Blunt the cost of employee's healthcare

There are ways to blunt the cost of healthcare
By Patricia Hunt Sinacole (Source: Globe Newspaper)
Q. I am a full-time employee and am aghast at how much I pay for medical insurance. My employer has just announced that employees will be facing additional increases again in May. I feel like I am locked into a health plan that I don't use all that much but pay top dollar for. Are there any options for me? I don't think my employer is very knowledgeable about healthcare and benefits.
A. Health insurance is a hot topic right now, especially in Massachusetts. Many of us pay a lot of money for health insurance but do not use a lot of services that our health plans offer. The question becomes "Is there a better way for my employer (or me as an employee) to use the money spent on health insurance?" To help me answer , I consulted Jon Clark, vice president of Clark & Lavey Benefits Solutions, Inc. of Nashua, N.H., who works with many employers to help them offer more competitive employee benefits.
Clark explained: "The first relates to the law of large numbers. The old 80/20 rule comes in to play here. Roughly 80 percent of an employer's larger healthcare claims come from 20 percent of employees. Most employees are not high users (at least dollarwise) of healthcare. What an employer can do is to establish a health reimbursement arrangement, in which an employer will reimburse an employee for certain out-of-pocket expenses. The premise is that an employer will add either a deductible or a high co-payment (for certain services) onto the health plan, reducing the premiums substantially. The premium savings will create a pool of money that the employer will then use to reimburse the employees for these out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, if the premiums decrease, the employee also saves. If the old 80/20 rule stands, then the employer will only have to reimburse so many employees for out-of-pocket expenses. The premium savings less any employee reimbursements will still leave a pool of premium savings."
Another option that Clark suggested is for your employer (or you as the employee) to consider taking advantage of a Health Savings Account (HSA). These allow an individual or employer to set aside money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Money put into HSAs is tax deductible in the year in which they are made, grow tax free, and can be withdrawn tax free so long as they are used for out-of-pocket expenses. The money can be invested into different types of investments that the individual chooses, and any unused money can stay in the HSA and continue to grow.
Consider many facets to rejoin the workforce
Q. I'd like to re-enter the job market after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. How do I go about writing a new resume? My fields of interest are purchasing and/or production control.
A. As with any job search, I would recommend that you first develop a plan. You have already identified your areas of interest . Here are some recommendations that will help shape your plan:
Start your job hunt well before you expect to begin working. Giving yourself adequate time will prevent mistakes and missteps that often occur in a hurried job search. Evaluate your skills. Review online postings, advertisements, and the like for purchasing and production-control positions. Are there areas where you are rusty? If so, think about taking a course or joining a professional organization that may be able to help improve on some of those areas of weaknesses.
Dust off your resume and ensure it doesn't sound dated. Avoid using "domestic engineer" for the time you spent raising children. Don't worry about the gap in your resume but be ready to explain it.

Get serious about networking. Set a specific goal of a number of contacts to meet with every week. Develop a one-minute speech that talks briefly about your background and what you are looking for in your next position.

Dress the part. What you wore in the workplace 10 years ago may not work today. Invest in a few classic pieces that could be worn in both a professional dress office environment as well as a casual dress office environment.

Brush up on your interviewing skills. Practice selling yourself. Be honest and forthright that you chose to stay at home for a period of time. You need to use your own words but one way to respond to questions about your years raising your children might be: "I was at home raising my children for the past 10 years. During that time, I was quite active in running many events for our schools, including a very successful fund-raising campaign to build a new library in our town's high school. I am now ready and eager to return to my professional field."
Remember to thank those people who spent a few moments with you. Besides your own network, regularly check online job postings, newspaper ads, recruiters, and alumni associations. Consider contract or temporary work before you look for a long-term opportunity. This will build your resume.

Lastly, I would recommend that you write your plan. When a plan is in writing, we tend to be more accountable.
Very active job hunt is bearing only frustration
Q. I need help with what has become a frustrating job search. I have worked in a department at a local hospital for 4 1/2 years. I was hired for an entry-level position, due to my not having a college degree. Two years after being hired, I finished my degree and was given the promotion to the next higher position. I was rejected for two other positions within my department in a 6-month period. One was for a new manager position for projects where the person hired resigned after six months. When the position became available again, I was asked if I wanted it. I declined because I was bitter (yes, I admit it) and because another position more in line with my career goals was going to be available, which I communicated to my supervisor. About a year ago, when I realized I was not able to move up the ladder in my current department, I started applying for other positions in the hospital -- more than 50 positions -- and I have gotten only one interview and more e-mails than I care to count saying that my resume has been reviewed but other candidates have been chosen. I started applying for positions at other hospitals, getting many interviews and even second interviews, but no job offers. I am clueless as to what I can do.
A. I am sorry your job search has been so frustrating. It sounds like it is been consuming your time and energy.
When I read your letter, I highlighted some of your achievements. Let me recap what I have highlighted. You have been with the same employer for more than four years. You have since finished your degree -- kudos! You also have a record of strong performance. You also had been offered a new position by your employer (but you did not accept it).
also highlighted some of my concerns. You mention that you did not accept a position offered to you because it was not line with your career goals and you also mention that you were bitter. Lastly, you have applied to more than 50 positions within your hospital and over 100 positions within the last year.

I think you may want to take a step back and think about your job search. It sounds like you are may be just be applying to new jobs in a sort of haphazard "I need to get out of here" way. A hiring manager wants to hire a candidate who is enthusiastic, willing, and not bitter. A hiring manager does not want to hire a candidate simply because that candidate feels the need to climb the ladder or escape from a current position.

You also have sent mixed signals to your employer. They offered you a position and you declined . It may not have been a perfect opportunity but it may have been a good stepping stone to other opportunities. I also wonder if some of your frustration may be showing in your job search process. Unfortunately, rejection is a very real part of the job search process.

I would first take a break from applying to so many positions at once. If a position seems like a perfect fit, apply for it. I think approaching your supervisor may be a good idea. Be open to his/her feedback and be ready and willing to hear about both your strengths and weaknesses.
What steps will land me in the controller's chair?
Q. In May I will graduate with a degree in finance. My long-term goal is to be a controller, preferably in a technology company. What is the typical career path? What skills are most critical? Is an advanced degree important?
A. Although you specifically say that you are interested in technology, technology can include companies that focus on software development, professional services, manufacturing, or Internet services.

Some controllers have public accounting experience while others began their careers in a finance role within a larger organization. When I asked the advice of a technology client, cMarket in Cambridge, I learned that a strong controller candidate often has significant accounting, operational, and financial analysis experience early in his or her career. While not critical, an advanced degree, typically an MBA or CPA, is sometimes preferred. Experience is also important. Internships or summer employment are often helpful in landing good entry-level jobs and gaining strong practical experience.

Many controllers held positions such as financial analyst, accounting manager, or internal auditor . A professional association to consider for more information is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (



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