Thursday, January 31, 2008

Health Care: It’s not about insurance!

Why is the discussion about healthcare always about insurance? Why is it that the two choices always seem to be “socialized medicine” or affordable insurance? I think that we have socialized medicine right now – it’s just run by the private sector for profit rather than the government! And, it’s almost as dysfunctional. Consider the socialist maxim: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Isn’t that pretty darn close to the insurance business model? Don’t the insurance companies take from those able stay healthy and give (reluctantly, but that’s another story) to those unable to stay healthy? And, because we are a compassionate people, those of us who are able to pay insurance indirectly subsidize those who cannot through higher rates. So, in effect, I maintain we already have socialized medicine. The big difference is that the organizations currently running healthcare (the insurance companies) have profit as their primary goal – NOT our health! I don’t care what the pretty advertisements say, these companies exist to make money, not help us with our healthcare needs. And the way they make money is by charging as high a premium as they can get away with, investing that money well, and paying out as little in claims as possible. It has always amazed me that people seem comfortable with a profit oriented, completely non-accountable insurance bureaucracy managing their healthcare versus a non-profit, accountable (through the election process) government bureaucracy.

But, allow me to get back to the main issue. The issue should not be framed as an insurance problem. It is an affordability problem. Americans seem to want someone else to pay for their healthcare – whether it is insurance or the government. I think this is the root of the problem. If we all had to pay our own bills, we would take better care of ourselves. The system might change from insurance companies influencing, sometimes dictating, the cost of healthcare to competition. We do not have a free market in healthcare right now. I can’t shop between the equivalent of WalMart healthcare and Sak’s healthcare and make an informed choice. The way the system works right now, that’s impossible to do.

It costs too much to go to the doctor. Medical procedures and tests are too expensive. But, because there is no true competition for these services, and because we as individuals rarely pay the bills ourselves, there is little incentive for those costs to come down. That is the root of the problem.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Check out the latest version of DecisionPlanner!

Amber & I have release the latest version of DecisionPlanner. It is available at

DecisionPlanner now offers Decision Modeling. Help people make decisions by sharing your expertise. Create a decision model for others to copy. There are three programs available, two of which can allow you to make some money and build your own business.

DecisionPlanner now has a wizard that makes it easier to enter information related to your decision. Simply answer the questions on the screen and click the next button. You’ll get feedback early and often. DecisionPlanner will offer recommendations and rank your alternatives early in the process and often as you give it more information.

One of the most powerful new techniques used in DecisionPlanner is paired rankings. If you have more than two alternatives, or more than one perspective, paired rankings offers a superior method of ranking you options. The theory is that you can choose between two options far easier than you can rank a list of more than two options. Based on this, we present each combination of options and ask, by perspective, you to choose which of the two you prefer. After each combination has been presented, DecisionPlanner ranks you alternatives and offers recommendations such as eliminating alternatives that received absolutely no votes or even adding alternatives and perspectives if it’s appropriate. If this process gives you a clear solution, great! If not, it’s on to the next technique: Pro-con analysis.

Pro-con analysis asks you for the factors, or decision criteria, you will use to decide. Each factor is then designated as a “pro” or a “con” for each alternative. Based on this, DecisionPlanner will once again rank your alternatives and offer recommendations.

The final and most powerful technique is the Analytical analysis. For those of you who have used DecisionPlanner already, this is the tool you are already familiar with. The analytical analysis asks you to enter target values for each factor, and then actual values for each alternative / factor combination. Using various formulas, DecisionPlanner compares the target values to the actual values and, once again, ranks your alternatives. Comprehensive reports then guide you to the right solution for you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

24/7 News Cycle is Costing Us Billions!

As I was driving from Escanaba to Batavia yesterday I listened to the radio. I heard a report that Goldman Sachs now believes we are either already in a recession, or will be shortly. These are the same folks who told their clients and others that subprime loans were a good investment, but now have to write off about $3.4 billion (according to because they were SO wrong. Now they expect us to believe them when they predict a recession? The market went up yesterday, apparently ignoring their pronouncement.

The market gyrations lately have been overreactions. The media stokes the fires and the traders overreact to the supposed news - most of which is rumor, or at best undigested raw facts.

Recession? When I graduated from college in the late 70s:
  • Inflation: 13.5%
  • Prime Rate: 18.5%
  • Unemployment: 7%
Today's numbers are no where near that. We survived the late 70s - early 80s, and we will make it through today's numbers too.

I was watching the pundits after the New Hampshire primary and the only one who made any sense at all was Tom Brokaw. He said that we should all "take a breath" and quit speculating about Michigan and South Carolina. He's right - all this speculation (on the financial channels too) is just to fill air time. And, in the case of the financial media, it's costing us billions in evaporated market value because traders react (stupidly, but what else do they have to do?) to these pronouncements.

What happened to slowing down long enough to understand?

Chicago Fireboat

I went to Escanaba to visit Yoopersoft World HQ this week. While there, I noticed an old Chicago Fire Department fireboat sitting up on blocks. The Joseph Medill was built in 1949. It was basically a firehouse on water. It's 90 feet long. Now of course it's rusting and basically a home for birds. It was supposed to be sunk in Lake Michigan off of Algoma, WI to create a reef, but the Wisconsin DNR stopped the sinking and now she sits in Escanaba, MI.

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail