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Demand Price Transparency in Healthcare

Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, October 7, 2019

Like many of you, I enjoy the wonderful convenience of the Amazon purchasing world. In a few moments, I experience the ultimate in choice, colors and sizes in a side-by-side product comparison. I know what I have ordered, with customer product ratings, most is shipped within two days and I know the exact prices. Online ordering has empowered me to become a wise shopper, a great steward of my resources. But health care is not so. We do not know how much we are being charged until after the purchase. And we are not asking why. We have been socialized into it. We are going with the flow of the health insurance industry. We wrongly focus only on co-pays, prescription co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses on health plans. We need to ask the right questions. Why don’t we ask: “How much am I being charged for this procedure? How much is being billed to my insurance company?”

The cloudy pricing — non-transparent pricing — allows non-competitive pricing. There is no accountability unless we start demanding it. Health care is not the same as health insurance. Everyone needs to take care of their health and establish a healthy lifestyle. But health insurance is broken. A few recommendations you can practice to help health care serve you better:
■ Competitively shop hospitals, clinics and physician office prices. Demand your providers be competitive. Shop three or more options like any wise business.
■ Ask “How much will my insurance company be billed for that procedure?” Don’t accept “ I don’t know” or whatever your out- of-pocket maximum is. Educate the medical providers that they need to provide a menu and that it is competitively priced. Know that excess charges to insurers, from non-competitive hospitals and
clinics, will manifest later in your bigger rate increases.
■ Ask the discounted price
for cash pay. Sometimes that is cheaper for pharmacy and insurance
pricing. My family practice
provides an automatic 20 percent
discount for cash pay.
■ Consider using a Health Savings
Account with a compatible
health plan. You pay with pre-tax dollars. That gives you 20-30 percent
more purchasing power than
a savings or checking account.
Your contributions to a HSA are a 100 percent deduction, up to $3,500 for an individual and $7,000
for a family.
■ Does your physician have
this mantra? “It is better to be
well than well-medicated.” Is
your physician a “wellness-oriented”
advisor? Is it a 8-12 minute
rushed appointment? Do they really
spend time to find out what
is important to you? Are they
helping you maximize a healthy
lifestyle or the changes to obtain
it or merely loading you up with
prescriptions? Many patients
are seeking direct primary care
or concierge medicine options.
These physicians only have 400-
500 patients, not 4,000 -6,000 like
most primary care physicians.
With far fewer patients, they can spend more time with their patients,
really getting to know you.
They welcome traditional insurance,
cash pay or health sharing
■ Vote. Free market medical care solutions will be more efficient.
Government-run plans
have no competitive forces to better serve patients. There is a
reason Canadians flock to America
for important health care services.
Canadians have stated they
would have died waiting on the
Canadian system to “slowly get
around” to them. It doesn’t have to be competitive or efficient. Older patients are discriminated
against receiving swift care in a
socialized medicine system. The
younger are seen as more “productive
agents” in their workforce.
■ Have an insurance adviser
who is objectively familiar
with the whole menu: traditional
group, individual medical, temporary
plans, association plans, professional
employee organizations
and medical sharing options for
you and your business. Demand
they offer you the full menu that
is best for you. The status quo broker
with one or two solutions is a
thing of the past.
What is broken is the health
insurance industry and how
services are paid for. We presently
don’t know what we are paying for or how much it is.
Demand price transparency
and competitive pricing. Be an
empowered health care consumer.

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Bob Land recognized for helping consumers with qualified health coverage!

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Rocky Mount, NC – Bob Land has been recognized for his hard work and expertise in helping consumers enroll in and manage qualified health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

This nationwide recognition from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a member of the 2019 Marketplace Circle of Champions highlights Bob’s success in enrolling 20 or more consumers during this Open Enrollment Period.

“Consumers turn to agents and brokers for trusted advice and guidance in selecting plans, enrolling in coverage, and managing their health insurance policies throughout the year,” said Randy Pate, Director of Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) operation within CMS, which oversees the Marketplace. “We thank Bob for his hard work and exceptional service in helping Americans get coverage.”

The Marketplace Circle of Champions program recognizes the hard work, expertise and service of Marketplace-registered agents and brokers. Agents and brokers who assist 20 or more consumers qualify for the Marketplace Circle of Champions.

Eligible consumers can enroll in Marketplace coverage during this year’s Open Enrollment Period, which runs November 1 – December 15, 2018.

