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Health Savings Accounts – An American Innovation in Health Insurance

INTRODUCTON – The term “health insurance” is commonly used in the United States to describe any program that helps pay for medical expenses, whether through privately purchased insurance, social insurance or a non-insurance social welfare program funded by the government. Synonyms for this usage include “health coverage,” “health care coverage” and “health benefits” and “medical insurance.” In a more technical sense, the term is used to describe any form of insurance that provides protection against injury or illness.

In America, the health insurance industry has changed rapidly during the last few decades. In the 1970’s most people who had health insurance had indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance is often called fee-forservice. It is the traditional health insurance in which the medical provider (usually a doctor or hospital) is paid a fee for each service provided to the patient covered under the policy. An important category associated with the indemnity plans is that of consumer driven health care (CDHC). Consumer-directed health plans allow individuals and families to have greater control over their health care, including when and how they access care, what types of care they receive and how much they spend on health care services.

These plans are however associated with higher deductibles that the insured have to pay from their pocket before they can claim insurance money. Consumer driven health care plans include Health Reimbursement Plans (HRAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), high deductible health plans (HDHps), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Of these, the Health Savings Accounts are the most recent and they have witnessed rapid growth during the last decade.

WHAT IS A HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT?

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to taxpayers in the United States. The funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. These may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability.

Another feature is that the funds contributed to Health Savings Account roll over and accumulate year over year if not spent. These can be withdrawn by the employees at the time of retirement without any tax liabilities. Withdrawals for qualified expenses and interest earned are also not subject to federal income taxes. According to the U.S. Treasury Office, ‘A Health Savings Account is an alternative to traditional health insurance; it is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health care.

HSA’s enable you to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.’ Thus the Health Savings Account is an effort to increase the efficiency of the American health care system and to encourage people to be more responsible and prudent towards their health care needs. It falls in the category of consumer driven health care plans.

Origin of Health Savings Account

The Health Savings Account was established under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act passed by the U.S. Congress in June 2003, by the Senate in July 2003 and signed by President Bush on December 8, 2003.

Eligibility –

The following individuals are eligible to open a Health Savings Account –

– Those who are covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
– Those not covered by other health insurance plans.
– Those not enrolled in Medicare4.

Also there are no income limits on who may contribute to an HAS and there is no requirement of having earned income to contribute to an HAS. However HAS’s can’t be set up by those who are dependent on someone else’s tax return. Also HSA’s cannot be set up independently by children.

What is a High Deductible Health plan (HDHP)?

Enrollment in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is a necessary qualification for anyone wishing to open a Health Savings Account. In fact the HDHPs got a boost by the Medicare Modernization Act which introduced the HSAs. A High Deductible Health Plan is a health insurance plan which has a certain deductible threshold. This limit must be crossed before the insured person can claim insurance money. It does not cover first dollar medical expenses. So an individual has to himself pay the initial expenses that are called out-of-pocket costs.

In a number of HDHPs costs of immunization and preventive health care are excluded from the deductible which means that the individual is reimbursed for them. HDHPs can be taken both by individuals (self employed as well as employed) and employers. In 2008, HDHPs are being offered by insurance companies in America with deductibles ranging from a minimum of $1,100 for Self and $2,200 for Self and Family coverage. The maximum amount out-of-pocket limits for HDHPs is $5,600 for self and $11,200 for Self and Family enrollment. These deductible limits are called IRS limits as they are set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In HDHPs the relation between the deductibles and the premium paid by the insured is inversely propotional i.e. higher the deductible, lower the premium and vice versa. The major purported advantages of HDHPs are that they will a) lower health care costs by causing patients to be more cost-conscious, and b) make insurance premiums more affordable for the uninsured. The logic is that when the patients are fully covered (i.e. have health plans with low deductibles), they tend to be less health conscious and also less cost conscious when going for treatment.

Opening a Health Savings Account

An individual can sign up for HSAs with banks, credit unions, insurance companies and other approved companies. However not all insurance companies offer HSAqualified health insurance plans so it is important to use an insurance company that offers this type of qualified insurance plan. The employer may also set up a plan for the employees. However, the account is always owned by the individual. Direct online enrollment in HSA-qualified health insurance is available in all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Contributions to the Health Savings Account

Contributions to HSAs can be made by an individual who owns the account, by an employer or by any other person. When made by the employer, the contribution is not included in the income of the employee. When made by an employee, it is treated as exempted from federal tax. For 2008, the maximum amount that can be contributed (and deducted) to an HSA from all sources is:
$2,900 (self-only coverage)
$5,800 (family coverage)

These limits are set by the U.S. Congress through statutes and they are indexed annually for inflation. For individuals above 55 years of age, there is a special catch up provision that allows them to deposit additional $800 for 2008 and $900 for 2009. The actual maximum amount an individual can contribute also depends on the number of months he is covered by an HDHP (pro-rated basis) as of the first day of a month. For eg If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, then cease having HDHP coverage, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 of $5,800, or $2,900 for 2008. If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, and have self-only HDHP coverage from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 x $5,800 plus 6/12 of $2,900, or $4,350 for 2008. If an individual opens an HDHP on the first day of a month, then he can contribute to HSA on the first day itself. However, if he/she opens an account on any other day than the first, then he can contribute to the HSA from the next month onwards. Contributions can be made as late as April 15 of the following year. Contributions to the HSA in excess of the contribution limits must be withdrawn by the individual or be subject to an excise tax. The individual must pay income tax on the excess withdrawn amount.

