Did data analytics miss the forest for the trees?

April 25, 2017

Team Clinton’s GOTV effort got out a lot of votes … for Trump

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Let’s dust-off another post related to the recently released book Shattered: Inside Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.

huffpost-big-data-clinton

 

According to the Huffington Post:

As the post-election day hangover wears off, an examination of the mechanics behind the Clinton’s get out the vote efforts ― reaching out to Clinton voters in key states at the door, on the phone or by text messages ― reveals evidence of what appears to be a pretty shocking truth.

Clinton volunteers were inadvertently turning out Trump voters.

Possibly in significant numbers.

What went wrong? Read the rest of this entry »

Perspectives on climate change …

April 24, 2017

To celebrate Earth Day, there was a Science March in DC on Saturday.

There were many serious scientists worried about Trump de-funding their work.

There were also the usual cadre of cause-chilling climate change zealots.

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Whenever I see these folks I reach back for some grounded perspective from political commentator (and comedian) Dennis Miller …

Read the rest of this entry »

WaPo Poll: Trump is a horrible person, a worse president, and everybody thinks so…

April 24, 2017

Well, actually, there’s somebody who is worse..

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The Washington Post just reported a poll that is, charitably speaking, unfavorable for President Trump.

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According to the Post’s analysis:

Trump has reached the 100-day marker in his presidency faring worse to much worse than other recent presidents.

Specifically: Trump’s approval rating stands at 42%, the lowest recorded at this stage of a presidency dating to Dwight Eisenhower.

In comparison, President Obama’s approval was 69% at this point in his Presidency.

But, to the obvious shock & dismay of the WaPo’s reporters, there doesn’t seem to be much indication of buyer’s remorse.

Read the rest of this entry »

All of the info I’ve collected says I’m right … so there!

April 21, 2017

Dan Lovallo, a professor and decision-making researcher says, “Confirmation bias is probably the single biggest problem in business, because even the most sophisticated people get it wrong. People go out and they’re collecting the data, and they don’t realize they’re cooking the books.”

What’s this “confirmation bias” that Lovello is talking about?

No surprise, people tend to seek out information that supports their existing beliefs.

You know, liberals watch MSNBC, read the NY Times listen to BBC podcasts; conservatives watch FOX, read the WSJ and listen to Rush.

Behavioral psychologists call the he dynamic “confirmation bias”.

 

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In socio-politics, the confirmation bias tends to harden polarized positions. People just gather debate fodder rather than probing both sides of issues.

In the realm of decision making, confirmation bias has a dysfunctional effect: it leads to bad decisions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shattered: Inside Clinton’s Doomed Campaign

April 20, 2017

I read it so you won’t have to …

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Well, that’s not totally true.

I was swayed by a WSJ reviewer’s conclusion that:

“Shattered” is not a pleasure to read.

The book is also too long.

It’s 400 pages of Clintonian self-aggrandizement, campaign malpractice and passive-aggressive blame-shifting.

More than any ordinary reader can bear.

Since I modestly fashion myself to be just an “ordinary reader”, I just digested a range of book reviews from the New York Times, NPR and the Wall Street Journal.

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Here is my collage of takeaways …

Read the rest of this entry »

Great moments in facial recognition……

April 19, 2017

The Chinese have a novel application for the technology. 

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According to the AP

To boost tourism, bathrooms at some Chinese tourist sites now use facial recognition to keep visitors from grabbing too much toilet paper.

Yep, you read that right.

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Picture source

Here are the details…

Read the rest of this entry »

Are airlines ruthless profiteers?

April 18, 2017

A short course in airline economics

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First. let’s establish that I’m no fan of of traveling … especially commercial air travel … via cattle-herding airlines.

That said, I scratch my head when folks characterize airlines as ruthless profiteers.

They may be ruthless but, I think, to be a profiteer a company has to make money, right?

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Below is a chart that’s a bit dated, but makes a directional point.

The graph shows cumulative net income of US air carriers since 1938.

What is says:

Since that fateful day when Orville & Wilbur took off, U.S.  airline companies have — as a group — LOST money.

There has been some recouping in the past decade — due mostly to consolidation  — but not enough to get the industry back above the birth-to-date Mendoza line.

