Access Plans Usa (AUSA) - Description of business
BACKGROUND. Pursuant to a merger-acquisition on June 8, 2001, Precis, Inc. "Precis, we or the Company" acquired The Capella Group, Inc. This merger-acquisition allowed us to further diversify our current membership programs offered through our subsidiary, Foresight, Inc. that was acquired on December 7, 2000. The Capella Group markets memberships that offer savings on a wide range of healthcare services. Prior to these acquisitions, we designed, marketed, implemented and serviced custom memory and microprocessor card products, known as smart cards, on which information and software can be stored. Following these acquisitions, our business focus and product offerings became those of Capella and Foresight, and our smart card technology and products began to be offered primarily in conjunction with, and as enhancements to, Capella's and Foresight's products and services.
CONSUMER HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY. The healthcare industry continues in a state of turmoil and crisis. It is estimated that 14.6 percent of all Americans, or 41.2 million, were without health insurance coverage in 2001. [Source: "U.S. Census Bureau Statistics" published by the U.S. Department of Commerce.] Additionally, it has been estimated that 74.7 million people under the age of 65 were without health insurance for part or all of the two year period from 2001-2002, approximately one in three Americans. [Source: "Going Without Health Insurance" published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.] The percentage of people working full-time without health insurance is 16%. [Source: "U.S. Census Bureau Statistics" published by U.S. Department of Commerce] Nationally, healthcare expenditures topped $1.2 trillion in 1999, as the country continued to spend a larger share of its gross domestic product on healthcare than any other major industrialized country. [Source: "Urban and Rural Health Chartbook" published by the National Center for Health Statistics.] These trends are the direct result of significant increases in insurance rates due to increasing utilization by participants and soaring prescription drug prices. Industry forecasters are predicting double-digit inflation in insurance rates in the coming years, including a 12.7% increase in health costs for employers between the Spring of 2001 and the Spring of 2002. [Source: "Employer Health Benefits 2002 Summary of Findings", published by The Kaiser Family Foundation.] The average cost for health insurance in 2002 was $3,060 per year for individuals, and $7,954 per year for families. [Source: "Employer Health Benefits 2002 Summary of Findings," published by The Kaiser Family Foundation.]
American citizens are utilizing healthcare services at an ever-increasing rate. Behind this phenomenon is the fact that insurance plans and healthcare management organizations are structured to encourage usage. Small co-payments, generally from $10 or $15 per office visit, encourage insured consumers to use the healthcare system more frequently because they generally do not perceive themselves ultimately as having to pay the full costs of the medical services received.
A number of insurers have pulled out of certain states, due to state regulations that no longer provide for a viable operating environment for many insurance companies. As a result of these health coverage cancellations, some portion of those formerly covered by medical insurance are required to pay more for their insurance coverage, some cannot obtain any coverage for pre-existing conditions, or simply become uninsured for healthcare.
Corporate America has been hit hard by escalating insurance costs and many companies are reacting by shifting the cost of insurance coverage to employees or cutting benefits. Three quarters of large companies (200 or more workers) report they are very or somewhat likely to increase their employee's share of the costs of healthcare in 2003. [Source: "Employer Health Benefits 2002 Summary of Findings," published by The Kaiser Family Foundation.] Smaller businesses are hit particularly hard by these costs. It is estimated that 39% of businesses with fewer than 200 employees do not offer any health benefits to their employees. [Source: "Employer Health Benefits 2002 Summary of Findings," published by The Kaiser Family Foundation.] This creates a dilemma for the employer, it being difficult
to attract and hire quality personnel without providing health benefits, while the cost of providing employee healthcare benefits being prohibitive or unaffordable.
Tensions between medical providers and the payors are also escalating. The medical decision is often no longer in the hands of the doctor and the patient. Rather, administrators at healthcare management organizations and insurance companies determine the procedures to be performed. Doctors and hospitals are seeing their profits declining and are demanding higher compensation, particularly from the healthcare management organizations.
As a result, the uninsured patients are being forced as never before to be self-insured and pay for the cost of their healthcare. Therefore, the uninsured patient population increasingly forgoes medical procedures or relies on emergency care for their healthcare needs often incurring prohibitive expenses. Additionally, costs of care in doctors' offices and hospitals are often far higher than what an insurer would pay for the same services on behalf of someone having their insurance coverage. The uninsured patients have no one to broker deals for their care, consequently patients often pay higher premiums as compared to those patients who have insurance.
OUR CONSUMER HEALTHCARE SAVINGS SOLUTIONCARE ENTRÉE
Our consumer healthcare savings membership programs are offered under the trade name of Care Entrée and are designed in response to the growing healthcare cost escalation and the number of people that can no longer afford insurance coverage. Our approach to healthcare savings programs is based upon and emphasizes the following factors:
for the use of healthcare must be put back in the hands of the patient. Insurance policies with low co-pays and deductibles have
become very popular; however, these arrangements actually encourage utilization that are driving up the cost of healthcare;
the healthcare decision must be put back in the hands of the doctor and the patient; the doctor must be allowed to be an advocate of the patient; and
healthcare must be affordable for the patient, while providing the medical providers with adequate payment on a timely basis for services provided.
For years, insurance companies have been reaping the benefits of managed care by being able to provide less expensive healthcare to their insureds compared to self-insured person. These benefits were provided through the use of preferred provider organizations (PPOs), where steerage of patients was promised in exchange for lower rates. We have contracted with these same healthcare networks to provide healthcare savings to our program members.
In developing our healthcare programs, we have identified the elements discussed below that are crucial to the operation, further development, and offering of our new approach to managed healthcare.
medical provider network that provides a means to effectively and efficiently deliver healthcare savings to the patient who carries a substantial portion
of the financial risk by being self-insured. We have accomplished this through arrangements with reputable, high quality preferred provider organization medical networks. Over 380,000
providers and 3,600 hospitals throughout the U.S. have proven more than adequate.
A computer system that can handle all the complexities of managed care providers and their fee schedules. Speed and accuracy in the re-pricing of medical bills is essential as we deal directly with doctors' offices on a continuous basis. Accordingly, we have developed in-house systems to accomplish the eligibility verification and re-pricing of medical bills in seconds. We are currently in the process of installing updated re-pricing systems which were purchased from a recognized vendor source.
A commitment to "hands on" customer service for both the patient-member and the healthcare provider. Most physicians and hospitals are in multiple preferred provider organization networks and do not know the negotiated rates at the time and point of healthcare service. We believe it is important that our services allow these providers to contact us at the time and point of service for this information so that they can immediately collect the amounts due for the services provided; and
Introdution of a medical savings program. During the fourth quarter of 2002, we began a medical savings program by requesting that our members escrow funds with us so that our healthcare providers receive payment at the time medical care is provided, thus helping to assure the likelihood that healthcare providers will be paid on a timely basis. This medical savings program is offered through our Total Care and Essential Care programs.
