications.”

A scary thought for my client, which put what s/he was about to do in perspective. Suddenly, my hypothetical questions like, “What happens if you do not want to sell the business?” Because according to the paperwork I read my client, in a weaker position, would be forced to sell. This was not even a daily decision either– day to day things like purchasing office products, dealing with employees and clients.

It can be overwhelming because my client did not have a business background, but this was an opportunity, granted with some negotiation and some risk, but still in essence there was some possibilities. So here was my advice.

1. Do not panic.
2. Ask questions until you are clear or you make yourself clear.
3. Separate your personal feelings…this is not your friend, but a business associate.
4. Do not be rushed in making a decision. On things I am unfamiliar with (as a business person too) I invoke a 24 hour rule. It works on emails too.
5. Collect opinions because people have been faced with similar situations before, and you can learn from their history.

My client feels empowered now with understanding, and that is what you are striving for- to be able to make confident decisions especially in the New Year!

Business Makeover: Insurance

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Insuring Your Risk
by Cynthia Pasciuto

Welcome to TrueNorth Business Consulting’s presentation of a Business Makeover. Each month will feature an idea that can help your business as featured on Diva Toolbox Radio. True North focuses on helping health and wellness practitioners to maintain and grow their business using the areas of business law, marketing, insurance and project management.

What is insurance?

Insurance provides risk management where the person purchasing the insurance or paying premiums transfers the cost of a potential loss to an insurance company. One might think in a business such as health and wellness practice that there are limited risks or only the rare occasion of malpractice. However, risk from the point of view of clients is very different and very much a reality.

What are the risks I need to protect from?

I have a quick analysis for you. Identify everything that can possibly happen from the instant your clients enter the front door of your office or space until some time well after they leave. For example:

• Trips and falls
• Injuries or ailments from what you did

Then you want to do the same, but from your perspective. What could you possibly lose?

• Fire loss
• Stolen items
• Disability
• Sickness

Insurance provides you will strategies to deal with all foreseeable scenarios.

What types of insurance should I get?

First, sometimes you are able to contract your risk away with another party taking the risk for you. They would be willing to pay out, but if that is not the case then insurance is an essential and cost-effective way to protect yourself and your business.

Looking back on the foreseeable scenarios—ones we can guess could happen. This is where you want to ignore all the crazy stories you have heard about from other people in your same line of work. This will focus on the common types of losses.

• Trips and falls in addition to fire loss and stolen items are covered under a Business Owners Policy, which covers your liability and property. This is in regards to your premises only.
• Injuries or ailments from what you did are covered under a malpractice or errors and omissions policy. This covers you in regards to your profession.
• There are disability policies and also health insurance to provide coverage for yourself.


I have heard countless stories from clients that they had insurance, but didn’t realize their loss was not covered because it was excluded on the policy. An exclusion is a person or incident that is not covered under your insurance policy, meaning the insurance company will not pay.

The exclusions need to be reviewed with the utmost case. This section varies from one insurance company to the next and could be the determining factor when choosing an insurer (an insurance company). You want to make sure you are not violating the insurance company’s guidelines.

Insurance can help you and your business. It may just seem like an expense that you will never use. I hope so! In the meantime though you will have peace of mind and don’t forget you can advertise that you are insured to make you stand out from other businesses that are not.

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