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What’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

I thought my new Smart TV was haunted …

April 17, 2017

Today, as a public service, a Consumer Alert

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Let me set the stage:

Brought home a new 55’ Samsung Smart TV … very excited.

Late afternoon … plugged it in … fired it it up.

Picture looked fine … facsimile below left.

After a couple of minutes, the picture began to get dimmer & dimmer … facsimile below right.

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No problem, just fiddle with the picture settings, right?

Not that simple, my friends … much more to the story.

Read the rest of this entry »

What do high healthcare costs and high tuitions have in common?

April 14, 2017

Let’s connect a couple of dots today …

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A NY Times article explored “Why the Economic Payoff From Technology Is So Elusive”.

One example:

Look at this disconnect is in the doctor’s office.

Dr. Peter Sutherland, a family physician in Tennessee, made the shift to computerized patient records from paper in the last few years.

There are benefits to using electronic health records, Dr. Sutherland says, but grappling with the software and new reporting requirements has slowed him down.

Dr. Sutherland bemoans the countless data fields he must fill in to comply with government-mandated reporting rules…

He sees fewer patients, and his income has slipped.

The bottom line: over the years, due legal compliance and technology complexity, administrators (think: bureaucrats) have been added at a far faster rate than healthcare providers (think: doctors and nurses) …

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Hmmm.

Wonder why healthcare costs are so high …

What’s the link to college tuitions?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean there’s a physician who can (or will) see you.”

April 13, 2017

Remember Romney Care?

To refresh memories, the former Massachusetts governor  enacted something very similar to the Obama health plan.

It’s still largely in place.

And, it still  isn’t working well:  Costs are up, folks are gaming the system, and people with insurance can’t get in to see doctors.

Uh-oh.

Here’s a flashback to further refresh memories.

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Excerpted from WSJ: The Failure of RomneyCare

The Bay State is suffering from what the Massachusetts Medical Society calls a “critical shortage” of primary-care physicians.

As one would expect, expanded insurance has caused an increase in demand for medical services. But there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in the number of doctors.

As a result, many patients are insured in name only: They have health coverage but can’t find a doctor.

Fifty-six percent of Massachusetts internal medicine physicians no longer are accepting new patients.

For new patients who do get an appointment with a primary-care doctor, the average waiting time to see a doctor is 44 days.

As Dr. Sandra Schneider, the vice president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, told the Boston Globe last April, “Just because you have insurance doesn’t mean there’s a [primary care] physician who can see you.”

The difficulties in getting primary care have led to an increasing number of patients who rely on emergency rooms for basic medical services. Emergency room visits jumped 7% between 2005 and 2007.

Officials have determined that half of those added ER visits didn’t actually require immediate treatment and could have been dealt with at a doctor’s office — if patients could have found one.

* * * **

The promise that getting everyone covered would force costs down also is far from being realized.

One third of state residents say that their health costs had gone up as a result of the 2006 reforms.

A typical family of four today faces total annual health costs of nearly $13,788, the highest in the country. Per capita spending is 27% higher than the national average.

Insurance companies are required to sell “just-in-time” policies even if people wait until they are sick to buy coverage. That’s just like the Obama plan.

There is growing evidence that many people are gaming the system by purchasing health insurance when they need surgery or other expensive medical care, then dropping it a few months later.

Some Massachusetts safety-net hospitals that treat a disproportionate number of lower-income and uninsured patients are threatening bankruptcy.

They still are treating a large number of people without health insurance, but the payments they receive for uncompensated care have been cut under the reform deal.

Oops

 

Are emergency rooms required to treat all patients?

April 12, 2017

More specifically, the question that a friend and I were discussing recently was:

“Are emergency rooms required to treat all patients? … whether or not they have insurance?”

I said “yes” but decided to fact-check my answer.

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Here’s what I found…

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember how ObamaCare was going to divert patients from ERs to doctors’ offices?

April 11, 2017

Turns out that the number of people flocking to ERs is increasing, not decreasing.

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According to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

One of ObamaCare’s goals was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care.

Instead, many hospitals across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking into emergency rooms.

Nationally, nearly half of ER doctors responding to a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians said they’ve seen more visits since ObamaCare was enacted.

That’s a problem since an average ER visit costs $580 more than a trip to the doctor’s office.