The combination of these elements has allowed us to become the "patient advocate." We routinely assist our program members in saving 15% to 50% on their medical bills, and frequently more by steering them to the most cost effective healthcare providers in their area. We allow the patient and the healthcare provider to decide treatment protocols with no interference from any third party. We facilitate the financial transaction between the healthcare provider and patient-member to allow the provider to receive immediate payment. Finally, because the patient-member is directly responsible for a significant portion of his or her medical expenses, the patient has an incentive to minimize utilization to achieve cost savings, regardless of whether the patient has a high deductible insurance policy or is self-insured.
Our membership program encompasses all aspects of healthcare, including physicians, hospitals, ancillary services, dentists, prescription drugs, vision care, hearing aids, chiropractic and alternative care, air ambulance, 24-hour nurse hotline assistance, and long term care. This program also includes participation in the Precis Instacare SmartCard program. Memberships in our Care Entrée programs range from $9.95 to $69.95 per month per family depending on the selected options and include a one-time enrollment fee of $20.00 to $30.00.
MEMBERSHIP SERVICE PROGRAM INDUSTRY. Vendors for the marketing of their products and services increasingly utilize membership service programs. Membership service programs offer selected products and services from a variety of vendors with the objective of enhancing the existing relationship between businesses and their customers. These programs are offered and sold in connection with point-of-sale transactions or by various methods of direct marketing. We believe that marketing through membership service programs is one of the fastest growing areas of direct marketing. When designed, marketed, and managed effectively, membership service programs can be of significant value to:
who become members of the membership program;
vendors, through sales and marketing of their products and services; and
Consumers are increasingly confronted with a growing number of product and service choices that are advertised and offered to consumers, through media ranging from network and cable television, to traditional print media to the Internet. Furthermore, increasingly consumers, especially dual income couples, have limited time to devote to making informed and efficient purchasing decisions. We believe that a well-designed membership service program allows consumers to make purchase decisions on a more informed, efficient, and convenient basis through access to the information services, discounted products, and services, and other types of assistance offered by such programs.
Product vendors and service providers are seeking more cost-effective and efficient methods to expand their customer base and market share, other than through the traditional mass-marketing channels of distribution. In addition, vendors are seeking to reach new customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers and generate new, predictable recurring sources of revenues. We believe membership service programs provide vendors a viable, cost-effective alternative to the traditional mass-marketing distribution channels.
Historically, issuers of credit cards have been the most prevalent users of membership service programs. However, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the use and offering of membership programs by other businesses, including healthcare services companies, rental-purchase companies, retailers and employers. In most cases, these businesses seek professional marketing assistance to successfully design, market, and manage the membership service programs they offer. These marketing firms, like ours, are able to:
advanced database systems to capture, process and store consumer and market information;
develop consumer profiles and purchasing trends, both in terms of products and services;
use their experience to provide effective membership service programs; and
realize economies of scale.
In addition, a general requirement of the designer and provider of membership service programs is that the provider has the expertise to continue to introduce unique new programs. In some cases, the businesses expect the provider of membership service programs to have such resources as extensive vendor networks and experienced management teams in order to not only design the program but also to market the programs quickly and successfully at the retail level.
OUR WHOLESALE MEMBERSHIP SOLUTIONFORESIGHT
Through our subsidiary, Foresight, Inc., Third Party Administrator ("T.P.A."), we design membership programs for rental-purchase companies, financial organizations, employer groups, retailers and association-based organizations. Memberships in these programs are offered and sold as part of a point-of-sale transaction or by direct marketing through direct mail or as an insert. Program members are offered and provided with our and third-party vendors' products and services. We believe that our clients, their customers and the vendors of the products and services offered through the programs all benefit from our membership service programs. The products and services are bundled, priced and marketed utilizing relationship marketing strategies to target the profiled needs of the clients' particular customer base. Memberships in our programs are offered in two ways. If the memberships are sold by an organization, generally in connection with a point-of-sale transaction, we refer to these programs and membership sales as wholesale programs. On the other hand, if we sell the memberships through direct contact with the consumer (via direct mail or other direct marketing distribution), we refer to these programs and membership sales as retail programs and sales. Substantially all of our membership
service programs are offered and sold at wholesale by clients engaged in the rental-purchase industry. During 2002 and 2001, wholesale and retail program sales accounted for 99% and 98%, respectively, of Foresight's revenue. We intend to focus our future efforts on the design and marketing of wholesale programs for clients in numerous industries, some of which will utilize our smart card technology and healthcare products as enhancements.
Through the design of our programs, we seek to address our clients' desires to obtain another source of income from these clients' customers through membership sales. In return for the wholesale sale of memberships, our clients collect the weekly or monthly membership fees and retain 40% to 80% of these fees depending on the products and services offered. The balance of these membership fees, 20% to 60%, is remitted to us. With respect to retail membership sales, clients providing the customer lists are entitled to royalties on sales to the clients' listed customers. The royalty payments range from 10% to 50% of the membership fees. The programs are designed and managed to strengthen the relationship between our clients and their customers. We believe that our programs offer members an economic, efficient and convenient method for the selection of products and services. Members are entitled to discounts for products and services, which may not otherwise be available to them. Vendors of products and services, offered and sold through the programs to members, are provided the opportunity to reach a large number of demographically targeted customers or consumers with minimal incremental marketing cost.
We maximize our marketing efforts by utilizing a database management system to analyze the demographics of clients' customers to establish customer profiles. Based upon these demographics and customer profiles, we design membership service programs that are targeted for specific consumer groups. Typically, we work with a wholesale client to incorporate elements from one or more of the client's standard service programs in the design of a custom program for the client. Memberships in the custom program are offered and sold by the wholesale client to its customers as a value-added feature generally in connection with a point-of-sale transaction. The wholesale client remits 20% to 60% of the membership fees to us and retains the balance as compensation for having made the sale and serving as collection agent of the fees. Wholesale programs substantially reduce our costs of acquiring new members, which results in higher profit margins in the first year of the program, compared to those obtained through retail offering and sale of memberships.
With respect to membership service programs offered as retail programs, we utilize our database and experience to introduce new programs, as well as improve existing programs. Retail programs are generally offered through direct mail; however, other direct marketing methods are also employed. The offer and sale of retail programs provide clients with a rapid, inexpensive means to test and introduce new concepts, products and services to their customers.
SALES AND MARKETING CHANNELS
Our programs are sold through two primary channels. Our Care Entrée healthcare programs are offered through a network marketing organization (initially organized in August 1997) and by way of our private label agreements with direct marketing or other sales organizatioins, including insurance agencies.
