Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Last week while listening to Bill Bennett's Morning in America radio program, he received a call from a gentleman who does business in South Carolina by selling health insurance. The agent explained that Blue Cross had recently reduced his commissions by 75%. Although very informed on many issues, Mr. Bennett was surprised this was happenning. It is also occurring in Michigan by the same percentage!
The rationale is that now the insurance companies have to pay out 80% (on small groups or 85% on large groups)of the premiums received in claims. For example, if an insurance company received $100 in premiums, $80 (or $85) must be paid to the policyholders in the form of benefits. If the company pays out less than the $80 (or $85), it is forced to refund the difference to the insureds. The balance of the premium payment can be used for claims administration, underwriting expenses, management expenses AND commissions. It is obvious most companies believe their margins were larger than the allowable percentage, therefore they must cut where they can. Commissions are one way of doing that.
On top of the mandatory payout percentage, should an insurance company have a bad year (major flu outbreak, natural disaster, or other event which causes a higher than average usage of the health care system) the company is NOT allowed to recapture the dollars over the 80% (or 85%)cap. An example would be that claims were 120% of collected premiums, the company would be required to eat the difference between the cap and 120%. It would not be allowed to make up the loss.
In Michigan, an agent selling a small group Blue Cross policy was paid 2%, now he receives .5%. In dollars and cents, an agent who sells a $1000 per monthly premium was receiving $20 or $240 per year. Now for doing the same work, the pay will be $5 per month or $60 per year. Would you work for that type of pay? On top of that, most agents are independent contrators and have to pay for office space, staff, technology and their own health insurance. A cut of 75% will decimate most businesses including the health insurance agent.
Not only are the Blues the only companies who are cutting commissions but we have heard from several who are reducing commission payouts from 25-50%. Additionally, one company, Aetna,has decided to exit the 2 to 50 life group business. Principal will no longer write any health insurance business after January 1st, 2011. They are going out of the health insurance business.
With commissions plummeting and companies exiting the business well ahead of the major changes in health care which become effective in 2014, one can only wonder what health care will look like when we get there. One thing is for sure--it will not be what we have had in the past. But maybe that was the plan all along!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
We must all become active with our elected officials. Would you get into a taxi and not tell the driver where you wanted to go? Of course not. However, we expect our government(s) to somehow know what we want. Could that be the reason our government seems so out of touch with the average American? We have no one to blame but ourselves.
So next time you complain about a government program, an elected official or the mess the country is in, take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself--what have I done? If this idea resonates with only 1 of 100 people in the U.S., over 30 million people will do something. That could be powerful.
Thanks to the servicemen who have set a standard for all of us. Can we live up to it?
I put my carry-on in the
luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned
seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm
glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will
get a short nap,' I thought
Just before take-off,
a line of soldiers came down the aisle and
filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding
me. I decided to start a conversation.
'Where are you
headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to
'Petawawa. We'll be there for two
weeks for special training, and then we're being
deployed to Afghanistan
flying for about an hour, an announcement was
made that sack lunches were available for five
dollars. It would be several hours before we
reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch
would help pass the time...
As I reached for my
wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if
he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems
like a lot of money for just a sack lunch.
Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks.
I'll wait till we get to base.'
His friend agreed
I looked around at the
other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked
to the back of the plane and handed the flight
attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a
lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my
arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with
tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in
Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for
Picking up ten
sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the
soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and
asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or
'Chicken,' I replied,
wondering why she asked. She turned and went to
the front of plane, returning a minute later
with a dinner plate from first class
'This is your thanks.'
After we finished
eating, I went again to the back of the plane,
heading for the rest room.
man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to
be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me
Soon after I returned
to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down
the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he
walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but
noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my
side of the plane. When he got to my row he
stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I
want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my
seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand.
With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier
and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought
me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never
forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was
heard from all of the passengers.
Later I walked to the
front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A
man who was seated about six rows in front of me
reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He
left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.
When we landed I
gathered my belongings and started to deplane.
Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man
who stopped me, put something in my shirt
pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a
word. Another twenty-five dollars!
Upon entering the
terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their
trip to the base.
I walked over to
them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It
will take you some time to reach the
will be about time for a sandwich.
men left that flight feeling the love and
respect of their fellow travelers.
As I walked briskly to
my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe
return. These soldiers were giving their all for
our country. I could only give them a couple of
meals. It seemed so little...
A veteran is someone
who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank
check made payable to 'The United States of
America ' for an amount of 'up to and
including my life.'
That is Honor, and
there are way too many people in this country
who no longer understand
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Obama and his advisers see this as a great way to control the American people. If your 401(k) is combined with Social Security, you lose the option to take loans against your account or to make hardship withdrawals. Instead of taking your retirement dollars anytime after 59 1/2, the government can make you wait until 62, 67, 70 or even later if retirement age would be to increased. What if the retirement age would be increased to 80? In the meantime, the dollars can be used to reduce the national debt.
We have none of the details, however, one can suspect that they would not be as favorable as current retirement plans as I am sure the government would make it harder for you to get your money. Can we see the government making it harder or voiding what were "the rules of the road" where it comes to retirement? Of course, they will.
When the government took over GM, not only did they fire the CEO, Rick Wagner, they also cancelled bankruptcy laws that had been in place for years. They gave preference to the labor unions over preferred creditors which normally would have had a lower priority in proceedings. So to change (violate, void, cancel--would be good alternative words) any law is nothing to this Administration.
So prepare for this action to take place in the lame duck session which follows the election. This can be one of those actions that the "losers" of the election will take. Why should they not take this action? Their retirement is set and after all it was the American people who "f-d" them so this would be a good way to get back at them!!
I await your comments------
Monday, October 11, 2010
This past September, Rabbi Schlomo Lewis of Atlanta delivered one of those earth shaking sermons. It has been posted on several blogs and has been forwarded by others. Whether you have read it before or were lucky enough to have hear it first hand, a second read (for most of us) is definitely recommended. I have attached a copy of the sermon and would suggest that it should be forwarded again to your entire email list.
I agree with the Rabbi. We are facing a threat not seen since WWII. A threat that does not care who you are, what good you have done, how much or little your net worth is, or what your religion is. If you are not one of them, you are the enemy and must be destroyed. Radical Islam must be stopped, however, it will not be unless "regular work-a-day" Muslims speak up and take back their religion. Will that happen, I doubt it.
You see, humans are funny people. Most of us just want to go along and get along. We don't want to ruffle any feathers and don't want to fight city hall or in this case, the radicals. I must assume that most Muslims are just regular people as were the Germans in WWII. They want the same things that all average people want. However, the Radicals are not different. They don't care what you or their fellow Muslims think, they have an agenda and that is world domination. Nothing is going to deter them from making every effort to reach their goal. If it means they give up family and fortune, so be it. If it means they have to kill and maim (even other Muslims who get in the way), so be it.
Why would a moderate Muslim want to risk all he/she has built here (or anywhere else in the world) to take on these people? Why would he risk his/her family's security? The answer is, he/she would not. To date, the moderates have not felt no pressure to speak out against those who have hijacked their religion. In fact, CARE has said that any comment against Islam is Islamaphobia. It is a handy excuse not to address the core issue. When, and if, Muslims do feel the pressure to speak their mind, most will not. Only a brave few will call out the radicals and they will soon be marginalized or worse. So to expect moderate Muslims to take any action against those who are our enemies is a fools hope.
If the moderates are not going to correct the problem, then we must speak out loudly against those who would take everything we hold dear. Are you one of those, I am. Can I count on you?