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About Bond Uni-Trusts

What they Are –  How they Work

By Staff Reportersdhimc-book12

Bond uni-trusts are a type of closed-end investment company. Their funds issue a fixed number of shares, and the value of the shares is determined by the market for them.

Obtaining unit trust bonds

A physician-investor wishing to buy into a closed-end fund must buy shares from an owner of the shares of that fund. The same holds true for selling shares. The market price may or may not be related to the net asset value of the fund. If the market for the shares is higher than the net asset value, then the shares are said to be trading at a premium. If the market for the shares is lower, they are said to be trading at a discount.

Appropriate uses

Unit trusts are generally sold in units of $1,000. As funds are received into the trust, reflecting payment of principal and interest, they are distributed to the shareholders. Because the portfolio is fixed and therefore does not incur the higher expenses normally associated with research and trading, the unit trust’s expenses are relatively low. For these reasons, unit trusts are appropriate for physician-investors who need a steady and periodic income. The doctor-investor who needs to withdraw capital may do so by selling shares back to the unit trust at their current net asset value. Again, depending on where interest rates are, the medical professional may or may not suffer a capital loss.

Assessment

For more terminology information, please refer to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance.

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated?

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On Drug Reps as Future Dinosaurs

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More Doctors Closing Office Doors to Drug Salesmen

[By Staff Reporters]

56359286

According to Kevin B. O’Reilly, of the AMNews on 3/23/09, drug reps may soon become dinosaurs-of-sorts. And, the relationship between doctors and drug reps is cloudy, darkening and may never be the same again.

Changing Relationships

Pharmaceutical companies, battered by sluggish drug pipelines, the looming loss of blockbuster patented drugs, an economy in recession and scrutiny of their relationships with physicians; are re-examining the value of sending drug reps into doctors’ offices. Detailers are struggling to grab a shrinking slice of physicians’ valuable time, and attention, while adjusting to new drug industry rules banning freebies such as pens and notepads.

Declining Reputations

While most physicians still have positive views of detailers and drug-makers, those sentiments are cooling. And, the next-generation of medical students and future physicians may be another driver of this wave. About one in four physician’s works in a practice that refuses to see drug reps. Of doctors who do see reps, about 40% will meet with detailers only with scheduled appointments. The by-appointment-only figure jumped 23% during the last six months of 2008, according to a survey of more than 227,000 medical practices representing 640,000 physicians that was released in February.

***

 despair

***

Assessment

What is your practice policy on this issue? Are drug reps being replaced by webcasts, podcasts, IMs, text-messages, cell phone advertisements, direct-to-doctor [D2D] communications and/or some other new-wave social media or rich e-format? 

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Conclusion

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Usual and Customary UnitedHealthcare?

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More on “Sleazy” Healthcare Stakeholders

1-darrellpruitt

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

If the leaders of the American Dental Association have the power and stoic determination to casually sweep aside trouble-making members who might tarnish their image, one would think that they could certainly avoid associating with sleazy healthcare stakeholders; such as UnitedHealthcare.

The Insurance Giants 

Have you ever suspected that insurance giants like UnitedHealthcare, WellPoint, Aetna and Cigna (and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans) lie to patients when the say a dentist’s fees are above “usual, customary and reasonable” levels?  You could be correct.  NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says UnitedHealthcare, WellPoint, Aetna and Cigna lie to physicians’ patients – understating New York state physician’s fees up to 28 percent.  Why would the crooks treat dentists’ patients any differently?

Employing Tapeworms to Control Fat

Cuomo caught UHC and others cheating their customers with smoke, mirrors and Ingenix – its wholly-owned data mining and consulting subsidiary.  Who would have guessed that UHC would tweak Ingenix to manipulate claims data to favor UHC and other insurance companies who subscribe to their services?  These are the same parasites who want to run the nation’s Pay-For-Performance (P4P) mandate – a cornerstone of President Bush’s healthcare reform ideas.  They want to tweak professional reputations for healthcare reform and the common good. 

And of Ingenix 

Ingenix is a full-service consulting business for insurers, backed with the credibility of 14 years of accumulated health claims it is privy to.  The “friend in the business” not only cooks the data to produce profit-enhancing Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) fee schedules, Ingenix is also active in “pay-for-performance program assessment, strategy, planning, design, implementation, evaluation and improvement.” 

http://www.ingenixconsulting.com/about_history.html

So if you like the way UnitedHealthcare dental consultants treat you now, just wait until they are given authority to determine your worth to society using Ingenix leveraging tools.

P-4-P 

I first read about pay-for-performance [P4P] in dentistry in February 2006 in an email from Patrick Cannady who is an employee in the ADA Department of Dental Informatics.  He told me that nation-wide quality control in dentistry is an important benefit of having a HIPAA-compliant, paperless dental practice – and that the Department of Dental Informatics is very excited about the opportunity to help prepare US dentists for the future.  A month or so later, I learned that the NPI number the ADA still pushes on membership is the crucial legal link to government-approved P4P data-mills like Ingenix – a wholly-owned UnitedHealthcare profit center.  Do you think it is odd that the NPI is “voluntary,” yet irreversible?

AMA’s Award 

In January, the AMA was awarded $350 million in a lawsuit against UnitedHealthcare and Ingenix on behalf of physicians, and they plan to sue other major insurance companies as well.  So what has the ADA done to discourage UnitedHealthcare’s and other NADP members’ atrocious behavior that undeniably harms dental patients?  You won’t believe it when I tell you. Here’s more:  In a recent Associated Press interview, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said UnitedHealthcare is nothing but a company of cheats.  He says, “They’re lowballing deliberately. They deliberately cut the numbers so the consumer has to pay more of the cost.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gL4XFckx9sah3eFEMuHYD3V2WGhQD97763800

So if Cannady’s department is all for P4P and other benefits from interoperable digital records, the question on most ADA members’ minds should be:  What does the ADA think of UnitedHealthcare?

ADA News Online

Two weeks ago the ADA News Online posted an advertisement that looks like an article (with no byline) for the spring meeting of the American Association of Dental Consultants (AADC) on May 7-9 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3493

Since it is so well known that UnitedHealthcare is the major funding sponsor of the AADC, the word in the neighborhood says AADC, like Ingenix, is another UnitedHealthcare profit center awaiting the wrecking-ball.

Link: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gL4XFckx9sah3eFEMuHYD3V2WGhQD97763800

Assessment

Last year’s annual meeting of the dental consultants – who deny dental claims to protect the ethics in dentistry – featured ADA Senior Vice-President Dr. John Luther as a guest speaker.  Dr. Luther is Cannady’s boss.  He oversees the Department of Dental Informatics.  Yep.  The ADA is tight with UnitedHealthcare. One can tell a person’s character by the company he or she keeps. 

Conclusion

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Understanding Managed Bond Funds

Considerations for the Physician-Investor

By Staff Reportersdhimc-book11

Proper diversification among types of bonds is an important investment objective. The maturity schedule and the number of issuers are often very important, along with the issuers’ creditworthiness.

Individual Constraints

The constraints on purchases of individual bond issues often put the physician-investor at a disadvantage. Minimum amounts of investments are imposed by the marketplace or the issuer. Many doctor-investors find it impractical to meet these requirements and also obtain proper diversification (the amount of portfolio funds committed to debt-based securities simply is not large enough to obtain diversification and at the same time meet the other limitations). Accordingly, many investors find mutual funds devoted to debt-based securities most effective in achieving diversification.

A Large Marketplace

The mutual fund marketplace has many types of bond funds, and diversification can be obtained quite easily. The investor with a relatively reduced amount to invest in debt-based securities should consider using mutual funds.

Assessment

For more terminology information, please refer to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance.

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

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Exercising Healthcare Employee Options

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Vital Information for Medical Professionals and Heathcare Workers

[By Staff Reporters]dhimc-book9

To a large degree the decision to exercise a stock option will depend on whether the medical professional, hospital or other healthcare services employee is going to hold the stock following the exercise or is going to sell the stock immediately.

A Bifurcated Decision Point

1. If the employee intends to sell the stock, then he or she should try to time the exercise so that the stock is at its highest value.

2. If the employee is going to hold the acquired stock for future investment, then he or she should exercise the option as late as possible under the terms of the option agreement; the employee thus enjoys all upside potential without any investment and has nothing at risk.

Exceptions

There are two exceptions to the general rule:

1. First, if the rate of dividends is sufficient to cover the financing cost, or is at least equal to other investment returns, then exercise of the options makes sense.

2. Second, if the option is an Incentive Stock Option [ISO], the potential application of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) rules may force the employee to stagger the exercise.

Assessment

For more terminology information, please refer to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated?

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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Reflections on a Tent Hospital

Thoughts on Pop-Up Healthcare Facilities

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chiefdr-david-marcinko13

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10, 2009, it took Mark Ross about 22 minutes to inflate the hospital for the first time. Yesterday, he did it in 14 minutes. In the event of a large-scale emergency – a direct hit by a hurricane for example, or a plane in the Delaware River [Think Hudson River, NY]  – Ross and other volunteers can have the mobile hospital running anywhere in Southeastern Pennsylvania within two to four hours of the first alert.

The Valley Forge Experiment

The day before, on February 9, in Valley Forge PA, dozens of current and potential volunteers got to see three tan and white tents – and reams of equipment – for the first time. The $1 million cost was paid by state and federal governments. With a portable generator, 50 cots, 130 ventilators, 26 wireless cardiac monitors and 27 patient carts loaded with tongue depressors, eye shields and IV sets, the rapid-response team is intended to fill the 72- hour gap before federal emergency help arrives after a disaster.

Back-in-the-Day

Now, despite this Valley Forge innovation, mobile, semi-permanent and pop-up healthcare facilities are not a new machination in civilian life or non-warfare times. In fact, please allow me to tell you of my canvass tent-hospital experience, back in the late seventies.

My Tent Hospital

At the time, I was completing my training program as a senior attending resident [SAR], and surgical fellow. The “hospital” where I moonlighted was located in a sleepy town about 40 miles North of Atlanta, Ga. Driving there in my lime-green, oil-burning 1969 Chevrolet Impala with balding tires [retreads] was always novel experience.

As I recall history, the tent-hospital began as a private medical clinic in a three bedroom converted brick ranch-house that was the style in the late 1950s’-60s. It was the private practice of a solo practitioner-internist for his rural patients who lived on farms too far from the big city – or for patient’s who mistrusted the medical establishment. There were many. It grew quickly, from the days before Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, to modernity.

Think Cirque du Soleil

Expanding to a larger facility, with sparse economic resources, necessitated innovative thinking at the time. The hospital itself was a very large circular tent [bulls-eye configuration], built on semi-permanent concrete foundation with trampoline-like floor. The tent was shaped like a disc or sphere. In the center was an operating room for the visiting general surgeon. The next concentric layer was comprised of four rooms. The admissions, records department and triage room; a dirty-room with toilet; a clean room with bed and shower; and a kitchen with doctor/nurse station and lounge. The next third outer concentric layer consisted of about twelve patient “rooms”. The patients entered each room from the inner second layer, while the doctors and nurses opened a door-slot on the outer third layer for the introduction of food, information, gowns and equipment, visitor chit-chat and medications, etc. Each room was muck like a dungeon, jail or cell [Recall the Seinfeld episode where Kramer housed visiting Asians in his cabinet drawer or shelf]. The docs and nurses continually circulated the third outer “floor” layer, ministering to their respective patients. By the way; no staff nurse ever complained of tired feet, leg soreness or calf cramps because of the springy trampoline-like floor.

Not a TV MASH Unit

tent-man

This “hospital” was not like a military MASH unit, at all. It was definitely civilian in nature, purpose and construct:

Think: Army CASH unit; not MASH unit.

CASH = Combat Army Surgical Hospital [semi-permanent].

MASH = Mobile Army Surgical Hospital [ambulatory]  

My Experiences

During my summer working there, I managed a small part-time, two-room medical clinic with a singular nurse. We treated all sort of minor injuries and ills, cuts, scrapes; boils and blisters; aches and sprains; dog bites, bee stings and allergies, and simple closed extremity fractures, infections, etc. I even operated on a half-dozen patients under local anesthesia with conscious sedation. For the holidays, I received presents from several nurses and patients who remembered me from the previous summer.

New Facility

My “tent hospital” was in operation for almost two decades before the founding physician retired. The site was replaced by a publically funded, much larger and permanent “modern” facility, as the surrounding suburbs grew. The new Woodstock Hospital is now a short-term facility, with 21 beds, but is not yet rated by any hospital service agency because of statistically low volume requirements. It is a District Authority owned hospital facility.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the years 2005-2007. 

