5 Home Furniture Arrangement Tips

The placing of your home furniture in specific rooms will set the mood and atmosphere, as well as dictate how the room is utilized.
Here are some important tips for arranging your home areas:
1) Take Careful Measurements – Before you start arranging or rearranging you home furniture, grab your tape measure and carefully measure the dimensions of the space. If you do not have a tape measure, you can estimate the length of the dimensions by walking the room, toe to heel, from one end of the room to the other. Also, make sure that you pay attention to where the doorways of the room and the windows fall within the dimensions so that you do not pick out furniture that will block those crucial elements.
2) Mix up Your Home Furniture – Every piece of furniture has a width, height and depth. To create a visually aesthetic aura to a room, choose a variety of home furniture with characteristics that are diverse. If you would prefer a room to be more tranquil, the furniture sizes should be similar; however if you want the room to have character, then you should go for the diverse appeal.
3) Create a Balance – To create an atmosphere that is harmonious, choose diverse home furnishings; however you will also need to ensure that the pieces all balance each other out. Balance comes in two forms; one is symmetrical and the other is asymmetrical. You will notice if the physical appearance of the room does not create a balance. Try adding photos or moving furniture around again to figure out the perfect balance.
4) Use Artwork – Artwork adds many different elements to a room. One element is color, another is depth. Try various pieces of artwork to create visual aspects that furniture simply cannot add to a space. Look at the area that you are decorating and arranging from the viewpoint of an artist or an interior designer. Do not feel like all of your furniture must make exact, perfect lines in the room. Turn tables at diagonals or make couches in a U-shape, and then add artwork behind them that tie the visual aspect together to create a depth to the room that it did not have before.
5) Separate Large Spaces – You can actually make a very large or very oblong room into two different spaces by creating furniture arrangements in circles or groups in each part of the room. Put a table in the middle of one side of the room and surround it with armed chairs and then put a couch facing the other side of the room adjacent to another couch to completely separate the room and make into two different spaces.
When you look at a room without any furniture, artwork, or paint, it may not seem like it, but you can turn it into just about anything you want it to look like with you home furniture and some artwork and home decor. Even very small spaces can be made spacious with the right home furniture setup.

London Apartment – Everything You Need To Know Before Booking A Serviced London Apartment

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words ‘free service’, ‘apartments’ just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realized that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travelers.
What is a serviced apartment?
A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.
All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help….just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.
Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio)
  • Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying £250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at £62.50 per person.
  • Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door.
  • Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that’s it. No deposits, no tenants’ contracts.

Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services.
  • No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room.
  • No pool, massages, saunas like hotels

What to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?
1. Quality of the apartment – make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.
2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.
3. Opening time of the apartments office – doesn’t sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments’ operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.
4. Key delivery by car at the airport? – If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.
5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy – every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.
6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.
7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.
8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don’t expect to spend £80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had £300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (£150 per night less than the usual price) for £300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.
What if I don’t like the apartment when I get there?
If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focused and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.
Your appetite for apartments is now whetted – how do you find London apartments?
1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choices…all within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.
2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like ‘London serviced apartments’ or ‘quality London apartments’ and so on.
3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.
4. Check on Tripadvisor and other customer review websites.
Summary
If you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.

Fashion Styles of the Hijab

The hijab is required dress for many Muslin women and is available in a range of colors, fabrics, and styles, which lets the women adapt the look of the hijab to match a particular style choice or occasion. Also, the hijab style can differ quite significantly around the different regions of the world.
Here are some of the more common styles of the hijab available on the market:
Pashmina: One of the more familiar styles available, the pashmina hijab is manufactured in a light, comfortable fabric, is rectangular shaped and features a variety of design choice, including a comprehensive range of Arabian and Indian designs. A genuine hijab of this type is likely to be highly expensive. Also, it offers a high degree of versatility when worn, with the option to tie, drape, or wrap in its daily or special occasion use.
Single Piece: A very commonly worn style is the single-piece hijab which was first introduced in the Middle East region. It’s a highly durable, comfortable, and practical option, so perfect for women and children to wear as part of their required dress. A hijab in this style is often manufactured in a cotton jersey type fabric and designed to be very easy to put in place. It is basically tubular in shape which makes if very easy to pull over the head.
Long: A long hijab, which is another of the rectangular shaped styles, is likely to be one of the oldest, one of the most flexible, and one of the most favored styles. It is often manufactured in a variety of fabrics, from silk, satin to soft polyester or cotton. It is perfect for those looking for complete flexibility in wearing; the length makes it easy to turn and fold into several different shapes. A luxurious designed hijab can come with a lot of gorgeous designs and styles which run the entire length of the material.
Square: An alternative to the tube or rectangular shaped style is the square hijab, which is frequently worm in parts of Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Common fabrics for this particular hijab include polyester and cotton. It can be completely plain or adorned with a range of patterns and designs. This type of hijab is generally worn by folding the fabric to create a triangle shape, which is then pinned beneath the chin. It is often suggested for those for slim or long face shapes, can look great with minimal fuss and perfect for any occasion.

