A Cheap Alternative To Broadband?

Are you a dial-up user looking for a faster connection,

but don’t like Broadband prices? If so, you should take a look at a new service called OnSpeed, which has received rave reviews in Internet technology publications.

What OnSpeed does is to re-route web pages and email via

its own servers, compressing the data on the fly prior to sending it onwards to your PC. A small program then decompresses the data, so that you can view it in the normal way via your browser or email client.

In my own dial-up tests, with a modem running at a nominal

49kb/s I appeared to get speeds close to that of my normal

broadband connection of 598 kb/s – very impressive. Image quality is often reduced but the compression for this can be improved, though with an adverse effect on the speed of course.

Some file types like MP3 also cannot yet be compressed. The

company is working on these issues however and expects to

find solutions soon.

Unfortunately I was unable to use email in my tests, due

to a ‘port’ conflict with a spam filter that I was using. The

standard advice on the OnSpeed site for such cases is to disable the offending program. Not a constructive approach – to say

the least – so I hope that the relevant instructions will be changed soon.

More significantly, the problem persisted even when I

switched off the OnSpeed application on my PC; in the end I had to remove the program to get the spam filter working again. I expect that this fault can be resolved, but clearly there are issues in this area that need to be addressed.

The software is easy to install, and is available for Mac

as well as Windows PCs. On the whole the service is surprisingly

good, and a lot cheaper than broadband. Unlike other ‘speed-up’

techniques that tweak your computer’s settings but result in

little noticeable improvement, OnSpeed really works.

I can recommend OnSpeed for dial-up users who can’t justify the

expense of broadband, or who are not located close enough to a

suitable exchange. OnSpeed is also stated to be great for mobile

or PDA users, as GPRS (wireless) speeds can be boosted by as much

as 8 times. It even helps with broadband if you can only get a

reduced service in your area.

My overall rating is 4/5 – very good, but the email support needs

to be improved.

If you want further details of OnSpeed, please visit http://www.On-Speed.net. There is a 14 day money-back

guarantee, so you can try the service without any risk.

Copyright © Richard Prosser 2004

Learn more about GCLUB gclubpros at https://gclubpros.com

Beginning of the Short Message Service

Short Message Service (SMS) is a text messaging service component of most telephone, World Wide Web, and mobile telephony systems. It uses standardized communication protocols to enable fixed line / landline or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. SMS was the most widely used data application, with an estimated 3.5 billion active users, or about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers, at the end of 2010.

Initial Development

The SMS concept was developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert. The GSM is optimized for telephony, since this was identified as its main application. The key idea for SMS was to use this telephone-optimized system, and to transport messages on the signalling paths needed to control the telephone traffic during periods when no signalling traffic existed. In this way, unused resources in the system could be used to transport messages at minimal cost. However, it was necessary to limit the length of the messages to 128 bytes (later improved to 160 seven-bit characters) so that the messages could fit into the existing signalling formats. Based on his personal observations and on analysis of the typical lengths of postcard and Telex messages, Hillebrand argued that 160 characters was sufficient to express most messages succinctly.

Early Development

The first proposal which initiated the development of SMS was made by a contribution of Germany and France into the GSM group meeting in February 1985 in Oslo. This proposal was further elaborated in GSM subgroup WP1 Services (Chairman Martine Alvernhe, France Telecom) based on a contribution from Germany. There were also initial discussions in the subgroup WP3 network aspects chaired by Jan Audestad (Telenor). The result was approved by the main GSM group in a June ’85 document which was distributed to industry. The input documents on SMS had been prepared by Friedhelm Hillebrand (Deutsche Telekom) with contributions from Bernard Ghillebaert (France Télécom). The definition that Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert brought into GSM called for the provision of a message transmission service of alphanumeric messages to mobile users “with acknowledgement capabilities”. The last three words transformed SMS into something much more useful than the prevailing messaging paging that some in GSM might have had in mind.

Early implementations

The first SMS message was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1992, from Neil Papworth of Sema Group (now Mavenir Systems) using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone using an Orbitel 901 handset. The text of the message was “Merry Christmas.

