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Why Group Insurance May Be Best for Your Business, Even If It’s Just You

It’s easier to get than you think.

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RECENTLY, I HEARD a business owner tell a frustrating story about how she was forced to spend a surprisingly large sum of money for the treatment of a health condition. She was angry because her individual health insurance plan, bought through the Marketplace in 2014, had just increased in premium for the fourth time. She expected more from her insurance!

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There has been a growing rift between group and individual insurance since 2015 — most business owners have not been able to keep up on all of the details. I have heard, erroneously, from many business owners that they believe:

  • They couldn’t do group insurance.
  • They would have to pay for all of their employees.
  • Individual insurance would be cheaper.

Not true.

Individual insurance contracts (i.e., Obamacare plans) are no longer the same as group insurance plans. Differences include deductibles, max out-of-pocket financial exposures and pricing. In most cases, individual insurance is less advantageous for the consumer.

Many small business owners are not aware of the increased availability of group insurance.
In 2014, the Affordable Care Act changed many of the regulations affecting small businesses and insurance. States have also been tweaking rules applicable to groups employing between two and 50 people (small groups). In most states, businesses with two or more people are eligible to purchase group insurance. Why is this important? Because, in many states, group insurance may be less expensive per person, have lower financial exposures and have access to larger PPO networks.

How does it work? There is a little known aspect of the Affordable Care Act that makes group insurance very accessible for small businesses. If you have an inception/renewal date of Jan. 1, then the business is not required to contribute to the employees’ premiums. Further, there are no participation requirements (i.e. how many people must participate of the employed population), so the business owner could be the only one participating — a “group” of one. Some states do not allow groups of one. In these states you must have two participants. And note that husband-wife groups are treated differently and may not be eligible.

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If the group insurance plan renews on any other date of the year, then the group is subject to contribution and participation requirements. These requirements are set by the insurance companies and are typically less stringent than most business owners believe. In most cases, the employer is asked to contribute only 25 percent of the cost of individual coverage on the lowest cost plan.
Here is how this plays out in the real world: Most small businesses offer two or three plans for the employees to choose from, one of which will be the “lowest cost.” The employer then calculates 25 percent of what it costs for that single person and the employee is responsible for the remaining premium. How much money are we talking about? Typically an employer is asked to contribute between $75 and $225 per month per person depending on the age of the employee — only for the people who choose to contribute.

As for the participation requirement, it’s typically 70 percent of eligible full-time staff after qualified waivers. A qualified waiver is someone who has an insurance plan from a spouse, the government or an individual plan. Let’s say we have a group of 10 full time employees, four of whom have coverage through their spouse and one who is on Medicare. Here is how we determine the participation requirement:

  • 10 eligible-5 qualified waivers = 5 employees

In this case, to attain 70 percent participation, only four people must participate!

Marcus Newman is vice-president of small business sales with GCG, a full-service financial, employee benefits and risk management firm, as well as a public speaker and educator.

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He Thought It Was a Great Time to Retire — So He Called Wilkerson!

As David Kiselstein, owner of J. Albert Johnson Jewelers in Fairfield, CT says, it was a perfect time to close the store he’d owned for 45 years. “I’m 72-years old, the lease came due and I thought it would be a great time to retire.” A savvy businessman and one of the founders of the Continental Buying Group, Kiselstein urges others who want to conduct a retirement sale to pick up the phone and call Rick Hayes at Wilkerson. “He’ll talk you through it. He’ll help you understand it. He’ll give you the confidence you need to go through such a big experience.”

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Commentary: The Business

Building Something Cool Means Having No Regrets, Says Stephen Webster

The designer pulled out all the stops to stand out with his Beverly Hills boutique.

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PRIOR TO PENNING this column, I looked back at some of the columns written by previous winners of the INSTORE Small Cool and Big Cool jewelry stores in America. Each is a story of passion, dedication and determination (or blood, sweat and tears) to build and maintain stores that never stop compelling and engaging with their clients and communities.

As we all know, building a successful or indeed a “cool” store, no matter what the size, has never been about doing just one thing well. It may start with great product, but that is only the beginning. As jewelers, we have to build trust, offer not only outstanding service but develop almost telepathic relationships with clients, create unique and welcoming environments, and as if that weren’t enough, a brick-and-mortar store owner also has to be as tech-savvy as a 14 year-old, able to navigate the plethora of digital platforms and social channels, apparently without which no one any longer crosses your threshold.

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Despite all the above, we love it and continue to strive to be the best and the coolest.

My home is not America; I have, though, traveled across the pond on average every month for the past 25 years, growing not only millions of air miles but also my brand through an incredible network of independent and larger groups of retail jewelers across the USA, witnessing firsthand what it takes to stand out as a store.

When it finally became time to open my own boutique, I wasn’t attached to any one community, so I did what most domestic brands do and blindfolded, stuck a pin in a map of North America, at least I think that’s what other brands do, I might be wrong. My pin landed as far away from my home as it’s possible to get, the “City of Angels”: LA, right bang on the set of Pretty Woman, opposite the Beverly Wiltshire hotel on Rodeo Drive.

I believe there were 25-plus jewelers already on that famous drive, and unlike them, this was my first Rodeo. To stand a chance, the Stephen Webster store had to be different. Our jewelry was already different, so we wanted the environment to look as though the product belonged there.

