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How to Fix America’s Broke and Broken Healthcare System (Guest Blog by Kent Anthony)

The following post comes to us from Kent Anthony, president of Anthony Insurance, who writes this article based upon his 40 years of experience in the insurance industry.


broken glassI am a small business owner and employer. My expertise is in the Property/Casualty Insurance field, but, I am also licensed in Life and Health Insurance. Not a week goes by that I don’t get a call from someone that asks for a good Health Insurance plan that is affordable. Sounds simple, right? What if that elusive question has no answer? What do I tell people who trust me and need my help? Who has the answers? Government? Private Industry?

I read a recent Pew Research study that indicated 60% of Americans said that the government has a responsibility to ensure that every resident of the United States has health care. That means to me that the majority of Americans feel it is a “right” to have the coverage. It also means, I think, that they feel that private industry is ripping people off by not giving them what they want – free, unlimited coverage.

Reality check, people: Our founding fathers set up a system of checks and balances that requires compromise in order to get laws passed. What is “broke” is that there seems to be no such thing as any type of compromise today. If it is a Democratic plan, the Republicans hate it and vice versa. To complicate things further, factions within each party make compromise impossible as they all have to have it their own way. Obamacare is a perfect example. Mitt Romney, a republican who ran for President, essentially set up the same program as Governor of the State of Massachusetts. If Mitt had been elected, I am firmly convinced that the Democrats would have been against his health care plan on political “principal” alone. National organizations, such as AARP, the AMA, Drug Companies and all of the affiliated Hospital organizations, unions of all types, you name it… force the political process to grind to a halt when they exercise their influences. They all want it their own way.

Second reality check: This stuff isn’t free. I am amazed by how many people honestly think a magic wand can be waived and that we can just pass the bills off to the “rich people.” Maybe the rich people are tired of the “jam it to the rich,” class warfare or socialistic approach to their wallets. They have tremendous political influence. Are they ready to allow themselves to pay more?

Last reality check: Obamacare was designed to fail. Whether you think it is a good or bad program, there simply isn’t any funding to pay for it. It was designed to get something in place and worry about who and how it would be paid for later. Private industry was promised reimbursement by the federal government for their losses for the first 3 years if they participated, knowing that the worst health risks would be signing up right away. The last statistic I read is that they have only been reimbursed 12.3% of what they are owed! No wonder they are bailing out of the program.

What are “fair” answers?

Compromise has to be obtained for a lasting solution. Everyone has to participate; no opt outs. All Americans have to be enrolled and pay something. Insurance, whether it is car, home, business is about spread of risk. The healthy young, the poor, the rich…everyone has to pitch in to pay. The Heritage Foundation calls it “individual responsibility.” By having people pay something we may be able to end the cycle of entitlement. We can’t have people thinking everything is “free.” It isn’t. Actuarial tables exist that show what people should pay. Subsidize disadvantaged groups if necessary, but make them pay something.

Allow the health system the legal ability to negotiate costs of drugs, hospitalization, etc. We have cost control right now in Pennsylvania for auto, medical billings and workers compensation payments. Prior to those controls, the billings were totally out of control. This has to be in place or any system will spiral out of control. I have read that doing this will lower costs 30-60%. We have to make premiums affordable and save taxpayers on Medicare programs.

Finally, I would love the healthcare industry to be mostly privatized. We have seen how government gets too tied up in politics, crippling the system. I have to point to the inadequacies, bureaucracy and cost overruns of Medicare to make a simple point: Is Government really able to run anything the way the American people need it done? Allow free and open competition, with cost controls, and you will see a system that innovates and provides incentives to be better, rather than bloated bureaucracies that are too subject to politics to provide the services that the American people want and deserve.

What has been your personal experience with health care? Do you have an opinion on how we can improve things? Share your ideas by leaving a comment!

Kent AnthonyAbout the Author: Kent Anthony is president of Anthony Insurance, an independent insurance agency headquartered in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. Kent has more than 40 years of experience working in the insurance industry, specializing in both personal and business insurance. Learn more about Anthony Insurance by visiting them at www.anthonyinsuranceinc.com.