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Why’s this happening?

Read the rest of this entry »

But, all of the chemical weapons were already out of Syria … right?

April 10, 2017

Even the mainstream media has had to acknowledge former President Obama’s infamous Syrian red line threat.

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You remember,  the former President said that Syria would face grave consequences if chemical weapons were used.

When the WMDs were used, the Administration kicked into high gear with increasingly harsh teleprompter readings and and a pleas for the Russians to take charge.

Soon thereafter came the declarations of victory – bold self-praise that all chemical weapons had been destroyed or removed (to Russia, of course).

In case you’ve forgotten the chest-banging, here’s a great compilation of the self-congratulatory gobbledygook (def’n)

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Source: Washington Free Beacon

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Hmmm.

Naive, delusional, intentionally misleading?

You make the call.

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P.S.  Here’s a question to ponder:

Any chance that Syria’s chemical weapons are stamped “Made in Iraq”

15 years ago there were claims that Iraq – given plenty of time while the UN dithered – had moved their stockpiles of chemical weapons to Syria.

But, the emerged narrative was that Bush lied – there never were WMDs in Iraq.

Might be time to re-think that conclusion.

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 7, 2017

Topic came up (again) in a post-class chat with students, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

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That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … Read the rest of this entry »

How the Feds spend almost $4 trillion each year …

April 6, 2017

Former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, once said:

“The federal government is basically a gigantic insurance company  with a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.”

To that point …

According to a Pew recap of CBO data:

In fiscal year 2016, which ended this past Sept. 30, the federal government spent just under $4 trillion.

A about $2.7 trillion – more than two-thirds of the total – went for various kinds of social insurance (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment compensation, veterans benefits and the like).

Another $604 billion, or 15.3% of total spending, went for national defense.

Net interest payments on government debt was about $240 billion, or 6.1%.

Education aid and related social services were about $114 billion, or less than 3% of all federal spending.

Everything else – crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, national parks, foreign aid and much, much more – accounted for the remaining 6%.

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A couple of things to think about …

–  Extending Medicaid to 12 million people cost about $60 billion … more than half of the total education budget.

Each 1% bump in interest rates costs about $200 billion annually on a $20 trillion debt …. “eventually” because it takes awhile for the debt to turn over.

Yep, a highly leverage insurance company with diminishing side businesses …

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Global IQ: What are the 10 most populated countries?

April 5, 2017

Today, a lesson in world geography and data visualization…

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Below is a great visual from Tableau … countries are displayed as as bubbles … with each bubble proportionate based on each country’s population.

The 10 most populated countries are numbered.

OK, name them … in order.

Should be easy for well-educated, news-following, world travelers … right?

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Need a hint ?

The bubbles are color-coded based on region:

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Ready to check your answer?

Read the rest of this entry »

Glad to see that Bezos passed Buffett on the planet’s richest list …

April 4, 2017

My View: Bezos changed the world; Buffett, not so much.

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According to Bloomberg:

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is now the second richest person on the planet.

His $76.7 billion personal fortune puts him ahead of Warren Buffett and gaining on Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

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Here’s what I find interesting about the Top 10 list …

Read the rest of this entry »

What percentage of babies are born on Medicaid?

April 3, 2017

Make your guess before peeking ….

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Medicaid took center stage during the repeal & replace drama … so, I’ve been more alert to Medicaid news.

Let’s put today’s question in context.

According to MSN:

Over the past five decades, Medicaid has surpassed Medicare in the number of Americans it covers.

It has grown gradually into a behemoth that provides for the medical needs of one in five Americans — 74 million people.

For comparison … about half are on employer-based plans and “only” 14% are on Medicare.

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Here’s the geographic spread, according to the Kaufman Family Foundation:

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Note the heavy Medicaid density in the West … and the relatively light density in the Heartland.

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OK, you have your frame of reference: about 20% of Americans on Medicaid.

So, what percentage of babies are born on Medicaid?

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you a nice person?

March 31, 2017

You probably over-rate your “niceness” … but that’s OK.

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According to the UK Independent

You may consider yourself to be a nice person, but  a new study concludes that you’re probably not as nice as you think.

