Your Local Small Business Online Marketing Funnel

Marketing your business online is all about showing that you have something to offer your visitors that your competitors do not have. Marketing your small business online means reaching out to your current customers as well as prospective customers and setting yourself apart.Successful small business Internet marketing is all about establishing relationships. Just as customers in your brick and mortar store have a chance to come in and get to know you, online customers need to be given the chance to learn more about what you do and to decide that they want to do business with you.This is where the concept of your small biz online marketing funnel comes in. Your small biz online marketing funnel is a means by which you can – over time – find new customers and increase your small business sales.Your small biz online marketing funnel is not unlike the local small business marketing that you undertook when you first opened your business in its physical location. First you needed to choose a location and to get that location ready. You ordered the supplies you needed. Then you started advertising. On opening day, it’s likely that you had a product giveaway – a keychain, a coffee mug or maybe even a t-shirt – as well as a coupon giveaway, something that would entice your customer to come back.Your small biz online marketing funnel works in much the same way: you choose a domain name and build your website, or have your website built for you. You’ll get everything that you need in order – including a free or low-cost giveaway. And then you will begin marketing your small business online.It is important to remember that your website is your virtual business. All of the Internet ads that you place will bring traffic to your page, so be sure to use the page wisely.Use your homepage to tell prospective customers about your business – share your mission statement, share customer compliments. Use a page of your website to let your current and prospective customers know more about who you are and what you believe in. Focus both on your business and on establishing a relationship with your customer.Drawing prospective customers in to your website brings them into the widest part of your small biz online marketing funnel; allowing them the opportunity to get to know you begins to draw them down into the funnel.However, you do not want them to make it to the second level of the funnel and stay there, just as you do not want customers at your physical location to walk in and walk back out again. This is why you should plan – as part of your small business Internet marketing campaign – to draw them into the next smallest area of your small biz online marketing funnel.You do not need to offer a physical giveaway. Instead, continue to build relationships with your site visitors by offering them something of value. Offer them free articles about products and services that your small business offers. Set up a newsletter that will allow you to communicate valuable information (as well as special offers) to them at specified intervals.Doing so allows you to take an important step towards increasing sales: it allows you to establish a relationship. By consistently providing your subscribers with information or coupons that are valuable to them, they will begin to recognize you and your company as a company that they want to do business with, and they will look forward to hearing from you.You will be able to encourage them to do business with you by promoting low-cost front-end products. Now, rather than a free article that gives your prospective customers a little bit of information, turn them into your new customers by offering low-cost products. Low-cost front-end products such as e-books that provide useful information about important topics within your industry – and further establish your credibility and the customers’ trust – will help to draw those customers down to the smallest level of your small biz online marketing funnel.For instance, let’s say you own and operate a local floral shop. A perfect low-cost front-end information product that you could offer to your customers to draw them further into your sales funnel would be an e-book with planting tips for growing flowers in your local area. Customers who purchase your low-cost e-book will find value in the information, increasing the likelihood that they will purchase additional, higher priced products from you as well.The last level of your small biz online marketing funnel is the place that you want your new customers to be: it’s the stage where your free and low-cost front-end items, along with your newsletters and other marketing, will increase sales of your high-cost, back-end products and services.This is the goal of your small business Internet marketing: to find prospective customers, establish a relationship and increase sales. To recap, your small biz online marketing funnel works like this:o Build and Market Your Website to Draw in Prospective Customerso Engage the Prospective Customero Establish Trust with a Giveawayo Establish a relationship using a newsletter and special offerso Encourage small, low-cost front-end saleso Make the big-ticket sales of your products and servicesThrough this process, and by continuing to market your site to new prospective customers, you will find that the small biz online marketing funnel is a technique that allows you to consistently and reliably get new customers and increase sales for your small business.

What Are the Benefits of Starting an Online Business?

