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The Anthem Meme in Atlanta – Oh No!

Blue Cross / Blue Shied of Georgia

By Anonymous

***

***

The Back Story

Most ME-P readers may know that Blue Cross Shield of Georgia has been spending millions of dollars for a new rebranding initiative to Anthem? It has been all over the local news, TV, internet, with phone cold calls, etc.

The Photog

Well, a single Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority [MARTA] subway rider apparently snapped the attached photo at the Mid-Town Atlanta, station; posted it on the internet, as it promptly went viral and virtually destroying the entire multi-channel marketing campaign.

So, is Anthem now the local, and GA statewide, marketing faux paus laughing stock?

Assessment

Wasn’t it Peter Drucker who said that: “culture eats strategy for lunch.”

Just thought you might enjoy the visual meme. Feel free to comment.
***
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Challenging the NPI Requirement of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas Again

Join Our Mailing List

How Far Can They be Pushed?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Command-and-control organizations like BCBSTX find Facebook difficult to control. Even a small nidus of a complaint posted by a client named Mark about poor service can attract a huge bolus of payback by a dentist, and nobody respects anonymous gatekeepers for huge, unresponsive companies like BCBSTX anyway:

https://www.facebook.com/bluecrossblueshieldoftexas

Mark, as a dentist, I’m very familiar with BCBSTX’s inconsiderate behavior in our communities. At least the anonymous moderator invited your feedback. When I sincerely asked her on Wednesday what federal employees are told about BCBSTX’s NPI requirement, she acted as if the absurd policy hadn’t already wasted enough of my time that day when she provided me an irrelevant link to nowhere – just to get rid of me.

Secret Requirement?

I would actually love to treat federal employees who have BCBSTX insurance because they are some of the nicest people I’ve met. But, BCBSTX’s secret requirement that their clients see only dentists with arbitrary NPI identification numbers (not required by law) makes their employment benefit purchased with taxpayer money worthless if they receive treatment in my office. My office has been told that it has become impossible for paper claims to enter BCBSTX’s modern, computerized system without NPI numbers, and nothing humanly possible can be done to correct the unfortunate problem for dentists who choose not to be HIPAA covered entities.

Evasion?

The moderator’s evasion confirms that even though BCBSTX’s federal customers are led to believe that they can use their dental benefits to help pay for treatment at any licensed dentist’s office, they are not being informed of the NPI requirement, and if they pay the dental bill in full for work done by a dentist without an NPI number, BCBXTX pockets the reimbursement. It just cannot be helped. That’s technology. Tough-luck!

BCBSTX executives naturally prefer that my office manager tell their clients about the obscure restrictions of the dental plans they sell. She catches most federal employees before blocking out time in our schedule to treat them, but nevertheless, one got through on Wednesday morning. It wasted my time as well as the federal employee’s.

Congressional Action?

It’s troublesome to know that the government callously encourages such waste of small business owner’s time and money, not to mention the inconvenience to patients. I’m simply fed up with open appointments for uninformed BCBSTX clients. What’s it take to force BCBSTX to take some responsibility in the community and warn their customers about the limitations of their dental policy before they call my office? Congressional action?

Assessment

I do hope the anonymous BCBSTX employee doesn’t choose to delete this post. Since it seems obvious that their windfall profit is a powerful disincentive for BCBSTX to warn their clients about the NPI restriction any time soon, the more federal employees I can ethically warn through BCBSTX Facebook, the fewer open appointments I’ll have, and less taxpayer money will be wasted on silliness.

cc: Senator John Cornyn

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 Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Health Plan Management Navigator

August 2009 Edition

By Douglas B. Sherlock; CFA, MBALibrary

Linked below is the August 2009 edition of Plan Management Navigator. In this month’s edition, we update readers on the results for the Blue Cross Blue Shield universe, and provide product breakouts, summary functional area breakouts as well as expense trends. Cost increases are lower this year than last, though higher if product mix is considered. Twenty-two Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans serving 31.3 million members participated in this year’s benchmarking study.  Growth in Information Systems and Medical Management costs explained more than 40% of the total increase.

