Do you “Get Away?”

Posted on Aug 18, 2009 in Industry & Legislative News

I recently took a weekend trip with a buddy of mine to do some hiking in Utah. He and I try to take this trip every year, and it gives us both time to slow down, reflect on the year, and kick ideas around for our businesses.

On these trips, we spend 4-6 hours hiking on trails through the mountains. We pack sandwiches and water and lunch is usually on a mountain top under clear blue skies. During the hikes, we get a chance to share ideas on what has and has not worked for each of us. We share all kinds of ideas from the past year like newsletters, presentations, client interaction, and best practices. The time is extremely well spent. Now that I am home, I’m using some of the ideas we came up with.

What I mean by all this rambling is that sometimes to really get re-energized, get new fresh ideas, or to improve your business, you need to “get away” for a while.

When I’m caught in the day-to-day bustle, my brain is focused on getting things done. It’s so busy processing information and moving from one task to the next that going “big picture” is nearly impossible. So by changing my environment and schedule around, even for a few days, lets my mind think about other things.

My wife and I have an annual trip that we take with the kids in the summer. We get the same condo on the beach for a couple weeks. Every year we have done this, by the end of the trip we have a new marketing strategy, a new website, a new focus, or something big like that. The reason this happens is because we are able to talk and think about things outside of the day-to-day. And our minds are free to wander and come up with those great ideas. We also have the time to implement those ideas – for example, we completely re-did the SB&K Benefits LLC website during this last trip.

So, have you “gotten away” lately? When you do, don’t just sit by the pool sipping cold drinks – spend the time reading a business book, talking about ideas, letting your mind think about parts of your business you have not thought of in a while. It will be time well spent.

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“Quality-adjusted Life Years” and what it means in Government sponsored Health Care

Posted on Aug 12, 2009 in Health Care Reform

How much is one year of your life worth?

According to the government in Great Britain, it is $45,000.

The British single-payer system arrived at the price of an additional year of life in the same way they decide how much health care all British people will get, through a formula called “quality-adjusted life years.”

The Obama administration has a key health care advisor named Dr. Ezekial Emanuel. If the name is familiar, it is because he is the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Earlier this year, Dr. Emanuel wrote an article that advocated what he called “the complete lives system” as a method for rationing health care.

This system would help the government allocate healthcare based on the societal worth of the patient. The system would also consider prognosis of the patient.

Based on this, the very young and the very old would receive less care since the very young have received less societal investment and the very old have less left to contribute. The system would also consider prognosis of the patient.

When fully implemented, Dr. Emanuel’s system, in his words, “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.” In other words, the young and old will not get the healthcare needed.

To quote Dr. Emanuel: “A young person with a poor prognosis has had few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life. Considering prognosis forestalls the concern that disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognosis.”

Read Dr. Eziekiel Emanuel’s article in The Lancet HERE

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Get Free Stuff from your medical plan!

Posted on Aug 10, 2009 in Industry & Legislative News

In this competitive world of group health insurance plans, insurance companies are looking at different ways to make their plans unique, control claims, or add prevention tools to their benefit offerings. For example, even though a health plan may not provide coverage for acupuncture, through the ancillary plan members can receive a discount for this service.

Under these “ancillary benefits”, discounts or free services can be found for:

  • Massage Therapy
  • Eyeglasses, Contacts, and Vision Exams
  • Acupuncture Treatment
  • Counseling/Therapy
  • Financial Planning
  • Legal Services

Group life and dental carriers also offer similar ancillary benefit programs.

When we discuss benefits with a prospective client, we often find that these programs have not been discussed or communicated to the employees. These free programs can add value to your benefit plan, as they stretch the amount of services covered and give the employees more for their money. These programs are also something to review if you are looking at two carriers with similar cost.

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