Contributions by the Employer

The employer can make contributions to the employee’s HAS account under a salary reduction plan known as Section 125 plan. It is also called a cafeteria plan. The contributions made under the cafeteria plan are made on a pre-tax basis i.e. they are excluded from the employee’s income. The employer must make the contribution on a comparable basis. Comparable contributions are contributions to all HSAs of an employer which are 1) the same amount or 2) the same percentage of the annual deductible. However, part time employees who work for less than 30 hours a week can be treated separately. The employer can also categorize employees into those who opt for self coverage only and those who opt for a family coverage. The employer can automatically make contributions to the HSAs on the behalf of the employee unless the employee specifically chooses not to have such contributions by the employer.

Withdrawals from the HSAs

The HSA is owned by the employee and he/she can make qualified expenses from it whenever required. He/She also decides how much to contribute to it, how much to withdraw for qualified expenses, which company will hold the account and what type of investments will be made to grow the account. Another feature is that the funds remain in the account and role over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. The HSA participants do not have to obtain advance approval from their HSA trustee or their medical insurer to withdraw funds, and the funds are not subject to income taxation if made for ‘qualified medical expenses’. Qualified medical expenses include costs for services and items covered by the health plan but subject to cost sharing such as a deductible and coinsurance, or co-payments, as well as many other expenses not covered under medical plans, such as dental, vision and chiropractic care; durable medical equipment such as eyeglasses and hearing aids; and transportation expenses related to medical care. Nonprescription, over-the-counter medications are also eligible. However, qualified medical expense must be incurred on or after the HSA was established.

Tax free distributions can be taken from the HSA for the qualified medical expenses of the person covered by the HDHP, the spouse (even if not covered) of the individual and any dependent (even if not covered) of the individual.12 The HSA account can also be used to pay previous year’s qualified expenses subject to the condition that those expenses were incurred after the HSA was set up. The individual must preserve the receipts for expenses met from the HSA as they may be needed to prove that the withdrawals from the HSA were made for qualified medical expenses and not otherwise used. Also the individual may have to produce the receipts before the insurance company to prove that the deductible limit was met. If a withdrawal is made for unqualified medical expenses, then the amount withdrawn is considered taxable (it is added to the individuals income) and is also subject to an additional 10 percent penalty. Normally the money also cannot be used for paying medical insurance premiums. However, in certain circumstances, exceptions are allowed.

These are –

1) to pay for any health plan coverage while receiving federal or state unemployment benefits.
2) COBRA continuation coverage after leaving employment with a company that offers health insurance coverage.
3) Qualified long-term care insurance.
4) Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance for: Part A (hospital and inpatient services), Part B (physician and outpatient services), Part C (Medicare HMO and PPO plans) and Part D (prescription drugs).

However, if an individual dies, becomes disabled or reaches the age of 65, then withdrawals from the Health Savings Account are considered exempted from income tax and additional 10 percent penalty irrespective of the purpose for which those withdrawals are made. There are different methods through which funds can be withdrawn from the HSAs. Some HSAs provide account holders with debit cards, some with cheques and some have options for a reimbursement process similar to medical insurance.

Growth of HSAs

Ever since the Health Savings Accounts came into being in January 2004, there has been a phenomenal growth in their numbers. From around 1 million enrollees in March 2005, the number has grown to 6.1 million enrollees in January 2008.14 This represents an increase of 1.6 million since January 2007, 2.9 million since January 2006 and 5.1 million since March 2005. This growth has been visible across all segments. However, the growth in large groups and small groups has been much higher than in the individual category. According to the projections made by the U.S. Treasury Department, the number of HSA policy holders will increase to 14 million by 2010. These 14 million policies will provide cover to 25 to 30 million U.S. citizens.

In the Individual Market, 1.5 million people were covered by HSA/HDHPs purchased as on January 2008. Based on the number of covered lives, 27 percent of newly purchased individual policies (defined as those purchased during the most recent full month or quarter) were enrolled in HSA/HDHP coverage. In the small group market, enrollment stood at 1.8 million as of January 2008. In this group 31 percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category. The large group category had the largest enrollment with 2.8 million enrollees as of January 2008. In this category, six percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category.

Benefits of HSAs

The proponents of HSAs envisage a number of benefits from them. First and foremost it is believed that as they have a high deductible threshold, the insured will be more health conscious. Also they will be more cost conscious. The high deductibles will encourage people to be more careful about their health and health care expenses and will make them shop for bargains and be more vigilant against excesses in the health care industry. This, it is believed, will reduce the growing cost of health care and increase the efficiency of the health care system in the United States. HSA-eligible plans typically provide enrollee decision support tools that include, to some extent, information on the cost of health care services and the quality of health care providers. Experts suggest that reliable information about the cost of particular health care services and the quality of specific health care providers would help enrollees become more actively engaged in making health care purchasing decisions. These tools may be provided by health insurance carriers to all health insurance plan enrollees, but are likely to be more important to enrollees of HSA-eligible plans who have a greater financial incentive to make informed decisions about the quality and costs of health care providers and services.

It is believed that lower premiums associated with HSAs/HDHPs will enable more people to enroll for medical insurance. This will mean that lower income groups who do not have access to medicare will be able to open HSAs. No doubt higher deductibles are associated with HSA eligible HDHPs, but it is estimated that tax savings under HSAs and lower premiums will make them less expensive than other insurance plans. The funds put in the HSA can be rolled over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. This leads to a growth in savings of the account holder. The funds can be accumulated tax free for future medical expenses if the holder so desires. Also the savings in the HSA can be grown through investments.

