Sunday, September 29, 2013

Follow the Money: Healthcare

Americans spend a lot of time hating about how much other people make.  Throughout the financial crisis there was considerable scrutiny on banker's pay.  I get it.  The word "bonus" became a 4-letter word. "How can bankers get paid so much when they ruined the economy..." - we all remember the anger. 

There is a new crisis in America and its the healthcare industry. However, the tone is very different. 

There are many similarities between finance and healthcare.  They both require licenses, or degrees, or some form of expensive higher education.  They both require a massive amount of regulation and government oversight. They create highly lucrative jobs.  And my favorite: people will persistently overpay for advice, or services, related to both of them. People generally don't skimp on decent medical care or financial i right or am i right?

America loves to hate on the fat cat bankers (myself included) but as mad as everyone is about the healthcare gridlock our nation faces, you never hear about the fat cat doctors

I was browsing the website of the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), cuz that's how I roll, and came across this table on average mean wages for all occupational groups in the US and it really got me thinking.


You can view the full list here:

See any themes here?  The highest paying jobs in America are healthcare jobs.  Is it a coincidence that health insurance and medical care is so expensive and the people in the industry are the highest paid earners in the US?  I'm no expert but I have to imagine there is a relationship there.

Here is the funny part: there isn't a finance related job in the top 25 (a "Financial Manager" was #29 on the list), though Wall St wages and bonuses are still (5 years later) volatile topics of discussion.  

No one ever says "this Doctor made $X and they should have to give it back because so many patients died along the way." It's part of the job. 

We are happy to blindly pay whatever cost a doctor or an insurer says because our health...our lives, our children's lives, are on the line.

Well, I think we are getting duped here.  The cost of medical care in the US is many times more than anywhere else in the world.  The system is riddled with middlemen and friction. Not to mention doctors have little incentive to keep people healthy.  Instead we over medicate, over treat, and over charge.

I know a guy who started a consulting business to help doctors "optimize" the numerical codes they submit on insurance claim forms to earn more money.  He basically finds similar procedures and treatments that the insurance company accepts to get the biggest bang for the buck.  I'd like to punch this guy in the face. 

The system sucks. It needs to change. Will there be a day when the doctors who have the fewest sick patients get paid the most?  Maybe.  i like that incentive system.   

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Secret Sauce

"Tell me your secret sauce" is something heard a lot in business. Most of the time, this is just another way of saying "show me how to be successful."  The funny part is, knowing the secret sauce and being successful are two totally different things.  

Below is the recipe for Coca-Cola from over 100 years ago. 

"Holy crap!" one might think. "The formula for one of the most addictive beverages on the planet?! We are gonna print money, right?" 

WRONG.  Its online and anyone can have it.

Having the secret sauce gets you nothing.  The question is: how are you going to execute and make it a success?

Sure, you are going to be able to make the exact same flavored brown bubbly beverage.  But how are you going to make that drink into a successful business?  Once you have the recipe, you need the cool logo, the stadium advertising, cool music in the commercials, a famous artist to paint people holding your product, super-models drinking it poolside, and friggin' Santa Clause! 

A successful business happens when you solve a problem and make people feel good -  all while marketing the hell out of it.  Those ingredients had more to do with making Coca-Cola what it is today than the perfect amount of vanilla and nutmeg.

Surprisingly, cocaine was in Coca-Cola until maybe I am totally wrong :)