Tag Archives: education

The 3 Best Websites on Healthcare

These are three websites I read every day and from which I draw a huge amount of useful information:

  1. The Doctor Weighs In, hosted by Dr. Patricia Salber. TDWI is truly mind-expanding. She explores topics from the relationship between morality and religion to detecting post-surgery respiratory problems. Here is a link to The Doctor Weighs In.
  2. They Said What?, hosted by the inimitable Al Lewis and Vik Khanna. They go about exploding one healthcare myth after another and do so with appropriate satire, hilarious quotes and self-immolating vendor screenshots. I can’t go to this website without learning valuable information and having a good laugh. Who doesn’t like a good satire? Here is a link to They Said What? My advice: start with “This is your brain on wellness.”
  3. Not Running a Hospital, hosted by Paul Levy. Not Running a Hospital goes way beyond what the title implies…and way beyond healthcare in general. It, too, is mind-expanding. He covers topics from math education to healthcare myths and back again. Here is a link to Not Running a Hospital.

I urge you to add these websites to your bookmarks and visit them often.

11 Reasons to Start CPCU Today

  1. You will gain the knowledge you need to truly understand the overall property/casualty insurance industry at a high level.
  2. You will get access to membership in the CPCU Society both locally and nationally, which will open up amazing networking opportunities with the leaders of our industry.
  3. Only 4% of our industry has achieved the CPCU, so it immediately puts you in the top echelon of the industry when it comes to education.
  4. CPCU opens the door to promotions and new positions. Getting the interview for better positions becomes much easier with the highly respected CPCU letters next to your name.
  5. The average CPCU is 54 years old. With so many retirements happening in our industry, young CPCUs are in very high demand.
  6. Many of the local CPCU Society chapters are looking for young talent for their boards, giving you lots of opportunity to gain experience in a leadership role.
  7. At around $4,000 for the whole program, it’s much less costly than an MBA.
  8. Chances are your company will pay 100% of the cost of the program and pay for the trip to the annual meeting, and some even give bonuses for each test passed and for completing the program.
  9. It shows a real commitment to the industry, which makes companies much more likely to take a risk on you and offer you a stretch assignment.
  10. The average CPCU makes 29% more than non-CPCUs with the same job title.
  11. If you start today, you have just enough time to finish in time for Hawaii 2016!!!!

Share this article with those at your company who would benefit from getting their CPCU! If this article inspires you to get going on CPCU, let me know in the comments, and I will personally call you to answer any questions you might have about the CPCU program! 😀

Already have your CPCU? Tell us: How has earning your CPCU improved your career? How did you decide to start pursuing it? Comment below.

9 Things to Know Before Buying Life Insurance

Life is unpredictable. So, even when doing very well in life, you are never sure what the future holds for you or your beloved family. Perhaps nothing  provides more peace of mind than securing your family’s financial future for the day “when you are not there.” The question is: How?

It takes more than just saving

  • You will have a hard time securing your family’s future just by saving and cutting expenses.
  • A life insurance policy can fulfill your family’s immediate cash flow requirements.
  • Your family can face no, or minimum, disruption financially if something happens to you.
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Getting the best of an insurance policy

  • You need a well-thought-out insurance plan and must pay attention to various aspects of a policy.
  • Remember: Insurance is a long-term investment, and it’s difficult to make changes in a policy’s terms later.

Here are 9 things to bear in mind before buying or upgrading an insurance policy:

1. Figure out your insurance needs

  • Your insurance needs depend on whether you are single, married with children, married without children, a single parent, an empty nester or a retiree.
  • The first thing you need to figure out is who and what needs to be covered under your life insurance policy — mortgage, utilities, healthcare, education of any children, etc.
  • Ideally, your family, home and the status of your career should be reflected in your insurance policy.

2. What type of insurance do you need?

Term insurance

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  • It has no investment component.
  • It provides coverage for a specific period at fixed premiums.
  • Compared with cash-value insurance, term insurance has lower premiums
  • You need to decide the amount and period of coverage – 10, 15, 25 or 30 years.
  • In the event of the insured’s death, beneficiaries get the face value of the policy tax free.

Cash-value or permanent life insurance

  • It covers the lifetime of the insured.
  • Permanent life insurance is of many types: whole life, universal life and variable life.
  • Such policies have a cash value – you are paid back a portion of your premium.
  • Tax is not charged on such policies until you withdraw the cash value or surrender your policy before your death.