The internet and the ascension of digital devices like smartphones and tablets have created new opportunities to make business. Since a couple of years, it’s possible to make a very decent living online.There are hundreds or even thousands of digital entrepreneurs out there earning some serious money on the internet.What is it that makes working online so appealing?First of all, working on a digital business must be considered as an alternative way of earning money. It’s not about sitting in traffic jams and having to support your colleagues for 40 years only to retire having even less money than before.Of course you will have to work hard at the beginnings, but the gratification for this hard work will come almost immediately.One of the benefits of working online is that all you need is a laptop and a good internet connection. This means that you can work from home. Or from where ever you want in the world.By optimizing your working hours at your home office, it will allow you to spend much more time with family and friends.Just imagine to not have to commute every day to work. Wouldn’t two additional hours a day with your family improve your life? It definitely would improve relationship within your family.Another really valuable benefit of starting an online business is that you can automate and outsource parts of your business. It’ll take you some time to set everything up. But once it’s done, you’ll only have to run and improve it on a daily basis. Which will take you a maximum of 2 to 3 hours. Unless you decide to put more time into your business of course. The point here is that it’ll be your choice to work more or less. And nobody else’s. It’s the flexibility you enjoy when working on your online business that makes this business so powerful.Another big benefit of starting an online business are the low start up costs. It really has never been simpler and cheaper to get your own business up and running. Just ask yourself how much money you’ll need to start your own offline business?The core spending at the beginning will be some fundamentals like hosting and domain names. You also shouldn’t neglect your training. Be ready to invest some money to learn the basics. This can save you a lot of time and money in the back-end. Compared to a brick and mortar business you’ll cut a lot of costs. You don’t need a lot of employees for example. You need something get done by somebody more skilled than you? Just outsource it.This brings us to one of the most interesting benefits of starting an online business: high margins and limitless profits. Once you understood how things work online, you can repeat what’s working for you and see the money flowing in from everywhere.Online businesses are highly scalable and offer you more than 90% margins!Now once you’re ready to start your very own online business, you need to find the right opportunity.Make sure the opportunity you choose will be congruent to who you are. You need to have the right feeling and to enjoy what you’re doing.If you’re serious about building a profitable and serious online business, you should get a mentor and some quality training straight away.Your mentor is today where you want to be tomorrow. He will provide you with the knowledge to get where you want to be.As you can see, the benefits of starting an online business are huge. Let’s resume them once again to be fully aware of the impact an online business can have on you life:You control you time.
You control the location where you want to live and work.
You take the decisions for your business and you life. Nobody tells you what you have to do.
You earn all the profits.
You work on topics you like and enjoy.
You can spend more time with people you love doing the things you love. For me the benefits of working online are obvious. I took the decision some time ago to make a living online. And you? What are you waiting for?

Five Timeless Fashion Trends

The world of fashion changes every day and often it is necessary to get rid of the old to make room for the new. Many influential factors influence changes in trends and it’s a rare instance, especially in high fashion, when a trend can and does last forever. Timeless trends that will always be relevant in high fashion are equivalent to term diamonds in the rough.True red comes in many not so trendy forms, but it will be a staple in high end fashion until the end of time. Why red? It’s the Marilyn Monroe of colors and considered a power color with a strong sexual influence for passion. Let’s look at the facts: it’s the color of fire, the common rose, hearts, passion, love as well as embodying many more other symbolic meanings. In China, it symbolizes beauty and celebration and it is the color brides most commonly wear on their wedding day. Did I mention that it’s one of the top colors chosen by men? It’s true Venus will always be rising in the high fashion world.While on the subject of power, let’s add the well tailored pant suit. There are uncountable variations by numerous high fashion designers but there is one perfect fit for every woman. A good tailor is needed but not necessarily required. Women are powerful and a high end pant suit can be worn for almost any occasion with the right decorated accessories to accent. Try utilizing this trend if there is a powerful message that needs to be conveyed.A staple piece of jewelry in high end fashion is the right hoop earrings. This accessory will never go out of style. Whether you like silver, gold, big or small, find the perfect pair that fits you. Getting a few variations is a must. Jackie O, may god rest her stylish soul, received millions of dollars in diamonds and jewels from prestigious places and people, but her favorite piece of jewelry were a pair of petite double hooped dangle earrings that she received for less than $100 and wore most of the time. She was photographed wearing them on numerous occasions. It’s simply impossible to settle for just any hoop earring and there are many styles to choose from so it’s important to take precious time to find the perfect pair. When you do, you’ll be soul mates. As for me, I’m going to be buried in mine.The Clutch Purse is the queen bee of handbags. Which is very suitable considering the style was introduced to high society fashion during the Victorian Era. The fashion world had decided that the clutch was no longer in style and it diminished for decades until WWII. This was due to the shortages in materials and rationing. Since the clutch required fewer materials, it re-emerged in the fashion world. They’re dainty and they add a feminine touch to any style for any occasion.Thomas Burberry was the founder and creator of the first trench coat. They were designed specifically for the British Army and when the soldiers came home, they continued to wear them on the streets making them the pillar of street fashion for men. Epaulets and other accents were added and the trench coat was reborn and continued to transform for both genders. Today, almost every high end fashion designer makes a variation. This piece may be the most timeless style for both men and women today.New ideas and new trends in fashion are an exciting expectation to look forward to. It’s possible that innovative ideas can transform one’s world, for the good or the bad. Since the past is all we know, that is all we can reference. But there is one thing for sure and it’s these high fashion trends will be around forever, unless we become machines and robots. Sure, It could happen but it sure does give a whole new meaning to the word attachment.