Standard Home Furniture

Making the best use of standard home furniture
The use of the garden flower pots to enhance the home is a well rehearsed tradition that has a special place in the modern psyche. Of course the suburban landscape with all the identical housing units is a prime example of why people need to create some sort of distinction with the strategic use of decorative items. The blandness of suburbia can be depressing and anyone that is able to escape it with decoration takes the opportunity with relish. The reasons for the apparent dislike of this setting stems from the fact that most of the people really want to be elsewhere. The garden furniture can take them to the home of their dreams.
It must be said that there are people that like the community of suburbia because it happens to exclude some lower ranked members of the community. I would say that these people use the garden accessories as an additional enhancement to their environment. The variety of plants that they can put in will enable them to put that distinction but still announce that they are very much part of the community. Of course if they are to suffer a family scandal then all the garden products in the world will not save them from the scorn of their former friends. You can make a haven in your community or you can decide to be brave and accept it. The less constrained people will simply move out.
One of the areas that should be explored in terms of the garden flower pots is the smell element. For example there is no reason why aromatic plants cannot be put there in order to give the home that extra dimension. It is safe to assume that we generally like to have fresh smells and aromas in our living spaces. The use of the home accessories will bring this quality to the home. They are also visually enticing so you will in effect be appealing to multiple senses. That is the way to deal with the home rather than just restricting yourself to elements that do not fit in with the process. That is how you keep your home happy and stylish.
The size of the green products is open to debate. Some of them are quite tiny that they have no place but the window sill. Others are just large enough to dominate the lawn area. You will choose the items that make the best impact on your home without destroying the essentially integrity that you expect with those items. It is not very difficult to make a selection if you take into consideration the overall size of the space that is available to you to finish this task. The modern items for the home will have a great impact but you have to look for the right items to build them up. You also have to ensure that they are in the right frame to fit in with the rest of the home.

Fashion Style – All About Mehndi Designs

If you ever attend an Indian wedding then you might notice the beautiful tattoos adorning the bride’s hands. These intricate and often floral motifs are part of the Indian culture that symbolize joy, good luck, health and positive vibes and are popularly known as “mehndi” or “henna” in Western countries. The henna paste used comes from natural Hawsonia shrubs. The twigs and leaves are ground to make fine powder which are then mixed with water to form the paste. Today, the mehndi designs are no longer exclusively done for weddings or festivals as one can have it done even without an occasion.
Mehndi Design Types
The motifs and designs of the Mehndi differ depending on a person’s cultural background. The oldest form of Mehndi is the Mughlai design which is distinct among other types as every single curl pattern and dot is emphasized boldly. Every design is meticulous and neatly done showcasing the pattern in a distinctive manner.
An Indian design for example can be easily identified by its complex patterns of flowers, curls, curves with the figure of a peacock or a big dot in the center of the palm. The person’s fingertips are also usually covered with henna designs. Popular designs also include curling vines, teardrop shapes and paisley patterns.
Another type of Mehndi is the Arabic designs which are distinguished with the use of floral arabesques in geometric patterns. The designs are simpler by nature often depicting nature such as leaves and flowers and since the designs are not filled up, it is usually preferred as they dry faster than other design types.
The Moroccan designs are similar to the Arabic pattern but more geometric by nature. The Moroccan style is also different in that designs often have symbolic meanings and are3 used as a protection against evil. Last but not the least is the Pakistani design. This type is a combination of Indian and Arabic design and often worn by brides and children during special festivals.
Choosing Your Designs
As henna tattoos become more popular, many individuals are now becoming interested in Mehndi designs. However, unlike the westernized designs, Mehndi ones differ and depending on one’s comfort zone, designs can cover just the hands or even the entire arm area. Some designs are also used to cover the legs, ankles and other body parts. Designs may also have symbolic meaning while others are for decorative purposes only. Modern symbols, embellishments such as gems and pearls may also be added to make the design more elaborate.