Link: Navigator August 09

Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report

This analysis is based on materials from our Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report (SEER) for Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans. Additional information about SEER is available at http://www.sherlockco.com/seer.shtml or by contacting us.

Assessment

In coming weeks, Plan Management Navigator will summarize other results of this year’s performance benchmarking studies. We expect to publish Medicare and Medicaid editions in late August or early September. Independent / Provider-Sponsored plan results were published two weeks ago in Plan Management Navigator and the associated presentation and transcript are found at  http://www.sherlockco.com/

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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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 

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More On Attempted ME-Post Censorship

Return to Ethridge’s Hill

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt

For those who have stayed up late, here is a sneak preview of some upcoming action – hopefully attracting the best PR people BCBS of New Mexico can field – Becky Kenny and Ross Blackstone. 

ModernHealthcare.com – The Strong Arm? – NOT

You may or may not recall that about two months ago, Martin Ethridgehill, who once worked for BCBSNM, posted a comment on ModernHealthcare.com that was later removed as ordered by Becky Kenny – a PR specialist who represents the interests of BCBSNM. So what did Becky’s recently laid-off colleague say that justified field censorship? The title says it all:  “Don’t Rush eHRs Without Addressing Medical ID Theft.”  It attracted my attention before it attracted BCBSNM’s. They move slower than I do.

Blue Cross – Blue Shield 

Apparently, even though leaders of BCBS think caution might be prudent in paying Texas physicians for health care, the organization is not necessarily in favor of delaying the adoption of eHRs … or something like that. Maybe Jon Stewart will explain it some day for us on Comedy Central.

ME-P … Marcinko Does Not Fold 

And who is this Ross Blackstone? He’s a manly piece of PR. He tried to persuade Dr. David E. Marcinko, publisher of the ME-P, to remove my comment which is not a copy of Ethridgehill’s statement, but is a report on his statement. Blackstone learned that Marcinko doesn’t fold as easily as the publisher of ModernHealthcare.com folded to Becky Kenny’s demand. I bet she got nasty with them.

The Blackstone Video 

So who is Ross Blackstone? I’m trying to get away from posting links because they are so tedious. But you just have to watch “Ross Blackstone Reporter Resume” video on YouTube. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuHBnNiYvcU

Assessment

“First they ignore you, then they attack you, and then you win”

-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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 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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Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report [SEER]

ADVERTISEMENT

Plan Management Navigator

By Marco Georeno

Ph:  215-628-228956372274      

Please find attached the April 2009 edition of Plan Management Navigator. In it we provide an update on the timing of the Blue Cross Blue Shield universe and the Independent / Provider-Sponsored editions of the Sherlock Expense Evaluation Report (SEER). In addition, we expect to circulate the benchmarking surveys for the Medicaid and Medicare universes on or about June 1st, for completion by July 20th, 2009.

Benchmarking Studies

If you are interested in participating in our benchmarking studies please contact us as soon as possible. Additional information about SEER is available at www.sherlockco.com/seer.shtml or by contacting Doug Sherlock (sherlock@sherlockco.com).

Best Practices for the Healthcare Enterprise

We also endeavor to provide an enterprise view of best practice. Best practice is typically considered to be the most efficient way of achieving a desired outcome. We believe that the best way of determining the best practice in its most practical application is to start with an overall objective and weigh all particular practices in light of how they contribute to that overall objective.

In that vein, over the next several months, Sherlock Company will be offering web conferences focused on best practices. The first conference will address activities within Customer Services, as well as activities or effects in other functional areas. This web conference will be held on Wednesday May 20th at 2:30 PM, Eastern Time. The costs will be $225. Participation is free of charge to health plans participating in our 2009 benchmarking studies. If you are interested in participating, please email Erin Sawchuk (erinsawchuk@sherlockco.com) or call at 215-628-2289.

Assessment

This edition of Navigator also discusses the latest private health plan Dashboard results for the trailing three months ended January 31, 2009.