The nature of such investments is decided by the insured. The earnings on savings in the HSA are also exempt from income tax. The holder can withdraw his savings in the HSA after turning 65 years old without paying any taxes or penalties. The account holder has complete control over his/her account. He/She is the owner of the account right from its inception. A person can withdraw money as and when required without any gatekeeper. Also the owner decides how much to put in his/her account, how much to spend and how much to save for the future. The HSAs are portable in nature. This means that if the holder changes his/her job, becomes unemployed or moves to another location, he/she can still retain the account.

Also if the account holder so desires he can transfer his Health Saving Account from one managing agency to another. Thus portability is an advantage of HSAs. Another advantage is that most HSA plans provide first-dollar coverage for preventive care. This is true of virtually all HSA plans offered by large employers and over 95% of the plans offered by small employers. It was also true of over half (59%) of the plans which were purchased by individuals.

All of the plans offering first-dollar preventive care benefits included annual physicals, immunizations, well-baby and wellchild care, mammograms and Pap tests; 90% included prostate cancer screenings and 80% included colon cancer screenings. Some analysts believe that HSAs are more beneficial for the young and healthy as they do not have to pay frequent out of pocket costs. On the other hand, they have to pay lower premiums for HDHPs which help them meet unforeseen contingencies.

Health Savings Accounts are also advantageous for the employers. The benefits of choosing a health Savings Account over a traditional health insurance plan can directly affect the bottom line of an employer’s benefit budget. For instance Health Savings Accounts are dependent on a high deductible insurance policy, which lowers the premiums of the employee’s plan. Also all contributions to the Health Savings Account are pre-tax, thus lowering the gross payroll and reducing the amount of taxes the employer must pay.

Criticism of HSAs

The opponents of Health Savings Accounts contend that they would do more harm than good to America’s health insurance system. Some consumer organizations, such as Consumers Union, and many medical organizations, such as the American Public Health Association, have rejected HSAs because, in their opinion, they benefit only healthy, younger people and make the health care system more expensive for everyone else. According to Stanford economist Victor Fuchs, “The main effect of putting more of it on the consumer is to reduce the social redistributive element of insurance.

Some others believe that HSAs remove healthy people from the insurance pool and it makes premiums rise for everyone left. HSAs encourage people to look out for themselves more and spread the risk around less. Another concern is that the money people save in HSAs will be inadequate. Some people believe that HSAs do not allow for enough savings to cover costs. Even the person who contributes the maximum and never takes any money out would not be able to cover health care costs in retirement if inflation continues in the health care industry.

Opponents of HSAs, also include distinguished figures like state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who called them a “dangerous prescription” that will destabilize the health insurance marketplace and make things even worse for the uninsured. Another criticism is that they benefit the rich more than the poor. Those who earn more will be able to get bigger tax breaks than those who earn less. Critics point out that higher deductibles along with insurance premiums will take away a large share of the earnings of the low income groups. Also lower income groups will not benefit substantially from tax breaks as they are already paying little or no taxes. On the other hand tax breaks on savings in HSAs and on further income from those HSA savings will cost billions of dollars of tax money to the exchequer.

The Treasury Department has estimated HSAs would cost the government $156 billion over a decade. Critics say that this could rise substantially. Several surveys have been conducted regarding the efficacy of the HSAs and some have found that the account holders are not particularly satisfied with the HSA scheme and many are even ignorant about the working of the HSAs. One such survey conducted in 2007 of American employees by the human resources consulting firm Towers Perrin showed satisfaction with account based health plans (ABHPs) was low. People were not happy with them in general compared with people with more traditional health care. Respondants said they were not comfortable with the risk and did not understand how it works.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, early experience with HAS eligible high-deductible health plans reveals low satisfaction, high out of- pocket costs, and cost-related access problems. Another survey conducted with the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that people enrolled in HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans were much less satisfied with many aspects of their health care than adults in more comprehensive plans People in these plans allocate substantial amounts of income to their health care, especially those who have poorer health or lower incomes. The survey also found that adults in high-deductible health plans are far more likely to delay or avoid getting needed care, or to skip medications, because of the cost. Problems are particularly pronounced among those with poorer health or lower incomes.

Political leaders have also been vocal about their criticism of the HSAs. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. issued the following statement criticizing the HSAs “The President’s health care plan is not about covering the uninsured, making health insurance affordable, or even driving down the cost of health care. Its real purpose is to make it easier for businesses to dump their health insurance burden onto workers, give tax breaks to the wealthy, and boost the profits of banks and financial brokers. The health care policies concocted at the behest of special interests do nothing to help the average American. In many cases, they can make health care even more inaccessible.” In fact a report of the U.S. governments Accountability office, published on April 1, 2008 says that the rate of enrollment in the HSAs is greater for higher income individuals than for lower income ones.

A study titled “Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Health Plans: Are They an Option for Low-Income Families? By Catherine Hoffman and Jennifer Tolbert which was sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported the following key findings regarding the HSAs:

a) Premiums for HSA-qualified health plans may be lower than for traditional insurance, but these plans shift more of the financial risk to individuals and families through higher deductibles.
b) Premiums and out-of-pocket costs for HSA-qualified health plans would consume a substantial portion of a low-income family’s budget.
c) Most low-income individuals and families do not face high enough tax liability to benefit in a significant way from tax deductions associated with HSAs.
d) People with chronic conditions, disabilities, and others with high cost medical needs may face even greater out-of-pocket costs under HSA-qualified health plans.
e) Cost-sharing reduces the use of health care, especially primary and preventive services, and low-income individuals and those who are sicker are particularly sensitive to cost-sharing increases.
f) Health savings accounts and high deductible plans are unlikely to substantially increase health insurance coverage among the uninsured.