 

 

 

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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Guest Blogger, Life

 

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A Penny Saved Is More Than A Penny Earned

coin money a penny savedAs far back as the 17th century, the idiom we now know very well, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” was first quoted. And though the true author of this phrase may be up for debate, the meaning is quite clear. It is just as useful to save the money we have as it is to put our efforts into earning more. For hundreds of years this remained a solid block of financial wisdom and even just a decade ago I would say it still held true. However, given the recent changes in our economy, culture and job market, I’d like to propose a more accurate version on this longstanding proverb that may become the words of wisdom we pass along to future generations.

A penny saved is more than a penny earned.

It’s quite literally what it sounds like. Keeping a hold of the pennies we have is now more cost effective than earning more pennies and in some cases even dimes and dollars. We can do more, live more and enjoy more by cutting back than we can by taking on additional means of income to finance our spending sprees. Spending less is the new way to get rich. But what makes this true? Well, there are several compelling reasons why these little copper and zinc Lincolns are worth more in your piggy bank than they are on an additional paycheck:

We underestimate how quickly pennies can add up. I can never pass up a heads-up penny (and with this economy, I might soon be picking up the “unlucky” tails-up ones too). While this is more to fulfill my childhood good-luck-nostalgia, I laugh at how quickly my coin purse fills up from these pennies from heaven. Sure it’s hardly enough to buy a cup of coffee at the end of the month, but a penny is just the monetary amount we use as an example in this quote. Think bigger – five, ten, twenty or even a hundred dollars put aside in savings can equate to a huge cushion at the end of the year. And if done right, we will have hardly missed this extra cash. Moreover, because we don’t think pennies can ever amount to much, we’re less receptive to small ways to save them. Pack your lunch or morning coffee, commute with a friend or only buy groceries you really need (not just because they’re on sale). A quarter here, a dollar there and you’ll soon find enough spare change to finance that dinner out without taking on more work or putting yourself in debt.

A penny earned is really only a fraction of a penny. If you happen to be in the 10% tax bracket, every taxed dollar you earn is worth only $0.90. But don’t forget to tack on FICA, state and a ton of other taxes I’m too depressed to mention and that little penny begins to look a whole lot smaller. What this means is that you put a lot of energy and effort into earning just a fraction of what you’re time is really worth. By placing your focus on spending less rather than earning more, you’ll gain additional time to do something other than work and enjoy the money you do have to its fullest.

If you can fully immerse yourself in the savings lifestyle, you’ll save exponentially. When I first started my own business I went into extreme savings mode. I cut out all the financial fat that I had been wasting money on for far too long (a big cable TV package, a reserved parking spot, too large of a healthcare plan) and I found hundreds of extra dollars in my monthly budget even though I was making considerably less. Though I have slowly worked my way to a more stable income and comfortable lifestyle, I realized I didn’t really want to add back in those luxuries even when I could afford them again. We still live on a meager weekly grocery bill and I’ve all but lost my excitement for retail therapy, but I truly don’t miss it. The money we don’t spend on these little things we instead put toward travel and eating out – two luxuries that are far more memorable to me than yet another pair of shoes I don’t need. Get into the habit of living a savings lifestyle and you’ll be amazed by how you’ll find fun in the challenge of saving money and lose the love for unnecessary spending.

A penny saved gains more than just dust – it gains interest. Although interest rates aren’t great and you can’t exactly invest just pennies in the stock market, there is still great value in saving and investing your money to whatever degree you can. As mentioned above, a penny earned is worth slightly less than one cent while a penny saved  and invested is worth slightly more. While earning extra pennies, you’re giving up time and energy, but saving pennies requires complete inaction. So don’t think spare change needs to sit in a pink piggy bank somewhere, put it in a savings account where it can earn (even a little bit of) money while you do nothing more than live your life.

The penny itself is worth more than one cent. Back in 2006 this New York Times article shared that it actually costs more than one cent to create a penny – 1.4 cents to be exact – because of the cost of metal and production. As the demand for certain metals continue to rise, who knows the worth of the penny now or how high it will reach before the United States Mint takes these little guys out of circulation altogether. And when that happens? Your quirky pennies that will become a relic to future generations might (might) be worth a lot more someday. This is meant more for humor than it is for financial advisement, but keep this in mind the next time you’re walking on the side walk and spot an orphaned penny – that’s at least 1.4 cents you’ve just gained!