Psychologists at the University of London have discovered that 98 per cent of British people think they’re part of the nicest 50 per cent of the population.

Participants in the study were given a list of “nice” behaviors and asked which ones they do.

They claimed to do easy stuff like giving directions to lost souls, holding doors open or giving Granny their seat on the bus.

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But, their niceness had limits …

The respondents stopped short of giving money to needy strangers (less than 1 in 5) or helping Granny cross the street (about 1 in 4).

Still, there’s some very good news …

 

Read the rest of this entry »

More Disney: How does Mickey fingerprint me?

March 30, 2017

The tech behind biometric fingerprints

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In prior posts, I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … and recounted the plausible explanations for why Mickey digitally records guests’ fingerprints when then enter the park.

Ostensibly, the purpose is fraud protection – keeping folks from passing along their partially used tickets for reuse.

Of course, there are other sorts of uses for digital fingerprints (e.g. catching bad guys) … and ways that the information can be misused.

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With my curiosity aroused, I did some digging re: digital fingerprints.

Read the rest of this entry »

More Disney: Why is Mickey fingerprinting me?

March 29, 2017

A plausible “why” and a very interesting “how”.

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In a prior post Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney? , I gushed over the technology applications at Disney World … the Magic Bands than let me into my hotel room & the park, Fast-Passed me to the front of lines, and “personalized” my family’s experience with real-time greetings and photos.

I noted that I was digitally fingerprinted when I entered the park and asked if anybody could tell me why.

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A couple of loyal readers clued me and provoked some digging.

Here’s what I learned …

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

March 28, 2017

Interesting analysis from NBC’s Chuck Todd.

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Here’s where we stand today:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are today.

How did we get here?

Read the rest of this entry »

How much did ObamaCare increase premiums?

March 27, 2017

ObamaCare survived … so did the higher (and increasing) premiums we all pay.

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Previously, we posted: Here’s the main reason why YOUR health insurance premiums have gone up.

We just ballparked the premium impact of “guaranteed issue” to folks with pre-existing conditions (about 27% increase in premiums attributable to guaranteed issue)

Below is a more complete analysis compiled The Daily Signal

Headline: “Obamacare Regulations Drove Up Premium Costs By Up to 68%.”

The biggest chunk is, in fact, attributable to guaranteed issue … which the DS pegged between 15% and 30%.

Our prior observation: almost everybody agrees that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get coverage … but virtually no one realized that they were paying (much) higher premiums to provide that “social good” …  especially since they were told that their premiums would go down by $2,500.

See Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

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A couple of other notable conclusions …

1) The EHBs – the controversial “Essential Health Benefits” mandated into all policies – increased premiums by about 8%.

2) “Community Rating” – which equalized premiums for men & women and contained old folks’ premiums – really increased premiums for the under 35 crowd by 19% to 30.

No wonder the young healthies were reluctant to sign up.

 

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Hack alert: Don’t be so quick to “unsubscribe” …

March 24, 2017

The obvious became evident to me …

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Everybody gets more email solicitations than they want, right?

So, how to stop them?

Easy answer: click the Federally required “unsubscribe” link.

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Err, not so fast … might cause a problem bigger than an overflowing email box …

How so?

Read the rest of this entry »

“The under-26 provision is one of Obamacare’s biggest flaws”

March 23, 2017

Senator: “We didn’t think ahead” … and consider ramifications.

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From the get-go, I’ve questioned the “wildly popular” ObamaCare provision allowing “adult children” to say on their parents’ health insurance policies until they’re 26.

My objection was two-fold.

First, it removes a significant source of motivation for adult-children to get a job.

In the old days, parents encouraged their college kids to get a degree that might just qualify them for a paying job.

Unfocused, impractical exploration wasn’t a viable option for most families.

And, in the old days, parents used to nudge their kids to land jobs with benefits (not the same as “friends with benefits”) that included “hospitalization” … the old school name for health insurance.

I guess those days are gone …

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Second, as we’ve posted before, due to the weird insurance pricing schemes that let all except a family’s 1st child ride free on their parents plans, an adult-child rides completely free unless he-she is the family’s only covered child.

That means that all other plan members who pay premiums end up paying higher premiums to cover the cost of the free-riding adult-children

I don’t like these kinds of hidden cross-subsidies.