Assessment

Now, here’s the thing. My tent-hospitals’ claim-to-fame was that it, at the time of closure, was the only hospital in the State of Georgia to have never had a hospital acquired [nosocomial] or post-operative infection? To my knowledge, the feat has not been duplicated in this state. Of course, the new facility was not so fortunate. Increased medical acuity, treatment services and a different-mobile patient population was cited as the likely culprit.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Quality initiatives are good. And, health 2.0 information technology is the future of medicine. But, sometimes, prologue is past.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Future of Health Publishing and Business Journalism

Good Content and “Fly” Beats the Competition

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dr-david-marcinko7

Last month, Steve Brawner [Steve Brawner Communications, a free-lance journalist for the Medical Business News, Inc., and the publisher of Medical News of Arkansas] contacted me to talk about hospitals, healthcare economics and the current financial dilemma in medical care. The interview will appear, as a special report, in April

But, after discussing answers to his top ten questions, we at the Institute of Medical Business Advisors, Inc www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com posited another interesting query. It was not on any particular subject area of our expertise, but aimed at us as electronic-publishers, reporters and health journalists.biz-book3 

The Future of Journalism

In other words, the question was:

“What do we think is the future business model for health journalism?”

Now, we’ve been mulling this thought over some time now, and our opinion goes something like this:

“We don’t – the old media is collapsing.”

And, while I don’t pity the likes of Chicago billionaire Sam Zell [the so-called “grave-dancer” for his penchant to buy distressed companies on the cheap and revitalize them for profit] – poor Sam – he was a very successful real-estate entrepreneur and the Chairman of Equity Group Investments. He thought this knowledge or luck was transferrable to the publishing industry, it wasn’t.

But, I do feel for distressed print newspapers like the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Chicago Tribune and especially the Baltimore Sun; as a native Balti-moron. I have both a favorite uncle, and older cousin, whose entire careers were spent in the print and ink business, there.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/healthcare-experts-versus-health-journalists/

New Media “Fly”

How has this happened? Well, Google destroyed the advertising model for most media, and blogs and social networks have democratized the commentary / opinion playing field to some greater / lesser extent. Think: Mark Zuckerberg [Facebook] of Harvard, whose parents are both physicians – incidentally Mark’s got “fly” – Zell does not. We got the electrons at the ME-P, but little cash.

The Problem

The problem is that not many “new” media outlets, like the Medical Executive-Post, can afford to take on the interesting part of publishing; which is paying real investigative journalists. Think: The Huffington Post. Something I would love to be able to do; as there’s lots of muck to be raked in health economics, finance, administration, health IT; as well as medically focused financial planning, Wall Street and related personal investing activities for doctors – an integrated oeuvre of topics to say the least.

www.HealthDictionarySeries.comdhimc-book1

Our Own Investigative Reporter

About the closest we have to a true investigative reporter is Darrel K. Pruitt; DDS. And, although he is no Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein; he does occasionally do a good job. Think: William Mark Felt as FBI agent “deep-throat”.

Of course, as regular readers of the ME-P are aware, Darrell broke the dental profession’s [allegedly dufus] conspiracy with CCHIT [allegedly faux], and regularly reports on the folly of eHRs, eDRs, NPIs and eMRs. Think: citizen doctor journalist.  

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment/

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/avi-baumstein-and-hipaa-compliancy/

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/don%e2%80%99t-rush-ehrs/

Assessment

But, when the ME-P gets financially solid enough to hire others, and put them into the mix of expertise, commentary and free-labor entrepreneur punditry we now have on the site; then there’ll be no need for the current newspapers [at least insofar as our covered topic channels are concerned]. Until then; we don’t know what the answer is, but it, like the economy, doesn’t look good for the print media space.

Link: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable

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Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What is our best-of-breed business model for print and the internet? Should we charge for our electronic content – and if so – how much? OR, shall it remain an informal and complimentary companion to the $535 annual print guide? Please opine. 

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Obama on the SGR Physician Payment Formula

Solo Doctors and and Small Group Practices May Benefit

By Staff Reporterscoins3

According to Diana Manos of Healthcare Finance News, on March 23, 2009, small medical group practices and solo and/or independent physicians may benefit most from the recently proposed Obama healthcare budget. In it, President Obama asked Congress for $76.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] for fiscal year 2010. Some funding would come from changes to the way healthcare is provided, with a new emphasis on pay-for-performance [P4P] for Medicare providers.

The AMA’s Response   

It was reported that, Joseph M. Heyman, MD, chairman of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, said the AMA is pleased with the administration’s proposed new baseline – or projected spending over a period of time – or Medicare physician payment updates.

“Unlike previous budget forecasts, the administration’s new budget baseline recognizes that Congress needs to and will act to avert the serious access crisis that looms as physicians face drastic payment cuts in the coming decade due to the failed Medicare physician payment formula,” he is reported to have said. Furthermore,  

“The AMA strongly supports the use of a realistic baseline as a foundation for Congress to move forward with a permanent solution to the flawed SGR physician payment formula, and urges the committee and Congress to ensure that a new Medicare physician payment baseline is adopted in the 2010 Fiscal Year (FY) Budget Resolution.”

Assessment

Under the president’s budget request, Medicare Advantage would be revamped; physicians and hospitals could expect to be paid for performance [P4P] under Medicare; pharmaceutical companies would face steeper competition from generic drug companies and the government would clamp down on inadvertent and fraudulent overpayments under Medicare. The budget also calls for “comprehensive, but fiscally responsible reforms” to the physician payment formula [Sustainable Growth Rate], moving toward rewarding doctors for efficient quality care.

Link: http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/small-physician-practices-can-expect-real-changes-healthcare-under-obama-budget

Conclusion

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BCBS-TX Dental Insurance is Rude to Everyone

Why the Long NPI – BCBSTX?

[By Darrell Pruitt; DDS]pruitt5

More than a year ago, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, an ADA [American Dental Association] and NHII (National Healthcare Information Infrastructure) task force member, told attendees to the ADA’s 3rd International Evidence-Based Dentistry Conference that the NPI number is

“Critical to the future of dentistry.” 

But, to this day, he refuses to reveal why. Even though I have learned that he is a very shy man on the Internet; on that Sunday in May in ADA Headquarters, he confidently added,

“It is only voluntary unless you want to get paid.” 

His case-closed proclamation shut down discussion cold in a Soviet manner. Did I mention that this occurred at an “Evidence-Based Dentistry” conference? Soviet East Germany was also called the German Democratic Republic.

NPI Harmful to Dentists and Patients

There is nothing evidence-based or otherwise about the NPI number – that benefits anyone but healthcare stakeholders. In fact, the number actually harms both dentists and patients. Like Ahlstrom, the irreversible NPI number is simply un-American. However, the NPI means profit for sleazy dental insurance companies like BCBS of Texas – especially when dentists’ reimbursements for work done long ago are delayed by NPI-NPPES screw-ups.  Some physicians’ payments have been delayed for a year or more because of NPPES crosswalk difficulties. Who needs that?

Veteran’s Example Scenario

A new patient called my office this week wanting an appointment to start a crown. We don’t normally block off two and one-half hours for a patient on the first visit, but the Veteran told my office manager that before he was recently discharged, they did a root canal, post build-up and temporary on a tooth that still needs a crown. I like to think other dentists would also risk big holes in their schedules for Veterans. We owe them at least that much.

BCBSTX Dental Insurance

When he showed up with his BCBSTX dental insurance information, my office manager had to tell him that even though his boss was promised by the BCBSTX sales representative that the dental benefits package he bought for his employees was good anywhere, it cannot be used in my office because I do not have an NPI number. I am licensed to practice dentistry in the state of Texas, but that is not enough for BCBSTX. Capricious qualifications are certainly their choice if they prefer to do business that way in Texas, but why does BCBSTX leave it to my office manager to inform their clients about their deception?  If a client who pays premiums to BCBSTX likes a dentist who does not have an NPI number, those premiums are pure profit for BCBSTX. It is easy to understand that the more obstacles BCBSTX can put between their clients and obligations to cover their dental bills, the bigger are the bonuses for executives. What’s more, BCBSTX’s leaders’ lousy work ethic permeates the entire dental insurance industry. Compared to BCBSTX executives, AIG executives who kept bonus money should be honored as national heroes. 

BCBSTX Rude to Everyone 

As the Veteran who almost became my patient works to fit him-self back into society, perhaps the next opportunity he has to break away from work for a few hours, he will be lucky enough to come across a dentist who has an NPI number. If things go well, BCBSTX will not have wasted a Veteran’s time twice – and wrecked a dentist’s schedule – for what? BCBSTX has nothing against Veterans in particular, they are rude to everyone.  Since nobody from the company can be held personally accountable, tyranny is as natural as Ponzi schemes.

Attention Texas Employers: 

I wish deceptive business practices which insurance companies use to cheat their clients were against the law in Texas. Attention Texas employers; as a dentist who has witnessed harm from BCBSTX, I warn you not to waste money on their dental plan. BCBSTX’s sales reps cannot be trusted to tell the truth and will aggravate your employees as well as neighborhood dentists. 

Assessment

If BCBSTX gets away with this dishonesty, what other senseless, but profit-enhancing hoops will they demand next year?  How many more dentists and patients can an Attorney General allow them to cheat before speaking up? Come out and fight for your honor, BCBSTX … or not.  I bring more than your best attorney can handle and I am waiting.

Conclusion

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I Shake my Fist at Pfizer, Inc.

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And, Laugh out Loud over D2D Marketing

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chiefdem22]

We all know how intrusive direct-to-consumer [D2C] marketing by the pharmaceutical industry has become. Especially for those male “enhancement” type drugs that seem to be a ubiquitous feature on TV, the print media and internet, etc.

No, I’m not talking about sildenafil citrate or minoxidil; although I do recall seeing them on TV for the last decade, or so; maybe more. The target audience for both keeps getting younger and younger; or am I getting older and older? Still, allow me to assure all ME-P readers that the problems they reportedly treat are not my own.

Gotcha!

For this post however, I am talking about antibiotics.

Pfizer Seriously

Seriously, we are all aware that D2C marketing, and patients, goad doctors into “action” during an office visit [i.e., prescribe], when perhaps they ought not to. A follow-up office visit is often able to be scheduled, too.

Think: the antibiotic drug resistance epidemic.

Therefore, I was so righteously upset recently that I had to go out for a premature hour-long run, as I have been doing almost daily for thirty years, just to cool off.

Why?

It’s because I received the email copied verbatim, below.

Doctor [my name was not used, but my personal email address was correct],

For decades, azithromycin has been proven clinically effective to fight infections in your patients. With Zmax, azithromycin is reformulated to provide the same powerful efficacy against infection in a single, well-tolerated, liquid dose.

Zmax — the novel one-dose formulation of azithromycin
Zmax is indicated for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in pediatric patients and adults and acute bacterial sinusitis (ABS) in adults. Zmax uses extended-release microspheres to deliver one well-tolerated, front-loaded dose.

Zmax is not to be confused with Zithromax®, Z-Pak®, or Tri-Pak®

By delivering 100% compliance with just one dose, Zmax is the only formulation of azithromycin that avoids the complexities of multiple-day dosing for your patients.3-5

Prescribe Zmax and save with the “Never Pay More Than $20” coupon
Prescribe Zmax as your antibiotic-of-choice for your patients with CAP and ABS.
Zmax guarantees that your patients never pay more than $20 with the cost-saving Zmax coupon. For more information, please visit
www.ZmaxInfo.com or www.PfizerPro.com/Zmax

Sincerely,
Raymond W. Urbanski; MD, PhD

Vice President
Clinical Development and Medical Affairs
Established Products Business Unit
Pfizer, Inc.

Now, I have prescribed Zithromax® in the past, and will probably do so again in the future. I have lectured for several big-pharma companies throughout the years, and have written a textbook on bone and soft tissue extremity infections, and their diagnosis and treatment. I have served, and still serve, as a medical expert witness in malpractice cases involving infectious diseases, etc. But, I do not, repeat, do not need to be reminded by personal email about this anti-microbial, or any other drug. Being spammed in the office is one thing; but please not at home. I “reply-cancelled” the email; I think. Will let you know, down-line.

Of Podcasts and Webcasts

Recently, I was asked to make several new-wave podcast and modern webcast presentations for physician distribution by third-party vendors of the pharmaceutical industry. From what I could gather, this sort of “product information” distribution has not been eagerly embraced by the profession to-date, and so they are searching for industry recognized “names” to do their bidding. And so, as an educator, I acquiesced regarding same. But, I do pine for the attractive female pharma-rep visits back-in-the-day; replete with food for “lunch and learn” office presentations [mea culpa].

Think: Sermo, if you want a medical opinion.     

Assessment

Poor Dr. Urbanski, by the looks of his sur-name, I bet he’s Polish like me. I also bet that he gets more than a few emails, cards, faxes and letters like this post.

So, here’s where you need to imagine me shaking my fist at Pfizer, Inc.

I also laugh mockingly, as well.

Click to play :

PS: Ray, call me; let’s do lunch.

