Health Travel to Mexico Growing Due to Availability of Safe, Affordable, High-Quality Options

With the skyrocketing costs of health care, the issue of health travel or “medical tourism” has been generating lots of buzz in the media. Within the last few weeks, stories about health travel have hit the pages of publications like US News & World, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, detailing how health travel offers people high quality health care at a price far more affordable than the US. It’s a benefit without boundaries – meaning, the cost savings are for anyone who wants them, including the thousands of insured who are nevertheless facing higher premiums, reduced coverage, and higher out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.

While much of the press has focused on exotic locales like India, Mexico is actually the most common destination for Americans traveling for health care. Last year alone more than 50,000 Americans traveled to Mexico seeking everything from heart surgery, hip replacement, cosmetic dentistry, cosmetic surgery procedures, preventive screenings and even homeopathic health treatments. Mexico is widely recognized for its number of leading gastroenterology (weight loss) surgeons.

In its study Medical Tourism: Consumers In Search of Value, Deloitte estimates the number of medical travelers is expected to reach 6 million per year in 2009. The growth is not surprising – the typical medical traveler receive outstanding quality health care at significantly lower cost over U.S. pricing.

For example, in Mexico, weight loss surgery ranges from $6,000-$11,500 vs. the $25-35,000 price tag in the U.S. Hip replacement is $10,000-$12,000, compared to $60,000+ in the U.S. A $100,000 angioplasty in the U.S. is $25,000 in Mexico – featuring a surgeon who regularly spends at least three months of his operating time in the U.S.

Mexico offers the additional benefit of having direct flights from many U.S cities, and most surgeons are fluent in English as well as Spanish. The hospitals that welcome medical tourists are sleek, modern affairs featuring amenities such as patient suites, sushi restaurants and a medical traveler concierge, while even newer, more sophisticated hospitals continue to be built.

Do your research to find the medical tourism company that best suits your needs. There are companies that guide patients through the process of getting medical treatment abroad, handling every detail of your trip – from insurance to financing, arranging for air travel, accommodations, appointments, transportation to and from your procedure and even keeping you in touch with friends and family.

To Be Better At Leading Change

70% of all change initiatives fail.

That’s a pretty startling statistic. Especially when you consider how important change is. I mean, we all acknowledge this, right? There aren’t many organizations out there saying, “You know what we need to do? We need to maintain the status quo, and we need to do it now!”

Every breakthrough involves change. Every innovation involves change. Every new product, policy, or service that moves you ahead of the competition involves change.

So change is vitally important-and yet 70% of change initiatives fail.

Why is that?

It’s because the people leading change don’t play the long game.

To put it another way, they declare victory too soon. Here’s why.

Change is difficult. There’s no getting around that. Change can be messy and uncertain-especially when you’re right in the middle of it. As Harvard professor and author of The Change Masters Rosabeth Moss Kanter puts it, “Everything can look like a failure in the middle.”

In fact, the middle part of change-the messy, uncertain part-can be so painful that we declare victory the instant we’re through it. It’s as if, as soon as we start to see light at the end of the tunnel, we wipe our brow, give each other a high five, and say, “Whew! That’s done!”

But it’s not done. Yes, you’ve made it through the messy part, but you haven’t anchored the change. It’s not yet a part of the culture. It hasn’t “stuck.”

You played the short game.

The truth is, change is a long game. The average successful corporate change initiative is a seven-year process-of which years three, four, and five are the messy part. But notice that there are still two years of anchoring left before the change sticks, before it becomes part of the culture.

It’s the part after the messy part that determines whether or not your change initiative will last.

So what, as a leader, do you do during this part?

You reinforce the change.

You actively look for any and every positive outcome that is a result of the change, and you become relentless about communicating these outcomes to the team. You have to be the one connecting the dots of success back to the change because, left to their own, your team members will not make the connection.

Only by reinforcing the change can you anchor the change, and only by anchoring the change can you make the change truly stick.

And once you do this, you’ll be in that exclusive club of leaders whose change initiatives succeed.

Procurement Skills: How To Demonstrate Your Value To Your Organisation

As procurement professionals we have to continually demonstrate our value to our organization by focusing on the key activities that deliver the most added benefits. What gets in the way of doing this is the myriad of other things that we have to do each day. Often there is more to do than we are able to achieve in the time available to us.

