Protecting Your Purpose

CVS Quits for GoodCVS Caremark announced today that they will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in their stores beginning October 1, 2014. That’s tremendous! As stated by the company’s reps, CVS will be the “first national pharmacy chain to take this step in support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers.” Their president and CEO, Larry Merlo, said, “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health. Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

NYC’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, whose mission against smoking included banning it in bars and graphic anti-smoking ads, weighed in:

“CVS’s decision to eliminate tobacco sales is a major milestone in the effort to reduce tobacco use – and it sets a new bar for all companies that market themselves as pharmacies and health care centers. Just as no responsible doctor would put a cigarette machine in the office lobby, no responsible pharmacy should put cigarettes behind the counter. Pharmacies should help heal people, not make them sick. This is a smart and forward-looking move that will help save lives – and force other companies to confront this critically important public health issue.

Let me put this in a little perspective for you: CVS is the nation’s second largest drugstore, is #13 on the 2013 Fortune 500 list, has more than 7,600 pharmacies in the U.S., and estimates they’ll lose more than $2 billion per year in revenues as a result of this trailblazing decision. While $2B represents only about 2% of their net revenues (2012), it is a loss nonetheless and it could hurt their stock price (which is down slightly at the moment) in the short-term.

In spite of the potential hit to this company’s bottom line, they are willing to take a stand against the cigarette and tobacco industry. Why? Because the sale of these products is “inconsistent with [their] purpose.” So I ask… what are you doing that’s inconsistent with your purpose? And more importantly, why?

We were all created with purpose, for purpose, on purpose. Before the semen hit the egg, God already had your purpose in mind.  He designed you exactly how you needed to be in order to fulfill your purpose. Unfortunately, most of us have no idea what our God-given purpose is, so we live lives inconsistent with our intended design. When you don’t know the purpose of something, you are bound to be confused, misuse and abuse it. You can’t even establish healthy boundaries when you don’t know your purpose. So ultimately, others are likely to abuse/misuse you as well. And away goes your self-esteem and respect.

If you want to know your purpose, you need to ask your Creator. Your BFF can’t tell you. Your spouse can’t tell your. Your mom and dad can’t even tell you; they didn’t place the purpose inside you to begin with. And once you identify the purpose of your existence, you must do what is necessary to protect it. This means you may have to let go of some things. You may have to say goodbye to some people- ’cause bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). You may have to stop going to some places. And you may even have to do some things that will hurt your bottom line for the sake of your long-term spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

God has so much in store for you and your legacy. It’s impossible to live the life He created for you when you are a threat to yourself. Set a new bar for yourself and everyone who looks to you as a leader. Make a decision today to stop settling for all those toxic people, places, bad habits and dis-eased lifestyles that are inconsistent with your purpose.

How can you protect your purpose? What do you need to quit for good?

Obamacare and You: 10 Things You Should Know

It’s a landmark day in US history! The government shut down for the first time in 17 years and it’s the first day of open enrollment for the Affordable Healthcare (aka, Obamacare)! Woo-hoo!

imageYes, your kids can remain on your insurance until they’re 26, and pre-existing conditions will become a thing of the past, but there’s still so much scrutiny and confusion circling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I thought it would be helpful to summarize the 10 things you really need to know. So here goes…

1. Obamacare is not free healthcare. The Affordable Care Act ensures affordable healthcare in the United States… not free healthcare. Health insurance plans are income based, so rates will vary.

2. Open enrollment begins October 1, 2013 but coverage doesn’t take effect until January 2014. The Affordable Care Act is a set of health insurance reforms passed in 2010 and will take effect beginning January 2014. Open enrollment for 2014 ends on 3/31/2014 for 2014.

3. The government shut down because of Obamacare, but it doesn’t impact ACA open enrollment. The last time the federal government shut down (12/15/1995 – 1/06/1996, it was over balancing the budget. This time around, the shutdown has nothing at all to do with balancing the budget. It’s all an intense political fight over Obamacare. Yep, the US government is shut down because our elected officials can’t agree on what’s in the best interest of their electors. Oh, but I digress. Even if you can’t visit your favorite national park or museum, or you have to take an unpaid “day off” if you’re a government employee, you can still sign up for health insurance today. Check out (by the way, it’s one of few government websites actually functioning today).

4. If you already have group health insurance coverage through your employer (or your spouse’s employer), there’s nothing else you need to do. You’re all set!

5. If you aren’t already covered by an employer plan, you’ll most likely be required to have some form of health insurance beginning January 2014. Otherwise, you may have to pay a fee if you don’t have any health insurance coverage at that point.

6. Shop the Marketplace! The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to make it easier and more affordable for the roughly 15% of Americans who don’t have health insurance. To make that happen, the law provides for the creation of online Marketplaces where consumers can shop for insurance that meets their individual needs and budget. These Marketplaces vary by state. Shop the marketplace for your state right here.

7. Each coverage option will include the same basic set of benefits. They’ll be ranked according to premium levels: bronze being the lowest level and platinum being the highest level. The plans at the lower end will have higher deductibles and co-pays, and the plans at the higher end will have lower out-of-pocket costs at the time of treatment.

8. Private insurance is not going away. Plans will still be sold outside the Marketplace.  In 2014, health insurance companies selling plans outside the Marketplace must allow you to have open enrollment 30 days before your current individual plan renews. You will have up to 30 days after your plan ends to sign up for a new plan outside the Marketplace.

Outside of an open enrollment period, you may not be able to buy or change health plans inside or outside the Marketplace unless you experience certain qualifying life events (marriage, birth of a child, loss of other health coverage, etc.).

9. New protections start in 2014 for most plans. The ACA generally requires individual plans to provide certain protections and benefits starting in 2014. These include (but are not limited to):

The only individual plans that don’t have to provide these protections are grandfathered individual plans. These plans have existed pretty much unchanged since the ACA was passed in 2010. These plans don’t have to make any changes and you can keep the plan for as long as it’s offered, if you prefer.

10. You can apply online, by mail, or in-person.  Marketplace coverage can be applied for in any of these three ways with the help of a Navigator or other qualified helper. Telephone help and online chats are available 24/7 to help you complete your application. You can also have a paper application mailed to you by calling the call center at 1-800-318-2596.

For all the worry-warts out there, here’s the bottom line: there’s no need to panic, you aren’t going to pay more for coverage unless you want to switch to a better plan, and although the government shut down, the world hasn’t stopped turning. If you are one of the 85% of Americans who already has quality, affordable health insurance, you should have a working knowledge of the ACA, but you don’t have to worry about doing anything else. Simple as that! 😉