Conclusion

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HMO Physician Office Visit Co-Payment Creep

Patients Showing Doctors the Money [1999–2008]

By Staff Reporters

56371606

Copayment

2008

1999

$5

6%

23%

$10

16%

60%

$15

29%

12%

$20

30%

1%

Other

19%

3%

Source: Kaiser/HRETHRET Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Benefits

www.kff.org

Assessment

Considering the “down and dirty” interest rate “rule of 72”, a twice doubling of copayments from $5 to $20, and a Hewlett-Packard 12-C hand-held financial calculator; allow us to suggest an annual copayment rise of 15% percent for the decade.

Conclusion

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Asset Allocation Methods for Physician-Investors

What’s Old … is New Again?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chiefdem23

Asset allocation policies, incorporating the risk/return fundamental equation, have traditionally been classified under the following approaches: Principal Stability and Income, Income, Income-Oriented, Balanced, Growth, and Aggressive Growth.

Traditional Concepts

In all forms of traditional asset allocation and diversification policy approaches, the physician-investor is presumed to diversify within the chosen asset class in order to reduce the potential for specific or unsystematic risk.

Principal stability and income approach

Objective: Income, liquidity, and stability of principal.

Investment: Shorter-term fixed income securities with a large concentration in money market exposure to enhance liquidity and price stability. Accounts tend to maintain cash equivalent reserve balance of 30–50% of the portfolio.

Income approach

Objective: Maximum income.

Investment: 100% fixed income exposure.

Income portfolios arise from the traditional notion that an investor should spend only income and reinvest capital gains. Sometimes this is a legal requirement, as in a trust that has an income beneficiary distinct from the principal beneficiary.

Income-oriented approach

Objective: Income and some capital growth.

Investment: Accounts tend to maintain 15–35% in equity investments; balance of investment in fixed income.

Income and growth approach

Objective: Capital growth and income using a balanced approach to limit volatility.

Investment:  Accounts tend to maintain 45–65% equity exposure; balance of investment in fixed income.

Income and growth portfolio policies generally refer to both the fixed income and equity portions of the portfolios. Because of the income bias, the overall stock portion of the portfolio will usually have a dividend yield greater than the market yield. This method allows the portfolio manager to invest in some no- or low-dividend yielding issues.

Growth approach

Objective: Capital growth with income as a secondary objective.

Investment: Accounts tend to maintain between 65%–85% equity exposure; balance of investment in fixed income, usually cash reserves.

Aggressive growth approach

Objective: Long-term capital growth.

Investment: Accounts maintain 100% equity exposure. Exposure to variety of equity types normal (small capitalization, international, emerging markets, etc).

fp-book15

Assessment Of course, the above is much more accurate during stable economic times, than it is today; don’t you think? Are newer concepts required today … or is past … prologue.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/new-wave-thoughts-on-investing/

Conclusion

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Medicare and Medicaid Health IT Network Proposal

Governmental Initiative for the Elderly and Poor

By Staff Reporters200298593-001

According to Nancy Ferris of Government Health IT, on Mar 18, 2009, a rapid learning health information data network could close some gaps in medical knowledge and cut costs for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.

A Congressional Letter

In a letter to Congress, a group of health policy experts urged creation of a network to share information on Medicare and Medicaid patients in order to improve treatment received. In particular, Lynn Etheredge, one signatory of the letter, wants information to be shared on “dual eligible’s”. This term is defined as low income, elderly patients who receive money for medical care from both Medicare [Federal] and Medicaid [State] sources.dhimc-book6

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

According to Etheredge, there are 7 million such dually-eligible patients in the US, which represents 40 percent of Medicaid spending, and 25 percent of Medicare spending. Etheredge and the others suggest that a network backed by government policy would hasten treatments for everyone.

Assessment

Others who signed the letter include Kenneth Kizer, who created the health-records system for the Department of Veteran Affairs; Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis; National Quality Forum [NQF] President and CEO Janet Corrigan and National Committee for Quality Assurance [NCQA] President Margaret O’Kane. 

Link: http://govhealthit.com/articles/2009/03/18/network-for-data-on-medicaid-medicare-patients.aspx

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. One conclusion of this letter was that“[Researchers] spend way too much time simply acquiring data.” Do you agree, why or why not? Please opine. Will networked eHRs, eMRs and eDRs really save money and time; or cost money and time? Can they be inter-operable and connected on a nationally networked basis that is cost-effective, secure and available to all providers? What about CCHIT, and other vendors?

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Physician’s Need to Understand Compensation Methods

[By Staff Reporters]

Property Managers

Medical property managers are compensated for their services on an hourly or fee basis. In addition, they may be reimbursed for expenses related to the maintenance of the property, such as materials, and they may also pay for expenses incurred by subcontractors.

Fees

Fees usually are based on a percentage of gross collected rents, but are negotiable. Property managers of larger medical complexes may receive higher fees than managers of small complexes because of the details involved in managing larger properties. Fees also are affected by the total pro-forma income stream. In general, the better a manager enhances the property’s performance, the more the manager is paid.

Barter

Some owners pay fees and provide rent-free units for resident medical managers to handle on-site leasing; or for offices for managers to take care of buildings warranting on-site property management. Bartered phantom income may be reportable to the IRS.

fp-book11

Real Estate Brokers

Each state has specific requirements regarding the sales and leasing of medical, commercial and other real estate. Every state, however, has the clear and mandatory requirement that no commission or fee can be paid to anyone who is not licensed in that state as a real estate broker, an associate broker, or sales agent if the person represents or works on behalf of another. All fees and commissions must be paid to the company employing the broker, associate broker, or sales agent. Violation of these laws can have serious consequences to both the principal and the real estate broker.

Hybrid Compensation

A medical real estate broker is usually compensated by either a negotiated fee or a negotiated commission; or hybrid of both methods. Neither fees for work or commissions earned are set or standardized in any way. The amount earned or the amount paid is the result of an agreement. The agreement or contract must be in writing, under the Statute of Frauds, just as all real estate offers and contracts must be in writing sales or on leases of more than one year.

Commissions

If a broker is working on commission, h/she is paid only when she is successful and the sales transaction closes and title is passed to the buyer. Sales commission is established either in a Listing Agreement or a Buyers Brokerage Agreement. No fee is due if the sale does not occur. Rates of commission vary widely by city, region, and state. The amount of commission usually is a percentage of the sales price or a set amount. The percentage of commission is dependent on competition; effort required; to some degree, the size of the transaction; and market activity. For example, the sale of a large regional shopping center might be a 3% commission whereas the sale of a small retail building under $1 million might warrant a 7% commission.

Lease Execution Warrants Payment

Leasing commissions are based on gross rental income over the term of the lease, are due when the lease is executed by both landlord and tenant, and can be paid at one of the following times:

  1. On execution of the lease.
  2. Partly on lease execution and partly on occupancy; or
  3. On occupancy, depending on the landlord’s written agreement with the broker.

Leasing commissions usually are a negotiated percentage of gross rents, with the percentage varying dependent on type of lease. For example, the percentage rate of commission might be more on a net lease, in which the tenant pays all expenses, than if the same lease were structured on a gross or fully serviced basis; or in which the landlord provides services within the rents due. Commission on ground leases might range up to 10% and office space might range from 4% to 6%.

Example:

Term: 5 years (60 months)         

Monthly rental rate: $1,000 per month     

Gross rental income under the lease: $1,000 x 60 = $60,000        

Commission calculation (using a 6% rate): $60,000 x 6% = $3,600           

The fees paid under sales and leases are usually split between the colleague brokers working on the transaction and are shared between the listing agent and the selling or leasing agent under a co-brokerage agreement between the brokers. This too is a negotiated percentage. It is common for commissions to be split on a 50/50 basis, but it is not the rule. How the commission is divided between brokers depends on the transaction. The commission is often shared evenly between cooperating brokers, but the split ultimately is the seller and listing agent’s decision.

Hard-to-Move Properties

On extremely difficult medical real estate properties [as is seen in many parts of the country today], incentive splits may be offered. Incentive splits offer the selling or leasing agent a greater share of the commission if he or she is successful. Under commission agreements between a seller and a broker, or a buyer and a broker, in which the broker is representing a buyer, nothing is earned until the transaction is complete and the broker has added value, unless spelled out to the contrary in the agreement or the broker is working on a fee basis. On a typical sale, commissions are paid through escrow at closing. Leasing commissions are usually, but not always, paid upon lease execution.

Other forms of payment for property managers and real estate brokers

It has become increasingly common for medical property managers and real estate brokers, particularly when representing a buyer or a tenant, to work on a contractual basis. In these instances, the parties are paid on an hourly or set-fee basis, regardless of whether the transaction is completed. In some cases, a principal may decide he wants only some of the services offered, such as a lease review, and those are also paid on a negotiated basis for the service provided.

Assessment

Combinations of fixed fees and commission incentives also are common, but in most all cases there is not a set amount or standard fee charged by all brokers.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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About Sharkey, Howes & Javer

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Enhanced Listing about Our Practiceshj

At Sharkey, Howes & Javer, we specialize in people, their money and their choices. We offer our clients peace of mind and the guidance to help them make wise lifetime decisions along their path to success.

Team Approach

We are a team, working in partnership with our clients and their other professional advisors to ensure a comprehensive approach to long-lasting financial decisions.

Our History

We were established in Denver, Colorado in 1990, when Eileen M. Sharkey, CFP®, formed the firm of Sharkey, Howes & Javer, a partnership with Lawrence E. Howes, MBA, CFP® and Joel B. Javer, CLU, CFP®. Since then, our team of professional planners and support staff has grown to serve over 1000 clients.

Industry Acknowledged Certifications

Larry Howes, MBA, AIF®, CFP® is a founder and principal of Sharkey, Howes & Javer, Inc., a firm that provides financial planning and portfolio management to individuals and businesses. He received his MBA from Regis University and Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Metropolitan State College in Denver and was admitted to the Registry of Financial Planning Practitioners in 1986. He received his CFP® designation in 1987. Larry was awarded an AIF®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, in 2004 from the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a Certified Medical Planner™ (Hon).

Fiduciary – Yes

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Published Authors and Educators

Mr. Howes is an adjunct professor of financial planning at Metropolitan State College – Denver.

Larry teaches the Investment course for the Certified Financial Planning certification program for Metro.

Larry is a featured writer for the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society’s journal entitled Articulator.  Larry is also a featured writer for Colorado Medicine.  In addition, Larry co-authored the Estate Planning and Execution chapter in the book entitled the Financial Planning Handbook for Physicians and Advisors

 

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Clean CRD record – Yes

Clean Criminal record – Yes

 

 

 

 

More information:

Tammy K. Durnford; MA

Manager of Client Relations

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720 S. Colorado Blvd.

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Denver, Colorado 80246

303-639-5100

800-557-9380

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Using Home Mortgage Brokers

Advantages and Disadvantages

By Staff Reporterswinter-house2

A physician or other medical professional may consider using the services of a home mortgage broker when s/he does not want to spend much personal time searching for the best loan. Other reasons include poor credit history, low credit ratings level; or similar. Of course, this will cost the doctor-client money, but the expense may be worth it; or not.

Duties and Responsibilities

A mortgage broker’s main responsibility is to represent a physician-borrower to different lenders and to take the borrower through the process of acquiring a loan. These brokers are usually aware of the best lending institutions and where to get the best deals.

Disadvantages

However, using a broker has three disadvantages. First, a fee will be charged. Second, some lenders will not work with some brokers. Third, some lenders will add extra fees to their loans to pay the broker’s commission.

Assessment

During the current financial crisis, the use of this intermediary may be a necessity in some cases. 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What has been your experience using the services of a mortgage broker; if any?

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Independent Medical Practitioner as Solo Primary Care Surrogate

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Doctors Facing a Bleak Future Business and Financial Planning Model

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dem2

According to Physicians News, on March 19, 2009, the demand for family physicians is growing. Proposals for health system reform focus on increasing the number of primary care physicians in America. Yet, despite these trends, the number of future physicians who chose family medicine dipped this year, according to the 2009 National Resident Matching Program. What gives?

NRMP

The National Resident Matching Program [NRMP] recently announced that a total of 2,329 graduating medical students matched to family medicine training programs. This is a decrease in total student matches from 2008, when 2,404 family medicine residency positions were filled.

Primary Care Demand Explodes

Meanwhile, demand for primary care physicians continues to skyrocket. For example, in its most recent recruitment survey, Merritt Hawkins, a national physician recruiting company, reported primary care physician search assignments had more than doubled from 341 in 2003 to 848 last year. 

The Decline of Solo Medical Practitioners

Regular readers and subscribers to this Medical Executive- Post are aware of the declining number of solo medical practitioners; we have been sounding the alarm here, in our books, journal, speaking engagements and elsewhere for years now.dhimc-book4

In fact, the statistic that we often cite is that more than 40% of the nation’s physicians are employed doctors; not employers as in the past. This business model shift has occurred over the past decade or so, and has accelerated of late. The decline in solo and independent doctors has occurred elsewhere as well, but much more slowly [i.e., dentistry, podiatry and osteopathy] as these specialties have been somewhat isolated from the traditional allopathic mainstream.

Going forward, this solitary model seems to be a good thing, and a fortunate result of the un-intended consequence of previously keeping these folks out of the healthcare mainstream.

