Sunday, September 6, 2009

Healthcare Supply Side Issues

This article has been much quoted and I feel explains the problems posed by for-profit providers (hospitals, clinics etc.). Its a little long but definitely worth reading.


Below is an article I found in the Salt Lake Tribune which talks about how decreasing costs and increasing efficiencies affected the health care system I work for. The bottom line, even though it created better outcomes for patients, it cost us millions in net-revenue.


What are your thoughts?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Healthcare Facts - Financials

Among the most important facts to properly frame the debate about whether health care should be reformed or not are the amount of profit being taken by companies throughout the health care system. The company that I work for happens to be non-profit, although as a matter of full disclosure, we have a for profit insurance company who is a subsidiary. Lets look at the most recent quarters net income for some of the largest health insurance companies. To put this in context, every dollar of profit for a health insurance company comes from spending less on helping people than they have paid you for that help. So in essence, the state fiduciary responsibility of a helath insurance company is to extract as much from its customers while spending as little as possible on keeping them healthy. The figures... Remember that these are only for 1/4 of the year:

United Healthgroup Net Income $859 million
CEO 2008 Compensation 3.2 million

Aetna Inc. Net Income 346 million
CEO 2008 Compensation 24.3 million (no... not a typo)

Cigna Net Income 435 million
CEO 2008 Compensation 4.3 million

Humana Inc Net Income 282 million
CEO 2008 Compensation 4.76 million

WellPoint Inc. Net Income 693 million
CEO 2008 Compensation 9.84

There are more but I'll end there. So my point here is that there is soooo much money at play for health insurers. They will stop at nothing (fake grass roots protests, calling the President a Nazi, stoking fears that health care reform includes killing seniors, or killing down syndrome babies of former Alaskan Governors) to convince people that this is bad for the country. We deserve better. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I have enough to say about healthcare that I could write for 4 days straight. I keep putting off doing it because I have so much to say and want to organize my thoughts. Above all, I want to say that the voices proclaiming that the reforms must be stopped not only have hidden motives, but that not enough people are thinking critically enough to point it out. That is why I love the daily show. All I can say is that I hope that Glen Beck never goes from being an ordinary LDS person, to being someone who represents a cross section of the church. He gets caught is stuff like this all the time. Please excuse the brief language.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck's Operation
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Friday, February 20, 2009

Financial Crisis Post 1

I have wanted to post things about the state of the economy but I realize its a topic which means different things to everyone and I am trying to make sure that I go about it in the right way. I saw this video and thought it was a good starting point. Its from Vimeo... Which I've mentioned I love. Check it out.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

At least Million People Have Watched This Today

When I saw this video last night (Saturday - 02/07/09), 4.8 million people had watched it. I love it. Its so funny. The video is called "David After Dentist"... The videos description says "This is my 7 year old son who had an extra tooth removed last summer, 2008.I had the camera because he was so nervous before and I wanted him to see the before and after.He was so out of it after, I had to carry him out of the office. The staff was trying to keep from laughing. I had tears from laughing so hard.He is doing fine now and the teeth are great.Best of all he is the best kid as is his brother William. I couldnt have asked for two better sons!"

Tell a friend.

I'd also like to take a second to thank Nate and Kimberly for telling me all about the publish post options. I've written almost one third as much this year as I did all of last year and I owe a lot of it to the ability to be able to write now and post later. Thanks you two.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My old iPhone

I love economics. My eyes lit up when my boss told me he wanted me to start an analysis that involved Macro Economic Factors and their effect on our company's financial performance last week. The next night I stayed till nine thirty working on the analysis. It was fun... I didn't even notice what time it was. I had my headphones on so I didn't hear anyone saying goodbye to me etc. This is all somewhat beside the point of this post. It relates in that my favorite thing about economics is the secondary and tertiary effects of the actions of a group or person. Apple decided to only sell the iPhone and iPhone 3g through exclusive contracts with mobile phone providers (with the exception of Hong Kong where I understand you can buy them without a contract attached). Despite the fact that the phone is now sold in almost 80 countries, there are tons of places all over the world where the phone is not sold in stores. This means that the people have to get their phones on the gray/black market from places in the world where they are currently being sold. How does this relate to me - a loyal iPhone 3g owner? It means that the secondary market here in the US is incredibly robust. Two weeks ago I decided to get on to Craigslist to see what the phones were going for here in SLC. As an aside, Craigslist is that dark alley people always talk about. The fact that you never really register and that posts are basically anonymous means that you never know much about the source with whom you are buying/selling from. I got on and searched iPhone. Tons of results came back. Along with getting a good idea of what I could get for my phone, I also saw adds for people who just buy phones from you outright, saving you the effort of posting an add yourself. That seemed like a good idea so I contacted one of the sellers. "This was easier than I thought it would be" I told myself. Cutting a long story short, this guy ended up being some kind of a total scam artist. He wanted me to meet him in the ghetto at 10:30. He said he didn't have a car so I would have to come to his house. Wierd. After asking where he lived I hopped on to google maps and found a well lit gas station using google street view. I figured they had cameras everywhere in case this guy tried to hustle me.

