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Even though retirement could or could not be in your vicinity for now, it is something that you need to start preparing for today. Compared to a few decades ago, retiring rich these days is harder. Today’s economy is not as promising and this has made it difficult for one to manage their finances. This forms the essence of one having to plan for their future, including their retirement in advance, even if you can save only a little bit.

When you start preparing for retirement, the earlier you start saving, the better the chances you have of increasing your retirement savings. For most people, saving is not a natural thing. These few tips will help you to save more and increase your retirement savings in 2018.

  1. Set up your saving goals

Whether you are employed or self-employed, you have to set your saving goals. You have to set a period of time within which you want to have set aside a certain amount of money. Having saving objectives, you will focus more on your goals and avoid spending distractions.

The first step in creating a strategy on how to save include having a purpose for the savings. You can choose to direct the proceeds towards an investment such as a real estate or the stock exchange market where you purchase shares.

 

  1. Automate your savings

The important thing to know is that setting up automatic transfers from your checking account makes saving a cinch. Automation of savings helps you to prioritize your saving needs. If you live from paycheck to paycheck, this is the best thing to do.

You can get to save more and accumulate a huge bank balance through the use of direct debits and account sweeps. You will only need 5-10 minutes for the automation process to be complete. You get to achieve your monetary goals without the manual savings transfer hassle.

  1. Spend less compared to your earnings

Your spending should be a portion of your salary and not the entire salary or more than your earnings. A good way to help you ensure that you do not spend more than you are earning is to always prepare a monthly budget.  You can cut down your budget or seek financial advisory services from a monetary adviser if you find that you are always spending a lot.

If you get to prioritize your savings, you will be obligated to live in line with what you can afford. This, in turn, helps you to cut down your expenditure while increasing your savings. It also acts as a motivation to save more.

  1. Use your employer’s retirement plan

 

A majority of the companies have retirement plans for their employees. You can set aside a lot of cash using such plans which include the 401(k). In such a plan, the employer deducts a fraction of your payment every month then invests the cash in shared funds or an investment of your choosing.

With these plans, you get to be deducted a fraction of pre-taxed salary. For example, if you are within the 20% tax bracket, and you want to contribute $200, you get a reduction of 80%in your take-home payment, hence not a lot of strain on your budget.

  1. Track your expenses and analyze them

Track your expenses on a daily basis, if possible. Take a pen and a piece of paper and calculate your daily expenses starting now. This will help you be careful on your expenditures and also give you a hint of how you spend your money.

Analyze the expenditure to determine the unnecessary ones and the necessary ones. You will get to know the things that you can entirely cut down from the expenditure list.

 

Conclusion

For most people who are in the employment industry, it can be easier to overlook the essence of setting cash aside for retirement. This is the case especially when one is focused on short-term monetary priorities. It is essential to put your longer-term financial security into consideration and make retirement savings your priority. If you still in some confusion by this topic you can read essay on retirement to clear everything for yourself.

After prioritizing your retirement savings, set a goal that you want to achieve within a specified period of time. It becomes easy for you to save when you know what you are saving for and the amount that you need to set aside. The above tips can help you boost your savings including your retirement savings this year. These simple steps will have a great impact on your retirement life.

Antitrust and Monopoly Case Study

The advent of the free market economy marked the beginning of developments, which although not appealing, have refused to go away from the global business culture. One of such developments was the emergence of monopoly. Monopoly arises when a single business entity dominates a particular market to the extent that it becomes difficult or simply impossible for competitors to keep up. In the end, the monopolistic entity can engage in unethical business practices without much opposition because there is no alternative product or service for consumers. The U.S. has witnessed hundreds of these cases, and since monopoly naturally drives businesses towards unethical conduct, the U.S. government had fought it since 1890 when the Sherman Act became law. However, despite this lengthy fight, monopoly persists. This paper conducts an analysis of Microsoft’s monopolistic practices at the turn of the century together with the antitrust suits that were filed in response to these practices. The intention is to evaluate the outcome of the suits as well as their consequences on Microsoft and the U.S. business environment.

