Archive for October, 2010

Moving beyond traditional benchmarking to identify your full potential

Benchmarking…metrics…production goals…these are all familiar terms, but what do they all boil down to?  While every successful company has goals, does every company ensure that they are meaningful?

In several recent meetings, I have had business leaders inquire about the effectiveness of their metrics on bottom line subrogation recoveries and revenue cycle management.   The reality is that a metric is only as good as the process that is in place to achieve a certain outcome.  

Consider the insurer that focuses on year to year improvement in subrogation recovery dollars but has not implemented a solution for identifying missed recovery opportunities.   While the former may be a proper benchmark to measure improvement, it fails to incorporate true potential.

When considering benchmarks, there are time bound and results oriented metrics which all have an impact on an organizational bottom line.  In the insurance industry, some commonly used benchmarking includes the original Ward studies measures Total Dollars of Net Subrogation Recoveries as a % of Total Indemnity Paid Losses for Personal Auto Collision

In the years since those early studies, there has been some focus by carriers on improving their subrogation process which has led to an increase in recovered dollars.   According to a recent NASP study, net recoveries to total paid collision is 27% for standard carriers and 14.5% for non standard carriers.  Again, a good study when benchmarking results for identified subrogation, but what of the 15% of files closed with a missed subrogation opportunity that could dramatically alter these outcomes?

The same holds true in the healthcare field, where insurers and hospitals often leave substantial amounts of money on the table as the result of inadequate processes.    In several recent process and workflow reviews for both a large health insurer and a large network of hospitals, several gaps were identified, specifically related to missed third party and workers’ compensation liability insurance.  

By utilizing tools to identify missed subrogation opportunities or gaps in the revenue management cycle, stakeholders gain an immediate competitive edge in the marketplace, which couldn’t come at a more opportune time.

As many are tightening purse strings amidst the down economy, those repositioning themselves as industry leaders are recognizing opportunity areas and reaching out to business partners with proven solutions that can improve results by as much as 15% with no new money required. 

While traditional benchmarking has provided sufficient improvement in years past, this is changing as innovative new technology is being introduced to not only improve on current processes, but being deployed to identify emerging opportunities that will have a profound impact on end users.  

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.” – John Schaar

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Learn how you can improve your existing processes and identify new revenue streams, often with NO NEW MONEY REQUIRED! 

Contact Chris Tidball at (904) 742-9031 or visit www.christidball.com

October 29, 2010 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

The Fair Tax: Paving the way to new jobs and economic prosperity

While some have claimed the recession is over, one thing is clear; far too many Americans remained kicked to the curb.   Unemployment continues to hover at just under 10%, consumer confidence is at an all time low and businesses are remiss in hiring because of uncertainties about tax cuts, rising healthcare costs and the prospect of cap and trade legislation that will double the cost of energy by 2016.  

During the course of the economic downturn, some have suggested that, despite our struggling now, we will become a better society in the long run.   There is evidence that this may be coming to fruition as more Americans are getting back to the core principles of self reliance and rugged individualism that made our nation great.  

The only thing missing is a transfer of power from the government back to the people and this very well could occur with honest debate on the Fair Tax, arguably one of the most misunderstood proposals in generations.  

Let’s begin with the critics who say that the Fair Tax is a 23% sales tax.   Yes, this is correct but what is typically left out is that it is a tax that replaces income tax, capital gains and dividend taxes, social security taxes, medicare taxes, corporate taxes and embedded taxes.   While this is over simplified, would you rather save roughly 40% (50% if you live in New York or California) and pay 23%, or stay with the status quo?   Would you rather earn $20.00 dollars per hour and take home $12 or earn $20 and take home $20?  

The Fair Tax (H.R. 25) was introduced by retiring Georgia Congressman John Linder as a means to reign in an out of control tax code that is in excess of 56,000 pages.    According to the Heritage Foundation, the cost of regulation, including the I.R.S., are a hidden tax costing Americans $1.75 trillion dollars annually.  Yes, that is trillion with a “T”.    By creating transparency in the tax process, not only will consumers and business benefit, but there will be significant savings by the reduction in the size and scope of governmental redundancies and bureaucratic red tape. 

To alleviate fears of a 23% increase on the costs of goods and services, Fair Tax author Neil Boortz provides an outstanding explanation using a pair of shoes as an example.   “Somewhere a rancher raised a cow that was destined to become your next pair of shoes. That rancher purchased feed, medicines, veterinary services and supplies and a host of other items to assist in the raising of our cow. Every one of the businessmen who supplied those products or services had a tax obligation to the federal government to fulfill, and every one of those businessmen would then incorporate that tax liability in pricing their services to our rancher. The rancher also has his own federal tax liabilities to put into the mix.

