What's Your Policy?
When Pam Daly co-founded marketing firm DK & Associates, she and her partner relied on their spouses' low-cost corporate employee benefits for their health insurance. Daly, 44, didn't offer health benefits to employees at the $2 million company because the small-group rate approached $2,000 a month per person.
"Even if we paid half of that, it was going to be too much for our employees to take on," says Daly of her Nashville, Tennessee, company. "But as we kept adding employees, we kept saying, 'We have to do something about this health insurance thing.'"
After Daly's husband moved to a small company, monthly premiums for her family of three soared to $800. Searching for options, she found a suitable individual policy for $330 a month. "I thought, 'This is something we need to do for our employees,'" says Daly. She began reimbursing her six employees up to $300 a month for coverage they obtain on their own. "It has worked out great," she says. "The employees get the kind of insurance coverage they want, and as far as benefits, the individual policies are better than what we were able to get with a group." With recent numbers from payroll firm SurePayroll showing a dramatic 32 percent drop in the number of small businesses offering health insurance over the past two years, it's no secret why entrepreneurs like this idea. "It's easier for entrepreneurs to fix [their] costs by giving employees a certain amount a year rather than putting together a health plan and having to manage costs [they] have relatively little control over," says J.D. Piro, head of health law consulting at HR services company Hewitt Associates.
Individual plans in some states are cheaper than group plans because of mandated minimum coverage requirements, Piro says. But group plans still offer advantages; for example, groups can't refuse to cover individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Still, for many entrepreneurs, Daly's approach makes sense. Says Piro, "There is an emerging sense that there is an option to do what we call the exit strategy: Give the money to your employees and exit the health-care business."
Need a Ride? Just Hail a Jet
If you live in a big city and most of your business travel takes you to other big cities, bully for you; you've got the advantages of flight frequency and choice. But if your situation is the reverse, there's no simple there-and-back. Unless you're the rare entrepreneur who can afford private aviation, your life is full of connecting flights and long waits. That's why the air taxi concept is resonating so loudly with road warriors. Like street taxis, air taxis provide transportation on demand. Providers, including ImagineAir and Linear Air, use small airports in major metropolitan areas for their fleets of VLJs (very light jets). Besides being convenient--they're airborne in a matter of minutes and stop only where you want to--air taxis are also affordable. Three passengers on ImagineAir can fly from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a morning business meeting, on to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, for an afternoon round of golf, and back to Atlanta for dinner. With the ImagineFare discount for same-day travel, the total flight cost is just over $2,000 for three people. Meanwhile, you avoid the hassles of typical point-to-point travel. For more information about air taxis and VLJs, check out the Air Taxi Association website, atxa.com.
Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.