Background of the Sector in Question

The Microsoft Corporation is U.S. computer software and services giant. It is the developer of the ubiquitous Windows family of operating systems and the widely successful Microsoft Office suite. In addition to these two, Microsoft has numerous other computer applications to its name. Succinctly put, the company is a global hegemony in the PC software and services market. In recent years, it has also made inroads in the consumer electronics market with the purchase of the Nokia Corporation. The company is doing well like most American companies of its kind.

Although its business activities seem to cut across several industries, Microsoft’s primary industry, which serves as the basis for this analysis is the software and services industry. This industry characterized by cutthroat competition among its players. New entrants to the industry are common, but they have to have the edge over the large players or be choked out or be acquired. Nevertheless, the industry’s importance has maintained a steady growth as computers continue to find new uses across different spheres of human life.

The industry’s composition is such that huge enterprises such as Microsoft form a very small fraction of the total number of players. However, in terms of market share, they are the dominant players. For example, in 2013, going by revenues, Microsoft received 16% of the total amount of revenues generated by this industry (Shields, 2014). Its closest rival, Oracle, attracted only 7% of the revenues. Similarly, IBM also attracted 7% of the industry revenues. The two rivals’ revenues, even if combined, are still less than Microsoft’s share. A combination of the top 10 players’ revenues almost matches the revenues of the rest of the industry. Interestingly, these top 10 players constitute less than 3% of the industry (Oxyleads, n.d.). Thus, it is an industry characterized by dominance and monopoly.

Why Microsoft was Subject to Anti-Trust Charges

With its 16% revenues share in the software and services industry, Microsoft is a clear industry leader and could be considered a monopoly in some aspects of this industry. However, this is nothing compared to the 90s when the company’s market share close to 90%. This, however, was not the reason Microsoft was taken to task with antitrust charges.

The reason Microsoft was taken to court was the “browser war” as commonly known today. Apparently, prior to 1998, the Netscape browser was the most popular and dominant browser. In a bid to popularize its own browser, Internet Explorer, Microsoft began to pre-install new computers with this browser, making it difficult for users to replace it with the Netscape browser (Caldre, 1998). In other words, the company was closing its Windows operating system to interoperability, particularly to the Netscape browser. This behavior choked Netscape, which depended on this browser as a source of revenues because Microsoft was giving an alternative for free (Caldre, 1998). The company eventually died because it was not able to recover even after the case was concluded.

Netscape did not bring the antitrust case against Microsoft, however. The federal government, through the Department of Justice, filed the suit, which was joined by 20 states (CNN Money, 1998). It was a historical case then, and it remains so today. No similar case has been recorded in the U.S. since then.

The Ruling

Despite Microsoft’s spirited efforts to win the case against it through video editing and other antics, the court ruled against it (Chan, 2011). It was proved beyond doubt the company had engaged in anti-competition activities whose intention was to kill competitors by rendering them irrelevant. For instance, the new computers that came pre-installed with Internet Explorer were products of exclusive deals that would not allow any other browser to run on them (Economides, 2001). In effect, the Netscape browser had no platform to host it. On the computers on which it could run, Microsoft provided a free alternative.

In the ruling, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft was guilty of antitrust practices and directed that the company be split into two to reduce its dominance (Gavil & First, 2014). The operating system division was to be a separate entity from the software division of Microsoft. Microsoft appealed the ruling. Before the determination of the appeal, it emerged that Judge Jackson had engaged in an inappropriate discussion relating to the case with journalists just before the final ruling (Chan, 2011). He was vacated from the case and a new judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly took over (Chan, 2011).

The final determination was never made because Microsoft agreed to a consent decree that prevented it from entering any exclusive deals that would keep competitors’ software from running on its Windows Operating system (Gavil & First, 2014). The decree also compelled Microsoft to makes it windows platform interoperable with software from elsewhere.