3. Make sure premiums are affordable:

  • Keep your financial limits in mind.
  • Go for a policy whose initial, as well as future, premiums are within your range.3

4. Read policy terms carefully

  • It’s imperative to carefully review the terms, coverage premiums, benefits, renewals and termination clauses of the policy before buying it.
  • Understand the time period for providing the insurance benefits to beneficiaries in case of untimely death.
  • Your beneficiaries should also have information about your insurance policy and its terms and conditions.

5. Study before dropping or replacing a policy

  • Weigh the pros and cons before dropping your current policy in favor of a new one.
  • Insurance companies charge to drop or replace your current policy with a new one.

6. Keep track of renewal policies

  • Even if your health status changes, most term insurance policies can be renewed for a term or more.
  • The premiums for renewed term policies are higher.
  • Ask about the amount of premiums to be paid if renewal is sought after a certain age.
  • Ask for the age up to which you can renew your term insurance policy.

7. Review your policy every few years

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  • You can upgrade your existing policy if your requirements change.
  • Take inflation, current economic status, changing family size and future plans into count while reviewing your insurance policy.

8. Be accurate on your application

  • Hiding personal health information or filing wrong information to get lower premiums can later lead to the loss of coverage and benefits.
  • Insurance companies can deny full benefits to beneficiaries if you die of an illness you had before signing the policy and did not reveal.

9. Avoid solely depending on your employer’s insurance

  • Life insurance should be 10 to 12 times of your salary, but your employer may not offer that amount.
  • You’ll lose your coverage if you change your job or your health declines.
  • Employer-provided life insurance tends to get more expensive as you age.

Electrodiagnostics: a More Powerful FCE?

My recent post on functional capacity exams (FCEs) is a great lead-in to considering another level of related technology. Let’s explore electrodiagnostics as arguably a more powerful arrival in functional exams.

First, let’s recap what quality means in a functional capacity exam: An FCE requires a process that is objective and consistent with the proper balance between specificity to body parts and sensitivity to critical indicators, including pain, range of motion and strength. An FCE must indicate illegitimate effort and attempts to “game” the test by subjects.

I submit to you that, the more a functional exam process can move away from human-tester interventions and totally separate testing steps, the closer it gets to nirvana. This construct is the essence of electrodiagnostics.

A routine FCE process involves various separate tests, including nerve conduction, range of motion and strength. Even with the most advanced equipment, this presents separate processes to assess for validity and to try and formulate into a whole-body issue. What if one test did all of this at once?

Contemplate the electrodiagnostic functional assessment (EFA), where a test subject performs a single test sequence on specialized EFA equipment that measures multiple factors. This provides instant objective credibility. Stated simply, combined factors of muscle strength, pain and range of motion and others need to align in a logical pattern as depicted by computerized readout, or the subject is immediately shown as self-limiting his capability.

The EFA is arguably more accurate than the common FCE in assessing work capacity. EFA has also been proven useful in more specific applications, such as determining the need for hardware removal in post-surgical cases with alleged recurring pain problems.

Consider further that, because the EFA is such a consistent test, it is highly credible as a comparison to prior baseline. The EFA used as a base-line test at time of hire can be saved as a data file without opening until an employee might have an alleged injury at some later period. At such occasion, a new EFA can be performed to compare with the baseline to see what, if any, alleged changes in capacity and pain threshold have occurred. This definitive comparison has held up in court cases, making the EFA evidence as worthy as an MRI would be in comparing pre- and post-injury pictures of a joint or body part.

Quick Tip: Learn More About EFA and the Possible Application to Your WC Claims

– Google “electrodiagnostic functional assessment” to review white papers and scholarly details around the EFA and its applications and case studies.

– For more information, search out Emerge Diagnostics, which has pioneered the application of EFA and which is making efforts to bring EFA to the forefront of medical and legal use. I do not promote specific vendors in “Quick Tips,” and this article is for informative purposes only. However, the EFA is currently a sole-source situation, and reviewing the studies and successes of Emerge Diagnostics is of educational benefit.

– If you want to be cutting edge, do a trial. Pick a WC case or two that is stalled without adequate determination of disability, causation, apportionment or need for surgery, etc. Work to get an EFA entered as evidence and see if the case can turn.

– If you do try EFA, let me know your results. I would like to continue related reporting on this and see how much future influence EFA might have on the larger WC landscape.