The Decline of Independent Medical Practitioners

Now, in the March 2009 issue of Healthcare Finance News, we learn that the number of hospital owned physician practices has been climbing over the last four years, according to the Medical Group Management Association [MGMA]. Think: PHOs back-in-the-day. ho-journal3

And, while this trend only marginally affects patients and patient care, it is quite disruptive to physicians, their families, personal wealth accumulation, retirement and estate planning endeavors.

For example, according to Professor Hope Rachel Hetico, RN, MHA, CMP™ of our firm www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

“The professional good-will valuation component of a medical practice is being decimated. Today, some practices are being bought and sold for tangible asset value, only.

Assessment

Therefore, allow me to identify this emerging trend which suggests independent medical practice as reflective of solo primary medical care. In other words, as independence goes the way of the “dodo-bird”, so goes primary care practitioners precisely at a time when the later is needed more than the former.

Why? Employed doctors stay that way by making money for their employer and hospital-bosses. Specialists make more money than primary care doctors. So, if you want to stay an employed doctor; which specialty would you pursue?

Answer: The NRMP class this year spoke out loud and clear. Any specialty but primary care!

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Medical Practice Financial Statement Valuation Adjustments

Why Benchmarks are Out – and Scrutiny is In

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chief

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As discussed elsewhere on this ME-P, the medical practice appraiser’s primary goal is to determine the value of the business based on its expected earnings or cash flow. To accomplish this, the medical practice appraiser looks to the company’s historical financial statements to see how it has been reporting its earnings. Because of differences in accounting practices across organizations, the appraiser must analyze how the medical practice’s financial statements differ from those of other practices and how those differences might have an effect on the practice’s value. This is particularly true when the appraiser is comparing the performance of the medical practice company being valued with those of so-called industry benchmarks. In all instances, it is important that the appraiser compare numbers that have been accounted for in the same way. Below is a discussion of the most common adjustments.biz-book4

Nonrecurring or Extraordinary Items

Nonrecurring or extraordinary items of income or expense reported by the practice will be eliminated from the profit and loss statement. These include the following:

• Insurance settlements (income or expense) or life insurance proceeds on the death of the key physician-partner.

• Large payments in settlement of lawsuits (either as income or as expense).

• The gain or loss on the sale of certain assets or portions of the practice which are not likely to be repeated.

• Expenses related to the start-up or discontinuance of a new or old segment of the practice.

• Moving and related expenses.

• Expenses relating to fire or flood damage not covered by insurance.

• Adjustments to prior years’ financial statements when the practice discontinued an employee benefit (such as eliminating the company’s pension or profit-sharing plan).

• Adjustments for income and/or expenses related to non-operating assets, such as a portfolio of marketable securities not used in the practice or medical real estate held for investment purposes.fp-book12

Valuation Calculations

The appraiser needs to gather the following facts regarding the financial statements of the practice and may need to make adjustments to account for these differences. The information will give the appraiser an understanding of the company’s normalized earnings and will be used to make valuation calculations.

• How does a specialty practice [such as physiatry’s DME] value its inventory—LIFO or FIFO? In certain specialties, inventory is accounted for on the LIFO or “last-in, first-out” basis. When prices are rising, profits are reduced because the DME items being sold are presumably bought most recently at higher prices. The “old” or lower-cost inventory is held in reserve while the higher-cost inventory is sold off. This situation may reverse in times of recession and low or no inflation. At that point, profits will be distorted by the low-cost items. Recognizing these facts, practice owners have more commonly used FIFO or “first-in, first-out,” inventory accounting to value their inventory.

• What kind of reserves has the practice been taking for doubtful accounts receivable? Some doctors will not – or very slowly – write off bad debts or take reserves for them, and thus the income is improperly overstated. The appraiser will look at the actual bad debt expenses relative to the doubtful accounts receivable booked to determine if the practice’s adjustments are reasonable.

• How does the practice depreciate its hard assets? A variety of approved methods are used to depreciate assets over their useful lives. It is important for the appraiser to recognize the impact these methods have on corporate earnings. Some assets can be depreciated over a short time frame, which will mean higher annual write-offs; others, such as real estate, must be depreciated over a much longer period and thus will have a smaller impact on annual expenses.insurance-book6

Asset-Related Issues

The appraiser must address asset-related issues, such as:

• Has the practice’s assets been valued recently? If not, will current appraisals be required?

• Are any non-operating assets carried on the books of the practice? These assets may have to be valued separately and added to the operating value of the business.

Assessment

In our experience valuating medical practices, adjustments made for excess compensation and perquisites paid to the physician-owner and other family members, are the most common items of contention between buyer and seller.

For example, above average physician income usually equates to lower medical practice transferrable enterprise value; and vice versa.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2007/11/30/90

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Conclusion

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Reflections on Evidence Based Dentistry

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My Search for Truth – 2009

[By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS]pruitt4

Do the leaders of the American Dental Association [ADA] encourage critical thinking by membership?  Or; do they fear my opinion of what appears to be destructive and self-serving institutional bias in my ADA that favors businesses peripheral to the care of dental patients, and at patients’ expense?  I think it is clear that there are a few good ol’ boys imbedded in the fat ADA who prefer to hide behind a comfortable, but obsolete command-and-control ADA business model.  The mighty ostrich stuck its head in the sand. Then along came a noisy, gasoline-powered weed-whacker. Never saw it coming.

Evidence-Based Dentistry Champion Conference

On May 29-30, the First Annual “Evidence-Based Dentistry (EBD) Champion Conference” will be convened in ADA Headquarters in Chicago.  Just like last year, the meeting with a brand-new name is sponsored by Procter & Gamble and The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice with Dr. Michael G. Newman as its Editor and Chief.  Even though this effort is enthusiastically supported by large corporations with products to sell, like P&G, managed care insurance companies such as Delta Dental, and electronic health records vendors such as Allscripts, the power of the reclusive stakeholders is further amplified by bureaucrats inside and outside the ADA – siphoning off my professional organization’s credibility.  That is my opinion based on actual contact with a few characters in this group. 

Evidence-Based Dentistry: 3rd International Conference

I attended the meeting last year when it was called “Evidence-Based Dentistry: 3rd International Conference” – I assume that in the last year, it lost its “international” status, and now caters only to “EBD Champions” (cheerleaders).  Last year, they were also looking for Champions for their EBD ideas, but the bias was better concealed.  I reported on the meeting in an article called “Evidence-Based Dentistry – My search for truth.”

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/evidencebased-dentistry-my

Shortly into the meeting on May 4, 2008, I could tell by a show of hands from attendees that as a dentist who actually puts his hands in patients’ mouths as a regular part of his job; I was virtually alone in the auditorium.  This was confirmed by the volume of “Boo” directed at me later that day.  The Champions who had been selected months before the conference had already met that week and they were pumped. One could smell the zeal for EBD – whatever it means. 

Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice

In his introduction to last year’s conference, Dr. Michael G. Newman, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice, told attendees that P&G is providing all the information about EBD to all the dental schools in the nation. I will be honest with you.  Being booed last year for addressing what I think is the inferior quality of managed care dentistry during the final discussion period may have affected my attitude about EBD. In addition, being subsequently blocked from responding to a hurt and angry managed care discount dentistry broker by an ADA employee named Dr. Ron Zentz also disappointed me in my ADA.  Dr. Zentz told me “This is not the place for this” as he stood between me and the microphone. Later I could not get Zentz to concede the indisputable fact that quality is proportional to reward. When I pressed him for an answer to the managed care question, he stoically repeated exactly what the insurance representative said: “Whether the dentistry is managed care or not, it makes no difference in the quality of care.”  Here is something cute:  The event was an “Evidence-Based” conference on the second floor of the Headquarters of the ADA, and Dr. Zentz is employed in the ADA’s “unbiased” science department.  Get it?  Now that’s funny!

Trouble-Makers Don’t Get Invited Back

My bad behavior last year may have something to do with why I was not invited to attend this year, even though I worked hard on the prerequisite essays which I will share with you later.  Nevertheless, I have to warn that ADA-approved propaganda from P&G doesn’t strengthen this dentist’s confidence that our leaders are protecting the future of dentistry, friends. Take a look at what healthcare parasites have quietly done over the last decade or so to physicians’ practices with the blessing of the AMA, and counter to the interests of patients.  Those same parasites were in ADA Headquarters on May 4, 2008.  Our house at 211 East Chicago Avenue reeked. 

EDB Vagueness

Like the HIPAA Rule on which Newman’s favorite interpretation of EBD leans hard, the beauty of EBD is in its vagueness. Both HIPAA and EBD can mean damn well anything one needs them to mean, and stakeholders with lots of influence have their fingerprints and drool all over the plans.  For example, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, a stakeholder and one of the speakers at last year’s conference uses HIPAA to support EBD and vice-versa according to closed-circuit, cause-I-said-so science that he evidently makes up as he goes.  It is difficult for me to imagine that Ahlstrom’s eleven reasons that HIPAA benefit dentistry – which he presented as testimony for HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt over a year ago – were approved by a committee. I think Ahlstrom made up his reasons while waiting in the hall for the NCVHS meeting to begin. If the reasons were indeed approved by an ADA committee, I extend my sympathy. It must be difficult for challenged people like that to safely find their way home from work every day. 

(See “HIPAA and Dentistry – About Ahlstrom’s Controversial HIPAA Testimony”) 

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/hipaa-and-dentistry/

Where is the Evidence?

A few hours before Dr. Ahlstrom, an ADA NHII (National Health Information Infrastructure) Task Force member, took the podium, Dr. Newman pleaded with dentists to always ask, “Where is the evidence?”  I know Dr. Ahlstrom heard Dr. Newman’s words because Ahlstrom was sitting on the first row, next to ADA Senior VP Dr. John Luther, who is in charge of the ADA Department of Dental Informatics – a major beneficiary of EBD and HIPAA.

***

dental

***

Buzzwords 

I have come to the conclusion that EBD is a buzzword for a scheme supported by avaricious stakeholders who seek to regulate dentistry using healthcare IT.  I assume it will be left to Dr. Robert Ahlstrom to present the plan to the next administration in his special, fanciful way.  It is clear to me that the ADA is using Ahlstrom to lead American dentists down a computerized, cook-book path initially promoted several years ago at ADA Headquarters by none other than Newt Gingrich.  The path ends with the NPI, NPPES and Ingenix-style Pay-for-Performance instead of free-market competition and consumers’ desires.  Like Ahlstrom, EBD is little more than a tool.

Living with Rejection

I learned a couple of days ago that my application for this year’s conference was rejected.  A PDF letter signed by Dr. Michael Newman, Editor and Chief of the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice stated that the competition for seats was intense this year, and that I just didn’t have what the selection committee was looking for in a “champion” – even though one can see by their essay questions that the EBD stakeholders desire dentists who can draw audiences. 

My Responses 

Below are my responses to this year’s questions that I posted on September 23, even before I hooked up with PennWell, and the ME-P.  I’m even more widely read now. 

Q: Are you involved in the treatment of populations with limited access to care?

Counseling people who have big problems and little money is part of the job. Almost every day I help patients make hard decisions that affect their appearance as well as health. Compromises are always difficult, especially when it involves children. I do my best to provide my patients with the information they need concerning their specific problems in a personal manner. In that respect, I am no different than almost all other dentists I know.

Q: Given the opportunity, how do you plan to disseminate the information and knowledge of EBD?

For dentistry-related news, I am arguably the most popular commentator on the Internet. If I am convinced that EBD is in patients’ best interest, I can promote the concept to a wider audience than anyone else in dentistry and it will not cost a thing. I can use any number of websites in addition to a private network of colleagues that has been in place for almost three years.  

If I leave the conference suspecting that stakeholders ambushed EBD to manipulate dentist-patient relationships for selfish reasons, I will work even more effectively to undermine it. Fair is fair.

Q: Are there any specific examples that demonstrate your ability to be a good disseminator?

Apart from having an increasingly popular column about healthcare matters on this ME-P https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/?s=darrell+pruitt+dds ), I am always seeking new and innovative ways to attract attention to dentistry. I am very good at what I do.

Here is a simple demonstration of my talent: Googlesearch “Darrell Pruitt DDS.” You will discover that I’ve got what they call “googlejuice.” I create interesting content. People you need to reach read me.

The question is; does the ADA have the confidence to subject EBD to my critique? On the other hand, does the ADA have the courage not to?

Since I will not be allowed to keep colleagues in my neighborhood as informed in real-time and in detail as they should be, I invite one or more “EBD Champions” to describe what they learned following the Conference in May right here on this ME-P and PennWell forums.  And as always, I invite Dr. Robert Ahlstrom to discuss what he plans to do with my dental practice. 

Assessment

Tomorrow, as part of “Transparency and the ADA – a dissecting experiment,” I intend to post another question on the EBD link following my weekly report.  I will ask if Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom will be addressing the audience before having my name put on a short-call list to replace late-cancellations.  Depending on the answer, I may go camping instead.