At this point we need a good process for prioritizing our tasks, planning our work and working our plan. The best analogy I have ever heard on prioritizing work came from Stephen Covey; it is called the “rocks, pebbles and sand” analogy for time management.

The story as told by Mr Covey is that an expert was addressing a group of business students. He reached beneath the desk to produce a large glass container and proceeded to fill it with rocks. When he could fit no more in he asked the group whether the container was full to which the group replied yes it was.

He then produced some pebbles and through a process of shaking the container managed to fit them all in the gaps between the rocks. Similarly, he managed to fill the gaps between the pebbles with sand. The group then thought the container was full until the expert successfully poured a jug of water into the container.

The lesson of this story is clear. If the container represents the time we have available to us in a period of time and the rocks, pebbles, sand and water represent the tasks we have to carry out then we can only do them all if we do the rocks first and the rest in order of size. In other words, start with your biggest tasks first and only go to the next level of tasks once the big ones are complete. If you do the tasks the other way round, you will never get to the big rocks (tasks).

So what are the big rocks that procurement professionals need to do first before they give their attention to the smaller tasks? I would suggest the following:-

  • Understanding your supply markets – what is their scope, who are the major players, are they growing or declining, is there scope to bring in new entrants and so on.
  • Understanding the demand for products and services in your organization and how this relates to your supply market knowledge. For example, is there a need to develop a particular market by stimulating innovation or attracting new entrants?
  • Organizing price and cost analyses and carrying out bench-marking exercises to understand the opportunities for savings. This might be linked to value analysis and value engineering exercises.
  • Carrying out supply chain risk assessments so that you understand the potential vulnerability for your organization and then put in place effective monitoring and mitigation.
  • Working with key suppliers to bring about product, service and cost innovations, improve delivery processes and carry out joint planning and product/service co-design (all part of a supplier relationship management program).
  • Building effective working relationships with other parts of your organization.
  • Measuring performance (both the procurement organization and suppliers) as the basis of designing and delivering improvement programs.
  • Continually improving your capability through knowledge exchange, training courses and coaching.

Do these big rock activities well and you will show your organization what great value you can add. This then becomes a “no brainer” case for investing in more resource to do the other, smaller tasks if you can’t do them all yourself.

Is Your Health Portfolio Balanced?

We are all aware of the need to balance our financial portfolio so that in times of hardship or when disaster strikes — stock market drops, pink slips, etc — we will be affected by financial challenges as little as possible. Having a substantial bank account allows us many opportunities that people with lesser financial savvy and preparation must for ego.

Perhaps you are at a “comfortable” financial level, able to pay off bills and credit cards timely, and have enough disposable income to enjoy a good quality of life. Perhaps you enjoy an “extremely high” financial level, with unending “toys”, travel when and where you want, and other opportunities for the “good life”. Either way you are able to handle sudden financial challenges and able to take advantage of financial opportunities as they come your way. Feels good, doesn’t it?

But what about your health portfolio? When faced with challenges such as a cold, flu season, children’s ear infections, etc. do you just accept them as part of life? What about when disaster strikes in the form of a serious health challenge to you or a family member. Is your health bank account equipped to fight back?

In the United States, the average age of disability (when quality of life becomes so poor that you need help for daily activities of living) is 65 years old. Modern medicine is providing miracles in keeping us alive longer — increasing our “lifespan”. But what about the quality of our lives? If we want to continue our “health span” along with our “lifespan”, it is imperative to raise the level of our health bank account as well as balance our health portfolio.

If you think the cost of health care has gone through the roof now, wait until the majority of baby boomers reach the “age of disability”. Now is the time to take a serious look at your own health bank account and ask “Do I have all the energy I need each day?”, “What is my ‘cushion’ in case of serious illness?” and “Does my health portfolio need balancing?”

Rug Repair and Restoration – Are They Worth It?

As time progresses, our rugs will begin to accumulate more and more damage. It will not be noticeable at first, but give it about a few years or so and you will begin to see the difference, and feel it. Another thing that you should be concerned about is how dirty your carpet becomes as it ages. Dust is a carpet’s number one enemy and there is also the occasional mold infestation that you have to deal with as well.