The first commercial deployment of a short message service center (SMSC) was by Aldiscon part of Logica (now part of Acision) with Telia (now TeliaSonera) in Sweden in 1993, followed by Fleet Call (now Nextel) in the US, Telenor in Norway[citation needed] and BT Cellnet (now O2 UK)[citation needed] later in 1993. All first installations of SMS Gateways were for network notifications sent to mobile phones, usually to inform of voice mail messages.

The first commercially sold SMS service was offered to consumers, as a person-to-person text messaging service by Radiolinja (now part of Elisa) in Finland in 1993. Most early GSM mobile phone handsets did not support the ability to send SMS text messages, and Nokia was the only handset manufacturer whose total GSM phone line in 1993 supported user-sending of SMS text messages. According to Matti Makkonen, the inventor of SMS text messages, Nokia 2010, which was released in January 1994, was the first mobile phone to support composing SMSes easily.

SMS Today

In 2010, 6.1 trillion (6.1 × 1012) SMS text messages were sent. This translates into an average of 193,000 SMS per second. SMS has become a huge commercial industry, earning $114.6 billion globally in 2010. The global average price for an SMS message is US$0.11, while mobile networks charge each other interconnect fees of at least US$0.04 when connecting between different phone networks.

In 2015, the actual cost of sending an SMS in Australia was found to be $0.00016 per SMS.

In 2014, Caktus Group developed the world’s first SMS-based voter registration system in Libya. So far, more than 1.5 million people have registered using that system, providing Libyan voters with unprecedented access to the democratic process.

While SMS is still a growing market, traditional SMS is becoming increasingly challenged by alternative messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Viber available on smart phones with data connections, especially in Western countries where these services are growing in popularity. It has been reported that over 97% of smart phone owners use alternative messaging services at least once a day. Enterprise SMS-messaging also known as application-to-peer messaging (A2P Messaging) or 2-way SMS, continue to grow steadily at a rate of 4% annually. Enterprise SMS applications are primarily focused on CRM and delivering highly targeted service messages such as parcel-delivery alerts, real-time notification of credit/debit card purchase confirmations to protect against fraud, and appointment confirmations. Another primary source of growing A2P message volumes is two-step verification (alternatively referred to as 2-factor authentication) processes whereby users are delivered a one-time passcode over SMS and then are asked to enter that passcode online in order to verify their identity.

Live In Care: An Economical Home Care Alternative

Home care assistance can be expensive especially when care is needed in 12, 16 or 24 hour shifts. Live-in care is provided to clients who need around the clock assistance and supervision with their personal care needs such as bathing, dressing, oral and skin hygiene, mobility assistance, medication reminder and with housekeeping services such as meal preparation, cleaning of the clients’ homes, feeding the clients and medical escorts to doctor’s appointments.

The live-in rates are priced on a daily basis and the service is best suited for the elderly client who lives alone and wants to live in the comfort of his/her own home. This needed service helps to assure the relatives of the elderly client, that their loved one is being provided and cared for at home. Live-in care can also be provided on a temporary basis, for instance if an otherwise active client needs help at home while recuperating after having surgery.

The caregiver although a “live-in caregiver” still maintains her own residence, where she goes whenever she wants a break or a vacation. Although a great economical alternative, not every client is a live-in candidate. For instance, the client that has dementia or some other ailment that keeps him up at night, will not benefit from this type of service, because the caregiver needs to be alert at all times to care for the needs of the client. In a case like this, the hourly companion service should be offered, so as to maintain the quality of care being provided and also to maintain the good health of the caregiver.

Wellicide: An Alternative to a Painful, Miserable, Hopeless and Expensive Way of Dying

Introduction

Death doesn’t get a lot of attention in wellness circles, except as a warning. Premature death is portrayed as the ultimate risk factor for failing to live wisely, that is, in a manner consistent with wellness ways. (Needless to mention, I hope, is that postponing death is not even close to one of the better reasons for living wisely.)

Few wellness promoters have put a positive spin on death, to my knowledge. Until now. It must not be ignored, for the consequences of doing so can be rather dreadful. So, wellness promoters and everyone else-consider the possibilities of a REAL wellness way to die, when you’re good and ready-and when staying alive options in a decent-enough state are nil. There is, after all, a wellness option, if you plan for it and conditions are right.