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About Healthcare Employee Cash-Balance Plans

What they Are – How they Work

By Staff Reportershuman-drones

Motivated by cost savings, an increasing number of hospitals, healthcare systems and large healthcare organizations are converting their traditional legacy defined benefit pension plans to cash balance plans. While the trend seems sudden, it is not surprising. Healthcare related companies are reaping substantial savings from cash balance plans. And for the most part, younger doctors and other employees are enthusiastic about the plans.

However, older employees (age 50 or above) realize  that in switching from a traditional defined benefit [legacy] plan to a cash balance plan, their retirement benefits decreased, initiating an onslaught of overwhelmingly negative publicity. Indeed, several years ago, Congress rushed to pass legislation requiring employers to provide benefits computations to affected employees.

Overview

Even though many defined-benefit plans are under/over-funded, they are calculated on an actuarial basis and are quite costly to maintain. And because plan costs can vary from one year to the next, budgeting is difficult.

However, if a healthcare company terminates a pension plan, replacing it with a defined contribution plan such as a profit sharing plan, all employees must be 100% vested, any surplus is subject to income tax, and a portion of the surplus is subject to an additional excise tax even if all of it is transferred to a succession plan. A cash balance plan is a pension plan, so the change is viewed as an amendment to the pension plan. This is true even though in many respects the cash balance plan operates like a defined contribution plan.

The Cash Balance Planfp-book13

A cash balance plan works in the following manner: The sum accrued in a hospital’s employee’s defined benefit plan is converted to a lump sum cash value; the employer agrees to make specified contributions to the employee’s account based on compensation; and the account earns a specified rate of interest, say 5%. The employee receives regular statements showing the current cash value of his or her account. [The amount is listed as a lump sum amount even though it is usually paid as an annuity].

If the hospital or other employer already has a defined benefit pension plan and converts it to a cash balance plan, there is no tax on the surplus. The reason, as noted above, is that a cash balance plan is treated as a pension plan. Thus, the employer merely amended its pension plan and can use the existing surplus to provide the required contributions, which are usually less than the actuarial costs of maintaining a traditional pension plan. And, in the former bull market this recent decade, many employers did not have to make contributions at all. Today, of course, the opposite may be true.

Example

Let’s say the average earnings on an investment is 15%, and the rate of interest payable to the plan is 5%. In recent years, many funds have earned 15% or more if they invested in an index fund. It was thought that, if continued, it would be quite some time before some employers are required to make any contributions out of their own funds. Not so today, however.

Clearly, the savings can be substantial, and the costs of maintaining the plan are easily budgeted for. These advantages convinced some public utilities, telephone companies, financial, hospitals and healthcare institutions to convert their plans to cash balance plans.  

Impact on Employees

The cash balance plan is actually a hybrid plan—a cross between a traditional defined benefit pension plan and a defined contribution plan. But one of the key differences between the cash balance plan and a defined benefit plan is the manner in which the benefits are calculated. In a traditional defined benefit plan, an employee’s retirement benefit grows slowly in the early years and more rapidly as he or she approaches retirement. By contrast, a cash balance plan increases growth in the early years and decreases growth in later years of employment.

Youngsters

Younger healthcare employees usually liked the change; before the recent financial meltdown. Their accounts were portable; they grew quickly; and could be rolled over into an IRA or into a new employer’s plan. And, their account balances were listed as lump sums, so they know precisely how much they’ve accumulated. Today unfortunately, they have mostly been decimated.

Oldsters

Older healthcare employees initially liked the concept because the values of their pensions (on an actuarial basis) were converted to dollar amounts so they could see how much had accrued in their accounts without having to calculate an anticipated pension award. But, after further review, it was evident that upon retirement the cash bonus plans would yield smaller pensions than the defined benefit plans. Opinions differ today?

Health Workers in the Middle

When a hospital or similar entity converts from a defined benefit plan to a cash balance plan, employees their late 40s may see their pensions reduced by 25% or more while older employees see reductions of up to 50%. If the formula for calculating benefits under the defined benefit plan is 2% times years of service, and high-five compensation, then each year of service increases an employee’s pension. More importantly each time high-five compensation increases, the amount is accrued back to the employee’s original date of employment. So, as a hospital employee gets older, the high five-has tremendous impact. An employee who is age 60 can actually accrue most of his or her pension in the last five years of employment.

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

dhimc-book5

No “Mo”

Cash balance plans don’t have that type of momentum [“Mo”]. The company contributes a certain amount based upon compensation and a specified interest rate. Usually, the interest rate is based on the 30-year treasury rate (approximately 2.5%).

Closing the Gap

Some employers are offering a grandfathered benefit designed to reverse the penalty for older workers. For example, employees within 10 years of retirement (usually age 65) will receive the greater of the cash balance plan or the pension under the original plan. This reduces the cost savings for the company.

Some employers increase the contribution percentage for employees based on age (i.e., 7% of compensation is contributed for employees aged 40—rather than the standard 5%—and 9% of compensation for those aged 50).

Assessment

Finally, some hospital employees are offered special “sweetners” in the form of additional lump sum credits when converting from an existing plan to a cash plan. The best benefit provides that all existing employees will receive the greater of the old plan or the new plan upon retirement. Only a small number of employers typically adopt this approach.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Nurses, hospital workers and hospitalists – please opine and subscribe to the ME-P here – it’s fast free and secure:

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Consultants and Hospital Employment Statistics

Economic Conditions Better than Other Major Industries

By Staff Reporters

horizontal-nurses1According to Richard Pizzi, on March 9th, Healthcare Finance Newsweek reported that employment at US hospitals climbed 0.14 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted 4,719,300 people.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responding to just issued BLS data, the number employed was 6,800 more than in January and 131,800 more than in February 2008. Without seasonal adjustments, which remove the effects of fluctuations due to seasonal events, hospitals employed 4,703,700 people in February 2009, 2,200 more than in January and 130,100 more than a year ago.

Impact on Healthcare Consultants

This was good news for financial advisors, insurance agents and accountants; medical management consultants and health economists; HIT suppliers and related DME vendors, etc.

Assessment

The news was not so good in other areas of the American economy, however, as the national unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent to 8.1 percent. The US economy shed an additional 651,000 jobs in February 2009. But, according to Rachel Pentin-Maki; RN, MHA of www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

“Employment continues to be strong in almost all aspects of the healthcare industrial complex. This includes professionals, technicians, nurses and para-professionals, as well. However, in the long-term, we believe that medicine will not attract the best and brightest young minds in the future. The economic, political and competitive demographics are just not favorable.” 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Is healthcare really a recession proof industry? What about those bright young minds; where will they go for professional careers, instead?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Apply to our Financial Advisor Consultant Listing Service

We’re collecting information on financial advisors, financial planners, accountants, attorneys and/or related folks in the Health 2.0 space who have a particular affinity or expertise advising doctors, nurses, medical professionals, and related others. And, we have been for some time, now.

New Channel Development for Medically Focused Financial Advisors and Management Consultants*

Beta-in-Progress

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]solo-consultant3     

A New Approach

Unfortunately, this usually means that some really interesting and smart folks, who purchase our books, dictionaries, print-journal, blog or email us; may get lost in the confusion. The result is that too many great medically focused consultants that we’d love to hear about are getting lost in the shuffle. And so, we’re trying something else instead.

Tell us about your Practice

Tell us about your financial advisory practice, and you may end up being mentioned in dispatches, or featured on a separate channel that we are developing. Selection and inclusion criteria include but are not limited to the following credentials:

  • Undergraduate or Graduate degree
  • Industry acknowledged certification or designation
  • Clean CRD record
  • Clean criminal record
  • Insurance agents need not apply
  • Stock brokers need not apply
  • Fiduciaries are encouraged
  • RIAs and independent advisors are encouraged
  • Published authors or educators are encouraged
  • Mission statement on physician niche focus required.

Assessment

So, if you want our readers to pay attention to your financial advisory practice or firm, this will get it into a systematic review process starring our crack staff.  Otherwise you may face the peril of lost notoriety to other non-specific niches; or referral sources.

Publisher’s Note: The inclusion or rejection decision is final; but not set in stone and our terms and conditions may change without notice; the beta project may also be cancelled at any time. We reserve the right to reject anyone, at any time, for any reason or no reason at all. This is a beta project-in-development. The advisors listed are not affiliated or endorsed by iMBA Inc., in any way. This is an advertisement opportunity only.

*NOTE: There is a $120 annual fee for this listing service. It is waived for subscribers of our two volume companion print journal, upon request. www.HealthcareFinancials.com

List Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/schedule-a-consultation/financial-advisor-listings/list-of-advisor-consultants/?preview=true&preview_id=8633&preview_nonce=a3203ab9f9

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What do you think about this idea to develop a new promotional channel for truly physician focused financial advisors?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Advetising in “Worth” and “Bloomberg” Magazines

Advertisers – Give Me a Break!

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™dr-david-marcinko16

Did you know that financial advisor Judith Zabalaoui, age 71, considered a pioneer of the fee-only business-model of financial services sales, pleaded guilty to using a Ponzi scheme to embezzle more than $3 million from her New Orleans area clients between 1993 and 2007? Yep, it’s true, but this is not really noteworthy to many pundits considering the current financial meltdown on Wall Street. But, do you know … the rest of the story?

Resource Management Inc.

Most of Zabalaoui’s clients came from Resource Management Inc. in Metairie, La., which she founded in 1974, according to the Times Picayune. Apparently, she became a Certified Financial Planner® in 1979, but the certification expired in 1999.

Link: http://www.nola.com/business/t-p/index.ssf?/base/money-1/1233728420253000.xml&coll=1

Assessment

So, here’s the rub. According to reports, Resource Management Inc. was the only firm in the country where each of the principals were allegedly “selected” by Worth [1996 to present], Money [1987] and/or both magazines as one of the top financial consultants in the country. The company also made Bloomberg Wealth Manager’s list of top wealth managers in 2004.

Industry Indignation Index: 55

Now, with all due respect and humility, I have been asked several times by Worth and Bloomberg to “promote yourself” in their “advertiser-driven” publications as a top financial consultant; but never Money magazine. I have always refused their selection charges for same of $12-18,000.

Full disclosure: I am the Founder of www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com and a reformed insurance agent, registered investment advisor and Certified Financial Planner™.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Was Judith Zabalaoui a fiduciary and what about these magazine “best-of” awards? Are they worthwhile monikers or worthless sales advertisements? What about all the so-called financial certifications, designations and charters; meaningful or meaningless? What is your opinion?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Integrating Financial and Medical Practice Succession Planning

Some Steps to Consider

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]dr-david-marcinko8

Medical practice succession planning is a dynamic process requiring current physician ownership and management to plan for the future and implement the resulting plan. Many doctors approach succession planning initially through retirement planning. Once they understand the issues and realities of the tax laws, they are much more amenable to working out a viable succession plan. At the Institute of Medical Business Advisors Inc, we find that some physician-clients have not clearly articulated their goals, but have many pieces of the plan that need to be organized and analyzed to meet their objectives; including both personal and financial issues.

Link: www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

A Step Wise Process

The steps necessary for successful succession planning are as follows: 

  • Gathering and analyzing data and personal information
  • Contacting the doctor’s other advisors
  • Valuing the practice according to USPAP and IRS guidelines
  • Indentifying the right qualified physician purchaser
  • Projecting estate and transfer taxes
  • Presenting liquidity needs
  • Gathering additional corporate information
  • Identifying dispositive and financial goals
  • Analyzing the needs and desires of non-key employees

An Integrated Approach 

Succession planning can help address financial and nonfinancial issues in a timely manner. Proper planning can also help the doctor accomplish goals with effective, appropriate strategies that satisfy family needs as well as tax issues. Here is a triad approach:

1. First: Address financial and nonfinancial issues in a timely manner

As with other estate planning engagements, there is no due date for succession planning. The owner of a medical practice is busy growing and managing the office. S/he is often not focused on the desirable outcomes in an orderly practice succession. For example, if family members are involved in the practice, there is a good chance that personal issues will need to be addressed. These nonfinancial issues can be just as important as financial concerns when building a comprehensive, workable succession plan.

2. Next: Focus on taxes

Taxes are important because the medical practice probably represents the largest concentration of wealth in the doctor’s estate. When planning for estates with large amounts of wealth, doctors frequently ignore personal issues. It’s important not to make the critical error of maximizing tax savings but destroying the practice through a poor succession plan.

3. Finally: Identify and reach goals

When the physician-owner has addressed succession planning issues in a timely manner, s/he has the opportunity to develop the most effective objectives to accomplish goals. Given enough time, the doctor can even modify goals to reflect changes in the economic environments, as well changes in his or her personal life.