The dirtier your rug becomes, the harder it will be to clean it and the more expensive it will become as well. The amount of work that needs to be done on your rug will depend entirely on its age and overall value. There is also the other huge question of whether to clean the rug or just throw it away. Such is the life of a rug owner, wouldn’t you agree?

Seeing a tear or any form of damage on a rug can be quite hard to swallow, especially if that rug happens to be an antique or an oriental carpet, both of which cost a ton of money. If the rug that you have is of a high quality, then you will need to have a real expert take care of it. Experts that have a lot of knowledge about your rug’s fabric, weaving, color, and texture can really do it a lot of justice. Improper handling during rug repair can really decrease your rug’s overall value. You see, antique rugs should be considered as masterpieces because unless they are taken great care of, they will easily get tarnished.

Rug restoration, on the other hand, is more suited for antique rugs which have patches that have already been worn out or fabric that has suffered from fading due to age. A pro can help you reform any tears or holes that your rug might have on its body and edges, repair worn away pile, and reweave the area where the pile has worn away. The main objective in rug repair and restoration should always be trying to maintain the rug’s authenticity.

Rug restoration and repair can be time consuming, expensive, and difficult which leaves us wondering if it is indeed really worth the risk. How exactly do you decide on whether to fix your rug or replace it with a new one instead? In this case, the true test is to see which option is going to be more expensive. There are times when the price of rug repair will be more expensive than getting a new rug, so in this case it is better to just buy a new one. But as far as antique rugs go, they should definitely be restored because they grow in value as time goes on, so you basically don’t have a choice.

Atlanta Apartment Rents

Apartment rents are a major concern for a person looking for an apartment for short- or long-term accommodations in core business centers such as Atlanta. Apartments are recent additions to this business center, and these offer move-in rent concessions or post-construction rent concessions. These concessions temporarily dilute the overall average rental structure.

Mostly, low rates forced developers and landlords lease the apartments at a lower rate and by piling on concessions. Many apartment management companies still offer concessions, such as a month’s free rent or waived security deposits. Sometimes even four months free rent is allowed. Rental concessions are available for older apartments as well.

In Atlanta, high-rise luxury apartments account for the majority of rental types. Furnished and unfurnished apartments are available for the native community as well as job seekers or students from other states and abroad. Generally, the Atlanta apartment market has switched to a lower rate corresponding to a weak job market. Negative absorption and positive absorption are two other conditions affecting the rate of apartment rents. Negative absorption tends to decrease the rental rate, while positive absorption will increase the rental rate.

In the Atlanta metropolitan area, the monthly rent rate of one-bedroom apartments is higher than that of two- or three-bedroom apartments. These are specific areas where apartments are built to cater to various socioeconomic groups with distinct administrative or natural boundaries. These apartment markets always show a big difference in rent levels. Some recent natural disasters have also affected the normal rental rates in Atlanta.

The National Real Estate Index reports that there has been a slight decrease in rent for class A apartments in Atlanta. Atlanta apartment rents show some seasonal and business up-down rates. The suburban apartments are more feasible and profitable for those who wish for a quiet life. Urban apartment units such as elevator buildings or loft conversions with extra facilities such as a parking area, fitness center, and swimming pool cost about 50 percent more than those in suburbs.

Atlanta Apartment Brokers

The real estate industry in Atlanta is very well organized and governed by several laws. Real estate brokers have an excellent presence in the industry. They provide invaluable service to buyers, sellers, tenants, and landlords. Brokers are the medium that brings these two disparate groups together. They charge a commission for their services. Brokers maintain a record of houses available in their area of operation and offer services like showing the property, evaluating it, arranging for contacts for mortgages and the like. People generally leave their details with real estate brokers and they contact you when property that suits your specifications comes up for sale/purchase/rental.

Real estate brokers in Atlanta are required by law to possess a license and to get it upgraded at regular intervals. To do this they have to pass an exam. This reassures a prospective buyer/seller/landlord/tenant that he/she is dealing with a qualified person who knows his job. As any kind of malpractice can result in their licenses being revoked it is highly unlikely that one will be cheated by a broker. When property is bought and sold it is the seller who pays the broker’s commission.