The Ruling’s Effects

Microsoft’s antitrust case is frequently termed as a landmark case of its kind because it set a precedent for the software industry. Its effects were profound for both Microsoft and the U.S. business environment. The most outstanding effect was that it opened up the Windows operating system for non-Microsoft software (Gavil & First, 2014). This is the reason there are thousands of software development companies today. In fact, today, Microsoft is on the receiving end of the browser war, as Google’s Chrome browser and its search engine, Google Search, dominate the market.

The direct effects on the company included the stepping of Bill Gates from the company’s helm, plummeting stock prices, and the eventual transformation of the company into what it is today (Chan, 2011). Without the lawsuit, it is possible that today, only Microsoft sponsored software would be running on its Windows platform.

Since the ruling, Microsoft has been cautious in how it approaches business (Chan, 2011). It appears to fear another antitrust lawsuit against it. Another interesting development from the case is that knowing how much companies dread antitrust lawsuits, rivals often use the possibility of such suits to tame one another. Overall, the software and service space has been marked by an element of sanity since the Microsoft case.

  1. Coding and Billing Cycle Processes

The medical billing and coding process does the improve the effectiveness of the healthcare revenue cycle.  Through coding and billing processes, the health care system manages to collect the appropriate information and documentation of a patient, allocates applicable codes as well as creates an allegation of getting paid either by the patient, CMS or a commercial payer. The medical coding and billing process does improve the effectiveness of the revenue cycle through various ways. To start with, through updating and setting patients medical files, it eases patient check-in and makes it more efficient. Additionally, it also eliminates the possible registration hiccups as well as errors.  Only, through the coding and billing process, it enhances confirmation of financial responsibility (Marcinko &  Hetico, 2014).  The coding and billing process does enable understanding how the patient will have the medical bills paid. This information enables the health care system to understand what is covered by the insurance as well as what kind of plan the individual has. Likewise, the coding and billing processes improve effectiveness of the revenue cycle since it ensures that the bills sent to a payer are officially certified. Additionally, it enhances health care system have a vivid update on bills cleared and bills that have not been cleared.

 

  1. Operating Revenue

Operating Revenue entails derived revenue from essential activities in providing health care services that have a direct relationship with the patients.  It also includes revenues from any nonpatient care, sales as well as activities to individuals other than the patients. The operating revenue determines the amount of cash flow that will be in the revenue cycle. Therefore, the operating revenue is a significant determinant of how successful or effectual a revenue cycle will be. Studies show that 91% of operating revenue is collected from patients while the rest of the cash collected from other activities (Marcinko &  Hetico, 2014).  Therefore, the more the number of opportunities a medical organization seizes, the higher the number amount of operating revenue earned hence increasing the amount of cash flow or expands the budget of the health care’s revenue cycle.

  1. Financial Condition

The financial condition of the health care system could be assessed various ways. To start with, it could be assessed with respect to the expenses and revenues of a health care institution. Professional requires that there exist a balance between the expenses and revenues in health care system to sustain financial health.  The standard assessment of profitability is referred to as margin which is achieved by subtracting expenses from revenues and dividing the product by the total revenue from all sources. A second measure includes the operating margin. The operating margin process only considers the revenue is attained from operational activities and the expenses related to non-operational revenues are deduce6ed from the expenses (Marcinko &  Hetico, 2014). Additionally, the third assessment also used is the patient care margin. This assessment process only uses revenue from the patient care unit which is compared with the operating cost for the patients care services. Additionally, financial indicators also assess the present financial performance which includes the ability to make payments for operation as well as the current capital. Institutions that show a high margin as well as a free cash flow show a firm financial position and indicates a greater potential of financial expansion.

C1. Profitability and Risk

Financial statement analysis is the process through which health care organization make use of financial statements and reports to assess risk and profitability of an institution. This analysis tool is used by healthcare management to evaluate the performance of the organization. It is also used by the creditors who have interest in understanding the financial health of an institution as it seeks loans and support. Additionally, it is used by the government to understand the performance of the health care sector hence aiding in the development of policies.