NETWORK MARKETING. Our independent representatives become marketing representatives by paying an enrollment fee (currently $99.95) and signing a standard representative agreement, and an annual renewal fee (currently $49.95). Independent marketing representatives are not required to be licensed insurance agents. Independent marketing representatives are paid a 25% commission on the membership fees of each member they enroll for the life of that member's enrollment with Care Entrée. Independent marketing representatives may also recruit other representatives and earn override commissions on sales made by those representatives. We pay a total of 30% in override commissions down through six levels of marketing representatives. In addition, we have established bonus pools that allow independent marketing representatives who have achieved certain levels to receive additional
commissions measured by our revenues attributable to the Care Entrée programs. We are currently contributing 5% of Care Entrée incremental revenues to these pools.
On March 1, 2003, we initiated a new compensation structure which provides for an additional level of payout for those who market our healthcare membership program, increasing the total number of override commissions representatives can earn from six to seven levels. In addition, we are also paying a 100% commission on first month membership sales to qualifying representatives. The elimination of certain production bonuses and override commissions in the first month of sales offsets a significant amount of the expenses related to this change.
The total regular or ongoing commissions payout, including overrides, on second month membership sales and onward remains unchanged at 55% of qualified membership sales.
WHOLESALE MEMBERSHIP OR PRIVATE LABEL CLIENTS. Primarily through our direct sales team we have also contracted with other companies under wholesale or private label arrangements. Under these agreements, we conduct all customer service and re-pricing operations and may also provide the fulfillment and collections services. The client performs all marketing functions. Wholesale and private label clients set their own retail prices for the product based on their commission and expense structure and income requirements.
BUSINESS OBJECTIVES AND PLAN
Our objective is to sustain and expand our leadership position as a provider of unique membership service programs. Key elements of our business plan are as follows:
CONTINUE TO DEVELOP UNIQUE SERVICE PROGRAMS FOR BROAD MARKETS. Our focus is on the continued development and introduction of unique programs that address the health and lifestyle needs of targeted consumer groups. We anticipate that this plan will allow us to obtain a larger share of the membership program market through existing marketing channels and through establishment of new client and customer relationships.
In the fourth quarter of 2001, we started a new subsidiary of Precis under the name of SmartCare Insurance Agency, Inc. Through this agency; we are developing relationships with insurance companies that offer high deductible insurance policies and other complementary plans for sale by our marketing representatives who are also licensed insurance agents. Some insurance companies are developing products specifically for SmartCare. The use of these policies in conjunction with the Care Entrée program can provide a very affordable solution to individuals and groups who previously could not afford fully inclusive medical plans and assure payment to our providers.
With respect to our wholesale membership programs, we continue to expand our existing distribution channels and seek new ones, including large and small banks, savings and loans and other financial institutions, association-based organizations and others. To date, most of our wholesale membership clients are involved in the rental-purchase business. We intend to continue to devote significant resources to selling our membership service programs to those companies involved in the rental-purchase industry. In addition, we have developed new wholesale membership programs for the retail-furniture, check-cashing, payday-loan and consumer-finance industries. As part of this business plan, we intend to continue to develop service programs that can be easily modified to address the needs of a particular channel of distribution.
CONTINUE TO DEVELOP A RECURRING REVENUE BASE. Membership renewals are not a characteristic of or expected with respect to our programs because the membership is continuous until the member voluntarily terminates the plan or its relationship with a client. Growth in recurring revenue from the Care Entrée product is dependent on the marketing representatives continuing to market the Care Entrée program memberships and recruit new downline independent marketing representatives. We intend to continually increase our support for representatives to maximize the
volume generated through this sales channel. Recurring revenue from wholesale and private label clients is dependent upon the client continuously marketing our products to their customer base. We intend to continue to focus our efforts on retaining our existing and obtaining new wholesale and private label clients through our direct sales team.
LEVERAGE AND DEVELOP MULTIPLE NETWORK PARTNERS. We currently have contract relationships with two preferred provider organization networks for access to savings on doctors, hospitals, and ancillary healthcare services. Development of this type of network takes a significant amount of time and effort as does maintaining the relationship and assuring that it is working well for all parties involved. We continue to seek relationships with other preferred provider organization networks to further stabilize our business and assure our members that they are obtaining the best possible rates in the market area.
PROVIDE HIGH QUALITY CUSTOMER SERVICE. In order to achieve our anticipated growth and to ensure client, member and marketing representative loyalty, we continue to develop and invest significantly in our member service systems. We have developed a proprietary computer database system that provides customer service representatives immediate access to provider demographic data, re-pricing information and member information, including the components of each member program or plan and the details a member requires to properly utilize the program. Members may obtain assistance through our customer service representatives during regular, and extended business hours.
DEVELOP AND MARKET INNOVATIVE PRODUCT OFFERINGS. We recently began offering a medical savings program to provide greater assurance that healthcare providers would be paid on a timely basis. Our members deposit money into their individual escrow accounts on a monthly basis from which healthcare services are paid in whole or in part. A member's ability to pay is then certified prior to treatment or hospitalization based in part on the balance of the member's escrow account.
MEMBERSHIP SERVICE PROGRAMS
CONSUMER HEALTHCARE SAVINGS PROGRAMS. As of December 31, 2002, we had five consumer healthcare savings programs:
TOTAL CARE PROGRAM $69.95 per family per month, includes access to savings on hospitals, doctors, ancillary services, dentists, vision care, LASIK-laser vision correction, Instacare emergency card, hearing aids, prescription medications, alternative care, chiropractors, 24-hour health hotline, $2,000 excess accident medical benefit and three month membership fee continuation for involuntary unemployment.
ESSENTIAL CARE PROGRAM $49.95 per family per month, includes access to savings on doctors, ancillary services, dentists, vision care, LASIK-laser vision correction, hearing aids, prescription medications, alternative care, chiropractors, 24-hour health hotline, $2,000 excess accident medical benefit and three month membership fee continuation for involuntary unemployment.
CHOICE CARD PROGRAM $24.95 per family per month, includes access to savings on 24-hour health hotline, Instacare emergency card, hearing aids, prescription medications, vision care, dentists and long term care services.
DENTAL PLUS PROGRAM $19.95 per family per month, includes access to savings on dentists, 24-hour hotline, hearing aids, prescription medications, vision care, alternative care and chiropractors.
PRESCRIPTION PLUS PROGRAM $9.95 per family per month, includes access to savings on prescription medications, vision care and hearing aids.