At some point the rancher sells the cow to a processing plant. The meat goes in one direction, other less savory body parts in another, and the hide to a tanner. The rendering plant has its own federal tax liabilities that will be incorporated into the price charged for these cow components.

The hide eventually arrives at the shoe manufacturing (furniture, belt manufacturing – whatever) company, there to be turned into a shoe. Along with the hide our shoemaker is receiving metal eyelets, dyes, shoelaces, rubber soles and fabric inserts; all arriving with their own share of federal tax costs to their manufacturers, distributors and transporters. The shoe is then trucked to your shoe store with all of those taxes embedded into the price. The retailer then adds his tax bite and other costs, plus a few percent for profit, to the shoe and in you walk with credit card in hand.  The Fair Tax removes all of the tax components currently built into the cost.”

To simplify this, let’s say the pair of shoes currently cost $100 dollars.   Opponents of the Fair Tax, who often lack credibility due to their historic support for higher taxes, would claim the new price would be $123 dollars.   To the contrary, the price would be $100 dollars with the receipt reflecting $77 dollars for the product (now that the embedded taxes are gone) and $23 dollars for the Fair Tax.  

Of course, the price is actually cheaper for the consumer because they are now using real earnings versus taxed earnings, so in essence they are getting a 40% (or greater) discount on everything they purchase.  

There is a reason that many, in particular those supportive of big government, oppose the Fair Tax.  It is not about the people, but rather power.  The Fair Tax would create the largest shift in power from the federal government back to the people in the history of the Republic.   Government recognizes the anger of the people, which would only increase once the masses fully understand just how much the government really takes from their paycheck each week.  

The Fair Tax has also been thoroughly researched, with more than  $22 million dollars invested by economists and academics who have created a model that will be far more effective on fixing the economy than the ill conceived and hastily passed  stimulus.    Unlike Obamacare, the Fair Tax doesn’t have to be passed before we know what is contained in the bill.  It is already understood, which is precisely why big government proponents are so fearful.  

The Fair Tax also operates on the premise that the federal government should not receive a dime until people’s basic needs are met which is why it will include a monthly prebate of $423 dollars per month to cover the taxes on essentials.  The prebate which will be tied to the level of poverty making it all the more hypocritcal that those who claim to stand for the poor are against the bill.  

The simple fact that the Fair Tax is being attacked and demonized by those who want to further grow government proves that it may very well be the solution to the root of our economic woes which lie largely at the feet of a government that has gotten far too powerful and bureaucratic.   

Before making a decision on the Fair Tax, read the book and learn more at www.fairtax.org.   By putting more money in the hands of consumers, confidence will rise and the economy will grow.   By taking away the uncertainty from business, they will increase employment to meet growing consumer demand.  By eliminating the corporate income taxes, currently the highest in the world), American companies can once again become competitive which will reduce the number of jobs being moved overseas.   By supplanting confiscatory rules, regulations and mandates with common sense, our nation can once again reign supreme in the world economy. 

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Christopher Tidball is a freelance writer living in Saint Johns, Florida.   He is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He provides innovative solutions to businesses to increasing revenue with no new money down.  Learn more at www.christidball.com or email chris@christidball.com

October 28, 2010 at 9:06 am Leave a comment

Subrogation: Increasing Departmental Efficiencies, Quality and Results

A recent question was posed as we presented innovative solutions to improving recovery results at an insurance industry trade show.   “How many new claims should a subrogation adjuster get daily and what should their pending be?”

The simple answer to the question is that it depends, but the first answer is never base staffing on pending.  It is a self fulfilling prophecy as there is little incentive to close files.   “Hey, if I get to 500 then I won’t get any new.”  Rather focus on new with an emphasis on disposition and quality. 

Other critical questions that need to be answered are:

  • What type of subrogation is being pursued? Auto, Property and workers’ compensation will have different models.  
  • What is the average tenure of the adjuster? 
  • What is the complexity of the claims?
  • What percentage is insured versus uninsured?
  • What is the average time of referral from date of claim payment?

 These are just a few of the factors that play into effectively staffing an organization.   In my experience managing claims organizations, and now working with a variety of insurance carriers, the best results are obtained with the following 9 box model (click to enlarge) and several critical questions.

1. Staff subrogation adjusters should be limited to claims were insurance has been identified and the claimant carrier is a member of inter-   company   arbitration.   In this subset, claims with no dispute should be placed into a Fast Track unit where at least 10/day should be no problem.  

2. Claims with disputes should be placed into a more tenured unit, such as an arbitration unit, so that attempts to settle can be made and if unsuccessful the arbitration contentions can be filed.

