Health Insurance for the Self-Employed - Protecting Your Business's Greatest Asset

Written by Elena Fawkner


Health Insurance forrepparttar Self-Employed - Protecting Your Business's Greatest Asset

2002 Elena Fawkner

"I've been considering quitting my full-time job and getting a part-time job that would payrepparttar 117636 bills [so I can start a home business] ... The one biggie my full-time job provides me now is health insurance. If I was to get a part-time job, I'd probably have to pay for my own health insurance and I know that can be expensive."

Like Jason, who sent merepparttar 117637 above email this week, many a dissatisfied employee would chuck in their full-time J.O.B. (just over broke) for their part-time home-based business in a heartbeat if not for one thing. Employer-provided health benefits. It's a biggie, no doubt about it.

Undeniably, employer-paid or -subsidized health benefits are one ofrepparttar 117638 few real perks of working for someone else. In fact, surveys have shown that, for employees (especially those with families), paid benefits are hands downrepparttar 117639 most important element of their compensation packages.

And there's no shortage of people already running their own home businesses with no health or disability coverage at all. Scary. After all, if you're dependent upon your home business as your sole source of income and you lose your health, you lose your livelihood as well.

Bottom line? If you run a home-based business you can't afford not to have health coverage of one form or another. Here's how to make it happen, whatever your circumstances.

BASIC OPTIONS FOR THE EMPLOYER OF ONE (YOU)

You have three basic options when it comes to health and disability insurance.

=> Spouse Coverage

If your spouse has health coverage from his or her employer, as a general rule, use that. It probably provides better and less expensive coverage than you could get on your own.

=> Group Health Insurance

The main advantage of group health insurance plans is that they can't turn you away because of health problems. The good news forrepparttar 117640 solo entrepreneur is that an increasing number of companies are offering group health plans for "groups" of one. This varies by state though so you'll need to do your homework to find one.

=> Individual Health Insurance

These plans are fine if you don't have any pre-existing medical conditions. (If you do, try your best to find a group plan that will cover a group of one.) They're subject to medical underwriting so your state of health will be a factor repparttar 117641 insurance company takes into account in determining whether to accept your application.

Of course,repparttar 117642 mere fact that you're able to get into a good plan is one thing. Doing so affordably is quite another.

REDUCING THE HIGH COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE

There are several ways of minimizingrepparttar 117643 cost of health insurance. Your tolerance for risk will determine which, if any, you are comfortable with.

=> Reducerepparttar 117644 Level of Coverage

Do you really need to have every doctor's visit and prescription covered? If you only go torepparttar 117645 doctor once a year for an annual examination, have no health conditions, don't need regular expensive prescription medications and are generally healthy, consider cutting out coverage for office visits and prescriptions.

=> Higher Deductible

Similarly, if you're reasonably healthy, don't visitrepparttar 117646 doctor very often and don't need to use expensive medications, consider switching to a higher deductible to save on premium costs. By increasing your deductible from $100 to $2,000, you can cut your premium payment in half.

=> Annual Premium Payments

If you can afford to do so, pay your premiums annually rather than monthly or quarterly to avoid service fees and to take advantage of prepayment discounts where available.

=> Join Associations

Just because you're going it alone in your business doesn't mean you can't take advantage ofrepparttar 117647 group buying power that being a member of an association offers. Check out your local chamber of commerce, various trade and professional groups and small and home business associations for member benefits. Many offer access to discounted health insurance.

Here are a few small/home business association links to get you started (you'll need to cut and paste some of these links if they wrap torepparttar 117648 next line):

National Association forrepparttar 117649 Self-Employed http://www.nase.org/nase_benefits/health_benefits.asp American Association of Home-Based Businesses http://www.aahbb.org/benefits.htm Home Office Association of America http://www.hoaa.com/allbenefitsnew.htm National Business Association http://www.nationalbusiness.org/NBAWEB/Directory/Internal_Pages/Member_Benefits/Health.htm

Don't forget to check out local associations in your area or associations relevant to your particular profession.

=> Shop Online

Being able to offer insurance products online means insurance companies save on broker and agent fees. Often, this translates into premium savings for policies purchased over repparttar 117650 Internet. So, when your fingers dorepparttar 117651 walking, make sure they do so on a keyboard and notrepparttar 117652 Yellow Pages.

