A Home-Based Business Online
Issue 131 : April 29, 2017
Sent to 12,720 Opt-In Subscribers
Editor: Elena Fawkner
Publisher: AHBBO Publishing
Home Based Business Opportunities
Contact By Email
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Welcome and Update from Elena
2. Feature Article - Health Insurance for the Self-
Employed - Protecting Your Business's Greatest Asset
3. Surveys and Trends
4. Success Quotes of the Week
6. Subscription Management
8. Contact Information
1. Welcome and Update from Elena
Hello again and a warm welcome to all the new subscribers
who have joined us since the last issue.
A few recommendations for you this week:
=> Mail Washer
For the past three or four weeks I've been using a (free)
software program called Mail Washer. You install it onto your
desktop and use it to call up the headers of email that's
sitting on your mail server waiting to be downloaded.
Because it only downloads the headers of the mail, it's
The beauty of the program is that it allows you to delete
spam at the server level so it never gets downloaded to
your computer. (If you're not sure a message is spam, you
can double click on it and see the body of the message.)
So, for those of you paying by the minute or byte for
internet access, Mail Washer allows you to do away with
paying for the privilege of downloading garbage. You're
also deleting those pesky virus emails at the server level
too so they never get the chance to infect your computer.
Just as nifty, the software has a feature that allows you
to create what appears to be a bona fide bounce message
that the software will automatically email back to the
spammer. Of course if, as most spammers are, yours
is using a bogus email address in the first place, your fake
bounce message bounces back to you so the utility of what,
on the face of it, is a great idea, is limited. All in all, though,
the program's a real time and money saver.
Download at http://www.mailwasher.net/ . Although it's free,
donations to the webmaster are welcome. (No, I have no
affiliation.) Details at the site.
=> Virus Protection Now!
You do use virus protection software, right? If not, get to
it NOW. (I use Norton AntiVirus for those of you interested in
such things.) See http://www.symantec.com for critical
information on the particularly nasty W32.Klez.gen@mm
mass-mailing worm that includes a virus that will destroy
all files on your hard drive on specified days of the year.
According to Symantec: "The worm exploits a vulnerability in
Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express in an attempt to execute
itself when you open or even preview the message. Information
and a patch for the vulnerability can be found at
I've deleted many email messages containing this virus (and
others) at the server level using Mail Washer and Norton
AntiVirus. Many of these infected messages are coming
from AHBBO ezine subscribers. If you're not that familiar with
the Internet and email and how to protect yourself with
antivirus software, you may have unknowingly allowed the
virus to infect your computer.
You can download a removal tool from the Symantec website
at http://www.symantec.com .
This recommendation is for those of you with web sites.
WebSponsors is a CPA (cost per action) advertising network
that pays you a set amount for every visitor you refer to the
advertiser and who takes the desired action.
For example, I have two campaigns running on my home page
(AHBBO) right now - they're the Home Business
Magazine banner ad and the text link "Free Information On How
You Can Start Your Own Home-Based Business". Every time a
visitor clicks on one of those links and takes the desired action
(signs up for the free Home Business magazine or requests free
home-business information, respectively), I get paid.
I just started with this program this month and have already
generated over $100 (for a part-month). Not bad for doing
nothing but putting the links on my site. I'm not doing *any*
other promotion for these campaigns.
There are a multitude of categories of ads at WebSponsors so
you're sure to find campaigns that fit with your site.
Finally, this week's article is in response to numerous requests
from readers for information about health insurance options for
the self-employed. You asked for it, you got it! "Health
Insurance for the Self-Employed - Protecting Your Business's
Greatest Asset" is at segment 2.
As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this week's
Remember, AHBBO is for YOU! If you have comments or
suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed, or
would just like to share your experiences with other
subscribers, I want to hear from you. Please send
comments, questions and stories to Contact By Email .
Access to a computer?
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2. Feature Article: Health Insurance for the Self-Employed
- Protecting Your Business's Greatest Asset
© 2017 Elena Fawkner
"I've been considering quitting my full-time job and getting a
part-time job that would pay the bills [so I can start a home
business] ... The one biggie my full-time job provides me now
is health insurance. If I was to get a part-time job, I'd probably
have to pay for my own health insurance and I know that can
Like Jason, who sent me the above email this week, many a
dissatisfied employee would chuck in their full-time J.O.B.
