Medical Provider Network Lists Updated!

This Medical Provider needs net work

Wanted: "Net work" for MPN's

I’ve updated the Medical Provider Network lists as of 6/5/2009.  Most of the updates to the MPN lists page are contributed by loyal users of this website.  What’s interesting about the latest update is that it was actually contributed by an insurance company themselves!1

One thing I’ll never understand is why so many MPN lists have logins and passwords.  The whole point of a website is to make that kind of information available.  Its not like these lists of MPN doctors and providers are secret, right?  If anything, making these website more user friendly and more navigable will enable people (injured workers, applicant attorneys, defense attorneys, and judges) to actually find physicians and help smooth the operation of the system.

In any case, I think this is a great first step.  I would love to offer everyone a unified source for all California Medical Provider Network websites, logins, and passwords.  It would be even better to have the insurance companies and third party administrators just send me the updated information for their links as they update their sites.

  1. Photo courtesy of júbilo·haku []

Workers’ Compensation Rate Hearing Live Broadcast

Workers Compensation Rate Hearing

Do you need protection from the Workers' Compensation Rate Hearing?

Workers’ Comp Executive will be providing a live steaming broadcast of the Workers’ Compensation rate hearings taking place in Sacramento on June 8th, 2009.

Now, don’t mind that funny looking guy yammering on about CompLine. 12 He’ll be replaced with a live streaming broadcast of the rate hearings come Monday afternoon at 12:45pm.3

Will the rates go up?  Will they go down?  Who knows!

  1. I must accept cookie you say?  Twist my rubber arm!  It’s like Friday in Judge Succa’s hearing room! []
  2. CompLine is an “experience mod” tool for insurance professionals. []
  3. Photo courtesy of jspace3 []

The “Smell Test” – Credit Default Swaps Explained

There are two types of “smell tests.”1

Smell test: Good or bad investment?

Smell test: Good or bad investment?

The first type of smell test is a very literal smelling test.  A bachelor smells an article of clothing to determine whether said article of clothing could be worn on that day around the people said bachelor anticipates being near.  Doesn’t smell bad?  Put it on!  Smells bad?  Turn it inside-out and put it on!

The second type of “smell test” is where you evaluate a situation based upon your gut reaction.

Some blame “credit default swaps” for our current financial crisis.  (Disclaimer: I have no special knowledge about finance – I just listen to NPR constantly).  So, here’s what happened:

  1. Investors (Company A) buy up lots of sub-prime mortgages through a trust.
  2. Company A, looking to make money as investors are wont to do, sell pieces of the trust as if they were stocks.
  3. Other people (Company B), having seen these investors buying up risky sub-prime mortgages, have a great idea – “credit default swaps.” (Or, as they are known on NPR, “CDS’s”).
  4. Company B promises Company A that, in exchange for a very reasonable sum, if one of the people living in one of those sub-prime mortgage homes stops paying that mortgage, Company B will be responsible for that lost asset and income.
  5. Company B tells Company A that this wonderful product is called a “credit default swap,” and that it is definitely-not-insurance.  In fact, its significantly cheaper than buying insurance.
  6. Since Company B is not selling insurance they don’t have to be regulated like insurance.  Insurance companies are required to hold “reserves.”  A “reserve” is simply money that can’t be spent in case an insurance company be required to honor some of their insurance policies.
  7. There are so many Company A‘s looking to hedge their bets that all the Company B‘s CDS’s are selling like hotcakes.  The people that own Company B are so pleased with themselves that they don’t really bother with reserves.
  8. In a few years those sub-prime mortgages with adjustable rates were finally out of their introductory rate period – and thousands of people start defaulting on their loans.
  9. Company A‘s portfolio is now worthless, but they are very happy they had so much foresight as to take out not-insurance policies with Company B.
  10. Company B‘s doesn’t pick up the phones.  Their offices are boarded up, the e-mails bounce back, and Company A stops getting Christmas cards from Company B.

The problem is that Company B went out of their way to invent something that was definitely-not-insurance so they wouldn’t be regulated like insurance companies.  Obviously, Company B didn’t use the “smell test” when they designed their product.  If they had, they would have charged more or kept more money in reserve.

Unfortunately, Company A didn’t use the “smell test” either when shopping around for a way to insure their investments.  You don’t insure your home, car, or life with the cheapest or newest insurance company.  You choose a company that has been around a while and charges reasonable rates for reasonable risk.

When people stop performing the “smell test” $62,000,000,000,000.00 evaporates overnight.

  1. Photo courtesy of Charles & Clint.  Photo editing: All me! []

Health Plans: Obama vs. McCain

Obama and McCain on heathcare

Obama and McCain on heathcare

I subscribe to ConsumerReports magazine for a variety of reasons.  I believe they are fair and balanced and that, having relied on their recommendations, it has also saved me a lot of time and money.  The November 2008 issue takes a close look at the details behind the Obama health plan for America and the McCain health plan for America.1

In order to view the full five pages of in depth analysis and review, you have to be a subscriber.  However,

A surprising amount of their analysis on these two plans is available for free on their site.

I learned some interesting things about Obama’s and McCain’s respective health plans from reviewing their websites.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned about thier plans:

  • McCain offers $2,500.00 tax credits per individual or $5,000.00 per family.  These tax credits go directly to the insurance company of your choice.  McCain’s plan would tax employee health benefits as income.  Under ConsumerReports’ analysis, the taxes and tax credit may be a wash in most circumstances.
  • Obama’s plan prevents insurers from rejecting anyone with a pre-existing condition, from raising prices for the sick, and from canceling policies as long as you’ve paid up your premiums.
  1. Original photos courtesy of richardmasoner, C_Dave, and mikewade.  Photo editing: me. []

Links Updated

After watching a friend try to navigate the original link system, I’ve updated the links section. (Sorry, Steve!) These are the links I’ve found helpful. Links to WCAB/DEU forms, the Labor Code, the Board Rules, insurance and workers’ compensation blogs and news websites, links to every MPN I could find, and a whole lot more.

Links sections:

  • Workers’ Compensation Resource Links
  • Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
  • Workers’ Compensation & Insurance News
  • Workers’ Compensation Blog
  • Workers’ Compensation Associations
  • Medical Provider Network Links
  • Physician Search Links
  • Attorney Search Links

Do you have a website related to workers’ compensation? How about a link you think other people might find useful? Post a comment and let me know.

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