This article by guest writer Dr. Vic Reddy is re-posted with permission from the Detroit Free Press.
I had just finished a consultation with a patient about a proposed procedure when she asked, “Well, what’s it going to cost me?”
I looked at her insurance, one offered through our state’s health insurance exchange; the plan had a significant deductible, and I could tell she was hedging on what was an elective procedure. I asked our office manager to give her an approximate charge based on my fee and what the hospital would charge. The patient left satisfied and said that she would consider whether she would proceed.
Consistently, month after month, the greatest number of assistance requests to Binc are due to large medical bills. It begins with a need for surgery, a prolonged illness or an ongoing medical condition and often ends with insurmountable bills. Five years after the passage of Affordable Care Act (ACA), the law is benefiting millions of individuals across the country and brings tangible benefits to families and communities. However, having medical insurance does not prevent crippling medical bills. Even when insured, the patient’s deductible or portion of a multiple thousand dollar bill can create a serious hardship for their household.
With support from donors, board members, industry partners and booksellers Binc accomplished much in 2014. Just how much? Check out this infographic to see Binc by the numbers in 2014. Thanks to everyone who makes our success possible!
“Following goals and dreams these days is not always easy, that’s why I’m so grateful to you for allowing me to achieve my goals without breaking the bank.”
-Scholarship winner from Tennessee
Financial assistance from Binc is designed to be a one-time, short-term boost to get a bookseller through an immediate crisis. Rather than providing on-going, long-term financial support, Binc financial assistance is meant to get the bookseller onto a firm footing and allow them to address the bigger problems facing their household. Having that as the goal, we realize that the underlying problem which causes a hardship is often larger than our assistance can cure. For that reason, Binc’s help doesn’t stop when our check is mailed. When a bookseller comes to Binc for assistance our immediate concern is to help to get the household stabilized. Only after a bookseller and their family is out from under the immediate danger of losing their home or having the utilities shut off, are they able to focus on longer term changes that need to take place within the household. Getting each applicant back to a place of financial equilibrium is our goal for each individual case.
As the fall and a new school year approach, we would like to take this opportunity to share some words of wisdom from our latest Binc scholarship winners. Each spring, after the Binc Scholarship Program ends and the awards have been announced, we at Binc have the distinct pleasure of receiving a pile of wonderful thank-you notes. We hear from high school seniors anxiously awaiting the start of their traditional college careers as well as from established booksellers juggling work, family along with their studies. Many of this year’s Binc scholars are well along in attaining their undergraduate or graduate degrees, while others are just beginning and a few have yet to decide the direction their studies will take. Whether they are freshmen or grad students, traditional or non-traditional students, from Vermont or California, they all have stories to tell and lessons to teach us. Here is some of what we have learned from the 2014-2015 class of Binc Scholars.
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We are excited to be named a Top-Rated 2014 Nonprofit, and are proud of our accomplishments this year. The Foundation is helping an ever increasing number of booksellers through some very tough personal hardships. The recent addition of homelessness prevention and funeral expenses to the financial assistance program are helping Binc reach more booksellers in a real and meaningful way.
Over 300 book industry employees took our recent Marketing Survey and shared thoughts, ideas and wishes with Binc. This included a mix of bookstore owners, managers and employees, publishers and publishing company employees, freelancers, librarians, bloggers and others in the industry. Respondents chimed in with suggestions for new programs, ideas for improving communication, questions about donating to Binc, possible partnerships, additional information the Foundation could supply, and more. Once the results were analyzed, three main points stood out.
- While the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation has made great strides in getting our message out to the book world, there is still much to be done to improve awareness across the industry. If your store would like to help, please post this “badge” on your website and link it to Binc.
- Booksellers overwhelmingly want Binc to provide relevant programs to booksellers, by continuing what is already in place and adding new programs. Watch our website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages for the announcement of upcoming additions to our current program roster.
- The third big take-away was to provide easy ways for booksellers to donate and get involved, to help continue the work being done by the Foundation. We have posted on our website, the simple procedure for setting up automatic payroll deductions at your store.
Booksellers are in agreement that the current financial assistance program offered by Binc is a necessary safety net for booksellers. A number of interesting suggestions for expanding assistance were presented and Binc spend the next few months reviewing and researching these. The present scholarship program (offering both higher education and professional scholarships) was also seen as having great value. Binc recently announced the award winners for the 2014-15 academic year.
The respondents wondered if Binc could partner with other vendors for things like insurance, discounts, and services. Some are not compatible with our 501(c)3 status, but others hold promise. We will take a look at all of the suggestions and weigh the possibilities.
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In an effort to reach a greater number of booksellers struggling with financial difficulties, the Binc Foundation has expanded their Financial Assistance Program to include two new categories. Now, booksellers in need of help to stave off eviction or prevent homelessness may be considered for a financial assistance grant. In addition, a bookseller struggling with the funeral expenses for an immediate family member, may also apply to the Foundation for a grant. In a recent survey booksellers provided input as to what types of assistance would be helpful and these two categories ranked high. With these two new qualifying events, Binc hopes to make a meaningful difference in the lives of an ever increasing number of bookstore employees.