(just over broke) for their part-time home-based business in
a heartbeat if not for one thing. Employer-provided health
benefits. It's a biggie, no doubt about it.
Undeniably, employer-paid or -subsidized health benefits
are one of the few real perks of working for someone else.
In fact, surveys have shown that, for employees (especially
those with families), paid benefits are hands down the most
important element of their compensation packages.
And there's no shortage of people already running their
own home businesses with no health or disability coverage
at all. Scary. After all, if you're dependent upon your
home business as your sole source of income and you
lose your health, you lose your livelihood as well.
Bottom line? If you run a home-based business you can't
afford not to have health coverage of one form or another.
Here's how to make it happen, whatever your
BASIC OPTIONS FOR THE EMPLOYER OF ONE (YOU)
You have three basic options when it comes to health and
=> Spouse Coverage
If your spouse has health coverage from his or her employer,
as a general rule, use that. It probably provides better and
less expensive coverage than you could get on your own.
=> Group Health Insurance
The main advantage of group health insurance plans is that
they can't turn you away because of health problems. The
good news for the solo entrepreneur is that an increasing
number of companies are offering group health plans for
"groups" of one. This varies by state though so you'll need
to do your homework to find one.
=> Individual Health Insurance
These plans are fine if you don't have any pre-existing
medical conditions. (If you do, try your best to find a group
plan that will cover a group of one.) They're subject to
medical underwriting so your state of health will be a factor
the insurance company takes into account in determining
whether to accept your application.
Of course, the mere fact that you're able to get into a good
plan is one thing. Doing so affordably is quite another.
REDUCING THE HIGH COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE
There are several ways of minimizing the cost of health
insurance. Your tolerance for risk will determine which,
if any, you are comfortable with.
=> Reduce the Level of Coverage
Do you really need to have every doctor's visit and
prescription covered? If you only go to the doctor once
a year for an annual examination, have no health
conditions, don't need regular expensive prescription
medications and are generally healthy, consider cutting out
coverage for office visits and prescriptions.
=> Higher Deductible
Similarly, if you're reasonably healthy, don't visit the doctor
very often and don't need to use expensive medications,
consider switching to a higher deductible to save on
premium costs. By increasing your deductible from $100
to $2,000, you can cut your premium payment in half.
=> Annual Premium Payments
If you can afford to do so, pay your premiums annually
rather than monthly or quarterly to avoid service fees and
to take advantage of prepayment discounts where
=> Join Associations
Just because you're going it alone in your business
doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the group
buying power that being a member of an association
offers. Check out your local chamber of commerce,
various trade and professional groups and small and
home business associations for member benefits. Many
offer access to discounted health insurance.
Here are a few small/home business association links
to get you started (you'll need to cut and paste some
of these links if they wrap to the next line):
National Business Association
Don't forget to check out local associations in your area
or associations relevant to your particular profession.
=> Shop Online
Being able to offer insurance products online means insurance
companies save on broker and agent fees. Often, this
translates into premium savings for policies purchased over
the Internet. So, when your fingers do the walking, make
sure they do so on a keyboard and not the Yellow Pages.
=> Medical Savings Accounts
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act (HIPAA), if you're self-employed you may be eligible to
use a medical savings account, or MSA.
MSAs work in conjunction with higher deductible health
insurance policies to reduce premiums and allow you to use
pre-tax dollars to pay for your medical expenses up to the
limit of the deductible on your insurance policy.
Basically, you reduce your premium by replacing a low-
deductible policy with high-deductible policy and use the
premium saving to make fully tax-deductible contributions
to your MSA. You can contribute up to 65% of the deductible
each year into your MSA (75% for families). The money goes
into a tax-deferred account or trust and you pay your medical
expenses (until you reach the deductible) by drawing from the
account. Once you hit the deductible, of course, the
insurance policy kicks in.
If you spend less than you contributed, the surplus stays
in the account and earns interest. Not only that, the funds
can be invested in high-return vehicles such as mutual funds
As the balance can be carried forward, an MSA can be used to
accumulate a pretty healthy nest egg for retirement. In fact,
a Journal of Financial Planning analysis calculated that if you
contribute $1,500 per year into an MSA for 25 years, assuming
a 12% rate of return, you'll end up with almost $1.5 million.
That's assuming you don't draw from it to pay for medical
costs, of course.