From the broker’s point of view positive feedback from people who have used his services can get him new clients. In addition to this if brokers take up membership with organizations like National Association of Realtors and Association of Real Estate License Law Officials and the like, it can go a long way in helping them further their career.

Real estate brokers can be easily contacted through their Web sites. A little time spent browsing through apartment Web sites on the Internet will bring you rewarding results. It will equip you with information regarding the various options open to you and it will lead you to the broker who can get you what you want.

Canada & Australia Immigration – Tips to Get Your PR Visa Faster

It is very obvious that when you want to settle in vibrant countries like Canada or Australia, you are keen to have your visa processed at a faster pace. In case of the temporary visas, you can do nothing but depend upon the employer to complete his job related formalities. But, when it comes to processing of permanent residency visas, the ball is always in your court. Permanent resident visas of these countries are issued considering the points applicant can score under respective immigration system. These points are often affected by time, age, work experience, education, spouse skills etc., and these factors eventually effect the success of the visa application. To ensure that your process is smooth and at a faster pace, here are three most important tips to be followed.

Tip No. 1: Apply at the right time-
It may seem astonishing to read but time is certainly a crucial factor in PR visa application. Under the time factor, application can be affected in the following manners:

  • Age: At the time of your application, if you are young you are more successful. This is because these countries have a high demand for professionals who are young (preferably 18yrs-25 yrs). Hence, to settle in Canada or Australia by getting yourself a higher preference and also great career prospects, apply when you are in your most demanded age range.
  • Peak Months: According to research, the best time to apply for Australia immigration is in the months of February and July. These two months are considered peak time for submitting Australia immigration. It is said that often applications during these peak months are associated with higher success results.
  • Intake Periods: Several provinces or States migration programs of each country have specific intake periods of PNP/State nomination applications. Keeping the nomination applications ready before these intake periods often results in quicker intake, improving chances for a quick visa.

Tip No. 2: Boost your CRS Score-
You may be aware of the fact that Canada & Australia have an immigration system that operates through a points based structure. Candidate’s eligibility as well as success for an international permanent residency status majorly depends on how well he can score under the points based system. If you believe that your score is hindering the success of your application, here are some ways by which you can improve your points.

    • Improve qualification: To improve your score, the best and easiest thing you can do is improve your qualification. If you a graduate, a higher degree will eventually increase your score and preferences for selection. Likewise, any certification or diploma that boosts your nominated occupations will also be a good step towards a score improvement.
    • Enhance work experience: Highest work experience candidates get good points under Canada and Australia’s points based system. If you have a chance to improve your work experience before your application or while your application is in process, go ahead, work hard and update. This may eventually increase your score and chances for a quicker visa.
    • Re-attempt IELTS: To become an international permanent resident, applicants must prove their proficiency level in the English language. For this IELTS is mandatory. As an applicant, if your IELTS score is what is delaying the process or getting you less score, re-attempt your IELTS. The best suggestion for improved results is to go for an expert help in preparation for IELTS.
    • Include Partner Skills: If your spouse or common law partner is accompanying your immigration, it is best to include his/her skills in the application, provided that she/he is eligible. This is because PR visa applicants are allotted with additional points for partner skills and this eventually increases points.

Try State/Province Nomination: If you meet the eligibility requirements of a respective State or Province, applying for a State Nomination increase will increase your points and also boost your chance for quick visa success.

Tip No. 3: Get Expert Assistance-
Despite all your efforts, if you are still unable to fetch those great points to buck-up your process, then you may missing something that only an expert eye can catch. Get in touch with your city’s best immigration experts and get counseled about the aspects that will help you in your application. Since immigration experts are up-to date and have hands on experience in processing thousands of visa cases, they will help you analyze the loopholes of your case (if any) and show you ways towards a quicker success.

Posted in Law

Tips In Using Pre-Blended Mortar Mix

Most individuals plan DIY tasks to make their homes and properties appealing and strong. And, individuals use reliable materials when building such as cement. However, there are cases when cement is not suitable for such areas. Or perhaps, there are better alternatives for cement like pre-blended mortar mix.