3.  Claims identified as uninsured, or as non Arbitration Forums members,  should be sent to a third party that specializes in tougher collections and that have the resources to effectively recover on those.   During my tenure as a claims manager I found that keeping tougher collections in house simply doesn’t work as they are recognized by adjusters as impediments to other goals and often find their way off diary or to the bottom of the workbasket.   Getting these claims out the door on day one increases recovery exponentially and actually is cheaper for the carrier than handling them in house. 

4.  Push for a 100 percent disposition ratio without sacrificing quality and pending doesn’t become an issue.  If you get 100 new, then you should close 100.  Provide rewards and incentives for better results. 

5.  Measure closed with no recovery to balance out disposition metrics, which when taken alone,  can drive bad behavior.   In post mortem audits it is not uncommon to find 15 to 20% of files closed prematurely and with a missed opportunity.  

6.  Focus on quality over quantity.   Yes, production is important but it is equally important to have staff in place that can effectively investigate and aggressively negotiate settlements.  By having a solid QA process in your organization you are assured of substantially increasing your bottom line and the QA results should definitely be part of the annual PE. 

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Chris Tidball is a contributing writer to Claims Magazine, the Subrogator and author of Kicked to the Curb.   With more than 20 years in the insurance industry, he now provides businesses with innovative solutions to improve their claims processes, often with NO NEW MONEY REQUIRED.  Learn more at www.christidball.com or email chris@christidball.com.  

 

October 27, 2010 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

There’s gold in them thar judgments

If you were walking down the road and found a pot of gold, what would you do?  While the answer may seem obvious to individuals, it frequently slips by the public and private sectors where billions of dollars are left on the table annually.  

According to a recent study by the Haub School of Business, nearly 10% of medical dollars are left on the table during the claims process.   A leading insurance trade group found that 15% of all property casualty claims contain missed subrogation valued at $15 billion dollars.   Court records at all levels bear out that more than 80% of all judgments, valued at more than $150 billion dollars per year, go uncollected.   The amount of money being overlooked is staggering. 

Why does this happen?  After all, everyone should be paying closer attention to their bottom line during these tough economic times.   Intuitively, this seems correct.  However, in the real world of downsizing and doing more with less, there are simply fewer eyes to manage the revenue process, often with declining tenure and lower salaries.  

It’s not as if this is a new phenomenon.   During good times, plenty of money was left on the table.  It’s just that there was so much other money that what was left behind wasn’t a priority.   Besides, when people were spending, finding new sources of revenue was as simple as increasing sales.  

As the economy deteriorated, the solution was to cut costs.   Now businesses and governments alike are facing the challenge of what to do when there is nothing left to cut?  A great solution that can provide immediate income is to examine your existing judgments. 

If you are a hospital, insurer, manufacturer, municipality, utility or attorney the chances are pretty high that you have unpaid judgments, quite possibly collecting dust.    Now is the time to pull them off the shelves, make sure they are still valid, and begin the quest to put that money in your coffers. 

Judgments can be tricky to collect with debtors who are often hard to find and slippery as eels.   The state and federal mandates and regulations in the collection process can be as tricky as navigating a channel filled with landmines.  But when all is said and done, a business partner with expertise in collecting on judgments can add a tremendous amount to your bottom line.  

As you examine your state of affairs during this final quarter, considering a judgment recovery process could be a very wise business decision.  

 __________________

Christopher Tidball provides businesses in the healthcare, financial and government sectors with innovative revenue enhancement solutions.  He has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including MSNBC, CBS Market Watch and WSJ Smart Money.    To learn more about helping your organization improve their bottom line with no new money down, please contact chris@christidball.com.

October 26, 2010 at 11:24 am 1 comment

Reposition yourself as the center of influence when looking for a new job

In prior posts, we have discussed the importance of a resume and how proper formatting and keywords are critical to getting through the often automated screening process.    But even if successful, getting a job remains an uphill battle involving interviews with human resources, supervisors, managers and executives.  

Wouldn’t it be better to go right to the top?  By shifting your paradigm from one of job seeker to salesperson, this can often be accomplished.   As people who sell already know, success is rarely achieved through anyone but the decision maker.  

Ultimately somebody is responsible for hiring people.  It is not the automated resume screening software, nor HR, nor the line supervisor.   It is generally somebody higher up in the organization that will ultimately give the thumbs up.  By identifying the decision maker and putting yourself in a position to be recognized, you can take proactive steps to not only cut in front of many other applicants but  increase your odds of landing your dream job. 

The first task is to identify the decision maker, which can often be tough in larger organizations.   But remember, your new full time job is to find a career so use this time wisely and with the assistance of websites such as Weddles, Sales Genie or Manta, can be accomplished in record time with incredible accuracy.