There are some limitations though. First, the range of
deductibles is limited to $1,500 - $2,250 for individuals and
$3,000 - $4,500 for a family. Second, as we saw above, you
can contribute only 65% of the deductible as an individual or
75% for a family.
So, if you're an individual and you choose a policy with a
$2,000 deductible, you'll be able to contribute 1,300 pre-tax
dollars into an MSA each year. In other words, Uncle Sam
pays for part of your health insurance/retirement fund. How
The money in the MSA can be used to pay any medical
expenses incurred before the deductible is reached, as well
as other eligible costs such as contact lenses and dental
work. If you use the money for anything else, you must not
only pay tax on the amount withdrawn, but a 15% penalty
on the top. (If you're over 65 when you make the
withdrawal the penalty is not applied but you'll still have to
pay the tax.)
(By the way, MSAs are also available to you if you work for
a business with fewer than 50 employees.)
In short then, MSAs offer a very tax-effective and potentially
lucrative way to self-fund part of your health care costs while
dramatically reducing your premiums. If luck is on your side
and you remain healthy, by the time you reach retirement
age, your MSA could well fund your retirement.
=> Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction
Finally, the self-employed can write off 70% of their health
insurance premiums in 2017. This increases to 100% in 2003.
That's only so long as the total doesn't exceed the net profit
from your Schedule C minus deductions for one half of the self-
employment tax and Keogh, SEP and Simple contributions
Also, the deduction can only be claimed for months when
you weren't eligible to participate in a subsidized health plan
from another employer (including your spouse's employer).
Self-employed workers who qualify for both the self-employed
health deduction and the itemized medical deduction can
write off the other 30% this year on Schedule A. (Medical
expenses are deductible on Schedule A only to the extent
they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income.)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE UNINSURABLE
The foregoing is all well and good if you're able to get health
insurance in the first place. But what if you have a pre-
existing condition that disqualifies you from an individual
health plan and you can't get into a group plan? In other
words, you can't get insurance at any price.
Although beyond the scope of this article, the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may
offer you some protections. For more information about how
HIPAA may help you obtain health insurance even if you
have a pre-existing condition, visit
=> Risk Pools
High-risk health insurance plans, also known as risk pools,
are state-funded plans and are an important safety net for
individuals who are denied health insurance because of a
medical condition. They're available only in 29 states though.
To be eligible, you must be a resident of the state from
which you seek coverage (unless there's reciprocity
between that state and the state you reside in) and
you must be able to prove at least one of the following:
1. that you've been rejected for similar health insurance
coverage by at least one insurer; or
2. you're presently insured with a higher premium; or
3. you're presently insured with a rider or rated policy.
You will not be eligible for participation in a risk pool if:
1. you're not a resident of the state from which you seek
coverage (again subject to reciprocity between states);
2. you're eligible for Medicare or Medicaid; or
3. you've terminated previous coverage in the plan
unless at least 132 months have since elapsed; or
4. you're an inmate of a public institution.
For more information on risk pools in your state, contact
your state health insurance department, the national
association "Communicating for Agriculture and the Self-
Employed" (1-800-432-3276) or visit
Coverage via the safety-net protections of the HIPAA may
end up being "risk-pool" coverage.
=> Healthcare Savings Programs
Healthcare savings programs are patient advocacy programs
that minimize out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
They're not insurance policies but rather programs that allow
you to access networks of healthcare providers for the same
negotiated rates that large insurance companies enjoy.
Savings range from 20% to 50%.
Not ideal but better than nothing. Also, since they're not
insurance policies, all pre-existing conditions are accepted.
A modest monthly fee is usually required to participate.
See, for example, Care Entree at http://www.careentree.com
for $20 per month.
Although health insurance may seem like a luxury you just
can't afford if your finances are already stretched to breaking
point thanks to your home-based business, you never know
what's around the corner. Quite simply, you and your business
can't afford not to have health (and disability) insurance.
You are your business's greatest asset. Protect it.
include the following resource box; and (2) you only mail to
practical business ideas, opportunities and solutions for the
Home Business Online
Also, visit Elena's newest site, Put Your Computer To Work
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3. Surveys and Trends
© 2017 Ryanna's Hope
=> ADVERTISING REALITIES
The influential Baby Boomers, currently 77 million strong in
the United States, are the most lucrative segment in the
nation. These individuals, between 34 and 52 years of age,
are known for changing every institution they encounter.