On this point, an insurance buddy of mine advised me to settle down since these adult-children are generally healthy and don’t consume much medical care.

True, but that raises an even biggest issue …

Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, why not outsource TSA ops to Disney?

March 22, 2017

Disney’s technology applications are impressive.

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I know because I’m Just back from fact-finding trip (aka. family vacation) at Disney World.

Here’s some of what I found.

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No surprise, there was a huge rush of “guests” entering the Magic Kingdom when the gates opened at 8 a.m.

The crowd measured into the thousands … all needing to be security-screened.

All bags and strollers had to be hand-checked … all kids – big & little – had to be ushered through metal detectors.

Nightmare, right?

Maybe at the airport, but not at Disney.

Our wait & processing time: less than 10 minutes.

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Then came the good part…

Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re one of the 155 million people on employee-based health insurance plans …

March 21, 2017

Here’s the main reason why YOUR health insurance premiums have gone up.

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All the repeal & replace attention seems to be on the 20 million people who are getting insurance via Extended Medicaid or ObamaCare Exchanges.

Virtually no light is being shined on the vast majority of folks who are covered by employer plans.

Case-in-point: the soaring premiums being paid by employees … hardly the $2,500 reduction that was promised.

Here’s one of the reasons that premiums have gone up not down …

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Most people – probably bordering on all – would agree that people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get health insurance.

I accept that as a non-debatable point.

But, I got curious about the economics of so-called “guaranteed coverage”… i.e. how much does it cost, and who pays for it?

Specifically, for folks covered by employer plans, how much of their increase in health insurance premiums over the past couple of years is attributable to guaranteed coverage?

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Let’s take a whack at the numbers …

Read the rest of this entry »

There are 5 clues of “authentic” intelligence …

March 20, 2017

For openers, high IQ and bilingual aren’t on the list.

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Interesting piece that I spotted on the DailyMail

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Everybody tries to act smart, right?

You know … long words, dramatic pauses, furled brows, grasped chins.

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Psyche researchers dismiss most of these antics as shallow fakery and have identified 5 behavioral traits that authentically mark true intelligence.

Test yourself ….and start using the markers to smoke out faux-smarties.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wonder why it’s so hard to untangle ObamaCare?

March 17, 2017

Here’s a (scary) chart that puts the program in context.

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Seriously, here’s a graphic of the ObamaCare organization structure and processes …

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Here’s a link to enlarged version and another to a summary that decodes the chart and lists some of the bill’s key provisions.

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Take a quick glance at the flowchart and ask yourself: ”Think this will work?”

The bill’s laundry list special interest provisions caught my eye…

Read the rest of this entry »

About the “Extended Medicaid” bruhaha …

March 16, 2017

It’s center stage in the current debate.

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So, I dug in a bit to understand the issue.

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Here are my takeaways ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Another hidden cost of ObamaCare …

March 15, 2017

For most doctors, Medicaid patients are a losing proposition.

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It’s hard to find anybody opposed to healthcare for the poor.

In the past, most doctors took on Medicaid patients –- which were relatively few in number — as a public service.

Some took Medicaid patients to fill empty appointment slots and, thus, increase capacity utilization (think, airlines filling empty seats).

But, an increasing number of doctors are demotivated to serve Medicaid patients.

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What’s the problem?

Read the rest of this entry »

A hidden cost of ObamaCare: Docs getting stiffed.

March 14, 2017

ObamaCare’s high deductible plans pushing up bad debts.

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Chatting with a doctor-friend recently.

His is a very specialized 1-doctor practice (supported by a handful of well-trained techs).

Patients who are referred to him usually have a very serious condition needing sophisticated diagnostics.

My friend casually mentioned to me that – in the past couple of years — he has had to write-off more than $2 million in bad debts.

Way more than in prior years.

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Here’s what’s going on …

Read the rest of this entry »

Trip Notes: Seniors’ Week in Cabo …

March 13, 2017

Let’s get personal today…

We just got back from a rare out-of-country trip …

Friends and students oft-hear from me that I hate to travel.

I usually put it: “After 2 tours-of-duty as a consultant, I’ve had my fill of French restaurants and airports”.

That said, some friends nudged me to take a trip to Cabo.