Choosing a Health Plan

Despite the advantages offered by the HSA, it may not be suitable for everyone. While choosing an insurance plan, an individual must consider the following factors:

1. The premiums to be paid.
2. Coverage/benefits available under the scheme.
3. Various exclusions and limitations.
4. Portability.
5. Out-of-pocket costs like coinsurance, co-pays, and deductibles.
6. Access to doctors, hospitals, and other providers.
7. How much and sometimes how one pays for care.
8. Any existing health issue or physical disability.
9. Type of tax savings available.

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For Unto Us a Child is Born

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; NKJV

In chapter 8, of Isaiah a prophetess gives birth to a son and God declares through him gloom, darkness and utter ruin to all who are given into familiar spirits, wickedness and also to those who set themselves up against Gods people and the throne of David.

Isaiah 8:3-4 “Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. bazinga Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.” NKJV

Isaiah continues in chapter nine how through their hunger, brokenness and dark despair they will see a great light.

Isaiah 9:2-4 “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden And the staff of his shoulder, The rod of his oppressor, As in the day of Midian. ”

In the midst of their darkness and ruin God still provides a ray of hope through a shining light, read Matthew Henry’s commentary:

“He will bring the gospel of grace and through this grace God will break the yoke of sin and satan to remove the burden of guilt and corruption and to set us free from the rod of the oppressor. ”

What shining light is God referring to?

Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. NKJV

Its interesting how one son is bore as a sign of gloom and darkness and in the prior chapter 7, and again in chapter 9, we read how God provides a sign of Hope through the promise of His Son, “Immanuel” who is also known as the Light of Life and the coming Messiah.

This came to pass as we read in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 1:20-23 “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,”* which is translated, “God with us.” NKJV

This is a beautiful picture of Gods faithfulness, love and grace. We cannot begin to comprehend this but we can receive it and believe it by faith because He has already done it.

Imagine how God was giving them a promise long before hand through the prophet Isaiah of Hope, Light and Life during a time of dark despair, condemnation and gloom. He was giving them a shining light and ray of Hope that all was not lost because of the child He would bear one day through a virgin named Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit to bring forth His only begotten son, Immanuel, God with us.

If you are going through a trial, experiencing despair or discouragement be encouraged that through Jesus you can receive His life, His light and His Hope for your situation. He can be your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace if you will allow Him to. I have to repeat this quote again because I personally was blessed by it:

“The Messiah will bring the gospel of grace and through this grace God will break the yoke of sin and satan to remove the burden of guilt and corruption and to set us free from the rod of the oppressor. ” (Quote by Matthew Henry Commentary)

If you have never asked Jesus into your heart I encourage you to give Him a try and see what God does in you and through you. Confess your sins; ask Him to come into your heart and believe by faith that He is who He says He is; The Son of God, He is the Light of Life and the Messiah. God is faithful and He will do it! (John 3:16, John 14:6, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-13)

May the Lord bless you this holiday season filled with His incredible love, mercy and grace and remember when He gave His only begotten Son He brought Him into this world with you in mind!

Merry Christmas!

Filoiann Wiedenhoff

Filoiann M. Wiedenhoff is a Pastor’s Wife, Work at Home Mom, Woman?s Pastoral Counselor, Bible Teacher and Christian Author. She loves to write devotionals, articles, training and handbooks. She is currently working on a lay counseling handbook and devotional E-books due to publish by the end of next year. You can visit her website and sign up for her monthly newsletter on [http://www.filoiannwiedenhoff.com]. Receive my new FREE ebook of my 6 “How to Deal” articles. Just click on my website.

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Kaul Festival in Mukah Sarawak

Mukah, located in Central Sarawak is slowly emerging into an important coastal town with a bright future. Its population are mainly Melanau where they are know as the sago-eating tribe. Kuching city on the other hand is located at the Western tip of Sarawak. There are many ways to go to Mukah and one can go to Mukah either by car, plane from or by boat from Sibu. It takes over 5 hours to reach Mukah from Sibu.

The local Melanaus in Mukah, alugueldecacambassp Sarawak recently celebrated the Kaul Festival (Pesta Kaul). It was a myriad of events with more than 10,000 people attending it. This festival is unique to the Melanaus is held every year around the month of March to April. Kaul Festival is a thanksgiving festival to appease the spirits of the farms, forests, land and sea. The Melanaus would express their gratitude to the spirits for keeping them safe through the monsoon season. They are also expressing their desire for an abundance of fishes caught on their fishing journeys.

The main highlights in the event is the “tibau”, a traditional giant swing 20 feet high. Young people would daringly dive down to catch a swinging rope. This is obviously not for the faint hearted. Graceful dancers also performed at the event with their traditional alu-alu dance. Sri Ritma won the first prize with rm2,000 prize money. Other activities included martial arts demonstrations and parade by local community leaders. It is at this event that you get to witness the many facets of the Melanau community.

The most famous dish from Mukah would be the umai dish, which is a raw fish delicacy prepared out of raw fish and consumed in the form of salad. Several different types of raw fishes are used for preparing Umai. You can either have it plain, sliced fish with spicy chili sauce or raw fish mixed with lime juice, sliced onions, chilies, sugar and salt. The other popular dish would be the sago pellet.

