Archive for February, 2010


I’m working on a post about Twitter.  After several conversations at PIMA and ICMG, and around the business, I’m hearing a lot of interesting comments about Twitter – and a lot of cliches that have little basis in reality – aka myths, like, “Why do I want to know what someone had for breakfast?!?!”

Before I publish my thoughts, I’d like to hear yours.  Please comment and share below, even if a brief, anonymous sound-bite.

Are you using twitter?  Why or why not?

Oh yeah, I’m also working on a music video of thoughts and images from ICMG.  If anyone has an idea for a classic-rock track as the music bed for the vid, I’m all ears.  (Already got Come Together by the Beatles – good one).

Qwik pic from last weekend…

My son Zach Wise, leading the Houghton College Army ROTC Color Guard.


ICMG 2010 Annual Meeting (see my pic’s here)

Opening Keynote: Byrd B Baggett III – Byrd the Terd in High School!

When you were born, you cried and people celebrated.  When you die, people will cry and you’ll celebrate.

If you don’t love people, you’ll never lead them.

“Will to win is everything.” Vince Lombardi – most often mis-quoted quote “Winning is everything.”

Success at the expense of faith and family isn’t really success.

Secret of success of SW Airlines – most unionized carrier in the business

I asked him, “We hire attitude and train skills.”  Don’t hire people that brighten the room when they leave it.


TC – technical competence

PC – people competence

LC – Leadership competence

Every morning, count five blessings before you earn the right to say a word.

SMILE – Special Magic in Living Everyday – this isn’t a dress rehearsal

When the pain of remaining the same exceeds the pain of change – when true growth starts.

NO P.G.A. – Power Greed Arrogance

EGO – Edging Growth Out

You know things are bad when “whose idea wins” means more than “the best idea.”

Hearing but not listening – ‘silent’ and ‘listen’ have the same letters.

How the Mighty Fall – the 5 Stages of Decline of an Organization

Why are you always happy!  I believe God put us here to serve other people.

The pain of discipline or the pain of regret – which one do you want?

The truth may sometime hurt but it will always help.

We’re killing people because of religions – I’m about relationships.

Life’s not about me, faith journey begins.

2/24/90 – 2 bad behaviors – identify in the next 24 hours and work on them the next 90 days.

“Values are the root that determine your fruit.”

Technology is killing relationships.  Email complaint… 10, 2, 4 – only check email every so often

The Saints got rid of the ‘Me’ players and brought in the ‘We’ players.

What people are looking for in leaders

  1. Trust
  2. Compassion
  3. Stability (no emotional spikes)
  4. Hope

Great leaders keep hope alive.


  • Stop
  • Ask the right questions from the right people
  • Listen objectively with an open mind.
  • Think about the consequences of your choices.

Keep you from Fire Ready Aim…

Bought things I didn’t need with money I didn’t have to impress people I didn’t like!

The most powerful word?  We

Only 5% percent of people read a book on personal improvement every year.

Read 10 pages a day in a self-improvement .  Try The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Most fulfilling purpose:  Being a part of something greater than self.

Forgiveness liberates the soul.

The fruit of service is peace. Mother Theresa

Book: “The Power of Full Engagement”

Expert – ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure

Gary Jacobs on Skype due to the snow storm in Washington (lot of people missed flights)

Problems of HC Spending

2.5 trillion in overall HC spend, 17% of the economy, expected to about double by 2019

Two issues – cover more people, if get sick, will get services

2. control costs and reduce overall spend – in alignment with other countries

Political reform -

Blue-dog coalition – Fiscal conservatives, no new taxes, if new program, gotta cut some others

Also about 40 congressmen dealing w abortion

Merrill Matthews – public policy analyst, author, council for affordable health insurance

We believe markets work in Washington – a minority view

Election in Mass. changed everything.

Everything is back on the table

The coverage mandate became the real stumbling block

Auto insurance – national statistic is that the percentage of people without auto insurance is about the same as people without health insurance.  So mandates don’t really work.

Penalty and jail if they don’t get it???

Democrats believe Guaranteed Issue and community rating should be the standard.

Tried exchanges in the past – MASS. 2006 legislation, pushing it, starting to work

Taxing benefits – 17 new taxes in the House Bill

Senate wants to back off on the large group.

Administrative waste (commissions, marketing, etc. would put all of us out of business)

Higher minimum loss ratio – insurers talked them down a bit (debate on HAS inclusion)

My guess – HC Reform is dead this year – R have no real political interest, D would rather not vote – if they vote Y they’ll get in trouble with voters, if vote N trouble with party leadership

Some funding in there to get funding for high-risk pools (people w HC issues).

Increase competition across state lines

Democrats hate consumer-driven health insurance to control costs

Real problem for the states is the budget – so tight not a lot of room to move.