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Even though it was my spring break, it didn’t dawn on me that it was every college’s spring break.

The obvious become evident to me when I realized that my wife & I brought our flight’s average age up by about a year or two (think about the math of that calculation for for a second).

A college girl boarded with an appropriate t-shirt: “The few.  The proud. The privileged” … ah, to be an American college kid again.

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For the record, here are a couple of takeaways from my trip…

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember how ObamaCare was going to divert patients from ERs to doctors’ offices?

March 10, 2017

Turns out that the number of people flocking to ERs is increasing, not decreasing.

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According to the Louisville Courier-Journal:

One of ObamaCare’s goals was to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by expanding Medicaid and giving poor people better access to primary care.

Instead, many hospitals across the nation are seeing a surge of those newly insured Medicaid patients walking into emergency rooms.

Nationally, nearly half of ER doctors responding to a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians said they’ve seen more visits since ObamaCare was enacted.

That’s a problem since an average ER visit costs $580 more than a trip to the doctor’s office.

image

 

Why’s this happening?

Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t faint: I agree with ObamaCare on this one …

March 9, 2017

For the record, I think that ObamaCare is an expensive, amateurish travesty that should be repealed and rebuilt from the ground up by professionals.  Keep the high risk pools for pre-exiting conditions, keep the subsidies for the poor … but lose the  micro-narrow provider networks and the junk mandated into policies (e.g. my favorite: universally free birth control for law schoolers).

And, I think that Dr. Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel – Rahm’s brother and one of the ObamaCare architects – is a complete butt.

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That said, I was on Zeke’s side when he sparred with O’Reilly  …

Read the rest of this entry »

Obamacare For me, it’s personal…

March 8, 2017

Higher costs, higher taxes, longer waits, primary doc absentia, still working

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My primary care doctor is on the faculty at Georgetown’s med school … and on the staff at Georgetown Hospital

Shortly after ObamaCare was passed, I asked him what he thought the implications would be.

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His reply surprised me …

“Not much change … it will just shift around who’s going to be paying the bills…. now, the hospital would treat anybody and just write off unpaid bills … going forward, I guess, those bills will be paid by the government and insurance companies.”

When pressed, about service levels, he opined:

“I’m working full days now, seeing as many patients as I can … so, it’ll be harder for current patients to get appointments unless we hire more doctors or stop accepting new patients … and, I don’t see us doing either of those two things.”

At the time, I thought his assessment was a bit dismissive.

Looking back, he had had deftly cut to chase.

In the final analysis healthcare – and, hence – ObamaCare impacts are strictly personal.

Here’s my saga. It’s one that many of my friends can relate to.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember when an ObamaCare architect called you stupid?

March 7, 2017

Let’s flashback to a November 2014 post ….

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Even if you believe that “the end justifies the means”, this has gotta make your skin crawl.

Some background: Prof. Jonathan Gruber is an MIT economist who helped on RomneyCare in Massachusetts and was one of the primary architects of ObamaCare.

He was caught on video  speaking quite frankly about the crafting of ObamaCare.

His basic message:

“The bill was written in a tortured way … to be sure that the CBO didn’t score the mandate as a tax …  otherwise the bill would die … so, it was written to do that.

With regards to the subsides … if people figured out that healthy pay in to give sick people money, it wouldn’t have passed … lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.

Basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or what … that was critical to getting the bill to pass … yeah, it would be better to be transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

Watch the video … it’s even more chilling to hear Prof. Gruber say the words: Obfuscate and bank on American stupidity.

How do these guys sleep at night?

 

 

P.S. Another Gruber video got some wide play..

He’s on tape saying that the specific language in the bill that only provided subsidies for folks going through state exchanges was intentional to motivate states to build exchanges,

ObamaCare supporters started claiming that  it was just a typo that didn’t represent intent.

The Supreme Court agreed with them … with life & death consequence for ObamaCare.

As Forrest Gump would say:” Stupid is as stupid does.”

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Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

March 7, 2017

In 2016, employees paid $11,000 out-of-pocket … up $2,500 since 2012.

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Milliman – a well-regarded actuarial consulting” firm – has published an annual recap of healthcare spending since 2001.

The Milliman Medical Index tracks the total costs of providing health care to an average family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” … that’s about 155 million employees and their dependents.