The heads-up side of things: Learning to save your money will always be the best financial advice you can ever receive. I’ve personally found so much value in learning and living this truth because it taught me that time spent doing things I love is far more valuable than time spent earning a few extra dollars. I would much prefer to cut back on my spending and manage my wants for the ability to pursue a passionate career and live simply but happily. And while a penny earned is no longer equal to a penny saved, hearing this proverb still makes us stop and reflect on our spending habits – and for that it’s worth all the pennies in the world!

 
 

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Political PR: The Branding of a Person

vote, election, political pr, politicsThe public relations industry is an umbrella for a myriad of communication specialties. It’s not hard to see why, given that virtually every business can utilize public relations in some way. But PR has never been limited to just businesses. From best-selling authors to movie stars and real estate tycoons, some of the best career moves have been to use strategic PR to create a personal brand. This makes for fascinating case studies in which adding the “Human Element” has the ability to launch a person and as a result their business or their cause. As this year’s political campaigns steadily heat to a boil, some of the most extreme examples of the success and failures of personal branding can be found in the public relations specialty of political PR. From the surface, the strategy and tactics may appear similar, but there are critical components that keep this particular field of communications uniquely challenging.

24/7 Brand Building – As a public relations specialist based in Pennsylvania’s capital region, a large percentage of my firm’s business is driven by politics. That’s not to pigeon-hole our services, but a level of specialty in political PR continues to develop with every year and every election. Working in this industry is not for the faint of heart or the 9-5ers. It’s for those who understand that building a personal brand for a politician occurs 24/7. Once a politician steps out of the office to enjoy an evening or weekend “off,” his personal brand is still very much on. How a candidate spends his time when he’s not obviously campaigning is arguably more important than how he spends his time when he is. A week’s worth of successful fundraisers and rallies filled with shaking hands and kissing babies can all be erased with one gaffe or YouTube clip. For political PR consultants this means these clients keep us on high alert and earn our attention all hours of the day. It also means strategic planning includes after-hour social events. It’s our job to monitor and influence public perception. And while at times this may feel like trying to control the wind, it all comes down to our ability to create an effective sail with which it can be harnessed and directed in our favor.

Being Human AND Being Perfect – A key element in political PR is humanizing your client. This isn’t to say they’re anything but human as is, but when a potential career path of high power and influence lay before you, it’s especially important to remain relatable to voters. To be human is to be flawed, right? So how do you make yourself more human while still remaining flawless? This is where PR specialists prove their worth. Every client you work with will have flaws, but it’s making these flaws work for him that becomes the real challenge. Family issues, questionable decisions and blemishes on a reputation are absolutely human. But, in a political race, these could become the mole hills that voters are made to believe are Mt. Everest. With proactive PR these weaknesses can be positioned as strengths. This is also a valuable opportunity to humanize your client. By having him be the first to address these issues and to do so head on, you disarm a potential scandal and turn a negative into a powerful positive. An ancient DUI charge or rumor of a health issue can all be reasons for a politician to step forward with a cause. This proactive approach adds to his humanity, his political platform and most importantly his personal brand.

Political Snowflakes – Calling political PR a “specialty” is quite accurate as every single client is truly special. While this may sound like a cheesy bumper sticker (and isn’t this type of work filled with enough), it’s deeper than it sounds. As a public relations consultant, every client has a reasonable degree of difference from all the rest. But political PR takes this to a whole new level. Every politician has his own platform, his own personality and his own unique political race that must be taken into account when crafting his PR strategy. No form or template can be used if you’re looking for the most effective results. It’s fitting to see them as political snowflakes. Each of my political clients is an entirely new challenge who warrants his own custom-made strategy. It requires knowing his specific votership, weaknesses, strengths and political platform – all of which are as unique as the person they represent.

There is no question that the political industry is a PR specialty. Even where degrees are offered in such a specific field, nothing can replace the knowledge gained from learning it as you live it. From 30+ year veterans to newly minted political enthusiasts, I don’t know one person who would call this industry simple or predictable. So while it may require a special skill set to handle such volatility – this aspect alone is what also fuels many of us to venture into the uncharted territory of political PR to begin with.

tampa bay times forum, RNC, republican national convention

Outside the 2012 Republican National Convention–a mecca for political PR

tampa bay times forum, RNC, republican national convention

Inside the 2012 RNC–Tampa Bay Times Forum

tampa bay times forum, RNC, republican national convention

Stump Speeches – a staple to every political campaign

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Business & Success

 

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