=> Medical Savings Accounts

Underrepparttar 117653 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), if you're self-employed you may be eligible to use a medical savings account, or MSA.

MSAs work in conjunction with higher deductible health insurance policies to reduce premiums and allow you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for your medical expenses up torepparttar 117654 limit ofrepparttar 117655 deductible on your insurance policy.

Basically, you reduce your premium by replacing a low- deductible policy with high-deductible policy and userepparttar 117656 premium saving to make fully tax-deductible contributions to your MSA. You can contribute up to 65% ofrepparttar 117657 deductible each year into your MSA (75% for families). The money goes into a tax-deferred account or trust and you pay your medical expenses (until you reachrepparttar 117658 deductible) by drawing fromrepparttar 117659 account. Once you hitrepparttar 117660 deductible, of course,repparttar 117661 insurance policy kicks in.

If you spend less than you contributed,repparttar 117662 surplus stays inrepparttar 117663 account and earns interest. Not only that,repparttar 117664 funds can be invested in high-return vehicles such as mutual funds and stocks.

An Online Business, Do I or Don't I?

Written by Gary E Layton


Do I or Don't I? That is a question many of us ask when it comes to starting up or joining an online business. Most of us have heard ofrepparttar vast amounts of money generated throughrepparttar 117635 Internet but how many of us personally know anyone who has done it. Ten to one you know someone who has tried it and lost their shirt doing it. Why do you suppose that these failures occur?

Let's talk about it.

There are many reasons people fail in an online business, however, there are just as many reasons why some people succeed. The reasons for failure or success are all tied to some basic factors regarding any type of business offline or online.

What are these basic factors?

All businesses are tied to selling either a product or a service. This beingrepparttar 117636 case we can then understandrepparttar 117637 importance of products and services to any business.

What makes a product or service viable is a real or perceived need for them inrepparttar 117638 marketplace.

Next, isrepparttar 117639 product or service ofrepparttar 117640 quality desired to meet repparttar 117641 need?

Then, is it affordable torepparttar 117642 majority of consumers?

Can it be delivered in an easy and timely fashion?

What isrepparttar 117643 competition?

Canrepparttar 117644 product or service be guaranteed torepparttar 117645 satisfaction of repparttar 117646 consumer?

Simple questions right?

Wrong? The answers torepparttar 117647 above questions can consume much money and time to findrepparttar 117648 answers you need. Even then you can never be sure untilrepparttar 117649 product or service is offered to repparttar 117650 consumers and they open their wallets and then buyrepparttar 117651 product or service.

Either they sell or they don't. That'srepparttar 117652 final results.

So what does this all mean?

Basically it means that you can haverepparttar 117653 most attractive, useful and affordable products and services available but they must still be sold.

What can we do?

I reckon we better look at how we can our sell our products and services.

What do we look at?

Well, first of all we must learn thatrepparttar 117654 basics of marketing apply to all types of offline and online businesses. Because we are talking primarily of an online business here that is where we will concentrate our efforts.

I'm sure we are all familiar withrepparttar 117655 marketing principles of time utility, location, inventory, transportation and ease of payment, promotion, advertisement and warranty.

What does this mean torepparttar 117656 online marketer?

First of all an online marketer does not normally need to worry about buying, leasing or renting a business location or store. Nor do we need to worry about inventories orrepparttar 117657 physical shipping of products. The exception of course being on online Mart or Shopping Service. Even thenrepparttar 117658 marketer does not normally become involved inrepparttar 117659 physical shipping of goods.

So where does that take us?

It takes us torepparttar 117660 product or service itself andrepparttar 117661 promotional and advertising aspects of marketing that should concern usrepparttar 117662 most.

We must also considerrepparttar 117663 consumer payment system andrepparttar 117664 warranties we must provide, however, these last two factors are easily solved and of no great concern to this conversation.

So, where does that leave us?

It leaves us withrepparttar 117665 very basic problems ofrepparttar 117666 quality and need for our products or services and how can we best sell them to consumers.

Well, first of all we facerepparttar 117667 problem of choosing a theme portraying our business torepparttar 117668 consumers in such a way as to gain their confidence that we are a legitimate enterprise and will produce what we promise.

The theme you choose isrepparttar 117669 image you wish to portray torepparttar 117670 consumer that reinforcesrepparttar 117671 need that is out there and actually buildsrepparttar 117672 interest to read your advertisements and purchase your products or services.

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