3 Reasons Why the Changes to Autism Criteria Will Have Little Impact on Special Education Services!

Are you the parent of a child with autism? Have you heard that the American Psychiatric Association voted to approve changes to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5); and are concerned how this is going to affect your child’s special education services? The good news is it probably is not going to affect your child’s special education services.Past versions of the DSM placed autism at the top of the umbrella with Retts Syndrome, Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s under the umbrella, but having their own categories. Now all the categories mentioned will be under one diagnosis-Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).Here are three reasons why these changes will probably not affect your child’s special education services:1. The DSM V will be used by Psychiatrists and other medical professionals not school districts. Each State Department of Education should have their own eligibility criteria, which school districts must adhere to; so the changes should not affect school districts.2. Most school districts use autism rating scales such as the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), or depend on school psychologists to make the diagnosis. Actually, with all the different disorders under one diagnosis, may help you and your child more, than the way it was in the past; because some school districts fought very hard against recognizing PDD and Asperger’s as Autism.3. Many children are diagnosed with Autism by an independent evaluator, either paid for by the parent or by the school district. Since many school districts absolutely refuse to state (in most cases) that a child has the disorder, the parent usually needs to take the child to a qualified evaluator with experience testing children with the disorder. Since most children are diagnosed in this manner, the changes proposed should not affect their diagnosis.For those parents that are still concerned that their child’s disability will not be recognized, a comprehensive study was recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry that could help calm your fears that this could happen. The study found that the new criteria identified a majority of children already diagnosed with one of the disorders.Another positive issue that this revision addresses is that it allows for flexibility in the criteria for age of onset. In the past the DSM’s stated that children needed to have onset of symptoms before a certain age (and also needed to be diagnosed by a certain age). This was a huge issue for many children whose school districts refuse to identify them with Autism. My own son Shaun never was diagnosed with PDD-NOS; even though I believe that special educators in my district knew that this was what my son’s disability was. He is now an adult, and struggles to work, without any governmental help because of the lack of diagnosis.I have found many times over the years that some people in the disability field tend to react to things without investigating whether the changes are good or are bad, for children with disabilities. I hope this article has educated you and helps you to be able to assertively and persistently advocate for your child!