Why I Love To Pay Insurance Premiums

Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, May 20, 2019

Everyone loves paying their insurance premiums, right? Sort of like going to the dentist.

I dislike those invoices from the health, life, disability protection, auto, home and long-term care plans as much as anyone. And I am an independent insurance and investment agency owner, soon beginning my 27th year. Why do I pay for them?

■ It comes down to love. That is what insurance represents to me. Keeping financial promises to those I love the most. I can guarantee my wife and my kids absolute financial guarantees. When I am sick, if I become disabled, one day die or when I likely chronically age .. . it does not matter. I am prepared. My intended financial outcomes are going to occur. Because I have planned. Our home is secured. My kids stay in the same schools. Our cars are paid for. One day I will be able slow down a little and enjoy the grandkids. We have "Peace of Mind" now because of insurance.

■ It comes down to personal responsibility. On our wedding day, I said to my wife, "I do". I pledged a promise. Like the famous Platters song "With this ring," I promised to always love her. But it was more than mere adolescent emotion. Maturing love is practical, is patient, kind, changes diapers, de-ices the windshield, is available to help, pays bills and plans. Insurance and Investments help me do that, within my budget, by multiplying my financial resources to cover likely risks in life. It was no longer my parent's role to pay for my life. It was not my neighbor's role or the government's role. I celebrate the opportunity to build a wonderful life for my family through planning.

As Teddy Roosevelt penned: “I choose not to be a common man. It’s my right to be uncommon if I can. I’ll seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state to look after me. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.”

■ It comes down to maturing. Over time I learned, with discipline, I could lower my insurance premiums. I could adjust it as my financial world improved. How? Through progressive short term self-insurance. My initial goal was to save $500. Later $1000 was in the emergency fund. Then shoot for three months of living expenses. This is possible when you live within your means. As my savings grew, so could my health insurance and car and homeowners deductibles also be raised. I did not need to have a super low 500 deductible, when I had an Health Savings Account or emergency fund of $1000 in cash. I have fortunately gotten to where I can afford to have a 6 month elimination period on my disability and long term care insurances. But that took us a while. It is possible to increase your savings over time and just use insurance for the liabilities your cash won't handle.

■ In summary: So pay those insurance premiums for the right reasons: Love, responsibility and maturity. Over time, build your cash and retirement savings. Work with a professional you trust to show you how to progressively wean yourself off of low deductibles and other unnecessary insurance premiums. Bet you didn't expect an insurance adviser to tell you that!

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Helpful Money Lessons I've Learned Throughout Life

Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, March 18, 2019

I grew up in a loving and encouraging family.

But we lacked financial knowledge and budgeting management. I fortunately met great money examples along the way.

My first great example was my grandfather “Pop Pop.” He came from meager means. The great depression caused him to manage money well. After college, he climbed from new employee to company president. He and his wife, Mary could have lived “big.”

But instead, they purchased a duplex and rented out the other side. He lived below his means. He had life insurance, a last will and testament, participated in company benefits and retirement plan to practically love Mary. His high value on education manifested itself in three college savings plans for myself and my two siblings. After his and Mary’s passing, my mother still benefited from rent from both sides of the duplex. His sacrificial living enabled others to be educated and provided for.

The next great examples were my wife’s parents, the Wilsons. They too lived on a budget below their means. They made lists, prioritized spending and balanced their checkbook. They were unified about money and had one joint checking and savings account.

When their kids started college, Mr. Wilson created a hobby/job on the weekends to make ends meet. He sold “blue willow” plates and china and similar items at the Raleigh flea market. They paid for three college educations and their two daughters weddings all with cash flow, and no debt. They utilized the practical safety nets of group medical insurance, personal life insurance, 401(k) savings, disability protection and a long-term care plan.

Our friend Rick was a CPA and CFO. He was the next financial godsend. Unlike my grandfather and parent in-laws, Rick was young. He was 30 years old and in full control of his money. He was the first person who showed me his written budget and the freeing power of it. He used a “dome budgeting book.” He itemized spending categories: mortgage payment, utilities, groceries, auto, clothes, savings and charitable giving. He paid off his home at age 32. He introduced me to Crown Financial — — a company dedicated to responsible money stewardship and how to integrate your faith and finances.