Members pay a one-time $30 or $20 (depending on the program) processing fee at the time of enrollment. Most members pay for the program on a monthly basis, either through automatic bank draft or credit card draft, although some elect to have their accounts drafted on a quarterly basis. Individuals who do not wish to be billed rather than have their accounts drafted are required to make a six-month or annual payment. Groups of five or more can also choose to be billed on a monthly basis.
Members may cancel their membership at any time by returning their identification cards, along with a written notice of cancellation. Under our program there is a 30-day money back guarantee so that if a member is not completely satisfied with the program, the member will be refunded the program fee upon the return of the identification cards. The processing fee is non-refundable.
Upon enrollment, new members receive a member kit that includes instructions on using the program, directories for their area and identification cards.
WHOLESALE MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMS. As of December 31, 2002, we had four wholesale membership programs:
FORESIGHT PREFERRED CUSTOMER CLUB (SM) We developed this program specifically for clients in the rental-purchase and retail furniture industry. The program consists of a basic package of consumer benefits, combined with insurance coverage selected by the client. Clients may choose the standard design with accompanying marketing materials, or customize their program using their own name, logo and corporate "look."
CHOICE (SM) CHECKING PLANS Faced with increasing competition from larger financial institutions as well as non-bank competitors, the importance of establishing proven, loyalty-building programs is a high priority in the banking industry. We developed several different programs consisting of various insurance, travel and discount benefits designed to appeal to specific segments within the financial institution customer base including students and middle income and age market, high-balance affluent and mature market customers. Each program is typically offered in conjunction with several financial services offered by the financial institution itself.
VIP CLUB We designed the VIP Club as a supplemental benefits program for employee groups. The program includes access to national discount networks for prescription drugs, dental services and vision products and other consumer-oriented benefits and services. We market the VIP Club on a retail basis to associations and employee groups.
SELECT CLUB We developed this program for clients of consumer finance companies. This program consists of accidental death and dismemberment coverage, travel and discount benefits, entertainment and other similar discount programs, as well as access to discounts for prescription drugs, dental services and vision products.
Foresight has marketed the Preferred Customer Club for over 10 years. The other wholesale membership programs listed above have been developed over the last several years and although we do receive revenue on each product listed, the revenue is insignificant in relation to the revenue attributable to Preferred Customer Club sales.
Those customers that become members of wholesale programs pay the membership fee as part of the weekly or monthly payments made to our clients in connection with the primary product or service purchased or rented.
Our wholesale membership programs are offered by our clients in connection with point-of-sale transactions and are presented to the customer as a value-added benefit of doing business with the client. The customer relationships with our clients are generally short term and typically on an infrequent basis; therefore, there is not an extended client-customer relationship. For offering and selling the memberships in a wholesale program, the clients retain 40% to 80% of the membership fee and remit the balance to us.
We contract with numerous preferred provider organization and other medical networks for access to their negotiated rates. We do not contract directly with any medical providers. We only select and utilize those networks that we believe can deliver adequate savings to our members, while providing support for our program with the healthcare providers. We pay each network utilized a per member per month amount for use of the network. Each network is only paid for those members authorized to utilize the network. Most of our network contracts are generally for a one-year term, with subsequent one-year renewal terms at our or the network's option. Networks may cancel their contracts with us, but in most cases, subject to notice provisions to provide time to locate a substitute network. Most of ours network contracts are not exclusive, but have requirements that the we and the network maintain the confidentiality of the terms of the contract. Our principal preferred provider organization through which our members receive savings on healthcare services through our Care Entrée program is Private Healthcare Systems, Inc. Our current contract expires in December 2003, requiring renegotiation and extension and in the event we are unable to do so, we will need to obtain another preferred provider organization on a timely basis.
We believe that a high level of customer service is critical to the success of its program. We provide customer service for three types of individuals or organizations:
marketing representatives so that they can be more effective in selling the program;
Our members in order to assure that they achieve the best available savings when utilizing the program;
The providers, who require assistance in (a) understanding how the program works for them and (b) in verifying eligibility and identifying what to bill the patient for each procedure performed.
Toll free support is provided for the members and providers. We maintain our customer service center in Grand Prairie, Texas, with a total of 47 customer service representatives as of December 31, 2002. Our member service center is available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. central time and 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday. Our marketing representative service center is available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. central time and 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday. Our provider service center is available Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. central time and 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. central time on Friday and our third-party administrator service center is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. All new customer service representatives must have a medical background, either processing insurance claims or working in a medical office. Extensive on-the-job training is also provided to them. Utilizing our systems, the customer service representatives are able to provide friendly but efficient service to our members, marketing representatives, and networks and care providers.
We provide extensive training to our marketing representatives to assure that they accurately represent our products and services. This training is available in a variety of forms, including a training manual, audio, and videotapes, local and regional training meetings and weekly conference calls. The training encompasses both product training as well as marketing training and sales techniques.
We have certain policies and procedures in place to control any advertising or promotions that are utilized by our marketing representatives. These policies and procedures are necessary to assure the proper representation of the program at all times and include the pre-approval of all advertising, anti-spamming and anti-fax blasting rules, and limits where representatives can advertise. A representative's failure to follow these rules can result in fines or termination.
We have made substantial investments in our proprietary technology and management information systems. These systems were designed in-house and are used in all aspects of our business, including:
member eligibility and demographic information;
maintaining representative information including genealogy reporting;
maintaining a database of all providers and providing provider locator services;
re-pricing medical bills;
drafting members accounts on a monthly basis; and
tracking of cash receipts and revenues.
We are currently in the process of converting our technology and management information systems. These systems were designed with the assistance of an outside consultant group and are expected to be fully functional by the end of the third quarter of 2003. These systems will allow for more-timely processing of business transactions and will contain e-commerce capabilities.
We have also established extensive web-sites for our programs that provide information about the program, allow for provider searches and allow new members and representatives to enroll on-line. The web sites also allow representatives, through a password-protected area to access support and training files and to view their genealogy and commission information. The web-sites are set up as "self-replicating" web-sites to allow representatives a copy of the web-sites under a unique web address.
WHOLESALE PROGRAM CLIENT CONTRACTUAL ARRANGEMENTS
Our ability to market program memberships under our Foresight subsidiary is dependent upon continuing and establishing new client relations. The arrangements with our clients are pursuant to written agreements that set forth our and the client's responsibilities, obligations, and entitlements, including collection of membership fees and, as applicable, payment of royalties. Clients that sell wholesale memberships generally are required to collect the membership fee and remit 20% to 60% of the membership fee to us and are entitled to retain the balance. Our client contracts are generally for an initial term of one year, which is automatically extended for a term of one year following the initial term. These contracts are subject to termination upon 90-days' written notice prior to expiration of the initial term or the extended term. Pursuant to these contracts, our clients are excluded from offering and selling similar membership service programs. Upon termination, we generally do not have any continuing relationship with the client's customers, although we are entitled to continue to receive our portion of the membership fees as collected by the retail client. Furthermore, for one year following termination of the contract, a retailer is not permitted to offer programs that are similar to our membership programs.