I’m proud to say that if it was anything, it was different. The etched concrete floor, the crocodile skin (effect) leather covered showcases, graffiti artwork and neons by famous street artists, and up the sweeping staircase on the second floor, the now-legendary NoRegrets lounge, where we showcased everything that makes up the extended world of Webster: chefs, sculptures, conventional and graffiti artists, photographers, a milliner, too many DJs and even a classical trumpet player. The

NoRegrets lounge has earned its title.

Just like every neighborhood store, we earned every one of our clients. Due to the nature of local employment, we never knew who was going to walk through the door, and even though our policy is that everyone gets treated the same, I’m sure one can imagine that some of those Hollywood types do demand that extra mile and a half. Living exactly 6,000 miles away, we like to think we give it. It would be fun to know if any other store owners have such a ridiculous commute; I hope not, for their sakes.

Having our flagship store recognized as “cool” by peers from an industry I love and feel very much part of in a country I really should call home has been such an honor. You have no idea how cool it feels for my team in the US and also back in London, where to say we were voted the coolest big jewelry store in America is massive.

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Shane Decker

What Not To Do During the First 30 Seconds of Any Sale

Huddling at the back is a big no-no.

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HAVE YOU EVER walked into what appeared to be a nice store, only to spin and leave faster than you came in? Or, have you ever walked into a nice place of business and watched two salespeople look at each other, then you, then each other again, like they’re seeing which one of them is going to wait on you?

You’re not alone — we’ve all had this experience, and jewelry stores are no exception. At too many stores, you’re not greeted at all, and sometimes, you can’t even find anyone to take care of your needs. This is one reason the Internet is doing so well.

People today are time-starved, and they will decide within the first 30 seconds of entering your store whether or not they’re going to give you their money.

Let’s begin with the first five seconds: every customer must be greeted — ideally, from the “sweet spot” in your store (15 feet inside your door to the customer’s right as they walk in). When you’re a client and you’re acknowledged, you feel important. It’s a relief subconsciously to realize that the sales associates know you’re there.

Never allow your sales floor to be vacant when clients come in. Many say they are just looking, but that’s an opportunity for you to use your first close by saying, “I always do that before I buy; let’s get started!” or “I’m glad you came in to take care of that today.”

“I’m just looking” means “I’m just spending.” It means “I’m on a mission, and when I find what I’m looking for, I’m gonna buy it.” It does not mean, “Leave me alone.” Like I said before, we are a time-starved nation, and nobody is just looking.

Do not come from the back of the store to the front; you should be there already. When you come from the back, your mind is focused on the busy work you were doing or the donut you were eating.

Never greet a customer from a group huddle. It’s good to laugh in your store, but if you’re all laughing about something when the client walks in, they may think you’re laughing at them.

Do not use canned openings like “Hi, how are you?” or “What can I help you with?” Clients don’t need “help”; they want professional assistance to make a purchase or information about a service needed. Likewise, don’t say, “Good morning, welcome to Smith Jewelers.” That gets old, fast. What if they come in three or four times a year and hear you say the same thing? Keep your greetings creative and make sure they’re welcoming. Your greeting should be professional and make your client feel glad they came into your place of business.

Be present for the start of the sale, and keep it professional. Starting strong allows you to make it to the end (and hopefully close the sale). By doing so, you’ll keep your client from wanting to go to the Internet — after all, we do want to talk to real people, especially when it comes to jewelry.

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Columns

World’s Biggest, Heaviest and Most Valuable Coin to Make US Debut

It will be on display at the New York Stock Exchange on July 16.

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THE WORLD’S BIGGEST, heaviest and most valuable coin will make its U.S. debut at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) next Tuesday, July 16.

For only 12 hours — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — the “1 Tonne Australian Kangaroo” gold coin will be on public display in Experience Square, just outside the NYSE on Broad Street.

Made from 99.99% pure gold, the coin measures 80 cm (31.5 inches) wide and 12 cm (4.5 inches) thick. It weighs one metric ton, which is equivalent to 2,200 pounds or 35,274 ounces. The coin has a face value of $1 million, but at today’s gold price, the precious metal alone is worth $49.3 million.

The Perth Mint created the “1 Tonne Australian Kangaroo” in 2011 to bring worldwide attention to its popular annual Australian Kangaroo Gold Bullion Coin Series. A year later, Guinness World Records affirmed its status as the world’s largest coin.

The reverse design depicts a bounding red kangaroo surrounded by stylized rays of sunlight. The coin is bordered by the inscription AUSTRALIAN KANGAROO 1 TONNE 9999 GOLD and the year 2012.

The obverse of the coin portrays the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the inscriptions ELIZABETH II, AUSTRALIA and the monetary denomination of 1 MILLION DOLLARS.

The enormous gold coin has rarely left its permanent display at The Perth Mint’s Gold Exhibition in the Land Down Under. It did embark on a promotional tour across Asia and Europe in 2014, and now it is traveling halfway around the world for the one-day New York exhibition.

The Australian coin is 10 times heavier than the previous record-holder, a 100 kg (220 pound) coin designed by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The Australian coin is 10 times heavier than the previous record-holder. CREDITS: IMAGES COURTESY OF THE PERTH MINT.

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