Some Things to Consider When Buying Used Kitchen Furniture

Whether or not you’ve moved into a new home or need some redecorating, you might want to consider purchasing used kitchen furniture instead of buying new ones. Some people find it hard to look for used furniture for the kitchen. However, this task is easy as long as you know the right places where to look.
The classified ads are good places to look for used kitchen furniture. Most of the advertisements under this category can be found there. Most of the time, the ad will contain a condition called the “best offer” which means that bidding is allowed.
Another good place to look is in furniture stores. There are lots of furniture stores that accept trade-ins for kitchen furniture pieces then they include them in their sale inventory. The kitchen furniture section will be a nice place to start. Sometimes, these stores aim to have a quick turn-around on used furniture pieces so do not be surprised when they accept an offer that is less than the offered price.
Apart from this, you can also go to your local used furniture or consignment shop. The pieces of furniture you will find here have either been bought from their owners or directly purchased from estate sales. Just remember that when visiting stores like this, you should still aim for quality, especially when it comes to kitchen furniture. Do not settle for a piece that has a broken or cracked leg, some loose fittings or one that is badly maintained.
Garage sales are excellent places to look too. Used kitchen furniture are common in yard sales and garage sales. Finding a good bargain there is pretty easy as well. In order to find homes that have these garage sales, check your local newspaper listing. These sales usually happen every weekend.
If you are decided on buying used kitchen furniture, you should also advertise your interest. An ad can be placed in your local newspaper or you can also check your local online community if they accept advertisements such as this. For a more personalized look, you can try making a flier and post it all over town and in our neighborhood, completely describing the details of what kind of used furniture you are looking for. Friends and family can also help spread the word around. Explain to them what you are looking for. They might even have the exact thing you are looking for!
One last place to look at is in online classified ads such as Craigslist or eBay. In these sites you will find a number of classifieds by the owners themselves, from used kitchen furniture stores and even from consignment stores. Not many people think that eBay retails lots of items other than clothes. There are many used kitchen furniture pieces to choose from in eBay.
Do remember that you should employ your negotiating skills when you buy used kitchen furniture. You want to get the best price available. By the time you decide to buy one, you should already have a price in mind but will still haggle for a lower price.

Cleaning Up the Dirt – Dust Free Hardwood Flooring Services

All home owners have a dream of setting up a dust free hardwood flooring scheme in their house to provide a sense of durable style that is extremely pleasing to the eye. The advantages of a hardwood floor are numerous, ranging from sheer strength of structural design to an elegant and beautiful aesthetic outlook.
The flooring pattern forms an integral structure of any home and it is a coveted desire for owners to come up with an attractive flooring option that can make their house a figure of admiration and envy for all neighbors. To maintain such a delicate design, it’s essential to have a proper construction and maintenance plan for the entire flooring architecture.
Hardwood floors have an extremely polished look when newly constructed that adds a brilliant shine to the house. However, such floors are extremely sensitive to dust and dirt and keep getting infiltrated by it with the passage of time. After a few months, most floors are dug deep in dust that ruins the original sheen of the flooring and make them look extremely rugged and filthy.
The accumulating dust also damages the entire structural build as the floors start to develop cracks and a creaking sound indicates the slow but steady deterioration of floors. If the floors are not maintained properly, the damage aggravates even further, forcing owners to search for ways to refinish hardwood floors dust free and bring back some of the lost glory.
Many owners try several self oriented methods for proper flooring work to reduce professional expenses but their lack of experience and skill usually help up making matters worse. A concerned owner should always be in contact with a local flooring agency that specializes in offering dust free wood floor refinishing with a technically proficient team.
They utilize several cutting edge technological options to provide owners with the best flooring experience that can last for a long time without any form of maintenance required. Skilled workmen survey the design of the floor and make personal arrangements based on house design. A floor consultant is always in discussion with the customer to decide how to refinish wood floors dust free and present a number of design options to make an attractive finish.
Dust free sanding in Utah help in making spotlessly clean floors by removing all dust particles using a self propelled vacuum system which deposits the dust at a desired point outside the house. Dust free flooring has multiple benefits as the furniture is not ruined by dust and small particles do not get inside electrical items to cause short circuit problems.
The quality of work is excellent which make the floor spotlessly clean and allows the owner to choose personalized floor colors based on individual preferences. The dust free sanding is done by providing high quality materials, giving more owners across Utah and Salt Lake City have access to high quality dust free hardwood flooring services.