The total includes the health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, as well as the actual expenditures for health care paid by the insurance plan and out of pocket by the insured family.

The big news: In 2016, the average healthcare costs for a family of 4 surpassed $25,000 for the first time … the $25,826 is triple the cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001 … and up about $5,000 since 2012.

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The bad(est) news is the increased proportion of the healthcare costs being shouldered by individual employees …

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Gains, losses, the endowment effect … and ObamaCare

March 3, 2017

Here’s why repeal & replace is so challenging …

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Behavioral theorists have long observed that most people are risk adverse and, due in part to an “endowment effect”, they “value” losses greater than gains.

Endowment Effect: People tend to ascribe a higher value to things that they already own than to comparable things that they don’t own. For example, a car-seller might think his sleek machine is “worth” $10,000 even though credible appraisers say it’s worth $7,500. Sometimes the difference is due to information asymmetry (e.g. the owner knows more about the car’s fine points), but usually it’s just a cognitive bias – the Endowment Effect.

The chart below illustrates the gains & losses concept.

  • Note that the “value line” is steeper on the losses side of the chart than on the gains side.
  • L & G are equivalently sized changes from a current position.
  • The gain (G) generates an increase in value equal to X.
  • The loss (L) generates a decrease in value that is generally found to be 2 to 3 times an equivalently sized gain

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For example, would you take any of these coin flip gambles?

  1. Heads: win $100; Tails: lose $100
  2. Heads: win $150; Tails: lose $100
  3. Heads: win $200; Tails: lose $100
  4. Heads: win $300; Tails: lose $100

Most people pass on #1 and #2, but would hop on #3 and #4.

OK, now let’s show how all of this relates to ObamaCare.

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Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

March 2, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

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According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …

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A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.

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So, what’s the answer?

Read the rest of this entry »

The agony and the ecstasy …

March 1, 2017

Sometimes, pictures are worth a thousand words.

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Snaps from Trump’s speech to Congress …

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The day after market reaction: pure ecstasy …

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President Trump arrives in Washington …

March 1, 2017

Press scrambling to find negative angles.

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Let’s cut to the chase …

This is all that people will remember about President Trump’s speech last night.

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Even Van Jones – former Obama Czar of Something and now a far-left CNN commentator – conceded:

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Here’s the essence of Jones’s musings as reported in the Washington Post …:

That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period. And he did something extraordinary.

And for people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment.

For people who have been hoping that maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should begin to become a little bit worried tonight, because that thing you just saw him do, if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years.

He did something tonight that you cannot take away from him.

He became president of the United States.

With that as a starting point, the media has a challenge on its hands … how to do some reverse alchemy and turn the gold back into straw?

Read the rest of this entry »

Amazon, ObamaCare … and the “power of free”

February 28, 2017

Since “repeal & replace” is in play, it’s time to update a prior ObamaCare posts …

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Everybody knows that Amazon’s free shipping program has been a resounding success.

The free shipping program’s success was highly predictable based an an apparently inadvertent “matched market test” that Amazon did.

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Early-on, Amazon launched  free shipping on $25 orders in the U.S. and sales skyrocketed.

In the UK, Amazon launched “nominal shipping” (think, 99 cents) for orders totaling the equivalent of $25.

Sales increased … but only by a fraction of the U.S. sales gain.

Proof-positive of the “power of free” … and evidence an equally important dynamic: there’s a big difference between “free” and “almost free” … when you slip a price on something – even a small one, people recoil.

Now, what’s the link to ObamaCare?

Read the rest of this entry »

Starbucks brand image takes a hit…

February 27, 2017

And, this time it’s not about higher latte prices.

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According to  Yahoo Finance, channeling a recent YouGov survey …

Starbuck’s brand image has gotten slammed.

The coffee giant’s consumer perception levels – measured by the YouGov BrandIndex — have fallen by two-thirds since late January.

 

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The timing of the drop coincides with CEO Howard Schultz’s response to President Trump’s executive order … the one intended to slow the flow refugees entering the US.

Schultz announced — with great fanfare —  that Starbucks would hire 10,000 refugees worldwide in the next five years.

Take that, Donald!

