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Readers weigh in on July's coverage.

DEAR EDITOR,

I enjoyed your article on [J. Todd] Phillips. He sounds like an excellent rep for Humana.

I would point out, however, that I hardly agree that attitudes are getting better.

When I started in this business about 30 years ago, it was not unusual for me to get on the phone and talk to the president of the company. If not the president, a very high level executive. They were interested in me and my view points, and in fact, I was involved in plan design on a few occasions.

Today, I am fortunate if I can even get someone on the phone who is knowledgeable in what their company sells, not to mention know anything about insurance. Most of the time, I can only get someone on the phone who only leaves me frustrated, and I wished I had not called.

The reps of major carriers, such as Blue Cross, although they might be knowledgeable (I could not say) one never sees them or is able to reach them on the phone unless you go to their half-day seminars, and they are all about show. There is no substance to be found.

I for one have always worked in the consultant mode with my clients and I welcome interaction from the carriers. Unfortunately, at this time I know not a single company rep with Phillips' outlook.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Michael P. Myers

DEAR EDITOR,

This (July) issue is excellent. A few quick hits:

1. [J.Todd] Phillips seems sincere, but he's WAY too inside;

2. The piece on Nicole Nance is hysterical;

3. Eric Johnson's article is very good --as is your letter--but there are a couple of 800-pound gorillas, to whit:

Here in the People's Republic, we have this thing called The Coalition For Affordable Healthcare. Two stalwarts are Charlie Baker (CEO, Harvard Pilgrim--GOP Gubernatorial front-runner) and Jim Roosevelt (CEO, Tufts Health Plan --Democratic Super-Delegate.) They agree on an amazing amount and could transform health care financing if given the chance. Never-presents: Anyone from the MassachusettsHospital Association or Blue Cross (the aforementioned 800-pound gorillas.)

Lately, luminaries here have flattered themselves over our unique, groundbreaking reforms. Only they're not unique. Tennessee tried a similar HMO-based statewide program, which collapsed due to a lack of cost controls. Massachusetts likewise has no cost control mechanism. Here's the truth as I see it: The wealthiest single profession in the country is physicians (see Dept. of Labor Statistics.) At the end of the day, they control who gets what. They know that Americans don't want to be told "no," and our culture has an infantile belief that you can lead a fat-soaked, sedentary existence and be saved by a pill. The senior practitioners who control the medical guild systematically abuse and control their younger peers--to the point that if they survive their education, training and residency, they want to exact the same rewards that their superiors possess. (If I hear one more person say that doctors aren't in it for the money I'm going to gag.)

Baker and Roosevelt agree on a couple of key issues: Price Disclosure and Rewards based on Outcomes. Contractual covenants and secret reimbursement pacts (see Massachusetts General Hospital/Partners Health and BCBS) put the lie to those two notions. Anyway, don't hold your breath the fix is in. Oddly, to gain our acceptance, brokers here were kept in the loop (for the time being.) May our brothers and sisters in the other 49 states be so lucky.

Jeff Tyrakowski, GBA
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Title Annotation:FEEDBACK
Author:Myers, Michael P.; Tyrakowski, Jeff
Publication:Benefits Selling
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 1, 2009
Words:583
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