Robert Green Ingersoll, at the beginning of his poignant January 9, 1882, Oration at a Child’s Grave, spoke these words:

Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell, we do not know, which is the greatest blessing – life or death. We cannot say that death is not a good.

That idea of death as a good has never caught on. Nobody wants to rush things, but extending life if and when it becomes unbearable or even gruesome with mortal agonies can’t be very appealing.

Now the time has come to expand the scope of REAL wellness to the final act of life, when you, in consultation with medical experts, conclude that no further jewels of joy can be picked up and treasured. Planning your own death is a key element in a new and improved concept of wellness. That is, REAL wellness.

Dying

Many if not most people die after a lingering illness, in a hospital, a hospice or at home after a period of decline and suffering, oftentimes in ways that are difficult, to say the least. The exception is dying unexpectedly from a heart attack or stroke, car or plane crash or other random fashion. For most in relatively peaceful societies, death is slow, gradual and unpleasant. In time, life becomes less and less attractive, joys diminish and miseries increase. Often pain grows worse as the body shuts down, little by little, inexorably, mercilessly.

When the prospects for a worthwhile quality of existence are judged gone forever, by you, a pain-free and peaceful end should be a REAL wellness choice, if desired.

Because of religions, however, this right does not exist, except in a few places on Earth (including all of Canada and six U.S. states and the District of Columbia.) This is largely because, as it does with almost everything else, religion poisons death.

The Heavy Hand of Religion on Dying in America

As with slavery, prohibition, stoning, arranged marriages, blasphemy prosecutions and Sunday blue laws forbidding commerce in general and enjoyment in particular on the Lord’s day, government-enforced strictures blocking right to die options are eroding. In time, bans against doctor-assisted or personally initiated suicide at one’s discretion will be considered benighted and grotesque, similar to the above noted examples of past church meddling in matters of individual choice. But, probably not in time, if you want this prerogative but don’t reside in Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Vermont, California, Washington, the District of Columbia or other U.S. jurisdictions that permit what seems a basic secular right.

Regrettably, those guided by interpretations of revelations, holy books and a variety of dogmas and creeds insist that everyone, believer or not, follow their faith-based beliefs. Only God gets to play god, say religionists like Trump’s gift to the Supreme Court, Neal Gorsuch. The newest justice even wrote a book against choice in dying, citing the Catholic mantra about the inviolability of human life.

Christians insist that their god alone gets to decide when Christians and everyone else are allowed to die. Alas, their god seems to have a nasty habit of allowing if not inflicting long periods of utter misery, torture actually, before getting around to deciding, OK, you can stop suffering now.

Arguments about death in dying, death with dignity, final exit/options are associated in America with church/state conflicts. Absent religions, there would be little or no opposition to choice for when and how to die.

Your Choice

People who have watched a loved one die know why choice in dying is important. To deny a peaceful end of one’s own timing seems a fundamental human right. But, it’s little wonder we’re a death-denying society, given religious fantasies. I live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. In reading the daily obituaries in the Tampa Bay Times, one might think even those whose pictures appear in the obit pages did not really die. They passed, they went off to be with their Lord and Savior, or they relocated to heaven to live with a loved one lost years ago (who presumably turned up in this imaginary but better place).

For varied opinions on legalizing or forbidding choice in dying, you might find the June 3, 2017 Letters section of the New York Times instructive. The letters refer to a May 28 series entitled, The Death and Life of John Shields.

A healthy lifestyle includes, in addition to wise choices and actions in such areas as exercise and nutrition, managing stress, using reason, seeking exuberance and embracing personal freedoms, a strong sense of personal responsibility for all that affects your life. It seems logical that all who embrace this philosophy for living well will want to apply the same level of self accountability when death approaches, if circumstances allow.

Be well, enjoy life and accept that in time we all must die. In America, we should have the right to decide, if circumstances permit, how and when we end.