Healthcare Freedom Act – State of AZ started it.  VA Senate just passed it.  Pushing back on the Feds

Because so many people in DC thought we were going to have Reform – it’s all off the table now.  No telling whether we might see individual laws for the Class Act, Reinsurance Provision, etc.

It’s a good time to be talking to people who are running for office about what makes sense for healthcare reform, then in the next election cycle we can get some good reform.

Gary Jacobs

Brown: More of a story about all the frustration that so many Americans are feeling about Jobs, the economy and the HC Reform process.

See the slide about the National Debt gorilla in the room

Kennedy – liberal man with a conservative bent.  His death left a void.  He might have gotten a deal done for reform.

Death knell was the deal-making and lack of transparency.  Nebraska and Landreau deal were bad.

Quality of the work that is done does not impact the payments.  So if a doc leaves a sponge in the patient, the work to go in and make the fix also gets paid for.

Politics trumped the policy.

Private insurance is a cornerstone of our economy?


Does the insurance industry have some proposals that can slow this trend down?  $40 trillion Medicare in unfunded liabilities?  They’ve been running Medicare about 40 years.  The fraud in Medicare and Medicaid is unbelievable!!! 12-15% of claims. In private health care, it’s about 1%.  It would be a disaster to run private insurance like they do public.

$800 billion a year in waste in the system – medical malpractice, defensive medicine

Search on Thomson Reuters and $800 billion waste.  17% in fraud


My Take: (What’s yours??)

Great content, great networking, a little too much good-ole boy stuff.  But there’s a lot of new talent appearing in the crowd.  Hope they stick with it and keep coming.  Hope I keep coming!  Need to do some business with some of the folks.  To be candid, I’ve done a few good deals over the past 6 years.  And I know the group is not generally there to talk tech – they’re there to talk product and alliances.  But hopeful that with persistent follow-up in the next few weeks, a few more folks will get savvy to a tremendous offer I’m bringing to the group:

Many of the folks on the distribution side have a certain block of agents with either no Web site or a bad Web site – both of which could be undermining their sales efforts.  I’ve got a unique solution to that simple yet complex problem. -low price points, great potential to help agents drive untapped production, great tech.  Definitely want to encourage a look or pass this information along to the right folks in the organization.

To kick this off, for the first few ICMG’ers that respond, I’m offering a special deal: Social Media and Social Network training for agents.  It’s a sweet deal.

Favorite pic?  Gotta be the bobcat!!!  But the dinner was terrific as well.  Outstanding conversation with some really smart people. Oh yeah… I also went to the Arizona Wildcats v Oregon Ducks Pac-10 basketball game – what a hoot!  See the tomahawk dunk here.  Next week: Why Twitter?  So much mis-understanding out there in the insurance space. Were you at ICMG 2010?  What was your take?

Heard on the job this week: “…So I asked the CIO when I could have the project? [...a simple quote engine for three products with e-app workflows for each and an admin...for an affinity distribution partner]  He says matter-of-factly, ‘…3 years and $2mln…’  I said, ‘THREE YEARS! According to the Mayan calendar, we won’t even be AROUND in three years!’”

LOL Just had to share that story.  I chuckled all the way home.  I’ve got a new thought to think about when I need a smile!!!  Thanks, G.  Good stuff.  Keep doin’ it.

Almost forgot to relay this great story from the plan home from PIMA.  Sometimes I just happen to sit next to someone special…I wrote it immediately on the plane and Dr. Libby approved it…

Really cool story…. So in the seat next to me is this guy that looks to be in his 60’s.  He asks me if I’m going home.  He’s from Warren, OH… knows Hudson, sons went to Western Reserve…we get to talking… turns out he’s a physician…an ear doctor… done 17,000 surgeries in 40 years…very specialized surgery, people come from all over the world to get their hearing back that was lost through a disease called otosclerosis and treated by an operation called stapedectomy …something about the bones in the inner ear…a prosthesis and they can hear again!

So he asks me what I do and I share about e-commerce and social media marketing for the health and life insurance industry, just coming back from a speaking gig at a conference.  I ask 78 (!) year old Dr. Lippy, “Do you have a blog?”  He stuns me with, “I’ve done one better than that – I do video’s.”  So real quick, before the plane takes off, we hit the Web on my phone and look at some of his content – the  In flight, he goes on to tell story after story about the power of these video’s to communicate the essentials of the surgery with his audience of colleague physicians, the trade media, and especially patients searching for solutions where other alternative haven’t worked.  Lives changed… training physicians from around the world at his practice… publishing in peer review journals.  And all without the need to go through the published peer-review process because it’s informal.

What does he do?  Take a look.  He simply sits down with his associate doctor and talks.  They’ve discussed 30+ different subjects – very specific to the operations. Then his son edits the videos and publishes them to the library and out on the Web.  He said his analytics show views from 74 countries and thousands of visits.