We soon moved to Rocky Mount. Through work and church circles, we met other young couples who faced similar money challenges of raising children, home ownership and making ends meet. We attempted to live financially wise lives. We started affordable safety nets: life insurance, saving accounts, a last will and testament and participated in employee benefits. We daily tried to pass on stewardship values to our kids. Soon Dave Ramsey’s books and videos reinforced God first, family next and financial responsibility. Our money focus was on being joyful and faithful managers of what we had.

Soon my roles reversed with my parents. I was no longer the child, but a care manager. As their health declined, I became power of attorney and eventual executor of their estate. We saw the wisdom of their life insurance, liquid savings and long-term care plans for likely extended care needs.

As the years have flown by, we too have miraculously found ways to raise a large family, fund college and save for retirement. It takes sacrifice, being united in purpose with my wife, keeping budget records and hanging in there. I hope my grandfather, parent in laws and our friends financial wisdom and examples are helpful in your financial world, too.

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Company President Attends National Disability Insurance Conference

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The International Disability Insurance Society recently held its 14th annual Conference in St. Louis.

Over 110 of the country’s leading disability insurance professionals from across the country gathered to learn about products, attend training and get the latest information on industry trends.

Bob Land attended the conference that focused on assisting disability insurance professionals to continue servicing their clients. He received the latest information by attending a variety of courses on topics related to own occupation disability income protection, critical illness insurance products, executive benefit plans and more.

“Because of their dedication to staying up-to-date in the disability insurance marketplace, IDIS members are the most highly trained, best qualified disability insurance professionals in America,” said IDIS executive director Joe Pittman. “The IDIS conference offers more DI product information and updates than any other industry meeting.”

Land is a Million Dollar Roundtable member, representing the top 1 percent of the insurance professionals worldwide. He is the president of Landmark Financial Services LLC in Rocky Mount, NC. Landmark Financial’s priority for 26 years has been to provide successful business owners and their key executives with tailor made solutions in executive and employee benefits.

The International DI Society represents nearly 300 professional disability insurance agents and brokers who provide coverage for thousands of Americans.

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Everyone Could Use a Laugh About Medical Insurance

Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, January 7, 2019

Every American could use a laugh when it comes to current medical insurance woes. Or maybe a long cry.

Politicians, pharmaceutical companies and insurers are stalemated over how to fix things. Maybe we need a superhero to solve the problem. I watched a TV commercial recently about health care and a superhero that made me laugh. Thought you could use a chuckle, too. Go to YouTube “Chuck Norris Health Insurance commercial” to see it. What a hoot!

Here is the commercial’s basic dialog. Two older gentlemen are seated talking at a restaurant. When in walks Chuck Norris, the legend, the six-time world karate champion and “Walker Texas Ranger” TV star.

Man 1: “Don’t look now, Chuck Norris is behind you.” Man 2: “I heard super heroes read Chuck Norris comics.” Man 1: “I heard at night the boogeyman checks under his bed for Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard Chuck Norris’ reflection won’t even look him in the eye.” Man 1: “I heard when cops need a cop they call Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard when Chuck Norris gets in the water, sharks get out of the ocean.” Man 1: “I heard when Chuck Norris is hiking, Grizzlies look out for him.” Man 2: “I heard Chuck Norris rides the motor without the cycle.” Man 1: “I heard Chuck Norris wears a hat to protect the sun.” Man 2: “I heard medicine takes Chuck Norris to feel better.” Man 1: “I heard what actually killed the dinosaurs was Chuck Norris.” Man 2: “I heard cats hope to achieve Chuck-like reflexes.”

Then the two gentlemen wager a bet. Man 2: “Do you still think Chuck’s still got it?” Man 1 quickly throws a salt shaker at Chuck. Without hesitation Chuck immediately round house kicks the flying salt shaker and it bounces off the man’s face. Miraculously, the salt-shaker lands perfectly upright on the table, perfectly in place. Man 2 declares: “Chuck still has it!”

Maybe we need a super hero like Chuck to “fix” health care with a swift roundhouse kick. Or maybe there is a better solution. Until then, here are a few helpful hints in the real world.

■ Be thankful if your employer offers Medical Insurance: 80 percent of employers in the U.S. are less than 50 employees and do not legally have to offer it. Many don’t. If yours does, or you work for a large employer, you are fortunate to have it. Be thankful.