Healthcare Plans For Families

Family healthcare plans start with your researching all the types of insurance that fit you particular family needs. From the day a baby is born until old age, family health care is very important. Now is the time to start looking and find insurance coverage for your family if you are currently uninsured.
Five reasons to look for family insurance now.
A lot of companies are no longer offering health benefits to their employees. Don’t take a job just for the benefits it may offer, make a living doing what you truly like and find insurance for yourself and your family on your own.
You never know when an accident could happen and you need a trip to the emergency room for stitches or a broken bone. You can get the medical help you need without worrying about large bills if you have health coverage.
Your credit score may drop if you have problems paying medical expenses. You can avoid that predicament if you have health insurance. Your credit will also be safeguarded for your health and economic future.
With health insurance, you will feel more confident that you can save money without having to worry about emergencies, and how much the medical bill will be.
Options to pay your premiums on a quarterly or yearly basis can result in significant savings in the long run. If your employer offers you insurance, but not your family, this supplement works well for a personal plan while giving the rest of your family a plan for them to ensure their health. Its important for children to have medical screenings as they grow into adults.
What will be the cost of health insurance for you whole family?
You won’t find an answer for this question right off the bat. What you will require to do is seek the coverage plan that suits where you hail, your life style and your medication or physician needs.
Based on the plan that you choose, along with the deductible and the yearly plan you want to set into motion for your managed care you will find a set price on health insurance. Without comparing deductibles, insurance providers, and doctor’s lists, you won’t find a real price from any type of insurance provider.
Think about it along the lines of purchasing car insurance, you have to specify what coverage you want in order to get it on your policy. The same rule applies for the health insurance for your family. Specify what you want so that your medical plan can be catered to your needs.