Car Washing: Hand Washing Versus Automatic

The option to use the traditional method of a hand wash service or the latest automatic machine is based on the personal preference of the car owner. While the hand wash has the potential to give the most gleaming look, the alternative method is certain to be a lot quicker. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the different car washing options:

Hand wash

Giving the car a regular hand wash is the most traditional method. Even though it is slower than the automatic alternative, it does have its many plus points, as well as a few downsides.

Pros

High-quality and customized – a hand wash has the potential to give the best all-round cleaning performance. A regular hand wash can easily be customized to include other cleaning strategies. With actual hands on contact with the car, it is possible to use extra cleaning techniques like waxing and claying.

Easy to get started – the cost of a basic hand wash is very inexpensive with a need to only invest in a few sponges and a bucket. However, this cost will increase if planning to use other cleaning strategies such as waxing.

Better reach – the may be many places on the car that aren’t property cleaned by the automatic machines. A full hand wash service has the potential to clean the dirt and grime from literally any part or hidden corner of the car.

Cons

Time and labor intensive – a hand wash can be very labor intensive and can leave muscles tired and aching. Also, the time involved can vary with the type of cleaning service provided. An in-depth clean with multiple coatings can easily take a few hours to complete.

Poor finish – if the car is left with any unwashed soap in place, this can lead to a dull looking vehicle. Also, there is the risk of tiny bits of dirt building up on the sponges or rags used to clean the car which can result in the unwanted scratch marks.

Automatic car wash

An automatic car wash is a time-saving alternative to a full hand washing service. Many people are starting to favor the automatic services for a variety of reasons, but it does have its negative points as well as plenty of positives.

Pros

Gentle on the paint work – the automated machines are very gentle to the entire car and will complete the job without causing any damage. In the past, these machines did use hard brushes which had the potential to cause scratches, but this is no longer the case with the modern units.

Thorough cleaning service – the automated machines are programmed to carefully clean all areas of a car to ensure a consistent clean is provided every time.

Cost-effective – the latest machines are designed with specific car washing techniques that can help to lower the water use and save time. This has the benefit of cutting costs for both the operator and car owners.

Cons

Limited contact – a standard strategy with the automated machines is to use minimal contact with the car which can mean the most stuck dirt will still be in place after the washing cycle is complete.

Water spotting – there is the risk of water marks being left on the car if the final air dry stage is not entirely effective

How Do You Define Customer Service?

“We provide excellent customer service.”

Have you ever heard that phrase? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself and yet just how often do we really provide great service to our customers?

What is customer service, anyway?

The Encyclopedia Britannica says “Customer service involves an array of activities to keep existing customers satisfied.”

Wow. That’s vague. And who defines what will satisfy a customer?

The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale offers these alternative words for service: assistance, help, aid, abetment, good turn, favor, a hand, a leg up, benefit, contribution; boost, promotion, advancement, furtherance, advocacy, recommendation, support and backing.

We can sink our teeth into those words, but we are still sitting in a room alone, or with our team members defining what great customer service looks like without the benefit of the customer’s suggestions. How can we provide great customer service or “keep existing customers satisfied” without input from our customers?

So the first step to providing great customer service is to define just what it looks and feels like. A great place to start is by asking your best customers:

What keeps you coming back?

What experiences do we provide that mean the most to you?

What is the most important component of great customer service for you?

The customer may or may not be able to define exactly what your customer service components are but the conversation will have two important results:

1. The customer will feel valued because you asked their opinion, listened to what they had to say and plan to use some, if not all, of their suggestions.

2. By listening between the lines, you can begin to understand just what is truly important to your customer.

When my teenage son was young he and I would spent a week each summer camping. Sometimes we’d tent camp and sometimes we’d visit a campground with cabins. His attention span was short and so I would plan great activities for our week; visiting a local children’s museum, a day at the amusement park, hayrides, hikes in the woods and trips down the river in a canoe. Each day was carefully planned with play time and adventure time. The activities were fun but also costly and a cheap vacation in a tent would often cost as much as if we’d stayed in a hotel.

One summer, as we drove home from our fun-packed week, I asked my then five year old son what his favorite time had been. We’d visited Santa’s Village and I fully expected him to pick the amusement park as his favorite experience.