Finding the Right Career in the Entertainment Industry

There are many people who think they may enjoy a career in the entertainment industry. However, most do not actually realize how many different jobs are available in this industry. A career in entertainment can be very exciting, and you do not have to be an actor to have a successful career in this industry. When you are considering careers, you want to pick the one best suited to you, so it is important that you understand the various career options that the entertainment industry has to offer so you can make the right choice. Entertainment Careers ( actor, producer, director, musician, singer, dancers, choreographers)Within the entertainment industry there are many great careers to choose from and there are opportunities for people with a variety of talents. One of the most obvious choices in this field is to be an actor. Whether you act on stage or in the movies, you have the opportunity to portray various characters, and although it can be quite a demanding career, it is usually a great deal of fun as well. Some careers that are behind the scenes of all movies include the producers and the directors. If you enjoy directing and putting things together, a career as a director may be ideal for you. This allows you to orchestrate a movie and bring everything together to make it a success.Another great career in this field is a career as a musician. Musicians have a variety of opportunities, from teaching music in schools, to playing in symphonies, to being backup musicians for popular singers. If you have a great voice, you may want to consider a career as a singer. While many do not realize it, a career in singing is actually hard work, but it gives you the opportunity to travel and entertain people all over the world.There are many great opportunities for dancers and choreographers as well. A career in dancing may lead you to a position on Broadway, in a ballet troupe, or even a career as a dance instructor. Choreographers have great careers as well and end up working with dancer on Broadway and even dancers in movies as well. A new emerging opportunity for choreographers is in the music video industry, with many new vocal artists doing music videos.Required EducationThe education that is required for careers in the entertainment industry is dependent on many things. Some jobs require that you have a post-secondary training, while others are solely based on talent alone. Many people who have a career in this field start out with a bachelor’s degree in some area of the entertainment field, and some even go on to get their master’s degree in fine arts. There are some actors who go to an acting school and dancers often attend an arts university such as Juilliard. On the other hand, there are many successful people in this field who have no education beyond a high school diploma.Salary OutlookThe salary amounts in this field are extremely varied as well, ranging from quite low, to very high. An actor that is just starting out may only make between $7.00 and $30.00 an hour, which is relatively low. Famous actors in Hollywood often make millions for every movie that they act in, but this is far from the norm in the entertainment business. Actors and dancers on Broadway can usually expect to make about $1000 to $1400 a week, but those in other off Broadway theaters usually only make between $400 and $800 each week, and sometimes even less. Some of the higher paid professionals in this industry are the producers. Their salaries are dependent on where they work, but most can expect to earn between $40,000 and $90,000 each year.Companies to ConsiderThe entertainment is a great industry to work in, but it can be hard to get into this field and to find a job that pays the bills and offers great benefits. When you are considering this kind of a career, it is helpful to look around to find companies that do offer competitive salaries and benefits. Some great companies to consider within the United States include E. Networks, World of Wonder, and Universal Music Group. If you are looking for entertainment jobs in Canada, you may want to consider companies like Sony BMG Music Canada, National Film Board of Canada, or the National Arts Center in Canada.

Will Google’s New Search Options Affect Your SEO?

In case you haven’t noticed, Google recently unveiled a new design for its search results pages that gives users access to some new, interesting search options. The new design may not be immediately noticeable, but when you do a search from Google’s home page, you can now see a new, left-hand column on each results page.At the top of the column are the different Google search “engines” (like images, videos, news, etc.). The next section in the column has a link called “Show search tools”, which expands to display a variety of new Google tools for people to use when looking for information.The new search tools let users view results by criteria such as “time” (latest results, past 24 hours, etc.), “location” (nearby results), “related searches”, “sites with images”, etc., which may ultimately have a significant affect on your business’ search engine strategy. Why? Because with each new option a user selects, a different set of Google search results is displayed, based on the option that is selected.So now that there are multiple new Google search options, does this mean that businesses must consider which Google search option(s) they wish to rank for, then optimize specifically for that option? Maybe.The Importance of Real-Time SearchReal-time search was added to Google only a few months ago, and is the result of social sites like Facebook and Twitter becoming a major resource for users who wanted information that is minutes-old, not days, weeks, or months-old. Now that real-time search is even more accessible to users via the left-column options (e.g., blogs, news, discussions, “time” tools, etc.), social search has become even more important for businesses striving to rank well in Google.Social search is all about visibility, meaning you need to have a presence on the social networking sites and get people talking about and / or sharing your content. You need to get people involved with you in order to be relevant in real-time search, and real-time search has already been shown to be a real-big factor in getting to the top of Google rankings.Where Do You Want to Rank Today?If you want to increase quality traffic from Google, it makes sense to optimize your pages for coverage in the search option categories that matter most to your business. For instance, if you operate a storefront in your town, you may want to show up in the local search (and “nearby”) results. Or, if you’re offering a time-sensitive discount or have tied a promotion to an event, then you may want to be included in the “time” results for past 24 hours or past week.Know Your Audience!The key to ranking well in Google – regardless of the search option category being used – is to find the right keyword phrases to use in optimizing your site. Do some actual research, don’t just guess! If you don’t know how to research and find relevant keywords, then hire a professional to help you. You must know what people are actually typing into that search box, or your efforts will do little to drive targeted traffic to your site or deliver new customers and leads. The more you know about the keywords your target market uses to find products and services like yours, the more you will know exactly where you need to focus your efforts in Google.Hurry Up and WaitAlthough Google’s new search tools are a fairly new development, experts are already weighing in with their opinions on how (or if) these new search options will have an impact on a business’ SEO strategy. The early consensus seems to be that yes, the new options will have an effect to some degree, but it’s probably too soon to know to what extent.In the meantime, the best strategy is to keep your site updated with fresh, relevant content, create a strong presence on the social networking sites, build new inbound links, select targeted keyword phrases, and optimize your site using standard, white-hat practices that will help your web site be read and indexed by the search engine spiders. Then sit back and watch the results unfold over the next several months to see if the new Google search options indeed affect your SEO.