Err …

Also according to YouGov, 2 days before Starbucks’ announcement, 30% of consumers said they’d consider buying from Starbucks the next time they were craving coffee.

Now, the percentage is down to 24%.

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What’s going on?

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Michigan State University bans whiteboards … say, what?

February 24, 2017

This one gave me a false-positive flashback …

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First, the flashback…

When we moved into our new business school building a decade ago (yeah, it has been that long), I was assigned a new office.

It was at the end of a corridor (as far away from the academic action as they could put me) with a clear view of the building’s commercially-sized air conditioners and the Jesuit graveyard (no kidding).

One complete wall in the office was floor-to-ceiling with book shelves.

Since I only had 6 books (5 of them borrowed), I took out all but the top book shelf (which was suitable for displaying memorabilia) and installed a self-purchased whiteboard (a necessity, right?).

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In short order, I got visit from the Dean.

One of my colleagues had ratted me out for making an unauthorized alteration to my office.

Apparently, my whiteboard had violated some common law community standards.

I got off with a slap on the wrist (remember, Gtown is a Catholic school) … but still have occasional nightmares.

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OK, fast forward to today in Lansing, Michigan where whiteboards are now officially contraband.

Read the rest of this entry »

So, are you left-brained or right-brained?

February 23, 2017

Yesterday’s post prompted some questions re: what exactly is left-brained and right-brained thinking, so … 

For decades cognitive psychologists has characterized folks as being either left brain dominant  – logical – or right brain dominant – creative.

Browse the lists below and pick your dominant brain side – left or right.

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= = = = = 
So what? What to do?
= = = = =

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World …

February 22, 2017

In class, we touched on left-brain, right-brain thinking and I made reference to a book I’d read:  A whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World.

As a hard core left-brainer, I found the title ominous ….

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Amazon link

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Here’s the crux of the book …

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers.

But, the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age …

… to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.

Why the shift?

Because any kind of work that be reduced to repeatable rules and defined processes can be automated or shipped off-shore – even so-called knowledge work

Survival in the Conceptual Age requires thinking skills utilizing the right-side of the brain.

Specifically, “high concept” involves the capacity to:

  • detect patterns and opportunities
  • create artistic and emotional beauty
  • craft a satisfying narrative

…. and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new and distinctive.

 

 

What’s required to to succeed in Conceptual Age?

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Nums: A world of battling algorithms

February 21, 2017

In my SBA course, we explored how human judgment and decision-making can often be outperformed by out-performed by algorithms, especially in oft-repeated data-rich situations which are largely rules-based.

In a cool 15 minute TED Talk (my all time favorite), tech entrepreneur Kevin Slavin tells how algorithms have reached across industries and into every day life.

A couple of lines caught my attention:

  • There are more than 2,000 physicists working on Wall Street developing operational algorithms
  • Massive scale speed trading is dependent on millisecond read & respond rates …
  • So, firms are physically literally locating right next to internet routing hubs to cut transmission times
  • And, of course, there isn’t time for human intervention and control
  • “We may be building whole worlds we don’t really understand, and can’t control.”

Worth listening to this pitch … a very engaging geek who may be onto something big.

click  to view video
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Where do you get your news?

February 20, 2017

Your answer says a lot about you.

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Before you look at the chart below, jot down the  channels/shows or web pages that you trust as your primary sources for news.

No cheating.

Done?

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OK, now check where your news sources fall along this ideological continuum crafted by Pew Research.

confirmation bias - media ideology
Your news sources align with your political ideology, right?

It’s a psychological dynamic called “confirmation bias” … soliciting and internalizing information that is consistent with one’s current beliefs.

Said differently, confirmation bias is a natural stress-reduction tendency to avoid or resist any information that is contrary to or inconsistent with one’s current thinking.

One of the major solidifiers of our current political polarization is the “echo chamber effect” … we all tend to consult sources and hang with people who share, reinforce and exaggerate our ideological leanings.

So what to do?

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Tell me again: When did Dems start thinking that Russia was a threat?

February 17, 2017

This recent brouhaha about General Flynn chatting up the Russian ambassador seems  to have stoked new flames for hair-on-fire Dems.

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Let’s go back a few years.

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Given Democrats reaction to recent events, this clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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Here’s more that’ll make make you scream …

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