“Remember that day we sat at the picnic table and colored in the Spiderman book?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“That.”

“What?”

“That was my favorite.”

Who knew? We can guess what our customer thinks is the most important element of service but unless we ask them, we really are only guessing. If we base our customer service measurements against a guess – then how can we be sure we’ve truly satisfied our customers?

So how do we go about defining the customer experience for our business?

A lot depends on the type of business. If you are an online business, your service will be based on how easy it is to navigate your website, walking the fine line between clutter and content and ensuring your words speak the customer’s language.

A service business may be more defined by accessibility. How easy is it to actually get a hold of you? Do you answer your phone or return calls quickly. Do you have email and respond within a few hours? Are you willing to meet the customer in their office? Do you follow through in a timely manner? Do you keep your promises?

A call center will rely heavily on the attitude and tone of voice of the call center employee. Can you hear the smile in their voice? Do they over use the “hold” button? Are they trained to resolve issues or will the customers have to repeat their story many times up the management ladder?

A brick and mortar business has additional opportunities to provide service starting with the parking lot; is it clean and does it offer plenty of parking spaces? Is the customer greeted warmly and promptly? Is your staff knowledgeable, helpful and available without hovering? Is there an adequate selection? Is the store merchandised in a pleasing manner? Have you dusted, vacuumed and emptied the visible trash cans? If cleanliness is important to your customer, seeing an employee’s half eaten lunch at the cash register could be a make or break moment for your customer.

Employees are another great resource for defining customer service.

Who better to help define service than the people that interact with customers everyday? Ask your employees what they hear customers tell them. If customers comment about the great magazine selection in your waiting room then keep them current. If customers comment on the fact that you provide coffee or ice water then perhaps that is something to continue.

By including your employees in the definition process, they are taking ownership of making sure it continues going forward.

A key element to providing and becoming known for providing great customer service is consistency. Ritz Carlton is known worldwide for their customer service. How did they develop such a world class reputation? At Ritz Carlton great customer service happens everyday with every customer and every employee in every location around the world.

What service can you provide to your customers every time? Is it something that matters to the customer? Create your definition of superior customer service by asking employees and customers what matters most. Once you’ve defined what great service looks like, then it is time to make it happen!

Features of a Good Headset

Millions of people all over the world communicate with one another everyday either through phone calls, chats, mails or any other means. Communication or phone calls is best enjoyed when both the sender and the receiver can hear themselves clearly, without missing out on any important information. These days, with the increase in call rates from network providers, there is need to look for a cheaper alternative that will save cost while you have the chance to talk more as well.

The voice over internet protocol also known as VOIP is gaining popularity as a cheaper alternative to communicate through voice calls. Depending on your service provider, you can make calls using your computer and mobile devices, hooked on broadband or 3G services. It is very easy and convenient to explore the VOIP options to make calls, but to make it easier and more interesting and clearer, you would need a headset. You probably would not enjoy repeating yourself when the other person you are talking to does not hear you clearly that is why you need the headset to break those barriers.

It is true that for making use of the VOIP, you can employ other peripheral devices you get from the market. But the good thing about the VOIP headsets is that it makes communication clearer. You can use VoIP codecs to change the analog signals to digital with the VOIP headset and it does not matter the type of device you use, whether a computer or telephone set. It is a wise choice to use the headset on your device when communicating through the VOIP. The digital headset breaks the signal into packets and send them in the same manner across the VOIP just like what your telephone set would do.

Things to consider before buying a headset

Comfort and duration of use

The amount of time you would be using the headset matters a great deal. For people working as customer service agents, of course you know that would be the first thing they would look out for. How comfortable it is in terms of the sound, grip on the ear and how well it fits the ears. You know for sure that you may likely feel some itching and discomfort when you use a headset that is not comfortable or that does not fit well on the ear.

Ear buds or Earpieces

The choice is yours. Everyone knows what works best for them. Some people may be more comfortable in using the ear bud while others the earpieces. It all depends on what you want and what works best for you.

Length and style of the mic

The length of the mic is also a feature that you should take note of. Is it strong enough, do you speak into it easily and is it well positioned? All these features are what you look at for before purchasing your headset.