Link: navigator

Sincerely,
Sherlock Company

Marco Georeno – Analyst
mgeoreno@sherlockco.com

Fax: 215-542-0690

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 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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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

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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Problems with HIT in Minnesota

The Continuing eHR Saga

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt2

If you were one of fifty governors who decide to jump off a cliff because flying looks so cool, would you proudly race to be the first to grab the air? Blissfully, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is way ahead of the pack. He’s so confident in healthcare information technology [IT]  that he doesn’t even have to watch where he’s going – leaving him free to smile for the cameras. Now that’s cool.

Initial Ambitious Plans

Attention ME-P readers! Please gather around to watch a world-class belly-flop of a gutsy statewide eHR mandate. A few years ago, Governor Pawlenty had ambitious plans to lead the nation with an interoperable eHR system that was touted to include all providers – that means Minnesota dentists as well. Your landing could be vertical and abrupt, Pawlenty.

CCHIT Approved? 

In fairness to a brick, back in 2005 Pawlenty could not have predicted the economic collapse that began three years later, nor could he have known about the subsequent $19 billion eHR money that would be made available to providers – but only if they purchase healthcare IT software that is approved by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT).

CCHIT Laggards 

Even if the descending Pawlenty could have predicted the recent changes in the terrain, including the CCHIT qualification, he would have never guessed that to this day in March of 2009, the certifying commission would still be yet to certify even one single electronic dental record – thereby blocking Minnesota dentists from copious federal help in their efforts to become compliant in Pawlenty’s brave new state.

“The government is actually looking for places to spend the money where there is a strong likelihood of success stories”.

Mike Ubl

Executive Director Minnesota Health Information Exchange

[Owned by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Medica, Fairview Health Services, UCare and the Minnesota Department of Health].

Link: http://www.twincities.com/ci_11830085

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins – When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins”.

-Rudyard Kipling

The CCHIT qualification was incredibly bad luck for Pawlenty’s nifty ideas of interoperability with all providers. When Minnesota dentists discover that they must pay $30 thousand for software they don’t want in order to practice in paradise, some may just swallow their pride, sell the portable ice-fishing house, and move to slow-moving Iowa.

Dentists, MDA and the ADA News

Why the surprisingly quick landing? If Pawlenty actually gave any consideration for dentistry at all, just like everyone else, he must have assumed that dentists’ concerns about digital records would be adequately attended to by the Minnesota Dental Association [MDA] and the American Dental Association. It was easy to make that mistake because of the enthusiasm for eDRs radiating from ADA Headquarters and expressed in confident terms in ADA News Online articles that have since stopped appearing.  Most eDR enthusiasts naturally assumed that by now the majority of dentists in the nation would be saving money, lives and trees with paperless practices. However, the ADA has been nowhere to be found for a long time. As it turns out, the professional organization has still not yet even contacted the certifying commission. We know this, because when I personally contacted CCHIT a few weeks ago, it caught them off guard. I was told that I was one of the first to ever mention dentistry.

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

No Endorsements

To show how far the ADA has slipped, and as an example of its flagging influence on membership, I doubt that more than 5% of American dentists have made the ADA-endorsed leap from paper to digital. Why should they? It makes good business sense to wait, and most dentists are not techno-silly. Consider this; Even if a dentist is happy with a costly eDR system that demanded unanticipated time and effort to learn, in less than a year, CCHIT could determine that his or her favorite system is not worthy of certification because it does not integrate with physicians’ one-size-fits-all, CCHIT-certified eMRs. Tough luck, Minnesota dentists! Uncertified eDRs will be outlawed, while favored, large healthcare IT companies in Madison and Chicago will profit and pay more state taxes with Twin-Cities’ dollars. By then, all the stimulus money will be gone and lawmakers will no longer be giddy about eHRs due to the imminent explosion of data breaches everywhere caused by moving too fast. No return on investment [ROI] there. 

Assessment 

Still, Tim Pawlenty could have never known, yet away he sails with a stupid grin on his face.

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 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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