View Larger Map

As soon as I suggested this location he told me that this wasn't close to where he lived. That he actually lived 3 blocks south of there and 6 blocks west (rarely the direction you want to go in Salt Lake if you are looking for a nicer neighborhood. No offense anyone). So he suggested this location - which you can see is A. Creepy and B. would be closed / dark/ scary when he wanted to meet.

I said I would look for somewhere else. As I did I figured I would make sure we had settled on a price. Why I was actually still trying to strike a deal with Creepy McMystery is beyond me. Anyway, when I asked about price he told me a price $50 below what he had text me 30 min earlier. He said he had never offered that price and I told him "you see, that's the great thing about the iPhone.... I have my texts forever". There was a distinct click on his end of the line at that point and I figured I would just let him go.

So I posted an add of my own. The response was immediate and somewhat overwhelming. All of the text responses were legit but wanted to low ball me big time on the price (offering 60% of my asking price). And every single email I had was the Nigerian check scam. I responded to each email and told the person that everyone knows those scams don't work and to get a real job. In the end I ended up calling back the highest bid of the low bidders who met me at 12:30 AM in an IHOP parking lot. I spoke to the guy on the phone and he sounded legit. He told me he'd be in a BMW which made me feel even better. He brought $240 in cash and after looking over the phone he gave me the money. I drove away waiting for the money to disintegrate, or explode or something. It just seemed too good to be true. I've spent the money and the FBI hasn't come asking about counterfeit bills so I guess I'm in the clear. To put the amount of money I got into perspective, if you were to go and buy a brand new iPhone 3g at the apple store today, it would cost you $40 less than what I got for my old, used, out dated phone. I love markets. The guy I sold to unlocks the phones and sends them home to Vietnam where someone sells them. Thanks to Apple not selling everywhere, supply and demand worked in my favor. Thanks Steve.

As long as I'm all google street view happy in this post I may as well show you the IHOP.

View Larger Map

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Yo... I has a beard now... Aight?

So last time I was home my Dad goes... Son... I think you should grow a beard. And then I go... O, For real? And then he's all... Ya. So I'm all... Okai. Just kidding. But really. I have a beard. There had been two reasons that I had never grown a beard. A. I was at BYU where oddly, mustaches are A-OK but they put the kibosh on beards in the 70's. I never really complained while I was there about it. I don't really mind. Although the irony of allowing mustaches - until very very recently considered very uncool and even creepy - and not beards always struck me as odd. Reason B. was that as soon as I graduated, I started working for a healthcare company founded by the church and still espouses its conservative stances on many things. I didn't want to rock the boat. I'd rather advance my career than my appearance after all (for further evidence of this see also my waistline). But in October my boss came back from a trip with a full beard. He had always struck me as very very Mormon so this surprised me. It made me feel like I could let loose around the guy a little more though and as if he wouldn't mind if I also grew a beard of my very own. Anyway. With my two main obstacles gone, I decided over Christmas to try the whole beard thing out. I really only wanted to see what it looked like at first. By the time I returned to work after the new year, I was beyond scruff but not to full beard status yet. I started getting random compliments from coworkers who never seemed to me like the I would compliment you on your new beard if I liked it type of guys. But the compliments came flowing in. Then Beckah - a total dime - turned bright red when Cajun told me (right in front of her) that she thought I looked handsome with a beard. So despite the fact that this was meant to be a 3 /4 week experiment, I still have my beard. I also have the very first pictures of said beard ready to post. So... I give you.... MY BEARD. ENJOY.

This is my beard and I doing Tai Chi at a small get together.

This picture is of Dustin Bolt and my beard at the same party.

This is me allowing you to get up close and personal with the beard.

I'm thinking I'll chop it off in two weeks. But I've been saying that for a month now - So who knows?