■ Embrace today’s health care world, not complain about the good old days: Today’s new normal is leaner benefits, more out of pockets and more expensive. More of us to afford it are having to change our expectations. Health care is becoming catastrophic protection, not first dollar protection. Consider partnering your plan with the wonderful tax advantages of a Health Savings Account. Know that all Affordable Care Act approved health plans cover 70+ types of wellness visits 100 percent no matter what you deductible. Know what the free wellness options are for women, men and children from the IRS website. Like Black Friday specials, be a well informed shopper.

■ Get involved with the benefits committee at your employer. Either volunteer to be on the committee or build a positive supportive relationship with them. Help them tailor fit plans that meet your employees needs and budgets. You can offer several varied plans at businesses with as little as 10 employees. Ask your employer to offer a bigger menu of health plans. They could offer a bronze, silver and gold option to cover more people’s needs. Employers are only responsible to pay 50 percent of the cheapest plan for employee only. Employees can buy up, pre-tax, if they need the richer plans. Don’t be a victim. Help solve the problem by jumping in, and reshaping your employee benefits.

■ If your employer doesn’t offer group medical: Be responsible. You obtain it. Go to the individual marketplace. See if you qualify for a budget-friendly tax subsidy. Single person incomes under $48,000 qualify for a nice tax credit in North Carolina.

■ If your employer offers no group plans and your income disqualifies you for a reasonably priced marketplace plan: Consider alternative, more affordable options such as Temporary Medical Insurance plans that last up to 360 days prior to renewing. Or if insurable, consider medical sharing companies such as Medi-share, Sedera, Samaritans or Liberty. Many of their plans start at $ 275-$299 per month for individuals under age 65. Some are affiliated with church values, and others are not. Learn the options and consider. Ignorance is not an excuse anymore. We live in the information age. Strap on your boots and get in the know.

■ Partner with an objective, brand neutral, independent agency benefits advisor. They need to represent all the leading companies, not just one or two primary ones, and tailor fit solutions to your core values and budget. Pick someone you like, trust and that is professionally competent.

■ Step up. Commit to public, local business-oriented health care solutions. Business solutions promote excellence and more competition, employ driven employees and superior pricing. Maybe you step up and run a company that employs others and utilizes great health care principles. Government solutions eliminate competition and ration health care against the infirmed and older population. Maybe you are the needed super hero, not Chuck Norris, to help fix health care in your home, business and city. In America, we need you to get involved locally. Like the hokey-pokey dance — be all in!

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Long-Term Care/Long Term Disability/Employee Benefits

Eastern NC Business Journal, Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce -"Ask the Expert" Online Articles, Charm Magazine, Rocky Mount Telegram

Brief, educational planning articles on Long-Term Care, Disability Protection, Medical Insurance/ Affordability Care Act / ObamaCare, and Employee Benefits. Read Long-Term Care article from local Chamber website where Bob serves as " Ask the Expert".

2 authors

President, Landmark Financial Services...

Ann Elizabeth Land, MAT- Charm Magazine-editor

Caring Husbands: What Needs to Be Planned for Your Wife?

Women have some special challenges in life, simply by being female. Because the average woman can expect to live to age 80 plus, or 5.3 years longer than the average man, life experiences are likely to be different. With that longer life span comes the question of who will provide care in the aging years, and at what price? While many women may not think about relying on others for care, ignoring the future can carry significant financial and emotional risk. In the October 2004 Assisted Living in the United States Research Report conducted by Bernadette Wright of The American Association of Retired Persons (AQARP), 79 percent of nursing home residents were women whose average age was 85. Because of their longer life span, women should think carefully about including long-term care insurance in their retirement plans.

Planning Charge to Caring Husbands:

1) Consider having some Life Insurance on yourself after the kids grow up and move away, and the house is paid off. Why? Your wife will statistically out live you by 5.3 years. Have some combination of Life Insurance and inflation beating investments to provide for her lifetime. Love provides and overcomes obstacles. We can assist you to create you desired financial outcome.

2) Also, have a Long-Term Care Plan for both you and your spouse. Why? It is one of the most practical ways you can financially love her. Many families end up spending all their savings and retirement plans caring for the husband when he has a long-term care need. When he dies, the wife can be left with little or nothing to live on. Plan ahead and you can avoid this. Having a long-term care plan on you financially provides a professional care giver to help your wife be a care manager, not an exhausted daily care giver. And it also protects family assets and retirement plans to provide for your wife if you predecease her.