Come visit Mukah and learn about culture and their uniqueness.

Sandy K, a local sarawakian wants to introduce Sarawak to the whole world. Though legally trained, her first love has always been in writing, traveling, internet and entrepreneurship. She wants to use her expertise to help expose the mystical beauty of her homeland to the world at large with the power of internet media. For more information about Sarawak, do visit http://www.BestKuchingHotels.com She may be reached at bestkuchinghotels@gmail.com or follow her at Twitter – BorneoExplorer.

 

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Affiliate Marketing Programs Tips: 3 Problems That Will Stop You Dead In Your Tracks

So now that you seen of all the benefits to get started with Affiliate Marketing Programs today, what should you stay away from that will stop you dead in your tracks? There are three primary things that will make you quit your dreams if not handled right.

1) Pressuring family and friends. Even though this can be a quick way of placing your product or niche robottogel. n front of a open audience and at the same time this can also prove to be a business stopper with the ones who are the dearest to you. Granted, there is absolutely nothing wrong about talking about your niche with your family or friends but to the point that you are choking them so that they start to avoid you is not the solution to your sales. Just tell them what you are involved with and end it at that. If they want it then they will let you know. You want those dearest to you to stay in that relationship. At the same time don’t let them persuade you from your goals.

2) Work at your new Affiliate Marketing Programs continuously. Do not think that this is going to be easy for you right away, especially when it comes to being successful. View those who are successful in this business today, even on a locally. Perhaps you may even know a person who has a very successful business. Did they just achieve success by the next day? Certainly they didn’t. There are many Affiliate Marketing Programs out there that will try to convince you wealth will be overnight. Run away from them at all cost. You must work hard from the very start to gain your success. Never be tricked in thinking that it’s just a once in a while effort or one hour every couple days a week. Stay aligned on your goals.

3) Make sure the financial gain is worth it. Once again, not all Affiliate Marketing Programs is worthy of your time and personal finances. The payout may not be worth the effort you put into it. Face it, some people have a skill at doing things than many others. For instance, some people are computer smart so therefore they are going to lean towards an opportunity that is conducive to their skill and therefore can be more useful in that regard. So choose at niche that you will be comfortable with from the very start, yet not be intimidated to take a chance on something unfamiliar.

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Impacts of Digital Marketing on The Popularity of Traditional Marketing

Any market has a standard law being old products, views, system, strategy would be replaced with new and improved versions. With increasing popularity of internet globally, popularity of digital marketing is beaming high. johnbestmarketingtools Millennial have changed the way market runs, traditional tools is still prevailing in the market but its popularity has been impacted due to internet.

Traditional Marketing (TM) has stronger roots and have been in run for a long term and therefore older generations still have blind trust on the tools, but with newer generations coming in the market is now a mixture of both the tools, traditional as well as digital.

Though in the initial stages traditional tools are a great choice, to expand globally digitalization is needed. Where traditional tools such as newspapers, and hoardings help in local advertisements digital tools like social media, helps reach out to a wider customer base, and interact with them.

TM though being an older form of marketing is not so ecofriendly as it includes wastage of resources and is costlier. Digital Marketing (DM) has not replaced traditional way but surely has provided with effective and efficient options.

Digital ways and traditional ways could be made to work together for a better form of marketing which benefits the firm for a longer time period. Social media marketing and print media could work together to reach out to a huge prospective market, and attract a great number of customers.

Different objectives of marketing lead to usage of different tools, at times a mixture of tools are used to market a product or product line in order to make the effect more effective on the customer’s mind which would persuade them to buy.

Branding and advertising are two main objectives for marketing whichever the reason may be, in today’s digital savvy market, it’s important to place your products in the customer’s head properly.

With increasing usage of internet for everything it’s important to have a virtual image and presence in front of the target audience. Which is formulated through digital marketing tools such as social media marketing, SEO, Mobile Advertising and many more.

Multiple Marketing Options with Digital Marketing

There are so many options to work with DM, you will plan strategic process according to budget. DM pursue different options like Email Marketing, SEM, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Web Analytics, Copywriting, Advertising and Mobile Marketing. You can keep watch on each and every activities and consider which promotional activities will best meet your marketing needs.

Changing times demand a change the strategies running in the market, and as the market is moving towards digitalization, the marketing needs to move in the direction too. DM provides with ample options to search through and find the best alternative according to the objective of marketing.

Marketing is a pillar to expand, attract and search for target audience and therefore, decisions regarding it needs to be well planned, and digital tools help you to plan accordingly for each platform, which saves cost and facilitate proper use of resources.

DM is the new and international way to grow, none of the businessman dreams to be stuck to the point from where they started, they always aspire to grown, and in order to grow you need to be in touch with the most significant part of the market: THE AUDIENCE, and that’s what digital marketing tools excel in.

Conclusion being, significance of internet and digital marketing has increased over the last few years which have negatively impacted on the popularity of traditional marketing.

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6 Real Estate Email Marketing Strategies That Are Crushing It In 2020

Email marketing is alive and well in 2020. With 260 billion emails opened every day, it’s not disappearing soon.

But in a world where attention is king, many real estate agents have opted out of email marketing for  expression the more trendy social media marketing.

BIG MISTAKE.

The biggest mistake is with ownership. You don’t own the lists on your favourite social media platform and that is costly. Get shut down by Facebook and your ‘25,768 followers’ are gone.

But email is totally different. You own your lists!