Assessment 

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Medical practices exhibit particular strengths and weaknesses not typically found in publicly owned companies or non-professional family businesses. For example, many times the doctor doesn’t realize the type and amount of planning that needs to be done to transfer the business to a new doctor for maximum value. That is why doctors often need the advice of professionals to define goals and formulate medical practice succession strategies.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Avoiding an IRS Appraisal Audit

Valued Friends and Colleagues

By Linda Trugman; CPA, CVAtrugman-logo

We hope this e-mail post finds you well. We have attached our most recent newsletter “Valuation Trends” for your perusal and hope you find something of interest in it; especially “20 Ways to Avoid an IRS Appraisal Audit.”

Link: trugman-valuation

Assessment

As a reminder, our updated website at www.trugmanvaluation.com includes a resource center which provides additional information that might be useful to you including sample reports, various conference presentations and podcasts.

Conclusion

We are available to assist you, and your clients, with your valuation and litigation support needs and look forward to hearing from you. And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Challenging Standard & Poor’s 500 Index

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Dr. Jeremy Siegel Opines

[By Staff Reporters]56371606

According to Financial Advisor News – an electronic trade magazine on March 17 2009 – Standard & Poor’s underestimate the earnings of its S&P 500 Index. So says, Jeremy Siegel PhD, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and author of Stocks for the Long Run.

The Dilemma

The problem started when the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece by Siegel that argued Standard & Poor’s uses a “bizarre” methodology for calculating the earnings and P/E ratio for the S&P 500. In it, Siegel explained that the earnings of S&P 500 companies are currently treated equally, but should instead be weighted in proportion to their market capitalization. Market capitalization weighting, he noted, is used to measure the S&P 500 returns. Such a system gives larger weight to the earnings of a company such as Exxon-Mobil, and lower weight to an S&P 500 member such as Jones Apparel.

Siegel’s Example

For example, “a 10% rise in Exxon-Mobil’s price would boost the S&P 500 by 4.64 index points, while the same fall in Jones Apparel would have no impact since the change is far less than the one-hundredth of one point to which the index is routinely rounded,” Siegel wrote.

fp-book10

Outcome

As a result of the above, if capitalization weightings were applied to 2008, the earnings of S&P 500 companies would have been $71.10 per share instead of $39.73 per share.

S&P’s Support

In response, an S&P official said Siegel’s argument “fails the test of both logic and index mathematics.”

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Understanding Money Market Account Risks

Terms and Definitions for Physician Investors

By Staff Writers56371606

The recent banking industry debacle has prompted several of our cost-conscience doctor-clients to rethink money market account risks and related products. We trust this brief review is helpful to all concerned.

Money Market Deposit Accounts

First, the term “money market account” must be defined.

Link: http://www.HealthDictionarySeries.org

dhimc-book2

There are two types of money market accounts [MMAs] that most people refer to when using this term. The first is a money market deposit account (MMDA). This is an account at a bank designed to compete with money market mutual funds (MMMF). MMDAs usually pay less interest than money market mutual funds and in return offer federal insurance on balances, now up to $250,000 with convenience through check writing and access through ATMs [reverts back to $100,000 after December 31, 2009]. MMDAs under this amount do not have any risk of failure because they are insured by the US government.

Money Market Mutual Funds

Money market mutual funds are mutual funds that invest in short-term instruments with maturities of less than one year, and usually offer check writing on the account. They are not federally insured, but are considered safe in stable economic times. Net Asset Value [NAV] is one dollar; USD. Nevertheless, a few have “broken-the-buck” with NAV at some increment below $1.00 USD.

fp-book7

Evaluation Methods

The first way to evaluate the MMMF risk is to look at the average length of maturities in the portfolio. The shorter the maturity – the safer the MMMF. The second way is to look at the type of security owned by the fund. Government securities are generally less risky than corporate securities. Interested investors can also contact a rating service that evaluates the securities in a MMMF’s portfolio.

And now – a few related words about “so-called” high-yielding CDs.

High Yielding Brokered Bank CDs

insurance-book5

First, the physician-investor should determine if the CD is issued by a federally insured institution. If the answer is yes, the investor knows that a portion of his money is safe if the institution fails. If the answer is no, the doctor should obtain the institution’s ratings from the appropriate rating agencies and analyze the institution’s financials. Second, the physician-investor should investigate the volatility of the CD’s return.

Assessment

When interest rates fluctuate, the price of MMAs and CDs fluctuate much like bonds. Therefore, short-term securities are less risky than long-term securities; all things being equal.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Are you looking at these terms and conditions more closely during this national economic crisis? Please opine and advise.

 

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

 

This Time the Hospital Financial Crisis is Different

Oh Really … No so Fast!

Submitted by J. Wayne Firebaugh, Jr; CPA, CFP®, CMP™ho-journal2

Dr. Malcolm T. MacEachern, Director of Hospital Activities for the American College of Surgeons, presciently observed that:

… Our hospitals are now involved in the worst financial crisis they have ever experienced. It is absolutely necessary to all of us to put our heads together and try to find some solution. If we are to have effective results we must have concerted and coordinated immediate action. … Repeated adjustments of expenses to income have been made. Never before has there been such a careful analysis of hospital accounting and study of financial policies. It is entirely possible for us to inaugurate improvements in business methods which will lead to greater ways and means of financing hospitals in the future … It is true that all hospitals have already trimmed their sales to better meet the financial conditions of their respective communities. This has been chiefly through economies of administration. There has been more or less universal reduction in personnel and salaries; many economies have been affected. Everything possible has been done to reduce expenditures but this has not been sufficient to bring about immediate relief in the majority of instances. The continuance of the present economic conditions will force hospitals generally to further action. The time has come when this problem must be given even greater thought, both from its community and from its national aspect…

Source:  Steinberg, C. Overview of the US Healthcare System; American Hospital Association 2003.

Many hospital CXOs, healthcare administrators and physician executives would agree that Dr. MacEachern accurately describes today’s healthcare funding environment. However, they might be startled to learn that Dr. MacEachern made these observations in 1932! There is the old truism that there is nothing new under the sun.

American Hospital Association Statistics

Healthcare statistics suggested that the financial crisis is much the same today as it was for hospitals during the Great Depression. The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) reported gloomy statistics for hospitals include:

  • In 2001, 29% of hospitals had negative total margins.
  • Approximately $101.3 billion of uncompensated care was provided between 1997 and 2001 with an average annual increase of 16% during that time period.
  • Emergency departments in 62% of all hospitals report operating at, or over, capacity.
  • Technology costs are soaring as traditional technologies such as X-Ray machines, for $175,000, are being replaced by contemporary technologies such as CAT Scanners at $1 million that are in turn being replaced by CT Functional Imaging with PET Scans costing $2.3 million. Even such a “simple” instrument as a scalpel that costs $20, is being replaced by equipment for electrocautery costing $12,000, that is then being replaced by harmonic scalpels costing $30,000.
  • Between 2000 and 2002, 33% of hospitals reported increases in liability premiums of more than 100%.
  • The average age of hospital plants has increased 21% from 7.9 years to 9.6 years in just one decade.
  • In the four years ending 2002, hospital bond downgrades have outpaced hospital bond upgrades by almost 5 to 1.

Editor’s Assessment

As editor’s of the premium subscription, two volume, 1,200 pages, institutional print-guide Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies], we prefer engaged readers and contributors like Mr. Firebaugh, who demand and create compelling content like the above. Please review these links for same.

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Info: http://www.stpub.com/pubs/ho.htm

TOC: http://www.stpub.com/pdfs/toc_ho.pdf

Purchase: Call 1-800-251-0381 or email orders@stpub.com

Conclusion

Always beware the words: “this time it’s different;” as it rarely is. And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Please opine and subscribe to the ME-P here; it’s fast, free and secure.

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Understanding Life Insurance Sales Compensation

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How Agents and Brokers are Paid for Selling Policies

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™

[ME-P Publisher-in-Chief and Managing Editor]dave-and-hope1

The recent AIG, and related insurance debacles, have prompted several of our cost-conscience doctor clients to rethink insurance agent sales commissions and related perks.  We trust this brief review is helpful to all concerned.

Life insurance company agents

Life insurance agents are appointed by the insurer with the authorization to solicit and deliver contracts of insurance. The agent’s power under life insurance is more limited than that of a property and casualty agent because an agent cannot bind a life insurance carrier to an individual risk, as opposed to a property and casualty agent who can bind his or her insurance company.

Agent Commissions

Agents are compensated primarily on a commission basis from the insurance company they represent. Compensation is higher for the first year a policy is in force. Thereafter, the agent may receive compensation for renewal—a percentage of the annual premiums—and much smaller compensation during subsequent years. If the agent achieves a certain level of production, the agent may receive additional bonuses or other types of compensation. Think: Million Dollar Round Table; or Million Dollar Club Producer.

Commission Rates

Commissions for agents typically run 50% to 55% on cash value products and 40% on term products. Agents’ commissions generally are lower than brokers because they are housed by the insurer, and therefore most of the agents’ expenses are reimbursed or paid by the insurance company.

The Fringe Benefits

The agent also receives fringe benefits from the company, such as health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, a retirement plan, or a cafeteria-type plan. Usually, agents must maintain a specified level of first-year commissions in order to continue employment with the company.

fp-book6

Life Insurance Brokers

A broker represents the client directly and can show illustrations from many different companies because theoretically there is no allegiance to any one particular company.

Dual Agent-Managers

Some brokers who may act both as general agents and agency managers (individuals who oversee an office of insurance representatives) usually earn commissions as stated above and overrides on first-year premiums to as much as 40%. There is a separate scale on renewals from the sales staff. These overrides are in addition to basic commissions earned either through the broker selling a product on his or her own or as manager of the office. In addition, brokers may earn subsidies for their office and production bonuses.

insurance-book4

Assessment

One advantage that life insurance agents have is that some direct writing companies employ only agents to represent them and sell their products. A broker may not have access to sell certain lines of companies that an agent does.

Disclaimer: Both contributors are former licensed insurance agents and financial advisors.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Consulting for the ME-P

Talk to Us

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]solo-consultant

We would like to better understand who is visiting the Medical Executive-Post, and what you like, or do not like, about our blog site, print journal and/or communications forum. Most of all, we wish to know who is just visiting versus who is posting, commenting and subscribing; and why?

Assessment

Your responses are confidential, and will only be used for internal use to improve the website blog. We will not sell your information to anyone, ever!

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Please send in your considered responses to me at: MarcinkoAdvisors.@msn.com

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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About the Convenient Care Association

Developing Best Medical Practices and Retail Operating Standards

By Staff Reporters

horizontal-nurses2The Convenient Care Association [CCA] is comprised of companies, medical providers and healthcare systems that provide patients and consumers with accessible, affordable and quality healthcare in retail-based locations. The CCA works primarily to enhance and sustain the growth of the convenient care industry through sharing of best practices and common standards of operation. It was founded in October 2006.

About CCA

According to their website, the first Convenient Care Clinics [CCCs] opened in 2000, and the industry grew quickly since then. Today there are approximately 1,060 clinics in operation, and CCA member clinics represent more than 95% of the industry. To date, CCCs have served more than 3.5 million patients with its nurse practitioners [NPs] and physician assistants [PAs].

Link: http://www.ccaclinics.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4&Itemid=11

Growth and Expansion

With this rapid expansion, and projected continued growth, it quickly became clear that the shared concerns and needs of both providers and patients could best be served through an association that allowed for: 

  • Sharing best practices, common standards of operation, experiences and ideas.
  • Developing common standards of operation to ensure the highest quality of care.
  • A united voice to advance the needs of CCCs and their customers
  • A unified effort to promote the concept of CCCs, and to respond to questions about this evolving industry.
  • Reaching out to the existing medical community and creating new partnerships.
  • Building synergies with traditional medical service providers.

Assessment

The Public Health Management Corporation [PHMC], a nonprofit public health institute, provides executive management and administrative support for the Convenient Care Association. For more information, contact Tine Hansen-Turton at (215) 731-7140.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Have you ever used a retail medical clinic and what was your experience? Will this business model save primary care medicine?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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AHRQ Report on Uninsured Hospitalizations

Differs from Insured Hospitalizations

By Staff Reportershorizontal-nurses

According to Tracey Walker, Senior Editor of Healthcare Executive News on March 13, 2009, the number of uninsured hospitalizations increased by 34%, over the last 10-year period, and the number of Medicaid hospitalizations increased by 36%. However, a newt report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests the number of privately insured hospitalizations remained about the same.

AHRQ Report

According to the report, hospital charges increased for the uninsured faster than for overall hospital charges (76% for compared with 69% for all hospital stays). The average hospital charge for an uninsured stay in 2006 was $19,400 compared to $11,000 in 1997 (after adjusting for inflation). The average length of stay for the uninsured remained the same at about 4 days per hospital visit. Other findings included: 

  • Compared to all hospital stays, uninsured hospitalizations begin in the emergency department much more frequently (60% for the uninsured compared to 44% for all hospital stays).
  • The number of uninsured hospitalizations for skin infections rose sharply over the 10-year period, increasing from about 28,000 stays in 1997 to about 75,000 stays in 2006. Early appropriate outpatient treatment for skin infections can usually prevent the need for hospitalization.
  • There was a 36% increase in hospitalizations billed to Medicaid during the 10-year period.