With respect to those memberships sold by Foresight, pursuant to direct marketing methods, we obtain substantially all customer marketing information from customer lists supplied by our clients. Clients provide these lists for use in marketing a single, specific program that has been pre-approved by the client. Pursuant to contractual arrangements with these clients, we are obligated to collect the membership fees and remit 10% to 50% of the membership fees to the client that provided the customer list used to solicit the membership sales. Under our contractual arrangements with these clients we typically have the right to continue providing membership services directly to the client's customers even if the client terminates the contract. Our ability to market new retail programs to an existing customer base or an existing retail program to a new customer base is dependent on first obtaining approval from a client.
Client relationships generally are developed over an extended period of six months or more. These relationships generally are based in part on professional relationships and the reputation of our management and marketing personnel. As a result, client relationships may be adversely affected by events beyond our control, including departures of key personnel and alterations in personal relationships. Consequently, because the relationships with our clients are pursuant to contractual arrangements that are subject to termination, we provide no assurance that:
or more of our key or other clients will not terminate its relationship with us;
if applicable, that clients will provide additional customer lists for use in our further marketing of new or existing membership programs; or
clients who terminate will be replaced on a timely basis, if at all.
Any one of the foregoing may adverse affect upon our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to federal, state and local laws, regulations, administrative determinations, court decisions and similar constraints (hereinafter "regulations"). These regulations include and pertain to, among others,
Care Entrée membership program being regulated as an insurance company,
our product claims and advertising (including direct claims and advertising as well as claims and advertising by independent marketing representatives, for which we may be held responsible), and
our network marketing organization.
POSSIBLE INSURANCE COMPANY REGULATION. Our Care Entrée program is not an insurance program and is not subject to regulation as an insurance company or a seller of insurance. However, regulations in certain states currently regulate or restrict the offering of our programs.
Infrequently, we receive inquires from insurance commissioners in various states that require us to supply information about our Care Entrée program, representatives, etc. to the insurance commissioner or other state regulatory agency. To date, these agencies have concurred with our view that these programs are not a form of insurance and are being sold in a proper manner. There is no assurance that this situation will not change in the future, and an insurance commissioner will successfully challenge our ability to offer our programs without compliance with state insurance regulation. Furthermore, there is the risk that a state will adopt regulations or enact legislation restricting the sale of our medical discount programs in the state.
Our Care Entrée program is also subject to the review of the attorney generals in each state, particularly as it relates to the network marketing aspect of the program. The Care Entrée commission plan was designed to meet the requirements of each state, and we have had no challenges of the plan from any state attorney general. However, the laws in any state or the interpretation of these laws could change at any time and we may be prevented from selling membership in our Care Entrée programs as a result of the changes.
Compliance with federal and state regulations is generally our responsibility. The medical discount program industry is especially susceptible to charges by the media of regulatory noncompliance and unfair dealing. As is often the case, the media may publicize perceived non-compliance with consumer protection regulations and violations of notions of fair dealing with consumers. Our failure to comply with current, as well as newly enacted or adopted federal and state regulations, could have a material
adverse effect upon our business, financial condition and results of operations in addition to the following:
may cause us to become the subject of a variety of enforcement or private actions;
compliance with changes in applicable regulations could materially increase the associated operating costs;
non-compliance with any rules and regulations enforced by a federal or state consumer protection authority may subject us or our management personnel to fines or various forms of civil or criminal prosecution; and
non-compliance or alleged non-compliance may result in negative publicity potentially damaging our reputation, network relationships, client relationships and the relationship with program members, representatives and consumers in general.
PRODUCT CLAIMS AND ADVERTISING. The Federal Trade Commission and certain states regulate advertising, product claims, and other consumer matters, including advertising of our products. All advertising, promotional and solicitation materials used by marketing representatives require our approval prior to use. The Federal Trade Commission may institute enforcement actions against companies for false and misleading advertising of consumer products. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has increased its scrutiny of the use of testimonials, including those used by us and our marketing representatives. We have not been the target of Federal Trade Commission enforcement action.
There is no assurance that:
Federal Trade Commission will not question our advertising or other operations in the future;
a state will not interpret product claims presumptively valid under federal law as illegal under that state's regulations; or
future Federal Trade Commission regulations or decisions will not restrict the permissible scope of such claims.
We are also subject to the risk of claims by marketing representatives and their customers who may file actions on their own behalf, as a class or otherwise, and may file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission or state or local consumer affairs offices. These agencies may take action on their own initiative against us for alleged advertising or product claim violations, or on a referral from distributors, customers or others. Remedies sought in such actions may include consent decrees and the refund of amounts paid by the complaining distributor or consumer, refunds to an entire class of distributors or customers or other damages, as well as changes in our method of doing business. A complaint based on the practice of one marketing representative, whether or not we authorized the practice, could result in an order affecting some or all of our marketing representatives in a particular state. Also, an order in one state could influence courts or government agencies in other states considering similar matters. Proceedings resulting from these complaints may result in significant defense costs, settlement payments or judgments and could have a material adverse effect on us.
NETWORK MARKETING ORGANIZATION. Our network marketing system is subject to a number of federal and state regulations administered by the Federal Trade Commission and various state agencies. These regulations are generally directed at ensuring that advancement, within a network marketing organization, are based on sales of the organization's products rather than investment in the organization or other non-sales related criteria. For instance, in certain markets there are limits on the extent that marketing representatives may earn royalties on sales generated by marketing representatives that were not directly sponsored by the marketing representative.
Our network marketing organization and activities are subject to scrutiny by various state and federal governmental regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with various types of laws and regulations. These laws and regulations include securities, franchise investment, business opportunity, and criminal laws prohibiting the use of "pyramid" or "endless chain" types of selling organizations. The compensation structure of these selling organizations is very complex, and compliance with all of the applicable laws is uncertain in light of evolving interpretation of existing laws and the enactment of new laws and regulations pertaining to this type of product distribution. We are not aware of any legal actions pending or threatened by any governmental authority against it regarding the legality of our network marketing operations.
As of December 31, 2002, we had marketing representatives in 41 states and the District of Columbia. We review the requirements of various states, as well as seek legal advice, regarding the structure and operation of its selling organization to ensure that it complies with all of the applicable laws and regulations pertaining to network sales organizations. Based on these efforts and the experience of our management, we believe that we are in compliance with all applicable federal and state regulatory requirements. We have not obtained no-action letters or advance rulings from any federal or state security regulator or other governmental agency concerning the legality of our network operations, nor are we relying on a formal opinion of counsel to that effect. We accordingly are subject to the risk that, in one or more of our network marketing organization could be found to not comply with applicable laws and regulations. Our failure to comply with these regulations could have a material adverse effect on us in a particular market or in general.