Health Savings Accounts – An American Innovation in Health Insurance

INTRODUCTION – The term “health insurance” is commonly used in the United States to describe any program that helps pay for medical expenses, whether through privately purchased insurance, social insurance or a non-insurance social welfare program funded by the government. Synonyms for this usage include “health coverage,” “health care coverage” and “health benefits” and “medical insurance.” In a more technical sense, the term is used to describe any form of insurance that provides protection against injury or illness.
In America, the health insurance industry has changed rapidly during the last few decades. In the 1970’s most people who had health insurance had indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance is often called fee-forservice. It is the traditional health insurance in which the medical provider (usually a doctor or hospital) is paid a fee for each service provided to the patient covered under the policy. An important category associated with the indemnity plans is that of consumer driven health care (CDHC). Consumer-directed health plans allow individuals and families to have greater control over their health care, including when and how they access care, what types of care they receive and how much they spend on health care services.
These plans are however associated with higher deductibles that the insured have to pay from their pocket before they can claim insurance money. Consumer driven health care plans include Health Reimbursement Plans (HRAs), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), high deductible health plans (HDHps), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Of these, the Health Savings Accounts are the most recent and they have witnessed rapid growth during the last decade.
WHAT IS A HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT?
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to taxpayers in the United States. The funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. These may be used to pay for qualified medical expenses at any time without federal tax liability.
Another feature is that the funds contributed to Health Savings Account roll over and accumulate year over year if not spent. These can be withdrawn by the employees at the time of retirement without any tax liabilities. Withdrawals for qualified expenses and interest earned are also not subject to federal income taxes. According to the U.S. Treasury Office, ‘A Health Savings Account is an alternative to traditional health insurance; it is a savings product that offers a different way for consumers to pay for their health care.
HSA’s enable you to pay for current health expenses and save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.’ Thus the Health Savings Account is an effort to increase the efficiency of the American health care system and to encourage people to be more responsible and prudent towards their health care needs. It falls in the category of consumer driven health care plans.
Origin of Health Savings Account
The Health Savings Account was established under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act passed by the U.S. Congress in June 2003, by the Senate in July 2003 and signed by President Bush on December 8, 2003.
Eligibility –
The following individuals are eligible to open a Health Savings Account –
– Those who are covered by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
– Those not covered by other health insurance plans.
– Those not enrolled in Medicare4.
Also there are no income limits on who may contribute to an HAS and there is no requirement of having earned income to contribute to an HAS. However HAS’s can’t be set up by those who are dependent on someone else’s tax return. Also HSA’s cannot be set up independently by children.
What is a High Deductible Health plan (HDHP)?
Enrollment in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is a necessary qualification for anyone wishing to open a Health Savings Account. In fact the HDHPs got a boost by the Medicare Modernization Act which introduced the HSAs. A High Deductible Health Plan is a health insurance plan which has a certain deductible threshold. This limit must be crossed before the insured person can claim insurance money. It does not cover first dollar medical expenses. So an individual has to himself pay the initial expenses that are called out-of-pocket costs.
In a number of HDHPs costs of immunization and preventive health care are excluded from the deductible which means that the individual is reimbursed for them. HDHPs can be taken both by individuals (self employed as well as employed) and employers. In 2008, HDHPs are being offered by insurance companies in America with deductibles ranging from a minimum of $1,100 for Self and $2,200 for Self and Family coverage. The maximum amount out-of-pocket limits for HDHPs is $5,600 for self and $11,200 for Self and Family enrollment. These deductible limits are called IRS limits as they are set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In HDHPs the relation between the deductibles and the premium paid by the insured is inversely proportional i.e. higher the deductible, lower the premium and vice versa. The major purported advantages of HDHPs are that they will a) lower health care costs by causing patients to be more cost-conscious, and b) make insurance premiums more affordable for the uninsured. The logic is that when the patients are fully covered (i.e. have health plans with low deductibles), they tend to be less health conscious and also less cost conscious when going for treatment.
Opening a Health Savings Account
An individual can sign up for HSAs with banks, credit unions, insurance companies and other approved companies. However not all insurance companies offer HSA qualified health insurance plans so it is important to use an insurance company that offers this type of qualified insurance plan. The employer may also set up a plan for the employees. However, the account is always owned by the individual. Direct online enrollment in HSA qualified health insurance is available in all states except Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Contributions to the Health Savings Account
Contributions to HSAs can be made by an individual who owns the account, by an employer or by any other person. When made by the employer, the contribution is not included in the income of the employee. When made by an employee, it is treated as exempted from federal tax. For 2008, the maximum amount that can be contributed (and deducted) to an HSA from all sources is:
$2,900 (self-only coverage)
$5,800 (family coverage)
These limits are set by the U.S. Congress through statutes and they are indexed annually for inflation. For individuals above 55 years of age, there is a special catch up provision that allows them to deposit additional $800 for 2008 and $900 for 2009. The actual maximum amount an individual can contribute also depends on the number of months he is covered by an HDHP (pro-rated basis) as of the first day of a month. For eg If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, then cease having HDHP coverage, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 of $5,800, or $2,900 for 2008. If you have family HDHP coverage from January 1,2008 until June 30, 2008, and have self-only HDHP coverage from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008, you are allowed an HSA contribution of 6/12 x $5,800 plus 6/12 of $2,900, or $4,350 for 2008. If an individual opens an HDHP on the first day of a month, then he can contribute to HSA on the first day itself. However, if he/she opens an account on any other day than the first, then he can contribute to the HSA from the next month onwards. Contributions can be made as late as April 15 of the following year. Contributions to the HSA in excess of the contribution limits must be withdrawn by the individual or be subject to an excise tax. The individual must pay income tax on the excess withdrawn amount.