What Agents Must Know About The Mechanics Of America’s Healthcare Delivery System

I believe it is very important that agents fully understand the mechanics of America’s healthcare delivery system, why it is broken and what it might look like if it’s successfully overhauled.The fundamental problem with the American healthcare system is that we hardly spend any money on basic, general care which causes us to spend a whole bunch of money on specialty care. The fact is that five chronic diseases account for 70% of our country’s $2.6 trillion annual healthcare expenditures. Those diseases are coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, depression and asthma. The status quo of the way we deliver healthcare is conducive to inadequate management of chronic illness.

There’s not a lot of money in educating a family on what brings on an asthmatic attack and what to do in case a child suffers from one. But there’s a whole lot of money spent when an asthmatic is admitted to the hospital. The lack of proper care and management of diabetes can lead to very expensive care including amputations, dialysis at $10,000 a day and maybe even a new kidney at $250k. Outreach programs to help diabetics methodically check their blood chemistry, see their doctors regularly and gain access to nutritionists are generally poorly funded, if they exist at all. So it’s no wonder that diabetes alone accounts for 35% of Medicare expenditures.

Shortages in access to primary care due to lack of financial incentives (why be a general practitioner when you can make three times the money being a specialist?) cost our system hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Unless our country does more to encourage chronic disease management, the healthcare cost curve will continue upward and ultimately drive our country off the edge of an economic cliff.

Having said this, our system appears to be in the early stages of changing for the better.

For example, Congress included within the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA) language to encourage development of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to help save Medicare money.

According to Wikipedia, many healthcare leaders define the three core principles for ACOs as follows: 1) Provider-led organizations with a strong base of primary care that are collectively accountable for quality and total per capita costs across the full continuum of care for a population of patients; 2) Payments linked to quality improvements that also reduce overall costs; and, 3) Reliable and progressively more sophisticated performance measurement, to support improvement and provide confidence that savings are achieved through improvements in care. Living examples kind of look like Integrated Delivery Systems such as Kaiser and HealthCare Partners Medical Group. In other words, in this model, hospitals and specialists within an ACO would be rewarded for positive health outcomes even if they never see the patient.

While Congress had making Medicare more effective and efficient in mind when they incorporated ACOs into PPACA, my bet is that large employers will be watching the development of this model with a great deal of interest. One of the advantages that large groups have over small groups is the fact that they can realize a return on investment (in the form of lower premiums and higher employee productivity) by incorporating chronic disease management and wellness programs into their employee management regimen. And that’s a good step towards lowering the cost of healthcare in our country.

But what about small employers?

Small employers don’t have the advantage that large employers have because of how small group rates are pooled in our markets. An employer with 10 employees who tries to help his employees live healthier lives will not realize a meaningful decrease in his health insurance premiums for his efforts because his company’s rates are pooled with thousands of others. But carriers being sensitive to the escalating cost of the delivery system and the threat this poses to the industry via reduced commercial enrollment are likely to take steps to modify their networks to look more like integrated delivery systems, ACO’s and , yes, even fully capitated HMO’s (remember those?).

Further, since the PPACA and its related changes to Medicare and Medicaid became the law of the land, the nature of conversations between providers and insurers appears to have changed for the better. So there is likely to be more productive innovation when it comes to developing future, new health care delivery models. Everyone realizes that unsustainable increases in cost are simply that: unsustainable.

Will these initiatives work? I think they will. All of this equates to more optimism that the healthcare delivery system has the potential to change and that the cost curve can begin to change course and begin to trend downward. But how long it takes to turn our system around and empower it to deliver and finance the level of care we expect for ourselves and fellow Americans for the long haul greatly depends on you, the agent.

The public needs to understand what we talked about above. The more they know about how the healthcare delivery system works, the more they will embrace and expect positive changes to it. Educating the public can bring you short term dividends, as well. The agent who typically explains away a rate increase by simply stating that this is “trend” is vulnerable to an agent who is on top of his game and can really explain what is behind the increase.

In the client’s eyes, the agent who knows his stuff and can explain in simple terms the mechanics of our healthcare system will come across as being more credible than the other guy. Increasing your understanding of how our healthcare system works will empower you to become more successful at building and retaining your base of clients. If you would like real case examples of the benefits of managing chronic diseases, let me know by completing the contact form below, and I’ll forward you the article. I promise you that it will find it eye-opening and inspirational.