We are subject to the risk of challenges to the legality of our network marketing organization, including claims by our marketing representatives, both individually and as a class. Most likely these claims would be based on the network marketing organization allegedly being operated as an illegal "pyramid scheme" in violation of federal securities laws, state unfair practice and fraud laws, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. In the event of challenges to the legality of our network marketing organization by distributors, we would be required to demonstrate that our network marketing organization complies with applicable regulatory laws. A final ruling against us could result in a material liability. Moreover, even if we were successful in defending against these challenges, the costs of such defense, both in dollars spent and in management time, could be material and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. In addition, the negative publicity of these challenges could adversely affect our revenues and ability to attract and retain marketing representatives.
HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT COMPLIANCE. In December 2000, The Department of Health and Human Services issued final privacy regulations pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA") that will become effective in April 2003. HIPAA and the applicable regulations impose extensive restrictions on the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information by certain entities. Also as part of HIPAA, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued final regulations standardizing electronic transactions between health plans, providers and clearinghouses. Health plans, providers, and clearinghouses, are required to conform their electronic and data processing systems with HIPAA's electronic transaction requirements. The effective date of these regulations is October 2002. We may be required to comply with certain aspects of these regulations.
Our recently purchased re-pricing software systems are considered HIPAA compliant. We are also in the process of engaging a consulting firm to assist us in assessing the steps we will have to take in complying with all other HIPAA regulations. While this assessment is not yet complete, we believe compliance with these regulations may have a significant impact on our business operations. We have not yet completed a cost assessment of compliance with these regulations, and therefore cannot give assurance that these costs will not be material to us. Sanctions for failing to comply with standards issued pursuant to HIPAA include criminal penalties and civil sanctions.
CONSUMER HEALTHCARE SAVINGS PROGRAMS. While the medical savings industry is still in its early stages, competition for members is becoming more intense. We offer membership programs that provide products and service similar to or directly in competition with products and services offered by our network-marketing competitors as well as the providers of such products and services through other channels of distribution. Although not permitted under the current agreements with our representatives and private label clients, in the future some of our clients may provide, either directly or through third parties, programs that directly compete with our programs. Competition for new representatives is intense, as these individuals have a variety of products that they can choose to market, whether competing with us in the healthcare market or not.
Our principal competitors are U.S. Health Advisors (National Health), AmeriPlan, Family Care (NAPP), Full Access Medical, and Medical Health Ventures (IAB). We also compete with all types of network marketing companies throughout the U.S. for new representatives. Our other competitors include large retailers, financial institutions, insurance companies, preferred provider organization networks, and other organizations, which offer benefit programs to their customers. Many of our competitors have substantially larger customer bases and greater financial and other resources.
We distinguish ourselves from the competition through the offering of toll-free live customer service to the providers, as well as, the members. Our staff is adequately trained to provide not only customer support, but also member steerage so that our members are able to achieve additional medical savings by obtaining the best rates even within the same medical provider network. Additionally, through our subsidiary third-party administrator, Foresight, Inc., we offer an escrow account program that ensures payment to our hospital providers. We are not aware of any other competitor that offers customer service to the medical providers and members in this manner.
WHOLESALE MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMS. The environment within which we operate is intensely competitive and subject to rapid change. To maintain or increase our market share position, we must continually enhance our current product offerings, introduce new product features and enhancements, and expand our client service capabilities. We currently compete principally on the basis of the specialized nature of our products and services.
Competition in the membership services market for clients is intense. We offer membership programs that provide products and services similar to or directly in competition with products and services offered by our competitors as well as the providers of such products and services through other channels of distribution. Through contractual arrangements with a competitor, potential clients may be prohibited from contracting with us to design a membership program if the services or products provided by our program are similar to, or merely overlap with, the services or products provided by an existing competitor program. Although not permitted under the current agreements with our clients, in the future some of our clients may provide, either directly or through third parties, programs offered by our competitors that directly compete with our programs. Competition for new members is also intense, particularly as the market becomes saturated with customers who are already members of competing programs.
Our principal competitors are Cendant Corporation, Memberworks, Inc., Nationwide Club Administrators, Inc., Encore International, Inc. and Consumer Benefit Services, Inc. Our other competitors include large retailers, travel agencies, financial institutions, and other organizations which offer benefit programs to their customers. Many of our competitors have substantially larger customer bases and greater financial and other resources.
We believe that the principal competitive factors in the consumer healthcare and wholesale membership industries, some of which are not within our control, may include:
ability to maintain contracts with reputable preferred provider organization networks that offer substantial savings;
the quality and breadth of the programs offered;
the quality and extent of customer service;
the ability to offer substantial savings on the larger medical bills such as hospital and surgical bills;
the ability to combine the programs with affordable insurance plans that have high deductibles or set payment for hospitalization;
prices of products and service offered;
compensation plans for representatives;
the ability to hire and retain employees;
the development by others of member programs that are competitive with Capella Group's programs;
responsiveness to customer needs;
the ability to satisfy investigations on the part of state attorney generals, insurance commissioners and other regulatory bodies;
the ability to finance promotions for the recruiting of members and representatives; and
the ability to effectively market the product on the World Wide Web.
To date we have effectively competed with our competitors and are considered a leader in the industry. However, there is no assurance that:
will not develop their own software that re-prices medical bills and copy our customer service;
our competitors will not increase their emphasis on programs similar to our programs to more effectively compete with us;
our competitors will not recruit our independent marketing representatives by offering more attractive sales commissions;
our competitors will not provide programs comparable or superior to our programs at lower membership fees;
our competitors will not adapt more quickly to evolving industry trends or changing market requirements;
new competitors will not enter the market;
other businesses such as insurance companies or preferred provider organization networks will not themselves introduce competing programs; and
competitors may develop more effective marketing campaigns that more effectively utilize direct mail and television advertising.
This increased competition may result in price reductions, reduced gross margins and loss of market share, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
As of December 31, 2002, we had 133 full-time employees. Our future performance depends in significant part upon the continued service of our key technical and management personnel, and our continuing ability to attract and retain highly qualified and motivated personnel in all areas of our operations. Competition for qualified personnel is intense. We provide no assurance that we can retain key managerial and technical employees, or that we can attract, assimilate or retain other highly qualified personnel in the future. Our employees are not represented by a labor union. We have not experienced any work stoppages, and consider our employee relations to be good.