There are two major techniques of statement analysis: the vertical and horizontal analysis. The Horizontal analysis entails making a comparison of institutions financial information using historical information of the institutions. On the other hand, the vertical analysis is the done on financial statements only once per years.  Each thing in the statement is exhibited as a base figure of o different item in the financial statement for the particular period.  Some of the vital financial statements that are analyzed include the operating margin, the ratio of debt to capitalization, the coverage ratio of cash flow, as well as the healthcare stocks (Harrington, 2016). Moreover, the operating and business review could also be used as financial statements. Other information in the financial statement includes: financial statements notes, change statements by shareholders.

C2. Financial Viability

Financial viability in health care is the 7potentila to create sufficient income which meets the operating costs as well as debt commitments as well as enhance the growth of an organization as it maintains its services levels.   A major factor influencing healthcare organizations financial viability is the community.  The community could be categorized as patients and nonpatients. The patients’ category is made up of: the self-payer, third-party payers like Medicaid, Medicare, Commercial insurance or Blue Shield (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). None patients include tax supports, contributions, as well as tax support. A great proportion of revenue is generated from patients who get direct services. However, the vast percentage of payments is derived from third parties like Medicaid as well as managed care institutions. On the hand, another factor influencing the financial viability is the suppliers. Suppliers entail equipment suppliers, lenders, vendors, and employees. Employee payments are considered the largest expenditure in health care.  It makes up about 605 of the expenditures.  Additionally, lenders and physicians payments also make the suppliers (Fallon & McConnell, 2007).  These factors do influence the financial viability of an institution since they have they have to have a relationship that ensures the expenditure caused by suppliers is less than the revenue from the community.

  1. Fraud & Abuse Regulations

The Stark Law aimed at hindering physicians from making referrals to Medicare patients to institutions in which the physician or a relative to the physician maintained a financial relationship.  This law changed the manner in which the physicians made their decision as they treated their patients. It enhanced making decisions that are aimed to improve the health condition of the patient. The law reduced the chances of having the decision made with respect to financial gains.

With respect to the Anti-Kickback law, physicians are discouraged from making any financial decisions. The law aims at regulating the association physicians and finance. To stay away from lawsuits by patients, healthcare institutions have to ensure that physicians have no means of obtaining referral payments from patients.

On the other hand, the false claims act also improves the effectiveness of making of financial decisions to avoid being penalized or punished. This act does hinder individual’s practitioners from presenting false approval or payments, use of false statements or records as well as knowingly using false statement in a role of paying or transmitting property or money to governments.

D1. Importance of Stark Law

The importance of the Stark law is that it protects the patients from being manipulated by physicians during referrals. Additionally, it ensures there aids in implementation professional ethics hence making the healthy or the patient the priority rather than the .financial gains from patients.

D2. Importance of the Anti Kick Back Law

Likewise, the Anti Kick Back law also aids at protecting patients from being manipulated by physicians during referrals. The law ensures that the is no relationship between the physician and the payments hence ‘enhancing focus on the patient welfare rather than the patient money.  It also enhances implementation of professional ethics among the healthcare workforce.

D3. Importance of the False Claim Act

This act aims at minimizing and discouraging cases of fraud and forgery in the health care system. The act ensures that physicians follow the required guidelines during approval of payments to minimize cases of theft. The penalties related to violation of this act limit physicians and other healthcare employees from indulging in fraud cases. This enables having a strong and vivid revenue cycles as well as aids in maintaining an organization's financial viability.

  1. Healthcare Pricing

There is various factor that impacts the pricing of healthcare services. To start with, cost of the operation cost is a major factor in determining the cost of medical services. Services that are expensive, risk and time consuming like surgery tend to be more expensive compared to simple services.  A part from that, competition in the healthcare organization setting is also another major factor in price setting. Competitions in the offering of healthcare services lead to slight price differences that ensure to ensure that each organization lures various patients due to its terms.