Contributions by the Employer
The employer can make contributions to the employee’s HAS account under a salary reduction plan known as Section 125 plan. It is also called a cafeteria plan. The contributions made under the cafeteria plan are made on a pre-tax basis i.e. they are excluded from the employee’s income. The employer must make the contribution on a comparable basis. Comparable contributions are contributions to all HSAs of an employer which are 1) the same amount or 2) the same percentage of the annual deductible. However, part time employees who work for less than 30 hours a week can be treated separately. The employer can also categorize employees into those who opt for self coverage only and those who opt for a family coverage. The employer can automatically make contributions to the HSAs on the behalf of the employee unless the employee specifically chooses not to have such contributions by the employer.
Withdrawals from the HSAs
The HSA is owned by the employee and he/she can make qualified expenses from it whenever required. He/She also decides how much to contribute to it, how much to withdraw for qualified expenses, which company will hold the account and what type of investments will be made to grow the account. Another feature is that the funds remain in the account and role over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. The HSA participants do not have to obtain advance approval from their HSA trustee or their medical insurer to withdraw funds, and the funds are not subject to income taxation if made for ‘qualified medical expenses’. Qualified medical expenses include costs for services and items covered by the health plan but subject to cost sharing such as a deductible and coinsurance, or co-payments, as well as many other expenses not covered under medical plans, such as dental, vision and chiropractic care; durable medical equipment such as eyeglasses and hearing aids; and transportation expenses related to medical care. Nonprescription, over-the-counter medications are also eligible. However, qualified medical expense must be incurred on or after the HSA was established.
Tax free distributions can be taken from the HSA for the qualified medical expenses of the person covered by the HDHP, the spouse (even if not covered) of the individual and any dependent (even if not covered) of the individual.12 The HSA account can also be used to pay previous year’s qualified expenses subject to the condition that those expenses were incurred after the HSA was set up. The individual must preserve the receipts for expenses met from the HSA as they may be needed to prove that the withdrawals from the HSA were made for qualified medical expenses and not otherwise used. Also the individual may have to produce the receipts before the insurance company to prove that the deductible limit was met. If a withdrawal is made for unqualified medical expenses, then the amount withdrawn is considered taxable (it is added to the individuals income) and is also subject to an additional 10 percent penalty. Normally the money also cannot be used for paying medical insurance premiums. However, in certain circumstances, exceptions are allowed.
These are –
1) to pay for any health plan coverage while receiving federal or state unemployment benefits.
2) COBRA continuation coverage after leaving employment with a company that offers health insurance coverage.
3) Qualified long-term care insurance.
4) Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance for: Part A (hospital and inpatient services), Part B (physician and outpatient services), Part C (Medicare HMO and PPO plans) and Part D (prescription drugs).
However, if an individual dies, becomes disabled or reaches the age of 65, then withdrawals from the Health Savings Account are considered exempted from income tax and additional 10 percent penalty irrespective of the purpose for which those withdrawals are made. There are different methods through which funds can be withdrawn from the HSAs. Some HSAs provide account holders with debit cards, some with cheques and some have options for a reimbursement process similar to medical insurance.
Growth of HSAs
Ever since the Health Savings Accounts came into being in January 2004, there has been a phenomenal growth in their numbers. From around 1 million enrollees in March 2005, the number has grown to 6.1 million enrollees in January 2008.14 This represents an increase of 1.6 million since January 2007, 2.9 million since January 2006 and 5.1 million since March 2005. This growth has been visible across all segments. However, the growth in large groups and small groups has been much higher than in the individual category. According to the projections made by the U.S. Treasury Department, the number of HSA policy holders will increase to 14 million by 2010. These 14 million policies will provide cover to 25 to 30 million U.S. citizens.
In the Individual Market, 1.5 million people were covered by HSA/HDHPs purchased as on January 2008. Based on the number of covered lives, 27 percent of newly purchased individual policies (defined as those purchased during the most recent full month or quarter) were enrolled in HSA/HDHP coverage. In the small group market, enrollment stood at 1.8 million as of January 2008. In this group 31 percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category. The large group category had the largest enrollment with 2.8 million enrollees as of January 2008. In this category, six percent of all new enrollments were in the HSA/HDHP category.
Benefits of HSAs
The proponents of HSAs envisage a number of benefits from them. First and foremost it is believed that as they have a high deductible threshold, the insured will be more health conscious. Also they will be more cost conscious. The high deductibles will encourage people to be more careful about their health and health care expenses and will make them shop for bargains and be more vigilant against excesses in the health care industry. This, it is believed, will reduce the growing cost of health care and increase the efficiency of the health care system in the United States. HSA-eligible plans typically provide enrolled decision support tools that include, to some extent, information on the cost of health care services and the quality of health care providers. Experts suggest that reliable information about the cost of particular health care services and the quality of specific health care providers would help enrolls become more actively engaged in making health care purchasing decisions. These tools may be provided by health insurance carriers to all health insurance plan enrolls, but are likely to be more important to enrolls of HSA-eligible plans who have a greater financial incentive to make informed decisions about the quality and costs of health care providers and services.
It is believed that lower premiums associated with HSAs/HDHPs will enable more people to enroll for medical insurance. This will mean that lower income groups who do not have access to medicare will be able to open HSAs. No doubt higher deductibles are associated with HSA eligible HDHPs, but it is estimated that tax savings under HSAs and lower premiums will make them less expensive than other insurance plans. The funds put in the HSA can be rolled over from year to year. There are no use it or lose it rules. This leads to a growth in savings of the account holder. The funds can be accumulated tax free for future medical expenses if the holder so desires. Also the savings in the HSA can be grown through investments.
The nature of such investments is decided by the insured. The earnings on savings in the HSA are also exempt from income tax. The holder can withdraw his savings in the HSA after turning 65 years old without paying any taxes or penalties. The account holder has complete control over his/her account. He/She is the owner of the account right from its inception. A person can withdraw money as and when required without any gatekeeper. Also the owner decides how much to put in his/her account, how much to spend and how much to save for the future. The HSAs are portable in nature. This means that if the holder changes his/her job, becomes unemployed or moves to another location, he/she can still retain the account.