ADDITIONAL FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT OUR FUTURE RESULTS
The following factors and the matters discussed below and elsewhere in this report should be considered when evaluating our business operations and strategies. Additionally, there may be risks and uncertainties that we are not aware of or that we currently deem immaterial, which may become material factors affecting our operations and business success. Many of the factors are not within our control. We provide no assurance that one or more of these factors will not adversely affect
market price of our common stock;
our future operations;
our financial condition; or
our results of operations;
require significant reduction or discontinuance of our operations;
require us to seek a merger partner; or
require us to sell additional stock on terms that are highly dilutive to our shareholders.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS CAUTIONARY STATEMENTS RELATING TO FORWARD LOOKING INFORMATION.
We have included some forward-looking statements in this section and other places in this report regarding our expectations. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements, or industry results, to be materially different from any future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Some of these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology including "believes," "expects," "may," "will," "should" or "anticipates" or the negative thereof or other variations thereon or comparable terminology, or by discussions of strategies that involve risks and uncertainties. You should read statements that contain these words carefully because they:
our future expectations;
contain projections of our future operating results or of our future financial condition; or
state other "forward-looking" information.
We believe it is important to discuss our expectations; however, it must be recognized that events may occur in the future over which we have no control and which we are not accurately able to predict.
OUR REVENUES ARE PRIMARILY DEPENDENT ON THE INDEPENDENT MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES, WHOSE REDUCED SALES EFFORTS OR TERMINATION MAY RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT LOSS OF REVENUES.
Our success and growth depend in large part upon our ability to attract, retain, and motivate the network of independent marketing representatives who principally market our Care Entrée discount healthcare program. Our independent marketing representatives typically offer and sell the Care Entrée program on a part-time basis, and may engage in other business activities. These marketing representatives may give higher priority to other products or services, reducing their efforts devoted to marketing our Care Entrée program. Also, our ability to attract and retain marketing representatives could be negatively affected by adverse publicity relating to our Care Entrée program and operations.
Under our network marketing system, the marketing representatives' downline organizations are headed by a relatively small number of key representatives who are responsible for a substantial
percentage of our total revenues. The loss of a significant number of marketing representatives, including any key representatives, for any reason, could adversely affect our revenues and operating results, and could impair our ability to attract new distributors.
DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH PREFERRED PROVIDER ORGANIZATIONS ARE CRITICAL.
As part of our business operations, we must develop and maintain relationships with preferred provider organizations within each market area that our Care Entrée program is offered. Development and maintenance of these relationships with healthcare providers within a preferred provider organization is in part based on professional relationships and the reputation of our management and marketing personnel. Because many members that receive healthcare services are self-insured and responsible for payment for the healthcare services, failure to pay or late payment by members may negatively affect our relationship with the preferred provider organizations. Consequently, preferred provider organization relationships may be adversely affected by events beyond our control, including departures of key personnel and alterations in professional relationships and failures to pay for services received. The loss of a preferred provider organization within a geographic market area may not be replaced on a timely basis, if at all. The loss of a preferred provider organization for any reason could have a material adverse effect on The Capella Group's and our business', financial condition, and results of operations.
WE CURRENTLY RELY HEAVILY ON ONE KEY PREFFERED PROVIDER ORGANIZATION.
Private Healthcare Systems, Inc. is the principal preferred provider organization through which our members receive savings on healthcare services through our Care Entrée program. The loss of Private Healthcare Systems as a preferred provider organization or disruption of our members' access to this preferred provider organization could adversely affect our business. While we currently enjoy a good relationship with Private Healthcare Systems, there are no assurances that we will continue to have a good relationship with this provider in the future, or that the provider may choose to partner with one of our competitors or compete directly with our Care Entrée program.
WE FACE COMPETITION FOR MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES AS WELL AS COMPETITIVE OFFERINGS OF HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES.
Although the medical savings membership industry is in the early stages of its development, competition for members is becoming more intense. We offer membership programs that provide products and services similar to or directly in competition with products and services offered by our network-marketing competitors as well as the providers of such products and services through other channels of distribution. Although not permitted under the current agreements with our marketing representatives and private label clients, in the future some of our clients may provide, either directly or through third parties, programs that directly compete with our programs. Furthermore, marketing representatives have a variety of products that they can choose to market, whether competing with us in the healthcare market or not. Our business operations compete in two channels of competition. First, we compete based upon the healthcare products and services offered. These competitors include companies that offer healthcare products and services through membership programs much like our programs, as well as insurance companies, preferred provider organization networks and other organizations which offer benefit programs to their customers. Second, we compete with all types of network marketing companies throughout the U.S. for new representatives. Many of our competitors have substantially larger customer bases and greater financial and other resources.
We provide no assurance that our competitors will not provide healthcare benefit programs comparable or superior to our programs at lower membership prices or adapt more quickly to evolving healthcare industry trends or changing industry requirements. Increased competition may result in price reductions, reduced gross margins, and loss of market share, any of which could adversely affect our
business, financial condition and results of operations. There is no assurance that we will be able to compete effectively with current and future competitors.
WE MAY BECOME SUBJECT TO GOVERNMENT REGULATION MUCH LIKE AN INSURANCE COMPANY.
The membership and healthcare benefits we offer are sold without license by any federal, state, or local regulatory licensing agency or commission. In comparison, companies that provide insurance benefits and operate healthcare management organizations and preferred provider organizations are regulated by state licensing agencies and commissions. These regulations extensively cover operations, including scope of benefits, rate formula, delivery systems, utilization review procedures, quality assurance, enrollment requirements, claim payments, marketing and advertising. In the future, state insurance regulatory agencies and commissions may determine that our Care Entrée programs are subject to governmental regulation, which may adversely affect or limit our future operations.
WE HAVE A FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILTY TO OUR MEMBERS THROUGH OUR TOTAL CARE AND ESSENTIAL CARE PROGRAM OFFERINGS.
In 2002, we initiated a medical savings program through our Total Care and Essential Care programs that is processed through our subsidiary Foresight as a third-party administrator. Under this medical savings program, funds collected from members are held in escrow for the benefit of the member as a source of payment for healthcare services obtained through our Total Care and Essential Care programs. Under the medical savings program we have a fiduciary responsibility to our members for the funds held for their benefit much like a trustee. In the unforeseen event of a loss of these funds while being held by us or our failure to implement and maintain adequate internal controls, we will be responsible and liable to the affected members for any such loss, including any consequential damages suffered by the members, which liability could be substantial.
THE FAILURE OF OUR NETWORK MARKETING ORGANIZATION TO COMPLY WITH FEDERAL AND STATE REGULATION COULD RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AND IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES, MODIFICATION OF OUR NETWORK MARKETING SYSTEM, AND NEGATIVE PUBLICITY.
