Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Want A Real Job

Turns out you can't post to blogger from work. Doh! I suppose that shouldn't surprise me given the restricted level of  internet access. Needless to say, I wrote a great post and had the entire thing disappear when I clicked post. Now I know.

You may be wondering how I have time to post during work hours. It's simple, I'm receiving an unmatched education around health and insurance, however the pace is definitely not that of Darden. This week has averaged two or three meetings per day, approximately an hour each. That's a lot of empty hours to fill.

I have no responsibility and no deliverables until February. All I have to do is learn the business, understand how areas connect and be able to speak fluidly about everything. Being new to the industry, I couldn't ask for a better setup. It just needs to be faster for the sake of my sanity. I crave intensity, which I've learned leads to better  personal time management. Currently, I have too much free time during the day where I just have to literally be present. My colleague and I joke that we would like real jobs. We know their on the horizon, but we're getting cabin fever.

Update: ... Blogger saves things automatically, here is the original post

The education I am receiving regarding healthcare and insurance is likely unmatched. While I may never claim to know more in any one area than some of the tenured veterans, I will be able to talk fluidly on how different parts of the business interact. I can say now, much more than I ever said during my interviews. In the beginning, health insurance was simply a card you took out of your wallet when you visited the doctor, who would eventually bill you for some unknown amount. Turns out it is not as gray as it seems when you know what questions to ask.

The pace of this education is definitely not that of Darden. While I suppose I don't need another couple years of such intensity, there was something about that intensity that I loved. I was much more diligent when it came to managing my time. Now, I just pray that my time is filled. This week has been incredibly slow. Typically 2-3 meetings a day, at a max of an hour each. What do you do with all that free time?

It's ironic how my free time at the end of my job prior to business school was a blessing. Of course, we also didn't have restricted internet access, so browsing was easier. Now, I crave speed, intensity, or simply a schedule busier than the one I have. It's hard when you're essentially working on someone's else time. In fact, a lot of someone elses. I have started creating a contact sheet of all the people I've met over the last five months. The tally is roughly 150. That's a lot of people! Yet, every day my colleague and I joke, we want a real job. It's been a long time since I've hard any responsibility or needed to work on a real deliverable. I get more excited about figuring out the best way to develop a website for my mother's wine group than anything here at the office.

I know the education will be worth it, I just want it to be faster. (And I'd like to be told where I'm moving in February...supposed to be informed during October. Two weeks left.)

Friday, October 08, 2010

Insurance, What A Strange Business?

Most widget makers have the luxury of knowing their cost prior to setting their price. When they set their price, they include a profit margin. And from there, the widget maker can try to understand how many widgets he must sell in order to cover costs and make an overall profit.

The insurance business is different. Specifically, health insurance is very different. Most fully-insured large employer groups look to receive a renewal price 2-3 months prior to their renewal date. If claims are used as a basis for that renewal price, credible claims must be posted approximately 90 days prior to their use. So if you want a price for a Jan 1 renewal in September, the claims that are being used are from June of the previous year to May of this year. The renewal price is a guaranteed monthly premium for an entire twelve months quoted. How is an insurance carrier supposed to know how much a member is going to incur in claims 15 months from the day of their pricing? They estimate. Additionally, if a member uses a lot of doctor's services in the first six months, the carrier can't reprice the premium for the second six months. It's definitely a risky business and an odd one when you realize that insurance companies essentially find out their costs many months after they set their price.

I must admit, prior to leaving business school, I had never thought about this when I received medical cards. Also, here's a good quick description of how health insurance works, past the pricing aspect.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Plugged In

It's the age of 24/7 connection. These days, my phone can do just about everything that I do on my personal computer. We omit personal phone calls in exchange for text messages. The virtual world now allows hundreds of thousands of people to choose where they want to live without worrying about where they work. Technology is moving faster and everything seems instantaneously obsolete, yet there are moments when I wonder if we're moving forward or backward.

Sometimes I wonder what human interaction will look like when I have kids. My mom used to believe that when she drove my brother and I to school, that was her time to interact and teach us values. We couldn't jump out of the car, so she had a captive audience. These days, mom is on the phone and baby has a TV to keep entertained. What happened?

I found myself contemplating the virtual landscape the other day at work. Technology has helped companies that are spread across the states and world interact. However, has "efficient" technology led to its own inefficiencies? An email exchange that could be solved with a 60 second phone call will go on for days because no one wants to pick up the phone. E-learning activities are the fancy word for go 'learn'. Yet some people learn from reading, writing or a mixture of both. Retention of information is often not easy unless you apply it. Answering 20 questions at the end of an e-learning course does not prove that you learned the material, simply that your short term memory is good enough to recall it.

Webinars, while undoubtedly helpful, will never beat a live meeting. I think I fade faster in the virtual world than I do in a live presentation. It's hard to read your audience in the virtual world and thus it becomes so much more important that people speak up. Further, I think conversations need to be stronger in the virtual world as to not duplicate work. What are your assumptions? What EXACTLY is your end goal or desire? Sometimes, I don't think the asker even knows. In face to face meetings it seems much easier to define. Perhaps that's because for that second, there really is a captitive audience. And in today's plugged in world, everyone always seems to be multi-tasking, which, in my opinion, is an oxymoron. You're simply saying that not one item or person is getting your undivided attention. Just a different way to look at it.