Branded Wayfinding for Cities

The word “brand” is an illusive term. Most people think a logo and a tagline constitutes a brand. This is a common misperception. A logo and a tag line are only the visual signatures of a brand. You will find several definitions for “brand” in the dictionary as both a noun and a verb. It’s believed that the word brand was derived from an Old English term, bærnan that means to burn. The word is commonly used to refer to mark something denoting ownership. The practice of branding can be traced back to 1300 BC in the form of potters’ marks on Chinese and Roman pottery. In the 1200s, English bakers and metal smiths were required to put their marks on their goods to insure honesty in measurement. As far back as 2000 BC, cattle and livestock were branded for proof of ownership. Ranchers still use red-hot irons to brand their marks into the hides of livestock. These same brands often appear over gateways as ranch identities.In the 1800s, consumer product companies like Proctor & Gamble began branding their products with package graphics and print advertising. During this time, advertising began to emerge as an profit center unto itself. Advertising specialists became strategic partners for companies who used marketing to sell their products and services. A company’s image (brand) was influenced by advertising, product packaging and the resulting public perception.By the late 1990s and the early 2000s, branding became a central focus for companies and their products. It also was a significant tool used by municipalities, institutions, organizations and individuals.The American Marketing Association defines a “brand” as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” Ideally, the development of a well-crafted brand will result in more visitors, economic growth and sustainable urban development.When asked to define brand, I give people the short version first. “Simply put, it’s the impression other people have of you regardless of your intention.” But there is more to it than that. In his book, Destination Branding for Small Cities, Bill Baker explains “a true brand is an organizing principal that will influence everything you do as a DMO (destination marketing organization) in order to orchestrate outstanding customer experiences.” If you are considering developing a brand for your community, or thinking about changing the one you have, I strongly recommend Bill’s book. You can purchase it through Amazon Books ( cities and tourist destinations, branding has become an effective tool used to attract visitors. It’s the process a community undergoes to develop an identity supported by a strategic campaign to deliver an intended message to a targeted audience for a desired response.Thousands of cities, towns and small communities throughout the world compete for the same slice of pie, specifically visitor dollars. In challenging economic times that slice begins to shrink. People travel less and spend less. Vacationers who regularly travel abroad continue to plan their vacations; it’s just that in order to save money, they choose to visit areas in their back yard.The question city tourism directors ask is how can we entice visitors to spend their dollars in our area? The answer lies in understanding why people go to other countries in the first place. The majority of travelers desire to go to where they can experience something unique. They want to see places that are different than their own hometowns.Despite the most aggressive branding attempts, the reality is that the resulting “brand” is ultimately defined by public perception alone. Many communities spend thousands of dollars on a brand that fails to deliver the desired results. A badly conceived or poorly communicated brand will only burn up marketing budgets and discourage stakeholders.When seeking the services of a branding expert, it’s unwise to bargain-shop for the cheapest consultant. Instead, look at the performance of their work. Talk to their former clients and judge them on the results, not the quantity or high profile of their projects. Your brand is one of the most important investments you will make to propel your marketing efforts. A well conceived brand by an experienced brand developer, delivered through