The other big mistake agents make with email is that they are boring and don’t know how to engage with prospects. With lousy open rates and pathetic engagement it’s no wonder why real estate agents have moved away from email marketing.

But they shouldn’t. So let’s fix that.

According to Emma here’s how we should start:

1. Real estate email marketing strategies – start with an actionable welcome
Let’s start with the first, and most important, email-the welcome email.

A welcome email is a great way to introduce both cold and warm leads to your services. Your customer may have opted in at an open house or your website, or they may be someone you’ve gotten through a referral.

You could also send a welcome email after your first contact with your prospects. This could be after the first day of house-hunting or following an initial consultation about selling their home.

At any rate, a welcome email will thank subscribers for opting-in and give them two critical pieces of information:

What kinds of emails to expect from you in the future
Why you’re the best agent to help them buy or sell their home.
Competition is fierce among realtors, so this is your way of getting the jump on the competition and positioning your brand for success.
No matter how you design your welcome email, make sure it’s clear and actionable.

That means there should be a prominent call-to-action (CTA) to schedule a phone call or meeting, connect on social media, or even a request to be “white-listed” so that your emails don’t end up in the spam folder.

And our friends at Steppsagree:

Strong Email Subject Lines
Strong subject lines are the secret sauce of email marketing. It’s the first thing people see when they open their inbox-a first impression of your content.

A recent Sendpulse survey revealed that roughly 62% of subscribers read emails when the subject line is interesting. If your content is compelling enough, consumers won’t care too much about how often you send them emails.

That said, anything too vague will immediately get sent to spam or be deleted by the email user. Same goes for anything too direct (like an obvious sales pitch) or something that implies that the mailing is part of a big email blast.

A strong subject line can capture the reader’s attention immediately, but not give anything away in the process.

Sacha Ferrandi of Source Capital Funding gives a good example of this:

Bad – “Learn About an Amazing Property (Address) In the Centennial Park Area”
Good – “Updated Information Regarding Your Neighborhood Property Values”
Notice how the second option entices the audience to read more? The “Bad” option gives everything away immediately and users don’t need to look any further to know what this is about.
Best Practices for Email Subject Lines

Short and Sweet: Campaign Monitor found that email subject lines containing just 65 characters have hit the email sweet spot and that most email subject lines have 41-50 characters (which is about 5-9 average-length words).
Personalize it: Experian Marketing Services found that personalized subject lines-think names, neighbourhoods, listings-result in a 26% higher open rate.
Take note of the pre-header text-also known as the first 40 characters of the email. Make use of this section to expand on the email subject, and ensure you’ve strung together the characters that drive clicks.
Do A/B Testing: Test out different lengths, different sentence structures, lines that use numbers or statistics versus ones that don’t. Don’t forget to test how the subject line length reads across different devices, too. Most email service providers offer a function that allows you to preview how your email will read on iPhone, laptops, etc.
GetResponse has a feature that shows you the effectiveness of your subject line and it also has an A/B testing feature. If you haven’t yet picked an email service provider (ESP) to use for your real estate email marketing, it’s a great option for beginners.
Interesting content keeps readers… interested according to Emma

2. Add value with a newsletter full of relevant, interesting content.
Your prospects want to know that you’re an expert in the local market. There’s no better way to convey your expertise than in an email newsletter packed full of relevant, helpful information.

Not only do newsletters feature your own realty services, but they also keep you at the forefront of the prospects’ minds while they’re deciding how to proceed.

 

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Digital Marketing Courses

SMM / Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is one of the very effective methods in digital marketing strategies. The social media marketing tools are involved with various social media sites. megaminimall The major SMM tools are (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) these tools are very effective to reach the people around the world within a few seconds of time. By using or implementing the strategies of social media in any kind of services or business field is really going to give them the hundred percent results in their Social Media Marketing campaigns. SMM can be learned with digital marketing courses.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the very old marketing methods and effective ways to send an individual newsletter and other subjects to the particular person by using the one’s e-mail id. This form will exist even in future too, in spite of many others marketing channels, however, the e-mail marketing will be continued as earlier without any hamper. As an email marketing methods are completely different than the other marketing methods. It is also one of the main modules of Digital Marketing courses.

Mobile Marketing

The word mobile marketing sounds very familiar to each of us due to the people are very familiar and fond of with this device. Hence, this will be one of the most important factors of marketing with this tool. There is no limit for using of mobile phones and the device will be with the people at all the time. So the mobile marketing which targets the audience or users of active internet users and non-active internet users on their mobile phones. The difference between active internet users and non-active internet users when the user is using the smartphone with data on his device this can be considered as an active internet user.

Non-active is not connected with data or internet. There are multiple options to reach the non-active internet users by sending a text message, voice message and by calling directly to their contact number and letting them know about the features and services of the product. For active internet users, you can directly reach or send to their inbox (email), WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts as well. These kinds of marketing strategies are followed in mobile marketing. This module is also consisting of digital marketing courses.

To learn the entire processes of Digital Marketing Courses need to join a reputed digital marketing training institute. At the institute in Bangalore, we train the students from basics to advanced level marketing methods and strategies of online marketing. Which has to be followed thoroughly and this will help them to learn each step during their training with practical knowledge.

When you read all the above-mentioned information, you can easily understand that the importance of digital marketing and the trends of current online marketing situations also the advantages and benefits of its implementation in any of the industry, business or services around the world to promote and reach more of your targeted audience/Customers across the globe to get better results on the ROI/ return on the investments. So the digital marketing industry is going to be the next hopes for better business results and career growth in coming years.