Pre-blended mortar mix is designed for both professional and DIY persons since it is easy to use. In addition, this type of mix is suitable for brickwork, blockwork and stone laying needs. Other than that, homeowners can also use mortar mix in creating letterboxes, paving, retaining walls and garden beds. But, in order to create all of these, it is imperative to know how to use pre-blended mortar mix. To help you, below are some tips you need to know.

Mixing Tips

When mixing mortar, make sure your project is properly laid out with all the necessary tools at hand.

  • Next, individuals need to pour the required amount of mortar into a wheel barrow or a clean bucket. It is important to ensure you use contents as soon as possible after opening the product packaging.
  • After which, calculate the amount of water you will need. For each 10kg of Mortar add 1.6 litres of water.
  • Add water gradually and mix thoroughly to a stiff consistency (e.g. until the mix just slips off the trowel when lightly flicked). Note: Excess water can ruin good mortar. Should too much water be added, leave the mixture aside until it thickens to a workable consistency.
  • Finally, the mortar is now ready to trowel onto bricks or blocks.

Storage Tips

In case that you have not used all the pre-blended mix, it is imperative that you store it properly.

Most of the time, can be kept for up to six months if kept in a dry environment, off the ground and providing the bags remain sealed. Individuals must be aware that factors like high temperature and high humidity conditions may reduce the storage life of the product.

Safety Precautions

When using mortar mix, it is also best that you how to safely use it. Below are some safety tips.

During use, avoid inhalation of dust and contact with the skin and eyes. Wear suitable clothing, gloves, eye protection and respiratory protective equipment since it contains cement powders which can be harmful to the skin.

If contact with the skin occurs, individuals need to thoroughly clean the area with plenty of fresh water and soap. Meanwhile, in case of contact with the eyes rinse with plenty of fresh water and seek medical advice. And, if swallowed, seek medical attention immediately. Do not induce vomiting.

These are only some of the essential tips that individuals need to know when using pre-blended mortar mix.

Better Sleep Means Knowing These Top 5 Things About Your Bed Sheets

Chances are we’ve all gone to bed, waking up either sweaty or miserable in the middle of the night. Most of us don’t realise that our bedding could be the culprit.

Reason why it is essential that you these 5 things in mind when purchasing your bed sheets to help you sleep better.

1. Natural, toxin-free materials:

Truth is your body breathes better with natural fibres. Be it organic cotton or hemp, there’s enough reason to buy a sheet set that does you good than any harm. Polyester and other materials not only make your body hot but are cloaked in a variety of chemicals that lead to acne, wheezing and a host of respiratory disorders including asthma among others. Volatile Organic Compounds found in petrochemical products have an adverse effect on your body.

To stay away from these, opt for GOTS certified organic cotton sheets which are well worth the small premium.

2. Colours:

If you get hot too much too often, chances are you’re sleeping on a multitude of dark colours. Opt for pastels or neutrals that leave your body calmer and your mind in peace before hitting the sack.

3. Weave:

Most people don’t understand that cotton itself is divided into a number of weaves. Weave refers to the way the threads are intertwined in crafting a sheet.

While Sateen has a luxurious feel and has a slight pearlescent sheen, percale is cool and crisp.

As a matter of fact sateen feels lovely in both warm and cold climates. However by culture, most in the western part of the world use Sateen more often than Percale while people in India by tradition use more percale.

4. Fiber properties and yarn

Did you know that sheets made of short, brittle fibers (read multi-ply sheets) feel coarse and brittle? The perfect analogy would be sandpaper. On the other hand, sheets with long-staple fibers in a single-ply yarn always, always feel heavenly because they’re smoother and longer. This also means that your sheets won’t pill unlike shorter fibres.

Do ask your retailer about whether your sheets are single-ply or multi-ply yarn.

5. Thread Count:

Don’t get fooled by this term for it most certainly means incorrect things to buyers. Thread Count is simply a measure of the number of threads weaved in a square inch and not the quality of the sheets. Most retailers inflate and put these out as 900 and 1200 TC which is nothing but a bluff.

A single-ply yarn sheet with 300 TC will feel much softer and lustrous than a fake 900 TC one.

Now that you have these handy questions to shoot to your salesperson, you’re bound to find the perfect bed.