Also if the account holder so desires he can transfer his Health Saving Account from one managing agency to another. Thus portability is an advantage of HSAs. Another advantage is that most HSA plans provide first-dollar coverage for preventive care. This is true of virtually all HSA plans offered by large employers and over 95% of the plans offered by small employers. It was also true of over half (59%) of the plans which were purchased by individuals.
All of the plans offering first-dollar preventive care benefits included annual physicals, immunizations, well-baby and well-child care, mammograms and Pap tests; 90% included prostate cancer screenings and 80% included colon cancer screenings. Some analysts believe that HSAs are more beneficial for the young and healthy as they do not have to pay frequent out of pocket costs. On the other hand, they have to pay lower premiums for HDHPs which help them meet unforeseen contingencies.
Health Savings Accounts are also advantageous for the employers. The benefits of choosing a health Savings Account over a traditional health insurance plan can directly affect the bottom line of an employer’s benefit budget. For instance Health Savings Accounts are dependent on a high deductible insurance policy, which lowers the premiums of the employee’s plan. Also all contributions to the Health Savings Account are pre-tax, thus lowering the gross payroll and reducing the amount of taxes the employer must pay.
Criticism of HSAs
The opponents of Health Savings Accounts contend that they would do more harm than good to America’s health insurance system. Some consumer organizations, such as Consumers Union, and many medical organizations, such as the American Public Health Association, have rejected HSAs because, in their opinion, they benefit only healthy, younger people and make the health care system more expensive for everyone else. According to Stanford economist Victor Fuchs, “The main effect of putting more of it on the consumer is to reduce the social re-distributive element of insurance.
Some others believe that HSAs remove healthy people from the insurance pool and it makes premiums rise for everyone left. HSAs encourage people to look out for themselves more and spread the risk around less. Another concern is that the money people save in HSAs will be inadequate. Some people believe that HSAs do not allow for enough savings to cover costs. Even the person who contributes the maximum and never takes any money out would not be able to cover health care costs in retirement if inflation continues in the health care industry.
Opponents of HSAs, also include distinguished figures like state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, who called them a “dangerous prescription” that will destabilize the health insurance marketplace and make things even worse for the uninsured. Another criticism is that they benefit the rich more than the poor. Those who earn more will be able to get bigger tax breaks than those who earn less. Critics point out that higher deductibles along with insurance premiums will take away a large share of the earnings of the low income groups. Also lower income groups will not benefit substantially from tax breaks as they are already paying little or no taxes. On the other hand tax breaks on savings in HSAs and on further income from those HSA savings will cost billions of dollars of tax money to the exchequer.
The Treasury Department has estimated HSAs would cost the government $156 billion over a decade. Critics say that this could rise substantially. Several surveys have been conducted regarding the efficacy of the HSAs and some have found that the account holders are not particularly satisfied with the HSA scheme and many are even ignorant about the working of the HSAs. One such survey conducted in 2007 of American employees by the human resources consulting firm Towers Perrin showed satisfaction with account based health plans (ABHPs) was low. People were not happy with them in general compared with people with more traditional health care. Respondents said they were not comfortable with the risk and did not understand how it works.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, early experience with HAS eligible high-deductible health plans reveals low satisfaction, high out of- pocket costs, and cost-related access problems. Another survey conducted with the Employee Benefits Research Institute found that people enrolled in HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans were much less satisfied with many aspects of their health care than adults in more comprehensive plans People in these plans allocate substantial amounts of income to their health care, especially those who have poorer health or lower incomes. The survey also found that adults in high-deductible health plans are far more likely to delay or avoid getting needed care, or to skip medications, because of the cost. Problems are particularly pronounced among those with poorer health or lower incomes.
Political leaders have also been vocal about their criticism of the HSAs. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. issued the following statement criticizing the HSAs “The President’s health care plan is not about covering the uninsured, making health insurance affordable, or even driving down the cost of health care. Its real purpose is to make it easier for businesses to dump their health insurance burden onto workers, give tax breaks to the wealthy, and boost the profits of banks and financial brokers. The health care policies concocted at the behest of special interests do nothing to help the average American. In many cases, they can make health care even more inaccessible.” In fact a report of the U.S. governments Accountability office, published on April 1, 2008 says that the rate of enrollment in the HSAs is greater for higher income individuals than for lower income ones.
A study titled “Health Savings Accounts and High Deductible Health Plans: Are They an Option for Low-Income Families? By Catherine Hoffman and Jennifer Tolbert which was sponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation reported the following key findings regarding the HSAs:
a) Premiums for HSA qualified health plans may be lower than for traditional insurance, but these plans shift more of the financial risk to individuals and families through higher deductibles.
b) Premiums and out-of-pocket costs for HSA qualified health plans would consume a substantial portion of a low-income family’s budget.
c) Most low-income individuals and families do not face high enough tax liability to benefit in a significant way from tax deductions associated with HSAs.
d) People with chronic conditions, disabilities, and others with high cost medical needs may face even greater out-of-pocket costs under HSA qualified health plans.
e) Cost-sharing reduces the use of health care, especially primary and preventive services, and low-income individuals and those who are sicker are particularly sensitive to cost-sharing increases.
f) Health savings accounts and high deductible plans are unlikely to substantially increase health insurance coverage among the uninsured.
Choosing a Health Plan
Despite the advantages offered by the HSA, it may not be suitable for everyone. While choosing an insurance plan, an individual must consider the following factors:
1. The premiums to be paid.
2. Coverage/benefits available under the scheme.
3. Various exclusions and limitations.
4. Portability.
5. Out-of-pocket costs like coinsurance, co-pays, and deductibles.
6. Access to doctors, hospitals, and other providers.
7. How much and sometimes how one pays for care.
8. Any existing health issue or physical disability.
9. Type of tax savings available.
The plan you choose should according to your requirements and financial ability.