  1. Financial and Strategic Planning

Financial planning entails the management of finances over a duration in a manner that meets the organization's needs. On the contrary, strategic planning is a process that determines the direction an organization will adopt or take.  The primary objective of strategic planning is providing an organization with a map or blueprint for expansion. Therefore, through proper financial planning, an organization shall manage to have enough money to execute expansion plans

F1. Economic Plan Development

There are various steps that healthcare organizations should take to create a successful financial plan. To start with is the definition of the organization's goals and objectives. The second step entail collecting the significant financial as well as organizational information. After that, one needs to develop an analysis of the organizational and financial information hence understanding the major strengths and weakness. The fourth step is creating and presenting a financial plan. The last step includes implementing and reviewing the business plan.

F1a. HIM interaction

While working with accountants, HIM managers have various roles that could aid in the successful implementation of the financial program. With respect to the factor that they are in charge of medical billing and coding, HIM should be honest and clear on what economic objectives an organization can achieve (Harrington, 2016). Additionally, a HIM manager should ensure that every data is appropriately added into the systems to avoid errors which could adversely affect the financial statements. The HIM manager should also point out lucrative sectors within the health departments to ensure that there is more cash concentrated in resource in that section to enhance more profit.

  1. Financial Management Control Process

It is an internal control comprehensive system developed under the role of the management through the management of risks gives reasonable assurance that the budget, as well as other sources, will be utilized effectively and efficiently in attaining an organization’s objective. It is defined system directing and controlling financial effects of an organizations’ operations in a manner ensure they are supportive of the organizations’ objective achievement. In a financial management control process, there is the budget and financial plan (Harrington, 2016). A financial plan is the evaluation of an organization's present revenue as well as the future financial state through the use of current variables vial prediction on future income, withdrawal plans, and asset values.  On the other hand, budgeting is the process through which organizations make a pan or blueprint on how to spend its money.

The financial crisis is not known to occur frequently, but when they do, their effects are detrimental and affect many segments of the market. The Subprime Mortgage Meltdown, occurring in 2007/2008 in the United States was one of the significant financial crisis that has been encountered so far. However, it is notable that the issue would have been prevented if a number of aspects would have been taken into consideration before the crisis. Some of these elements of consideration include the credit ratings being taken seriously, improving the mortgage origination, and improving the risk management and regulations within the United States. The purpose of this essay is to discuss how the aspects mentioned earlier would have led to prevent the subprime mortgage meltdown that happened in the UnitedStates.

Considering the Credit Ratings

The major challenge that led to the crisis is that the credit ratings provided by the rating agencies were not accurate enough and they were not considered before allocating loans to various people and organisation. This led to higher risks of repayment, and hence the crisis occurred. However, if the credit rating companies would have improved their rating systems and these values considered prior to giving credit, then there is a high chance that the crisis would have been prevented.

Improved Mortgage Origination

The challenge was that the mortgages were offered to the potential buyers of houses who had not qualified financially to obtain the same. Also, these homes were presented with higher prices as opposed to their real value. As such, most of the people purchasing houses had mortgages that were over-valued based on their financial circumstances, hence being riskier than they were supposed to be. Due to the failure to consider the background of the people taking the mortgages and understanding about the originators of the same, the financial crisis occurred. However, if the considerations would have been made, then there are chances that the crisis would not have occurred.

Improved Risk Management and Regulation

The risk management engaged in by the authorities in the United States concerning the sophisticated mortgage-related investments was poor, and the execution of the same was also poor. According to Inside The Meltdown, the major financial institutions which were involved in the crisis would not provide consistent estimates of their exposure to any loss. As such, the occurrence of the risks resulted in these institutions lacking funds, hence the crisis. However, if these institutions would have taken the risk management plan properly and valued the securities provided accurately, then there is a possibility the economic crisis would not have occurred.

Conclusion

The purpose of this essay was to discuss how the aspects mentioned earlier would have led to prevent the subprime mortgage meltdown that happened in the United States. Through considering the above-stated points, and others, it is possible to prevent the event of another crisis occurring and hence to ensure that no economic challenges will be faced in the United States.