Assessment

According to AHRQ, on average the costs (not charges) to provide hospital care to the uninsured are about $1,500 less expensive ($6,800 vs. $8,400 per hospital stay) than costs for all other hospital stays.

Assessment

Lack of health insurance has serious consequences on individuals and societies. For example, the uninsured may be more likely to delay or forgo necessary medical care until eventual hospitalization makes care much more expensive. And philosophically,

“As spending on Medicaid increases; the number of uninsured hospitalizations ought to decrease proportionally—adjusted for population increases”

So says, Hope Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™ of www.HealthcareFinancials.com.

“But, this was not the case, and determining exactly why will require more studies.”

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Does a similar inverse relationship hold for public versus private education, housing and transportation?

Why or why not? Some pundits wonder if it is due to private entities having more “skin-in-the game?” Please opine?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Battered Health Journalists

9 of 10 Would Repeat Career Choice

By Staff Reportersred-appple

According to the Association of Health Care Journalists on March 12, 2009 pia@healthjournalism.ccsend.com, and on behalf of the Association of Health Care Journalists news@healthjournalism.org; a new survey cited newsroom cutbacks, lack of time for research and travel, and fewer opportunities for training at their news organization as factors making their jobs more challenging than ever; so says the recently released survey in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Fewer Drawbacks in Health Reporting

Moreover, while about 3 in 4 respondents said that US journalism was headed in the wrong direction, just more than half felt that way about health journalism. And two-thirds of respondents said health care journalism was headed in the right direction at their media outlet.

A Hardy Career

Fortunately, health journalists are a hardy bunch. Nearly three-quarters of health journalists surveyed said the amount of coverage given to health care topics has stayed the same or increased at their news organization and two-thirds said the quality of coverage has been stable or gotten better over the past few years.

Link: http://www.healthjournalism.org/resources-articles-details.php?id=94

Assessment

Despite the challenges and the uncertain times, 88 percent of respondents said if they had to make their career choice over again they would still go into health journalism. Interestingly, that was the same percentage of respondents who said they had health insurance.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Does this positive career choice percentage for health journalists match that of physicians today? Was this career choice query even asked of doctors two decades ago?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Consumer Directed Health Plan Survey

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Costs Hold Steady

[By Staff Reporters]

ho-journalAccording to Tracey Walker, Senior Editor of Healthcare Executive News on March 13, 2009, US employers expect healthcare cost increases to hold steady at 6%. Additionally, more plan to adopt consumer-directed health plans [CDHPs] in 2010, in an effort to control health cost increases.

Watson Wyatt – National Business Group Survey on Health

And, a survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health, found that:

  • Approximately half of companies now offer workers a CDHP, up from 47% in 2008, and another 8% are expected to adopt a CDHP by 2010.
  • CDHPs are helping employers control costs—companies with at least half of their workers enrolled in a CDHP have a two-year cost trend (4.6%) that is 25% lower than non-CDHP sponsors (6.1%).
  • Two-thirds of employers (67%) cite the poor health habits of their employees as a considerable challenge to managing their health costs.
  • While companies will be taking a close look at benefit offerings because of the recession, most do not plan major changes.
  • Nearly 30% of employers have revamped their healthcare strategy with another 30% planning to do so in 2009.

Assessment

The growth in CD-HPs has made it more important than ever for health plans to provide their members actionable information and pricing transparency to navigate the healthcare system. According to Dr. David Edward Marcinko;

“Members like our firm – and many others – are incented to be savvy consumers, but that’s a difficult task if not provided with the pricing and related information we need to make wise choices. And, to make matters even worse for lay patients; providers and hospitals are not often keen to supply information about same.”

But, there is some hope according to Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™ of www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

“The overall transparency milieu today has definitely improved this last decade as we have participated in CDHPs for all our employees.” 

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Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Wal-Mart’s Health Information Technolgy Game Plan

CCHIT Meet Sam Walton

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt3

Dana Blankenhorn posted an article recently on zdnet titled “Wal-Mart Selling Windows Health Records.”

Link: http://healthcare.zdnet.com/?p=1966

After reading it, I opened a good, cost-effective fortified breakfast wine and began hammering out my comment that I copied below, long before the sun came up.  Hope you enjoy it.  I’m going to get some sleep. 

Looks Like Rein

Coach Glen Tullman’s traditionally favored and tough Allscripts-Misys team originating in CCHIT meets Walton’s consumer-supported, nimble team from Arkansas in front of Sam’s home town crowd. As a sports fan and occasional off-color commentator standing on the sidelines, Dana, I think this ball game could get exciting. The weather is perfect for sloppy, poor conditions and heaven knows that these two ideologies share history.

Wal-Mart HIT 

Some odds-makers say Wal-mart’s success in selling healthcare IT at Sam’s Club prices and quality is likely to take off in their patented free-market style in the next few months. 

The big question is; could this threaten federally-favored Allscripts’ early advantage? 

For example; if things get competitive, and the value of MDRX starts to falter under natural pressure, will Trustee Tullman call on the reserve strength of his exclusive Club CCHIT to out-flank the quick and slippery Sam’s Club wide-ended attorneys?  Some say that if CCHIT suddenly selects surprising, deceptive and occasionally lame applications for certification requirements – that happen to already reflect Allscripts pre-determined game plan – it is a cinch to give Tullman’s team a head start around their strong side with a pulling guard or three from the right (weak side) to lead interference.

Assessment 

Will Sam protest such a rule? You bet. It could get messy. Snot could fly. 

Here is the question on this reporter’s mind. If close calls are occasionally ruled in the home team’s favor, will Tullman move on down the road? I like to watch the cheerleaders.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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RIP Retail Financial Services Industry

Demise Predicted for Many Financial Advisors

[Greed Induced and Wholly Self Inflicted]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CMP™

Publisher-in-Chief

[Founder, CEO, Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief]dr-david-marcinko2

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MADOFF PLEADS GUILTY [March 12, 2009] NOW IN JAIL

Stock brokers, financial advisors, investment advisors, Certified Financial Planners®, Wall Street broker-dealers, wealth management firms and their related practitioners and business models are obsolete and physicians investors, like everyone else, must finally wake up to the fact that these entities have incentives to sell financial products to benefit the seller; not the buyer.

Paretto’s Rule

OK; to not sound harsh, let’s use the 80/20 rule of Paretto; 80% of financial “advisors” seek self-interest over investor interest, despite industry ethical protests otherwise. And, I don’t want to indict everyone as there are some decidedly good folks out there; just not very many [<20%] – apparently. But first, a bit of history!

Brief Historical Review

In the 1970s, full-service brokers were compensated largely by steep commissions. This ended with the May Day decision of 1975 to allow market competition and transparency [Think Charles Schwab]. In the 1980s, mutual funds were all the rage, complete with their sales charges [loads] and fees, etc. When no-load companies began taking market share later that decade, Wall Street firms and big banks looked towards more creative offerings like private equity, gas and oil limited partnership, all sorts of commodities, annuities and closed-end funds. By the late 1990s, financial advisors marched their clients like lemmings into the tech craze. Every mature doctor remembers the physician practice management corporation [PPMC] aggregator, and practice roll-up model of 2000, as well. For their best customers – renamed and repositioned financial salesman – would offer a few shares of the latest hot IPO that could be flipped for a hefty profit in matter of days, or hours or minutes [Think PhyCor]. fp-book

The Flawed AUM Compensation Model

Throughout, the asset under management [AUM] compensation model evolved, as well. Of course, this was simply a cheaper marketing and sales derivation [1% versus 3%] of the older “wrap-fee” stock-broker discretionary commission model; now renamed “advisory-fees under management”. Yet, money is money, “juice is juice”, and fee commission slippage is just that – slippage. Others may wax more eloquently on this evolution than me, but you get the idea.

Products Sold; Not Purchased – That’s Why It’s a Retail Business

Retail financial products are sold, not purchased. These retail sales folks get paid. This is their job and source of making a living. They are not charity minded; they are not saints. They do not work for you. Financial advisors and Wall Street [like domestic healthcare] is conflicted, biased, and often not to be trusted. The SEC, FINRA-NASD, State and Federal agencies; certification firms and various SROs have been proven impotent, sleeping or incompetent in their protection of the individual investor. And, the current economic meltdown in virtually all asset sectors and classes worldwide, finally suggests same to even the most dimwitted among us.  

Doomsday Scenario of Modernity

I believe the retail financial sales industry as we know it, is doomed. Firms are collapsing as FAs leave the business for other [sales] sectors. Can retail sales be replaced; sure? Should it be replaced; only if there is a better model out there; otherwise dis-intermediate, or DIY and fergetaboutit!  In fact, according to outspoken Jim Rogers, of the legendary Quantum Fund and now based in Singapore;

“Stockbrokers will be driving taxis. The smart ones will learn to drive tractors, because they’ll be working for the farmers.” 

Source: BusinessWeek

March 9, 2009.

My Triad of Recommendationsbiz-book

And so, these three simple, but not so easy to implement steps, would go a long way to restoring confidence in the retail financial services industry. Older miscreants are purged, and new entrants raise the bar; evolution at its best:

1. Define the term “financial advisor”. Make them possess at least a college degree; in some field. Although there is nothing magically intrinsic to a BA/BS degree, most suggest it signifies a certain ability to evaluate information properly and to think and critically analyze, rather than blindly accepting the “recommendations” of corporate sales managers, BD firms, OSJs, Wall Street and their employers. Independent thinkers tend to be less like lemmings, than not; more like leaders, than followers, etc. IOW: They may actually start working more for the client-investor.

2. Make financial advisors accept fiduciary accountability in the ERISA sense. No opt-out clauses, no BD exemptions or brokerage arbitration clauses; etc. No more word-games, definitional parsing or related shenanigans. Allow clients to sue financial advisor personally; not just the company. End the agency relationship model.

3. Eliminate or modify AUM and all compensation schemes. For example, why should investors give “advisors” cash to manage, and then pay some percentage of it to them in a negative interest rate environment; or trading discretion during a crashing stock market? The risk-tolerance flaws in this system are well known. And, higher net worth clients with more AUMs, do not mean more work, time or effort for the FAs; nor should there always be higher fees. Remember, the average FA has 78 clients; so you are not a special client. As flailing financial advisors exit the business, let’s replace the AUM compensation model with flat engagement fees, retainers, hourly fees, hybrid or composite fees, and/or claw-back AUM hurdles.

End the Long-Term Investing Marketing Hypeinsurance-book

The long-term marketing hype goes something like this, “if you make money, I make money” relative to most compensation arguments which are simply unidirectional shams. As is this emotional inflation argument for long-tem investing; “What keeps me up at night is that you will outlive your assets”. Which really translates to; “I hope you live long and prosper so that I don’t loose your cash flows, commissions and/or revenue streams.”  PS: Wanna buy a variable annuity? Well, the outrageous incentive fees paid to those financial advisors who levered client portfolios 20 to 1 in the past, or brokers who bought/sold furiously when things were good, got blown up in 2008 and will not soon be the same.

Assessment

To most laymen, the implication in the retail financial services industry was that its’ purveyors “added-value” to client relationships and somehow helped investors fundamentally, technically or through timing machinations that beat the market. Or, that a FA “seer” with strategic alliance partners would somehow help clients ascertain when to jump between stocks, bonds, cash or the dozens of other asset class tranches – and new fangled products – based on some superior knowledge, analysis or insight; OR, because of  what they see – or can’t see – in their crystal balls. Yet, even the blind now know that the advisor-emperor has no clothes and the seer’s crystal ball has gone dark. Sales, not counsel, ruled the day. But, hopefully not any more; at least not for medical professionals, colleagues and those of us in the healthcare space! We know better; or should!

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. How can we reform the retail financial services sales industry; or should we? IOW: How do we make the financial advisor “earn his money every time” – just like the medical professionals they often try to portray; but can not. Is this the end for retail financial advisors – or another new beginning?

Full disclosure: I am a former insurance agent, registered investment advisor; board certified surgeon and Certified Financial Planner™. I am also the founder of www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com, the only educational certification agency that requires a college degree, fiduciary accountability and peer-reviewed publishing for licensure. Talk to me, today!   

Speaker:If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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Video: Protecting Protected Health Information

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The eEHR Privacy Debate Continues

[By Staff Reporters]

According to our colleague Richard Mata; MD, MIS, writing in the premium print-journal Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies], a critical feature of any healthcare information system [HIS] is compliance with privacy requirements. Of course, the most important compliance regulation is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The key here is to have computer systems, terminals, workstations, servers and hand-held systems fully in communication with each other — including the ability to send data outside the fire-walls of the institution; interoperability as needed — while ensuring the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI), which is health information where the person to whom it belongs is identifiable

Federal Privacy Regulations

The federal government required hospital and healthcare entity compliance with HIPAA security regulations since April 2005. Briefly, the following are features of HIPAA which concern HIS:

·         HIPAA presents a unique opportunity for automation of information since it is easier to protect secure information electronically as compared to having a paper chart that can be lost or open in front of patients and visitors.