In all ensure you test the device and make sure it is in good shape. Also watch out for the sound clarity. If it is clear enough for you, those are the things you should consider before getting a headset.

Rubbish Removal Services – The Cheaper Alternative to Skip Hire

Getting rid of a large pile of junk ensures a pleasing environment. Regular rubbish removal keeps your premises attractive and beautiful. Apart from keeping your premises neat and clean, routine rubbish removal ensures some other positive issues related to environment and health. It can make your surroundings aesthetically appealing. You stay far from the attacks of various germs. As junk removal is an important factor of life, we should get it done regularly. Getting a routine junk removal service is always good.

There are some rubbish removal options available in the market. Normal rubbish clearance service and skip hire are the two popular options. But as the statics say, many people like to choose a junk removal company as it is cheaper than a skip hire. Skip hire is costlier than normal junk removal service. The reason may be its huge infrastructure, state of the art equipments and approval by the local council. The companies belong to this category keep a fleet of vehicles and waste containers. This service is ideal for huge industrial and commercial cleaning. Generally, common and household people have nothing to do with skip hire. If you are a normal homeowner, you can choose a scrap removal service to keep your premises clean and hygienic at an affordable rate. Nowadays, rubbish removal service has become a cheaper alternative to skip hire.

Keeping pace with the modern complex demands, junk removal companies are arranging and rearranging their infrastructures with modern equipments and other necessary things. They are gradually increasing their market-share by occupying the share of the skip companies. Most of these companies carry valid licenses as the yardstick of their quality service and complete client satisfaction. They are proficient in dealing with any type of domestic or commercial rubbish. They can easily clean any commercial, industrial and domestic rubbish without complicating them and increasing the cost of it to any degree. Scrap removal companies are emerging as a very good alternative to skip hire.

On the other hand, skip processes charge more for using skip bags and bringing waste containers for the removal of junk. Apart from these two important reasons, skip processes require permits from their local councils. The arrangement of the process is controlled parking rules. Companies are to maintain a decorum and standard. Else, there is a chance of cancellation and suspension of permits. Consequently, skip processes become more expensive. Now rubbish removal services are the cheaper alternative to skip hire.

Benefits of Cremation

When considering the final resting place of a loved one, there are two options: traditional burial and cremation. As the advantages of the latter become more universally known, more people are opting for this process.

Reduced Costs

Cremation enables people to spend less money in funeral expenses because of the elimination of the embalming step, which involves preparing the body for burial. Embalming is an involved process with a high price tag. Reducing the body to ash also eliminates the need for a traditional casket. Instead, people can choose to have the ashes placed in an alternative container that will usually cost much less.

Flexibility

Traditional burial needs to occur within a tight timeframe to ensure the timely handling of the body. Cremation affords the family some flexibility, especially if distant family needs to travel to attend a service. It is possible to proceed with the incineration but put off a service until a later and undetermined date.

Portability

After burying a deceased family member, this gravesite will remain the permanent resting place for the departed. Cremation enables family members to keep the ashes with them if they relocate at a later time.

Avoiding Decomposition

The slow decomposition of a body in a casket can be distasteful and undignified. If the body is cremated, however, it can avoid this slow return to the Earth and receive a fast and clean disposal. Family members may find this a comforting alternative.

Service

Some people assume that the choice to cremate precludes a funeral or memorial service. However, this is incorrect. After preparation of the ashes, the funeral home assists the family with placing the ashes into an urn or container of their choosing. Then, the service can occur in much the same way as a typical funeral with a casket.

Final Resting Place

After the service, the ashes may be buried or entombed. Ashes can also be scattered in a place with special relevance to the deceased, or kept in a loved one’s home, possibly on a shelf or a mantle.

Environmental Advantages

Concerns abound about the burden of cemeteries on the Earth because of the amount of land used to bury the deceased. Even those who choose to bury after cremation will use much less land. Another environmental concern is that chemicals from embalmed bodies enter the soil and water supplies during decomposition. A balanced analysis considers the fact that incineration involves the emission of greenhouse gases into the environment; however, this can be reduced by requesting the removal of silver-mercury fillings from teeth before the process.