effective modes of communication, would bring prosperity to your community. I used to tell my clients “If you brand it, they will come”. I’ve since changed that to “If you brand it right, they will come in greater numbers”.Getting visitors to come to your community is one thing. Keeping them there or giving them a reason to come back is another. When you market your brand it’s like making a promise. Once the promise is made, you have to keep your promise by delivering a memorable experience. This is where Branded Wayfinding comes in.With the proper combination of planning and design, a wayfinding system can be as beautiful as it is functional. It can enhance the character of an area by creating a memorable sense of place for visitors and the local community while improving circulation with strategically placed guide signs.Branded wayfinding combines the function of navigation with the aesthetics of theme-supportive graphics. If designed well, a branded wayfinding system will do two things. First, it will help your visitors navigate easily to key destinations within your community. Secondly, it will enhance a sense of place through brand-supportive graphics. Good navigation gets visitors to where you want them to spend their money. Providing visitors with a good experience will encourage them to stay longer and to keep coming back.Not so long ago, the word “wayfinding” didn’t exist, although the basic concept of “finding one’s way” using landmarks, maps and signs did. Eventually, businesses and community leaders realized that if they put signs up along roads they could steer more patrons their way. This preceded the notion of branding, a relatively new concept. The function of early wayfinding was purely navigational. Today, the development of a brand often follows the process of creating a wayfinding system. I’m of the opinion that branding should always come first. In order for a wayfinding system to support a brand and help establish an experience for visitors, a brand should be fully developed and ready for implementation before the first visual concept for wayfinding is explored. A brand is the nucleus around which all visual communications must revolve.Disney strategists, along with tourism and destination specialists, understand that visitors remember the feeling they get from their surroundings at a destination as much as the activity itself. This feeling comes from the architecture, landscaping and overall ambiance of the environment. Signs within that environment are highly visible elements and can influence the feeling of place if they are designed to support the brand or theme of their environment. That feeling can also be enhanced before their arrival with billboards and thematic road signs.If you have ever driven to Disney World, you understand that the experience starts well before you enter the front gate. For those of you that have never made the trip, picture a family traveling by car to the Magic Kingdom. They get their first glimpse of Disney World through billboards on the side of the road. (Billboards tell them they are on the right path but also generate anticipation of a great experience).As they get closer, the billboards become more frequent. By now, the kids have put down their iPods and are looking out the windows with their mouths open. A few miles away from the park, green highway signs start to display “Disney World 2 Miles Ahead”. (The State Department of Transportation will gladly place Tourist Oriented Directional signs on main routes to key destinations within their jurisdiction because of the economical benefit to the community).Even the parents are starting to get excited. Soon the glorious site of the Disney World gateway sign comes into view. Now the kids have become completely unglued. They have officially devolved into caged monkeys.As the family passes through the entrance (Primary gateway), they see brightly colored guide signs with large round mouse ears. (While these signs direct visitors to the many destinations within the park they also support the Disney brand and create a visual sense of place, enhancing visitor experience). Now the entire family is singing “It’s a Small World After all” and the car is bouncing up and down. They have arrived!