Our network marketing organization is subject to federal and state laws and regulations administered by the Federal Trade Commission and various state agencies. These laws and regulations include securities, franchise investment, business opportunity, and criminal laws prohibiting the use of "pyramid" or "endless chain" types of selling organizations. These regulations are generally directed at ensuring that product and service sales are ultimately made to consumers (as opposed to other marketing representatives) and that advancement within the network marketing organization is based on sales of products and services, rather than on investment in the company or other non-retail sales related criteria.
The compensation structure of a network marketing organization is very complex. Compliance with all of the applicable regulations and laws is uncertain because of:
evolving interpretations of existing laws and regulations; and
the enactment of new laws and regulations pertaining in general to network marketing organizations and product and service distribution.
Accordingly, there is the risk that our network marketing system could be found to not comply with applicable laws and regulations, that could then:
in enforcement action and imposition of penalty;
require modification of the marketing representative network system;
have a negative effect on distributor morale and loyalty.
Any of these consequences could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations as well as our financial condition.
THE LEGALITY OF OUR NETWORK MARKETING ORGANIZATION IS SUBJECT TO CHALLENGE BY OUR MARKETING REPRESENTATIVES, WHICH COULD RESULT IN SIGNIFICANT DEFENSE COSTS, SETTLEMENT PAYMENTS OR JUDGMENTS, AND COULD HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON OUR RESULTS OF OPERATIONS AND FINANCIAL CONDITION.
Our network marketing organization is subject to legality challenge by our marketing representatives, both individually and as a class. Generally, these challenges would be based on claims that our marketing network program was operated as an illegal "pyramid scheme" in violation of federal securities laws, state unfair practice and fraud laws and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Proceedings resulting from these claims could result in significant defense costs, settlement payments, or judgments, and could have a material adverse effect on us.
WE CURRENTLY HAVE NOT FULLY EVALUATED OUR EXPOSURE AND LIABILITY RELATING TO THE HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILTY ACT OF 1996.
In December 2000, The Department of Health and Human Services issued final privacy regulations pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA") that will become effective in April 2003. HIPAA imposes extensive restrictions on the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information by certain entities. Also as part of HIPAA, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued final regulations standardizing electronic transactions between health plans, providers and clearinghouses. Health plans, providers and clearinghouses, are required to conform their electronic and data processing systems with HIPAA's electronic transaction requirements. The effective date of these regulations is October 2002. We may be required to comply with certain aspects of these regulations. Furthermore, our compliance with these regulations, if applicable, may have a significant impact on our business operations and may be at material cost in the event we are subject to these regulations. Sanctions for failing to comply with standards issued pursuant to HIPAA include criminal penalties and civil sanctions.
OUR PROGRAM MARKETING ACTIVITIES THAT ARE CONDUCTED BY OUR SUBSIDIARY FORESIGHT ARE DEPENDENT UPON OUR CLIENTS.
In carrying out our program marketing activities through our subsidiary Foresight, Inc., we are depend on our clients utilizing our services to design membership programs for their customers. The client prior to presentation to the client's customers approves each marketing program.
Our client relationships are pursuant to written agreements that typically may be terminated pursuant to 90-day written notice prior to end to the term of the agreement without cause and without penalty. Generally, upon termination, the client may not offer similar products or services for a one-year period; however, we are not prohibited from continuing to offer or provide membership services and products directly or indirectly to the client's individual customers. If the agreement is terminated due to our default, we are prohibited from renewing memberships and the client has the right to cause us to terminate our relationship with existing program members. Events that constitute default include events outside our control, including acts and omissions by our third-party product and service vendors or providers. There is no assurance that our clients will not terminate their relationships with us or cease to provide additional customer lists for our use in further marketing of new or existing membership programs.
WE ARE CURRENTLY IMPLEMENTING A NEW MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM.
In 2002, we began the implementation a new management information system. We are currently transitioning to our new management information system. There is no assurance that we will be able to continue operating without experiencing any disruptions in our operations or that our relationships with our members, marketing representatives or providers will not be adversely affected.
WE ASSUMED A CONTINGENT TAX LIABILITY IN CONNECTION WITH OUR MERGER-ACQUISITION OF FORESIGHT.
In January 1999, Universal Marketing Services, Inc., the former parent of our wholly-owned subsidiary, Foresight, Inc., purchased the outstanding common stock Foresight for $4,540,000. Universal Marketing Services agreed to indemnify the shareholders of Foresight for the increase in federal income taxes, and any applicable penalties to the extent that the reported $4,532,000 of the purchase price does not qualify for long-term capital gain treatment. In connection with our merger-acquisition of Foresight, we assumed the indemnification obligation of Universal Marketing Services.
Upon examination, the Internal Revenue Service may take the position that all or a portion of the $4,532,000 should be classified as ordinary income taxable at the maximum federal income tax rate of 39.6% rather than the long-term capital gain 20% rate. In the event the Internal Revenue Service successfully asserts that long- term capital gain classification was improper, we will be required to indemnify the former shareholders.
WE HAVE MANY COMPETITORS AND MAY NOT BE ABLE TO COMPETE EFFECTIVELY WHICH MAY LEAD TO A LACK OF REVENUES AND DISCONTINUANCE OF OUR OPERATIONS.
We compete with numerous well-established companies that design and implement membership programs. Some of our competitors may be companies that have programs that are functionally similar or superior to our membership programs. Most of our competitors possess substantially greater financial, marketing, personnel and other resources than us. They may also have established reputations relating to membership programs.
Due to competitive market forces, we may experience price reductions, reduced gross margins and loss of market share in the future, any of which would result in decreases in sales and revenues. These decreases in revenues would adversely affect our business and results of operations and could lead to discontinuance of operations. There can be no assurance that:
will be able to compete successfully;
our competitors will not develop membership programs that render our programs less marketable or even obsolete; or
we will be able to successfully enhance our programs when necessary.
THE GOODWILL AND OTHER INTANGIBLE ASSETS ACQUIRED PURSUANT TO OUR ACQUISITIONS OF THE CAPELLA GROUP AND FORESIGHT MAY BECOME IMPAIRED AND REQUIRE THE WRITE-DOWN OF OUR INTANGIBLE ASSETS AND THE RECOGNITION OF AN IMPAIRMENT EXPENSE WHICH MAY BE SUBSTANTIAL.
In connection with our acquisitions of The Capella Group and Foresight, we recorded goodwill and other intangible assets that, at December 31, 2002, had an aggregate asset value of $21,077,284. In the event these intangible assets are determined to be impaired for any reason, we will be required to write-down or reduce the value of these assets and recognize an impairment expense. The impairment expense may be substantial in amount and, in such case, adversely affect the results of our operations for the applicable period and may negatively affect the market value of our common stock.