Networking is paramount to your ultimate success.  You can’t network too much.   Social networking sites such as  Linkedin, Plaxo, XING or Facebook are great places to start as they give you tremendous economies of scale to reach people that not only you know, but who they know as well.  

Consider the six degrees of separation that put you in touch with anyone one earth.   Often a decision maker may only be one or two degrees away.   Social networking sites bring these people closer, provided you utilize the site to its full potential by posting not only your credentials and qualifications but using contacts to provide references and recommendations. 

Starting a blog based upon your expertise is another great way to interact with the public.     Sites such as WordPress or Blogger are free and easy to use.    Your posts, just like the one you are reading now, can be linked to your social networking sites.   In addition, you can use programs like Networked Blogs to post to a wider audience and in many cases what you right will be picked up by yet another blog to further expand your footprint. 

But your networking can’t be limited to your computer, as putting a face to your knowledge is critical to your ultimate success.   While there are several ways to do this, arguably the most effective is face to face networking opportunities such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club meetings, trade shows or church groups.

By identifying where decision makers may be, you have increased your chances of getting noticed exponentially.  Some of these functions are free, others have nominal costs which should be viewed as an investment in your future.  

At a recent healthcare trade show I met a gentleman who was handing out business cards that said “CFO For Hire”.  This is a perfect example of taking proactive steps to find your new career.

Networking opportunities abound if you seek them out and then use the time to mingle with attendees.   It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and share your knowledge with business leaders, who often will create positions for people with talent, especially those who have positioned themselves as the center of influence with viable solutions to problems plaguing business owners. 

As you plan your strategy, consider that only 5% of all jobs are advertised yet 60% are obtained through networking.  By changing your paradigm and shooting for the top you will not only dramatically increase your chances of getting hired, but you will speed up the entire hiring process. 

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Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Essential Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down.  He provides businesses and individuals with innovative solutions to maximizing their bottom line with no new money required.  He can be reached at chris@christidball.com.

October 25, 2010 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

Four Simple Steps To Getting Hired

October 23, 2010 at 7:38 am Leave a comment

Juan Williams; the latest victim of political correctness run amok

Juan WilliamsIt seems that nobody is exempt from getting kicked to the curb.   Just ask political commentator Juan Williams, who was given the proverbial boot by National Public Radio for comments deemed, by that publicly funded network, to be offensive.  

In an ironic twist, the liberal leaning commentator was fired by the liberal leaning network after comments made on conservative Bill O’Reilly’s show during which he stated, “When I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous.”   Rather than firing Williams, arguably one of the last voices of reason on the left, NPR should have said, “Who doesn’t”?

At a minimum Williams should pursue legal action against NPR for wrongful termination, but beyond that is a message that is far more ominous when a network, funded in large part by the American taxpaye,r violates the First Amendment.  

By virtue of its unique market position and funding, NPR is a defacto arm of the federal government and “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The inappropriate actions by NPR certainly aren’t unique, as political correctness is undermining intellectual honesty across the globe.   As George Washington said, “When the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent may we be led like sheep to the slaughter.”  

It’s time that we say enough is enough.   People’s feelings are far less important than people’s freedoms, which was precisely why the First Amendment was drafted.   As a nation, we must have the intellectual wherewithal to point out issues that are harming our society without fear of retribution.  

In the Maryland gubernatorial debate this week, Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley referred to illegal aliens as “new Americans.”   The mainstream media and the Obama administration have removed references to Islamic extremism, Islamic fascism and other references to Islam from their dialogue even though we are engaged in a War dating back to 9/11 that is directly attributable to Islamic fascists.   

It’s time that we recognize, and take steps to preserve, the freedoms to which we are entitled.   As a nation founded on the premise of freedom and liberty, it’s time to undo the damage inflicted upon society by politically correct tyranny.  

It is impossible to live in a society where nobody is offended.  Ironically, those claiming to be offended most often are the ones who offend the most with attempts to ban everything from God and guns to meat and SUV’s.  

American exceptionalism came about as the result of our freedoms; and it will wither on the vine of those freedoms are taken away.    What happened to Juan Williams, one of the few pundits to actually make both political sides more intellectually honest, clearly shows that we are on a slippery slope that we better fix quickly before our entire way of life falls into the abyss. 

Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.  ~Potter Stewart

Click here to Like Political Correctness is un-American 

Christopher V. Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Rules To Come Out on Top When Your Life Has Been Turned Upside Down and Dodgeball…and 101 Other Reasons to Make Political Correctness A Crime.    He can be reached at www.christidball.com.

October 22, 2010 at 11:28 am Leave a comment

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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at chris@christidball.com

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