Pitfalls of Using Health Insurance For Mental Health Care

Because of the unfortunate stigma still attached to mental health conditions, people should think twice before using their health insurance to pay for visits to a mental health professional, such a marriage and family therapist, a psychologist or psychiatrist.If you do have health insurance coverage, your first reaction might be to think, “Well, if I’ve got insurance, why shouldn’t I use it? That’s what it’s there for.” And, most of the time, that’s true. I know I’m certainly grateful for my health insurance when I go to the doctor or dentist.But it gets more complicated when it comes to mental health care because of negative associations attached to psychological disorders. For example, people probably think differently about an individual who has a physical condition such as a thyroid disorder versus someone who has a psychological condition such as major depression.The reality is, if you want to get your insurance company to pay for your mental health care, the mental health care provider has to give you a serious psychological diagnosis or the insurance company won’t pay for the treatment.For instance, many insurance companies won’t pay for someone seeing a therapist for couples counseling or for “normal bereavement” following a loved one’s death. So your mental health care provider needs to find a serious diagnosis that legitimately describes your situation and that will be acceptable to your insurance company. But, once you have that diagnosis, the big issue becomes confidentiality.Here’s how that works. When you’re seeing a therapist and paying for it yourself, the information you discuss in session stays in the room for the most part. The therapist doesn’t share the information with anyone else, except when they’re required to report child abuse or elder abuse or a handful of other situations covered by law or their profession’s code of ethics. So the vast majority of the time, the information you share with your therapist stays just between the two of you, and you can feel completely free to share all the deep problems that brought you to the therapist’s office in the first place.However, your sessions won’t be so private any more if your insurance company is paying for all or part of your mental health care, because your diagnosis then becomes part of your health record and it’s no longer confidential. That could be detrimental to you in the future.For example, let’s say your therapist diagnoses you with major depressive disorder, which is a very common diagnosis. Think about how people view other people who are seriously depressed. They generally have certain expectations of how depressed people behave.So having that diagnosis in your health record could affect your ability to get a job in the future. It could be an issue in a child custody battle or other legal problems, especially since law enforcement agencies can access your insurance information at any time. A serious mental health diagnosis could cause problems if you tried to obtain other health insurance or life insurance in the future. Those are just a few examples of situations to think about.The other issue with using insurance benefits for mental health care is that the insurance company might place limitations on the number of sessions you can obtain or require that you get pre-approval from your primary care physician. Some insurance companies are very generous and allow weekly sessions until your problem is resolved, and they don’t interfere very much in the therapeutic process. But some companies place a limit on the number of sessions they’ll cover in a given year, and that frankly might not be enough to resolve some serious or longstanding problems.But, to me at least, those pragmatic challenges of trying to get your insurance company to provide adequate mental health coverage pale in comparison to the confidentiality issue I was talking about earlier. Confidentiality really is the Number One thing you should consider when you’re deciding whether you want to use your health insurance to cover mental health care.

Health Care Changes Beyond 2012 and What They Mean to You

There are some immediate changes in health care plans for 2012. As you might imagine, the changes won’t end next year. While the new plans roll out, there are other things you want to keep in mind for the future.Barring the gutting or repeal of Obamacare, we can look forward to more restrictions beginning in 2014. While there are some benefits to the Patient Affordability and Care Act, the down side skews the equation in favor of problems for business owners, difficult decisions for people without health care insurance and the self-employed.On the positive side, insurance companies cannot consider a person’s health status when insuring them. Kaching…that was the sound of your premiums going up to begin paying for coverage of more unhealthy people. Now, for the record, I am all in favor of insuring everyone, regardless of health status. None of us want our families to live without health care coverage. The financial consequences can be devastating for families if someone becomes very ill. But we need a better plan for paying for all this coverage than what we see today and in the near future. In two years almost everyone will be required to have some form of health insurance. In order to force this on people, health insurance “exchanges” will be created to accommodate the varying income levels of people. It is not entirely clear today how these exchanges will actually work to the benefit of the insureds or the insurance companies.One of the criticisms of Obamacare is that it is a thinly disguised plan to force everyone out of private insurance and choice into these exchanges, which will be managed by some federal agency. Trying to understand the deluge of verbiage on this topic is like trying to nail Jello to the wall. The truth is no one seems to know how this would really work. In the breach, we already see companies adhering to new law to be by offering coverage extensions to children up to age 26 who are living at home with their parents. This raises more problems for companies who are trying to peer into the crystal ball to see what they’ll be on the hook for in two years.Many companies admit they might just drop health insurance benefits for their employees. Rising costs, more liability, and confusing laws and rules, guarantee more owners will throw up their hands in disgust and opt out of the system. The owners are also looking at options that help them force more accountability and self-care on their employees. These options include Accountable-care organizations, reference-based pricing and defined contributions.Accountable-care organization reward health providers who cut expenses while maintaining good performance. These organizations can be physician owned, physician and insurance company owned, or some other combination. Reference-based pricing lets the company declare what it is willing to pay for services. Employees are then responsible for finding health care providers willing to work for the amount offered. This price shopping still allows employees to choose a higher-priced provider, but the employee must pay the difference in prices. Defined contributions means the company gives employees a set amount of money to purchase plans where they wish. Any difference in prices must be absorbed by the employee. These plans are available on an exchange, so employees will have more choices in this plan.All this presumes employees will see the benefit in these changes. Most people have gotten used to some form of HMO, PPO, or other network system with predictable premiums, co-pays, deductibles and so forth. This future is the wild west of health care and insurance exchanges. We will have to actually read the information from different companies, plans, and exchanges to decide where and how to best protect our families with health care. Unfortunately, most of us are ill-equipped to do this.We need more information and education in order to make this complicated plan work. Or, better yet, we could scrap the plan before it fully vests and find a better way to insure Americans that allows doctors to practice medicine and keeps us all honest. Can someone please invent a better mousetrap soon?Have a terrific day!Patricia