Members of this well-educated, sophisticated, demanding,
individualistic, independent, and self-indulgent group have
less leisure time than their parents did. Older individuals in
this segment are just beginning the battle against aging.
Sales of skin cream, suntan lotions, hair coloring, cosmetics,
vitamins and nutritional supplements are surging. Spirituality
is seeing a rebirth as maturing Boomers search for the
meaning of life.
Advertising Time Line...
1841 - Volney B. Palmer opens the first American advertising
agency, in Philadelphia
1852 - First advertisement for Smith Brothers' Cough Candy
(drops) appears in a Poughkeepsie, New York paper - the
two brothers in the illustration are named "Trade" and "Mark."
=> ISP'S - GETTING WHAT YOU PAY FOR
Most ISPs aren't all that reliable. According to a survey of
14,000 Netizens conducted last fall by the National Regulatory
Research Institute and Bigresearch, 47 percent of all users
reported problems with their ISPs. The biggest problems:
service outages and interruptions.
Smaller ISPs fared slightly better: users reported about 10
percent fewer problems than customers of the Big Three
did. Still, survey respondents awarded the industry an overall
grade of C+, not exactly a ringing endorsement. (Source:
While cable and DSL fees consistently range from $40 to $50
a month, dial-up charges are all over the map. For example,
AOL recently upped its fees: you now have to pay $24 a
month for unlimited access, while most other major ISPs
charge around $22. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley North charges
its 2,000 dial-up customers $15 a month and hasn't raised its
prices in five years. And there are literally hundreds of ISPs
who offer access plans for $10 a month or less.
Should you shop based on price? Well, yes and no. If you find
two ISPs that are equally good in all aspects--reliability,
support, access, the whole nine yards--then it only makes
sense to go with the cheaper option.
According to In-Stat's report, the largest ISP, in terms of
access revenues for 2017, was WorldCom/UUNet. The second
largest ISP, in terms of revenue, was AT&T. Other ISPs with
significant market share were -- PSINet, Cable & Wireless,
Sprint, Genuity, InterNap, XO Communications, Verio and
=> ISP SIGNUP....ARE THERE EXTRA COSTS?
If your Web site uses or will soon use SQL databases, CGI
scripts, or FrontPage 2017 extensions (not just basic
FrontPage HTML generation), you'll need a hosting plan that
supports these extras--likewise with PHP and Active Server
Pages. These sorts of higher-end development tools don't
usually come standard.
=> WEB HOSTING REVIEWS
Many reviews reveal Tripod is the best place to build and
host your Web site. Its interface is easiest, its URLs are
shortest, and its predesigned templates are the prettiest
we've seen. It offers 50MB of free space--the most you'll
find anywhere and much more than its closest competitor,
GeoCities (which offers only 15MB).
=> WHAT THE ONLINE SHOPPER DEMANDS
E-commerce site owners take notice: online shoppers demand
honesty and respect from retailers — more than the highest-
quality merchandise or the lowest prices, according to Cap
Gemini Ernst & Young (CGE&Y).
The results of interviews with 6,000 consumers in nine
European countries revealed the most important values to the
global e-shopper: honesty, respect and reliability. The
respondents indicated that human values are more vital to
a satisfactory business transaction than traditional notions
of product and service. European respondents identified the
same top five factors related to shopping as did their
counterparts in the U.S..
=> TRUSTING WEB SITES . . LESS THAN 1/3!
The findings of a Consumer WebWatch telephone survey of
1,500 U.S. Internet users conducted by Princeton Survey
Research Associates revealed that less than one-third trust
Web sites that sell products or services.
Only 29 percent say they trust e-commerce sites either
"just about always" or "most of the time" while 64 percent
trust them "only some of the time" or "never". Internet users
show a similar degree of skepticism towards consumer advice
sites — only 33 percent trust them and 59 percent express
low levels of trust.
Comparatively, 68 percent say they trust small businesses;
58 percent trust newspapers and television news; and 55
percent trust financial companies such as banks, insurance
companies and stockbrokers. A total of 54 percent trust
charities and other nonprofit organizations, while 47 percent
say they trust the federal government at least most of the
4. Success Quote of the Week
To go fast, row slowly.
-- Norman Vincent Peale
8. Contact Information
Elena Fawkner, Editor
A Home-Based Business Online
Contact By Email
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