Slash Thousands From Your Business Travel

When it comes to your business travel we all know that this comes write out of your bottom line, but in order to keep good customer relations this is something that you must do. One of the most common things to do is to hire a business travel manager to handle all your business travel arrangements.
Did you realize that the median salary for a business travel manager is $73,000.00 per year? (FACT) Where’s the savings?
The best way to slash thousands from your travel expenses is to out source. You can have a travel agency do the same things as a business travel manager without spending thousands doing it. By having a travel agency handle your travel arrangements, you can save anywhere from 80 to 90% depending on how many traveler’s you have. By doing this makes your bottom line more profitable.
Let me ask you, would you rather spend 73,000 or 10,000?
The responsibilities of a travel manager are to choose transportation and lodging for company employees, advise about passport and visa requirements, rates of currency exchange, all things that a travel agent is already doing. Additional perks of hiring a travel agent is they can handle convention planning and group vacation organization for employees.
One of the best benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager is that a travel agent is offered reduced travel rates from preferred vendors as to where a business travel manager is not.
By out sourcing and hiring a travel agent over a travel manager, you are not only saving from paying a large salary, but you also save by not having to provide benefits such as health care and retirement. These could easily bring the cost of hiring a business travel manager to well over $100,000.00 a year. That’s Insane!!!
There are so many more benefits from hiring a travel agent over a business travel manager because they are so much more knowledgeable in the travel industry. How, when, and where travel is booked whether online or offline is very important when it comes to saving money on your business travel. These are techniques that only travel agents will know because they deal directly with travel vendors. Nine times out of ten a business travel manager will either call a travel agent or go to a travel agent’s web site for their information.(FACT)
Haven’t we learned in the past couple of years that foolish spending is not the way to go? Look at what it has done to big business. It’s time we get smart and trim the wasted fat. Wouldn’t you rather spend the money growing your business than hiring someone that’s probably looking out for them self rather the company?
When looking for a travel service for your company make sure that they have incentive and rewards programs. Look for a service that has the customer’s best interest at heart.
I understand that customer service must come first in order to have long standing business relations. I want to help you to accomplish this same goal.