24 Hour Fitness Clubs – How They Serve Your Fitness Needs

With 300 Twenty Four Hour Fitness clubs throughout the nation there will be one close to you. A Twenty Four Hour Fitness Club offers just that. Twenty four hour access to a top of the range facility. No matter what time of the day or night you are free to exercise we are open for business.All that is available without the obligation of an annual contract. You can pay monthly. There is no need to sign up for a whole year at a Twenty Four Hour Fitness Club.We find this arrangement suits the busy lifestyle that many of us have today. Demanding work schedules and family commitments can all be fitted in to your fitness routine. No one needs feel that exercise is impossible for them.If you are out of town for a couple of weeks you are not wasting money at Twenty Four Hour Fitness. Twenty Four Hour Fitness even offers a baby sitting service.Yet you still have all the advantage of membership. The fully trained staff at Twenty Four Hour Fitness will create a fitness program tailor made to suit your needs.Your fitness program can help you to increase your fitness for a specific sport or prepare you for serious competition. This program is designed by athletes for athletes.The Performance Program offers a menu plan to help you get your diet right. At Twenty Four Hour Fitness we understand the importance of diet in achieving fitness. Your fitness programme includes resistance workouts and cardio vascular training. After the session there is metabolic rate test that will show you have far you have improved as a result of your efforts.This is a great program for any one who wants to get started straightaway but does not know much about fitness and nutrition. By following this program you will learn all you need to know about improving you fitness levels and achieving a healthy weight.You will be laying the basis for lifelong fitness.As you follow the Performance Program you will learn how nutrition influences your health. Correct intakes of vitamins and minerals are important to your fitness and general well being. At Twenty Four Hour Fitness you will discover how to create a better diet for yourself.As your diet improves and your fitness increases you develop a noticeably better quality of life and more positive outlook. Coming to Twenty Hour Fitness is about taking active control of your life and health.Whether you are an athlete who wants to improve your performance or someone who wants to lose weight and maintain your health Twenty Four Fitness clubs have something to offer.You can chose from a range of club options. You might like the active club which offers group exercise in addition to free weights and cardio machines. This can be a good option for those who need to shed the pounds. Exercise in a group can be very motivating. This is an ideal option if you have a busy life and are short of time.Alternatively you might prefer the sport club which offers basketball as well as heated pools and a whirlpool. The super-sport club offers the same amenities as the sport club plus a sauna, massage and steam room. These facilities are excellent if you are an athlete who is engaged in intense workouts and need to protect your body against injuries. They are also ideal for those recovering from injuries who need to rehabilitate their bodies.Then there is the ultra-sport club which offers all the amenities in the active, sport and super sport club with the addition of a day spa, racquetball courts and an executive locker room. This is the de luxe option for those who are really serious about their fitness and health.