Tags: online marketing courses, digital marketing training in Bangalore, internet marketing courses in Bangalore, digital marketing Bangalore, digital marketing course in Bangalore, online marketing institute in bangalore

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Culture influence the ART

Mortals continually seek the answers to the most perplexing universal questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? These underlying www.lifeofanartist.nl questions refer to time both past, present and future, as well as, the nature of the human condition itself. By delving into the most ancient of periods, combined with the present day occurrences, (of the chaotic/barbaric of times) are we better able to appreciate, relate and absorb the mysterious universe as it moves through us and into our ART.

We are forced to ponder the question: does culture influence the ART or is ART influenced by the culture? Prehistoric ART is heavy laden with overly inscribed overt symbolism reflecting their similar interests in discovering the answers to these on-going nebulous questions. The Venus of Willendorf may adequately portray man’s attempt to satisfy the vital requirement in himself to subdue the fears associated with what may possibly happen to him after he died. She screams as an extraneous deity needed by man to validate his unstoppable urge to worship something greater that existed inside himself. Without a doubt, the greatest aspiration in man is to seize and exemplify the inner spiritual aspect of his nature. He intends, through ART, to reveal the Master of Divine Essence so inexplicably hidden. The creations of Artists are merely the outward manifestation of an inner realization. From Cavemen to the most technological advances in mankind, the sole purpose is to see God face to face in some manner. By studying, contemplating and meditating upon the various ART works made available and those created by oneself, an option is made accessible to expand man’s universe. One is able to receive through a hologramic resonance, a personal revelation that will cause him to envision an experience more than what it appears to be on the surface.

The hidden part of any work of ART is the part that connects us to us. As we study and meditate upon the various ART works, we must start with its design, noting that design is nothing more than pure abstract meaning. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter at hand.

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The Importance of Information Technology Training from a Management Perspective

Information technology training for IT managers and systems analysts may seem superfluous – these folks are usually well-learned in their areas of expertise. But, do they understand how a company’s technology fits into the bigger picture from a business perspective? That’s where management training becomes important. Every manager who plays a role in researching, selecting or implementing enterprise technology needs to have a firm grasp on the basics of emerging technologies, as well as how they serve a larger business purpose, to ensure that technology is being used to the company’s best strategic advantage.

Stay Current on Revolutionary, Emerging Technology Applications

A program of continual information technology training is crucial to the success of any IT team. Technology is constantly evolving, and it seems that there is a new application released every day that is meant to simplify doing business. This can be overwhelming if you do not stay current on the high-level trends of technology and their corresponding impact on business. With the Web 2.0 revolution in full swing, management training is a useful tool for managers to become familiar with the online trends such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and RSS feeds, as well as how the trends are going to change the ways we view the Internet and communicate with each other. It is estimated that these technologies will have significant business impact in the coming years, and companies everywhere have to consider directly how it affects their business strategies.

Information technology training can help managers determine the impact of new technologies and how to adapt their business processes. Trying to envision how Web 2.0 changes traditional business models is difficult when you have no knowledge of how these new technical applications are being used from a business perspective. First and foremost, managers must take it upon themselves to become proactive by keeping abreast of emerging trends and understanding them not only from a technical standpoint, but evaluating them from a higher-level, strategic standpoint. Management training courses on technology focus specifically on the ways that emerging technologies affect businesses on a high level. This is the type of knowledge needed to make conscious and informed decisions on what aspects of new technologies will affect your organization in the next few years and transition your thoughts into strategic action and implementation.

Collaboration and information sharing, within and outside of enterprises, are two areas that have made huge strides that management training can help your organization harness to improve business strategies. The advent of user-created content sharing has transformed the way that enterprises communicate. Enterprise-class blogs and wikis boost productivity and innovation by enabling ad hoc teams to participate in complex, collaborative problem solving, and then make the results available to the rest of the organization with ease. Information technology training gives managers the high-level information about these technologies that they need to bring them effectively into your organization.

Large companies will often struggle the most with adopting new business strategies based on emerging technologies due to organizational inertia and the lag that comes from changing any integrated system. Not only do the right people need to be convinced of the value of a new application, but the proper infrastructure often needs to be developed or tweaked to implement the technology. This is where the importance of management information technology training to understand the potential impact of technology from a business perspective comes into play.

Management Training for Appropriate Technology Selection and Recommendation

Management training courses typically deal with logistics and personnel management but fail to guide managers when it comes to making decisions about technology. As a manager in today’s world, what really matters isn’t just your ability to lead and maintain technology infrastructure – it’s your ability to deliver positive business outcomes. Cutting IT costs and managing infrastructure are only part of the equation. Technology must also reduce business risk and generate new opportunities and growth. Information technology training can help managers transition their views of technology as an isolated island off the coast of a business and look at it as one working part of the whole machine that is the organization.

Finding a cool application that has all the shiny bells and whistles you dreamed of and recommending implementation based on the technology’s sheer innovation is no longer enough to make a good business case. Before presenting a recommendation, you must understand every step involved with the successful implementation of the technology. A thorough study will need to be conducted to determine what departments, processes and functions will need to be modified in order to benefit from the new technology. Management training courses focusing on information technology gives managers the tools they need to make that determination.

If you are going to make an impact on the decision makers of a business, you have to get on their level. When it comes down to making a decision, for many business people it is all about the numbers. That is why it is essential to participate in information technology training courses that help you perform your due diligence and gather the data you need to compile hard numbers around your recommendation. What is the true return on investment that the company can expect to achieve by implementing the technology? It is much easier to convince an associate of the merits of your idea if you can show a real increase in profit based on proven research instead of attempting to sway them based on opinion only.