As this process is irreversible, all options need to be carefully considered. Anyone who decides that they wish to be cremated should consider how their family will feel about it. When moving forward, place this wish in writing to inform survivors.

The Affordable Alternative to Traditional Individual Health Insurance

As a way to begin let’s define what I mean by traditional health insurance. The traditional health insurance policy is composed of:

The deductible – This is the amount that you have to pay for a medical event before your health insurance will start to pay. In today’s world that deductible is often $3000 or more.

The coinsurance – After the deductible is met most policies require that the insured pay a percentage of all medical costs up to a maximum. Usually the insured pays anywhere from 20% to as much as 50% of every dollar billed.

The copays – In an attempt to make routine health care accessible many policies include a copay for doctor visits and prescriptions in lieu of having to meet a deductible. An example of this is the $10 office visit copay.

Maximum Out-Of-Pocket Costs – This is the most that an insured can expect to pay regardless of how large the medical bills are. As a general rule the maximum out-of-pocket costs for an individual are limited to around $7000. This can be a very misleading number because it assumes that all of your providers are in your network. If they are out of network your costs can be significantly higher.

And finally the “Network” – Virtually every traditional individual health insurance policy is tied to a network of providers. The narrower the healthcare network, the lower the premium. There is too much wrong with “networks” for this article. Suffice it to say that “networks” are the enemy of the healthcare consumer (you).

The Problem Facing Working Americans

The problem is simple: health insurance premiums are too high for most working Americans in the absence of a subsidy and when combined with extremely high deductible and out of pocket costs, healthcare becomes unaffordable. Let’s look at a couple of examples right here in North Carolina.

A non-smoking couple ages 62 and 63 find that their lowest premium option with BCBS of NC is $1999 a month for a $13,300 family deductible with no copays. A plan with a $7000 deductible and $25 office visit copays would cost $2682 per month.

Assuming the least expensive plan the annual cost would be $23,988 annually. And if either person had a medical event such as cancer, the actual cost for healthcare would be $37,288. You have to ask: “Why even have health insurance?”

A non-smoking 30 year old couple found that the least expensive plan would cost $787.84 a month for a $13,300 family deductible with no copays. The least expensive plan that included copays was $1056.88 but had a $7000 deductible and the most restrictive network. Assuming the least expensive plan, should either member of this young couple have a medical event their total annual cost (deductible + premium) would be $16,454.08. That is a devastating amount of money for a young couple.

The simple solution to this problem is a Fixed Benefit Health Insurance. Unlike a major medical policy where the policy pays for all eligible expenses after the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, a Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy states exactly how much will be paid for each specified service. Examples of specified services might include: daily benefit for in-hospital stay of 24 hours, specific dollar benefits for specified surgeries, a specific benefit for doctor visits and other specified charges. A great Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy will have very robust benefits, a wide range of specified covered charges, a very comprehensive surgical schedule and more. The most important service that Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy can include is medical bill negotiation, a service that can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

What is really great about this type of policy is that empowers the insured to be a better consumer. Knowing how much your policy will pay you for a specified medical service allows you to better shop and negotiate the price. But the really great thing about this policy is the affordable premium.

The couple ages 62 and 63 are an actual client of mine who had been uninsured for 5 years as a result of the high premiums. I was able to put them into a robust Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy with a $5,000,000 lifetime benefit for $683 a month. That is an annual savings of $15,792. As I explained to my client the Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy will do a great job of covering 70% to 80% of everything that can happen. If they actually saved the $15,792 difference in premium they would have incredible access to healthcare with very little out of their own pocket.

Back in 2014 I was diagnosed with colon cancer and had a partial removal of large intestine (CP44205). Back then I was covered on a traditional major medical policy. My total out-of-pocket costs were more than $7000. Had I had the Fixed Benefit Plan that I sell today not only would my costs have been zero but I would have received a check from the insurance company for $4619. Not every medical event would have resulted in a check and many might have resulted in out-of-pocket costs of several thousand dollars, but in general the savings would have more than offset those costs.

So, before you choose to go without any health insurance I strongly suggest that you take a hard look at a Fixed Benefit Health Insurance Policy.