·         Secure password protection must be in place at multiple levels to ensure that access to PHI is restricted to those who need the information at that time.

·         Appropriate encryption of data is essential for transmission between systems in order to prevent the interception of data.

National Spotlight

Yet, in this video clip, CNN’s Campbell Brown and Elizabeth Cohen examined how easy it is for someone to obtain private medical information online by simply using someone’s Social Security number and date of birth www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Assessment

Whenever the subject of proliferating eHRs catches the national spotlight, you can bet that debates about privacy aren’t far behind. Indeed the privacy issue has already started to gain some traction in the media with the above video, and more.

Conclusion

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Frank Gehry, Health Reform and the Cleveland Clinic

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Las Vegas Hospital Uses Celebrity Architecture to Fight Disease?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP

[Publisher-in-Chief]

dr-david-marcinko6According to the Las Vegas Sun Newspaper on March 2, 2009, the Cleveland Clinic is the newest top-tier player in Sin-City with an emerging health care system that will shake up the status quo, supposedly creating a multitude of direct and residual benefits for patients throughout the region.

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

In its role as partner with the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, the hospital — ranked fourth best nationally by U.S. News & World Report — is projected to influence medical care in Nevada on the strength of its immense organization. And, it is being designed by, none other than esteemed architect, Frank Gehry.

A Huge Project

And, if you believe numerous websites, the behemoth project will include office towers, a park, a 60-story tower for jewelry trading, a hotel conceived by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, thousands of apartments and a $360 million performing arts center. Of course, in typically flamboyant Gehry fashion, the highly embellished main facility is said to model curvy metallic shapes and “folds of the brain.” Other nescient drawings of the Ruvo Center show it divided in two sections. Offices and examination rooms will be housed in stacked rectangular blocks set slightly off kilter, like a fortress wall built by children.

The Architect

Gehry used this method to design his world famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997) and his Peter B. Lewis Building for the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in 2002. His style is well known.

Misplaced Priorities

But, with an estimated 40 million uninsured citizens, one only can wonder if this facility could have been built more cost effectively and/or more utilitarian?

Assessment

Moreover, some Clevelanders are grumbling about the clinic’s involvement in such a glamorous project far away, and imagine that the project will drain local resources just as sun-parched Western states have fantasized about tapping the Great Lakes.

Industry Indignation Index: 70

Conclusion

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A Physician by Any Other Name

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Enter the Weekendalists and Laborists

[By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA]

Publisher-in-Chief

dr-david-marcinko5More than a decade ago, in another career, I wrote a few articles for Richard L. Reece MD when he edited a print and emerging electronic trade publication for medical professionals. All very “fly”, at the time.

The Laborists

Now – according to Dr. Reece who cites the Boston Globe, in “The Birth of a Notion”, a Cape Cod and some other Massachusetts hospitals are hiring “laborists”; aka board-certified obstetricians to work regular shifts for the sole purpose of delivering babies.

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New Causitive Drivers

What drives these new-wave specialists? The answer, of course, is the next-generation of physicians and their emerging new medical business and practice models. Much like my 12 year old daughter, it is a way of professionally breaking away from past generations, and asserting some independence and leadership. And, as Martha Stewart might say; “that’s a good thing.”

Many Reasonsbiz-book2

But, according to Reece, the real drivers are a combination of other things – the desire of doctors for regular hours, the shortage of specialists, physician burnout, the search for a safer hospital environment, the need for consistent, immediately available physician services, fear of dreaded malpractice suits, and consolidation of hospital-physicians services due to regulatory and economic pressures; etc.

Blended Generations

Dick is correct, of course, because it is not uncommon today to have three generations represented in healthcare. We have the Baby-boomers, Gen X and now, Gen Y. The Baby Boomer generation is saying with some sense of sadness that, “Medicine sure isn’t want it used to be!”, while Generation Xers are saying “It’s about time things changed!”, and the latest generation to enter the medical workforce, Gen Y’s, are saying “Ready or not, we’re here”.

http://www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

The Leadership Evolution

Each generation is extraordinarily complex, bringing various skills, expertise and expectations to the modern medical work environment. Determining the best method to unite such diverse thinking is one of the many challenges faced by physician executives and healthcare leaders. Is it any wonder that many medical leaders and executive in the Baby Boomer generation find themselves at a loss? The days of functional leadership are gone and suddenly, no one cares about the expertise of the Baby Boomers or how they climbed the corporate ladder, in medicine or elsewhere. Leadership in the era of Health 2.0 is no longer about command-control or dictating with intense focus on the bottom line; it is about collaboration, empowerment and communication. And, it is not about titles and nomenclature.

cmpLinguistic Evolution

As the linguistic evolution of terms progresses, the nomenclature of hospitalist was followed by that of intensivist, proceduralist, nocturalists, in-situ physician and even weekendalists. Think I’m kidding?

Link: http://medinnovationblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/hospital-based-doctorists.html

Assessment

I still like the causative analogy of my pre-teen daughter; it’s much simpler to understand. What do you think?  

References

1. Wachter, R and Goldman, R: “The Emerging Role of ‘Hospitalists’ in the American Health System’. In, New England Journal of Medicine; 335, 514-517, 1996

2. Kowalczyk, L: The Birth of a Notion: Hospitals Turning to Laborarists. Boston Globe, February 23, 2009

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On the HITECH Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

By Staff Reportersdigital-signature2

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]. According to some, the law provides an opportunity to transform healthcare in the United States.

HIT

The law also provides $19 billion in health information technology [HIT] funding to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable HIT systems like the electronic health records funding provision. But, as ME-P readers are aware; this is not apparently for electronic Dental Records [eDRs]; and CCHIT is no advocate of professional diversity.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment

HITECH

Obama’s signing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act [a portion of the stimulus package] recognized the importance of HIT as the foundation for health care reform and cost savings.

Assessment

Is this report correct? Read all 187 pages and decide.

Link: HITECH http://democrats.science.house.gov/Media/File/Commdocs/HealthIT%20Bill.pdf

Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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The No Insurance Club

Emerging Pre-Paid Cash-Based Medicine

By Bob Grove

no-insurance-clubHealthcare in America is in Turmoil. The No Insurance Club [NIC] feels private contracts may be the solution. More and more Americans are going without healthcare especially preventative healthcare. The reasons – costs are too high, patients can’t get accepted due to a pre-existing condition, companies are cutting back on benefits, people have been laid off from work; and the list goes on.

Governmental Solutions 

What’s being done to improve healthcare? Barack Obama and the Government want more control and regulation and the system seems to be leaning toward socialized care. Private insurance companies continue to increase premiums, which prices healthcare out of reach for the average American. Employers can no longer float the cost of insurance so they pass it on to their employees. Patients aren’t the only ones being affected by the current state of healthcare. More and more doctors are going out of business and hospitals are cutting back due to escalating costs and payment defaults.

Private Solutions 

The current remedy; Americans are taking out private major medical policies for catastrophic events with high-deductibles [MSA/HSAs] to keep monthly premiums down, or are turning to Medicaid, mini retail-clinics at grocery stores/pharmacies, and emergency room visits for common illnesses.

Innovative Solutions 

What about prevention and maintenance? More than 90 percent of health related issues can be taken care of with preventative care and maintenance but only a small percentage of Americans currently enjoy the benefit of preventative healthcare.

The No Insurance Club

The NIC has come up with a fresh look at healthcare by offering an affordable alternative to traditional insurance options.

NIC Benefits and Features 

The No Insurance Club connects patients with participating board certified physicians that will treat and care for preventative healthcare needs for a one-time prepaid annual membership fee:

   

  • NIC patients make a one-time annual payment that is typically less than a one-month premium with traditional insurance.
  • Patients receive up to 12 office visits per year that also include immunizations, $4 or less in-office prescriptions, and additional services including blood tests.
  • No deductible, no co-pays, no premiums.
  • No surprise bills to patients.
  • Viable alternative to COBRA for employees laid off from work.
  • Low cost option for the self-employed.

Assessment

What’s in it for the doctors? How about no insurance clerks, no need to snail mail medical insurance claims or use expensive electronic claims submission clearinghouse services, no bad debts or bad expense write-offs, no ARs; and fast cash! 

Link: http://www.noinsuranceclub.com/

I would be happy to speak with and connect ME-P readers, participating doctors and even patients for interviews to learn more about the NIC network and its benefits.

Bob Grove

Wild West PR

(801) 651-0290

bob@wildwestpr.com

Conclusion

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Healthcare Experts versus Health Journalists

Appreciating the Distinction

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

Publisher-in-Chiefdr-david-marcinko2

As the healthcare reform, and eMR controversy unfolds, I am struck by the more-than-linguistic distinction between the terms “healthcare expert” and “health journalist.”

Link: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Historical Perspectives

Historically, as a peer-reviewed writer, editor, medical expert witness and now electronic publisher for almost four decades, I always sought the journalist’s title. I think the longing began in my formative years when I read that after the French Revolution, Sir Edmund Burke, looked up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, and said, ‘”Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.”

Link: www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

Expert versus Reporter

However, I no longer covet this title. Why? I’ve finally realized that it is far better to be a real subject-matter expert, than a journalist [read reporter]. The former creates news through knowledge, informed deeds and thought-leadership; while the later simply writes about various topics without same.

Link: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Assessment

And so, in light of the eHR controversy, perhaps a word to the “wise” AMA, ADA, APMA, AOA and CCHIT leadership is sufficient; with apologies to Sir Edmund? Regardless of specialty, our guiding medical principles should always be; Omnia pro Aegroto [all for the patient].

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/about-the-ahcj/

Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Tele-Medicine is Growing

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About SwiftMD.com

[By Staff Reporters]

radar1According to its website, SwiftMD isn’t just better telemedicine; it’s better medicine because of its physicians’ quality. Patient telephone calls are usually returned within 30 minutes, any time of the day or night. They employ a powerful eHR that is secure, HIPAA-compliant and keeps patients informed about their care. And, it is all done at an affordable price.

Link: www.SwiftMD.com

Features

Here is the prioritized way in which the telemedicine service is said to work:

  • Request – Call 1-877-WWW-SWIFT or request a consultation online.
  • Assess – No emergencies are accepted.
  • Response – A physician calls back, day or night, usually within 30 minutes.
  • Consult – The doctor discusses your condition, consults your eHR, diagnoses and recommends treatment.
  • Record – A SwiftMD health record is also available 24/7 for updated references.

Assessment

According to SwiftMD, the service is easy to us; no more driving across town; or sitting in waiting rooms. Just high-quality medical care when and where needed. Group, individual and family plans are available.

Link: http://www.swiftmd.com/xres/uploads/documents/SwiftMD-WhitePaper20080819a.pdf

UPDATE 2015

Why Teladoc Needs Medical Attention
The Wall Street Journal, October 4, 2015

Only 45% of Diabetes Patients Use Mobile Health Tools
mHealth Intelligence, October 2, 2015

AAFP Still Searching for Right Stance on Telemedicine
MedPage Today, October 2, 2015

Walgreens Expanding Telemedicine on Its App in the Next Month
MedCity News, October 1, 2015

Mobile Health Apps Fall Short in Protecting Data Privacy
Medscape, September 29, 2015

Mental-Health Apps Make Inroads With Consumers and Therapists
The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2015

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Physician Household Borrowing and/or Investing

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Deciding What Works?

[By Staff Reporters]fp-book4

Another way of asking the above titled question might be, “Is it smart for a doctor’s household to build savings while they are getting out of debt?”  

Financial Priorities

In the first instance, the doctor already has debt and would be increasing the terms of any loans by deferring some of the payments to savings, which is equivalent to borrowing the same amount.

In the second instance, the doctor would be taking on debt to save more money. The answer is that it makes sense to borrow money for investment purposes only if the financial gains derived from the investment are larger than the financial benefits of paying off the debt. But, who can know for sure?

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Minimum Account Payments

Assuming that a medical professional has more debt than needed, and doesn’t make contributions to a retirement account, the concern becomes: [1] should he/she make minimum payments to the debt and contribute to a retirement account; or [2] should he/she make the maximum payments toward the debt or loans, etc?

Downside Risks

It is important to understand the downside risks of a lower payment strategy. Just as stocks return more than bonds due to their higher risk, the lower payment strategy returns more because of its’ higher risk. Taking on debt to finance an investment is riskier than paying off debt for a number of reasons.

First, the US economy may continue its’ current depressionary spiral, and investments and savings could disappear as financial institutions fail. This would leave the doctor with debt that he or she could not service.

Second, the rate-of-return required to decide whether or not to borrow for investment purposes may not be achieved, leaving the doctor in worse financial shape than if he or she had just paid off the debt.

Assessment

Ultimately, the doctor must decide if the added risks are worth the possible gain. But, the services of a fiduciary financial advisor may also be required. However, some doctors may not be ready to receive the sort of “tough-love” required in this case. 

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