I remarked that some people would want to keep that information a secret in order to pull in more patients with the proprietary knowledge – and so make more money.  He says, “There’s more to it than money.  I’m not making a lot of money, about $300k/yr.  But I’m changing lives in my own little way… And when I’m gone, the video’s will live on.  And more physicians will make more discoveries on top of what I’ve done…”

How cool is that.  The power of Web content, in this case a simple video blog – just what I was talking about at PIMA, reinforced by the guy next to me on the airplane home.  Hmmmm.

What do you think?  Impressions?


The Blur is Back!

More importantly, Web Technology Budgets are back!  Based on conversations this week and last, and perhaps due to Scott Brown’s stunning victory in Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat and the corresponding implications on the administration and healthcare reform and the economy, etc. etc. etc., it seems like optimism is returning.  There’s a backlog of work to do, especially regarding online quoting and enrollment technology for insurance distribution.  I’m a little buried under a raft of interest, not only on the strategy side, but also with various insurance technology RFP’s.  A lot of companies are retooling their Web presence, adding new functionalities, and getting in the social media space.  Looking forward to it.

PIMA 2010 Annual Meeting: This was one great conference – well-attended, great content, positive energy, good weather – what more can you ask for?

We covered a lot of ground with some excellent speakers, but here are a few aha’s for me:


New: Claims payments with pre-paid cards

Paying commissions to agents w pre-paid cards

Higher FICO score: Less claims loss ratio, better renewal value, better cross-sell, up-sell.

A comment on ‘Healthcare Reform’ – Things that are so egregious – mandatory loss ratios, guaranteed coverage, adverse selection… would be the end of health insurance as we know it.  Small reforms are a sure thing.  Watch out for ‘Coat hangers’, e.g. a rider on the defense appropriations bill

Alan Parisse – This is Your Time

The smarter, more successful, educated – often the more difficult to change – a barrier, harder to change

When the environment changes, some things turn on you and work against you.  Michael Jordan – Height – What worked FOR him in basketball worked AGAINST him in baseball.

Be willing to give up things that made you successful if they are not going to work for you in the future.

Traditional Sources of power for a leader are all gone.

Joel Wood

On Scott Brown: “It is the most astonishing upset I’ve ever witnessed in my career.” (27 years in Washington).  Should serve as an air-raid siren for the Democratic Party.

See if the issue of medical malpractice reforms comes up.   If you see actual movement on that, it could constitute a breakthrough.

See the slide on Who are the Uninsured?

Sam Fleet – See the RIP Slide

It was insurance reform, it was not healthcare reform.

See slide on Six Solutions.  Also See White Paper.  Great clarity.

“Go crazy over Swine Flu, but not addressing Obesity.”  Yup.

7.35% healthcare costs directly related to obesity.

Transparency in pricing – See the slide for cost variations in Sacramento.

State mandated benefits add 18% to cost of premiums in RI.

Tony Hammond – VP at Humana

Obesity rate is about 34% in the country.  -Economist

Mark Kelsey –

Doing nothing is almost a bigger problem than reform.

Fix Medicare – Move to ‘bundled package’ approach.  Wonder if this is on his blog?  Blog?

People calling into the call centers are saying, “Well, I’m just gunna wait for the free gov’t plan.”

George Nichols

We are facing greater challenges than I’ve ever seen as a former regulator….You’ll have to get involved.

Fiduciary Standard – Get active because it could significantly impact proprietary products.

Comp disclosure is coming in.

Democrats talk about raising taxes.  Republican’s talk about adding fees.

M. Derek Thomas

If you are doing planning, please include the technology department.  Your customers are going to want to interface in different ways.

Jim Kane

More on him later – phenomenal teaching

Lastly, president-elect Jim Gallagher said that social media and social networks could be game-changers.  Yup.

Kudo’s to out-going president Frank Fimmano, the entire executive team, Mona Buckley, the PIMA staff, the Empire staff, and especially the meeting chairs, Rick Jones, Mike McCarthy, and Cynthia Elias.  Outstanding conference in challending times.

Relative to the Panel I moderated on Social Media, I did not get a chance to record the audio – sorry about that.  But here is a link to the Intro music video I made (music bed by Marc Majers). The link to the PPT will be on the PIMA site in the members-only section.  Thanks again to Sherri Lagana, Scott Hilchey, Kathie Kinde, and Bill Tyson in absentia, and all the questions from the attendees.  Great feedback on the session from PIMA.

Favorite picture from the conference?  This time it’s a nature shot – well, two actually.  The moon was the brightest it will be for 14 years one night.  And I just happened to get a stellar shot of a leaping dolphin.  See more here.

Archives to 2005