Conclusion

Technology is rapidly changing the way that businesses communicate and function every day. It is important for managers to take a proactive role in understanding emerging technology trends and how they may affect a company’s business model by investing in an ongoing program of information technology training for all levels of staff. Management training in particular is essential for ensuring the right technologies are pursued to ensure business success. Viewing technology as a direct influencer on the business as a whole ensures consistent alignment of goals throughout the enterprise.

Mark Rogers is the president and CEO of WestLake Training + Development, which he purchased in 2005. After spending 10 years managing strategic accounts and developing new business for DDB Needham Worldwide and Ketchum Communications, Mark was co-founder of Virtualogic, which was one of the country’s fastest-growing I.T. professional services firms. In 1999 Mark joined LifeMinders, Inc, a direct marketing “dot com”, where he served as vice president, business development. To learn more about information technology training,

 

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Amazon as a Marketing Tool

I could write an entire book about Amazon.com and how to use it to make money. There are so many options, most are free and you should utilize all of them. Many authors complain about the percentage Amazon charges when they list their books for sale and make sales. They complain about the shipping charges and packaging specifications. I do not understand this. If it were not for Amazon.com I would not have as many sales and customers as I do. I am grateful that Amazon is there for me to utilize and make money with. There is nothing else like it, look at Barnes & Noble for example. They are not just a chain of book stores but have an online presence just like Amazon. They do not have the audience, power or free tools for authors that Amazon does and therefore are not as successful. In my opinion you are missing out if you don’t utilize all Amazon has to offer you as an author.

You may be familiar with the Amazon emailing campaign that some authors have tried and say really works. I have not followed this campaign but thought it was interesting enough to mention. I heard from an author that after sending out an email to many people, his ranking went up considerably and his book reached number one status on Amazon.com The email he sent out starts out by saying that he is doing an experiment and wants help in becoming an Amazon.com bestseller. It is almost like a chain letter asking the recipient to send the email on to 10 of their friends and family or more if possible and ask them to pass it on and on and on. The email then goes on to explain about the book, and thank the reader.

Getting reviews on Amazon.

The easiest way to get reviews on Amazon or anywhere else is to ask for them. When my books became available on Amazon. There were a few people that wrote reviews for them. I wanted more. I personally wrote to each of my customers that had purchased my books and asked them if they would be interested in writing a review for my book on Amazon. I had a great response and made sure to send them a hand written thank you note in the mail after they posted their review. This goes a long way.

Giving reviews on Amazon.

Another way to get more traffic to your books is to give reviews on Amazon for similar books or for your competition. People who look at those books will see your review and may click through to your book or website. I review every book I read, no matter what the topic. I know how much I appreciate getting a good review and so I try to do the same for others.

Amazon Advantage.

Amazon Advantage is a great way to get your book seen. Some people automatically go to Amazon when they are looking for a book, they may not necessarily search a search engine for a book topic they are interested in to find your website. This is a very good reason to have your book on Amazon. If your webpage is on the first page of a major search engine for your keywords, you might not be so interested in doing this but I would highly recommend listing your book with the Amazon advantage program. Another reason to list your book with Amazon is that people trust Amazon, so they are more likely to input their credit card information and order your book. They may not know who you are or fully trust you or your website so having this option will help boost sales. Also, Amazon will sell your book at different prices, they offer sales or discounts but don’t worry and you still get the same amount of money regardless. So for a bargain hunter Amazon is where they will go. You can offer autographed copies on your website which is something Amazon does not offer or even bundles of your book with other authors’ books or special reports.

Another reason people visit Amazon for book purchases is that they can combine their purchases with other book orders and get free shipping, your book could be included in that promotion. The best reason to sell through Amazon is that it gives you credibility when your book is on Amazon as well as your website. Even if your website is the first one that comes up for your keywords, you can make many more sales through Amazon.

List mania.

List mania is a great way to showcase a list of books you like and why. You can network with other authors and both create lists that include each others books to help promote each other. You can have as many lists as you like under as many topics as you like. This also lets your readers see that you are a real person, just like them and have opinions about different thebusinessdaily  books and authors.

Search inside the Book.

I highly recommend you sign up for Search Inside the Book; this gives someone who is trying to decide if they should buy your book a glimpse into what you have to offer. They may read your table of contents and a specific item they are looking for might jump out at them causing them to buy your book. You are only showing a few pages, and this can be a great way to get more sales.

Sell yours used! Using Amazon Marketplace to make more money.

I use this feature all the time and sell many books this way. You can sell a brand new book, an out of print edition, an autographed copy or a returned or damaged copy and still make some money.
If you receive any returns back or have any book copies that are not “perfect” list them on Amazon marketplace for a cheaper price. I actually make more money on those sales even if the book is selling for less than a perfect copy on Amazon.

It has been my experience that Amazon offers great customer service, through email. They pay you in full and on time at the same time every month. You can go online to check the status of your account, how many copies they have, how many have been sold and how much money you are making. I have also had reporters find me through Amazon and then interview me for stories, so having a presence on Amazon is a big plus in many ways.

Michelle Dunn, author of an award winning book has spent the last 18 years stepping into dangerous debt collection potholes. She shares her hard-won expertise on debt collection with the titles in her “Collecting Money Series.” She is the founder and president of Never Dunn Publishing, LLC and her 10 year old Credit & Collections Association with over 1075 members. Miche