Pink Elephant Blog

Aug 31

The devil we think we know….

“I just got wonderful news from my real estate agent in Florida.  They found land on my property.”  Milton Berle

It seems we have been believing brokers for so long, we actually think what they say is true.

The problem today is that company decision-makers think it is “business as usual”. They continue to listen to salespeople concerning the health of their employees and family members, but the salespeople have no training or little interest in health.  In addition, brokers’ earnings rise when their clients’ suffering increases.

Through this commodity and commission-driven process, why would clients believe they will hear aboutnew models?

How do the decision-makers, the purchasers of health benefits,  expect to have authentic conversations with people? Especially when those people have no knowledge in health, education or sophisticated insurance economics.

As brokers scramble for their economic survival, they are adding “new” products, with little or no merit, to sell at cost to unsuspecting human resource professionals and decision-makers for their employees.

The time for change is now.

In the next few blogs, I will explore seeing health as a “product” and the effects of that failed vision. Join meand we will uncover the real questions  to ask, with whom to have authentic conversations, the challenges of change and what is the real conservative move today.

Aug 28

U.S. Cities Spending The Most On Health Care:

U.S. Cities Spending The Most On Health Care:

Aug 15

Where is the concern?

We just made restoring your income even easier

The above is the headline to brokers from an email I just received from a major insurance company.  What is this special magic that restores brokers’ income?

Selling supplemental products which pays brokers over 24%.

In other words, these products are so profitable that there is enough room to pay these excessivecommissions. Now, we can all thank the insurance gods that most carriers are offering a new way to take care of employees’ ever-shrinking financial pockets.

The only reason for the new market called supplemental insurance products are profits for carriers andbrokers.  The increasing sales pitch is that as health benefit costs continue to escalate and benefits continue to reduce, the saviors at the insurance industry have found the answer by selling more products, which pay more to brokers than benefits.

This is to be expected in a commission-driven industry where excessive profits and commissions are the name of the game.

Designing a well-constructed health plan with lifestyle management eliminates the need for these ridiculous profit centers.   Earning more income, each year from people’s on-going suffering, while consciously choosing not to develop real programs to support health education is no longer acceptable.

Yet this continues to be the modus operandi of our health care industry.

Arnie Freiman

Aug 03


Major health insurance providers Aetna, WellPoint and UnitedHealth reported huge earnings this quarter, up significantly from the same quarter last year, all while the number of people actually receiving coverage for care is steadily decreasing.

Aug 01

Federal Free Birth Control Guarantee Draws Controvers -

A controversial provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect Monday as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced guidelines requiring insurance companies to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control.

Feb 14

Health Insurance and the States

Updated: December 2010

For most Americans, market-based health insurance remains the predominant form of health coverage, although 2009 marked the lowest rate of private coverage since 1987.

According to the most recent detailed census report (2009, published September 2010), of 304,280,000 total Americans: 

“The number of people with health insurance decreased to 253.6 million in 2009 from 255.1 million in 2008. This is the first year that the number of people with health insurance has decreased since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data were collected.”

“The number of people covered by private health insurance decreased to 194.5 million in 2009 from 201.0 million in 2008. The rate of private coverage decreased to 63.9 percent in 2009, from 66.7 percent in 2008. This was the lowest rate of private coverage since 1987.”

“The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance decreased to 55.8 percent in 2009, from 58.5 percent in 2008. The percentage of people covered by employment-based health insurance is the lowest since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data were collected. The number of people covered by employment-based health insurance decreased to 169.7 million in 2009, from 176.3 million in 2008.”

“The number of people covered by government health insurance increased to 93.2 million in 2009 from 87.4 million in 2008. The percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs increased to 30.6 percent in 2009, from 29.0 percent in 2008. This is the highest percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs since 1987.
The percentage and number of people covered by Medicaid increased to 15.7 percent or 47.8 million in 2009, from 14.1 percent or 42.6 million in 2008. The percentage and number of people covered by Medicaid is the highest since 1987.
The percentage and number of people covered by Medicare in 2009 (14.3 percent and 43.4 million) were not statistically different from 2008.”

“The percentage of people without health insurance increased to 16.7 percent in 2009 from 15.4 percent in 2008. The number of uninsured people increased to 50.7 million in 2009 from 46.3 million in 2008.”

2010 Health Insurance Premiums Include Major Increases: A fall 2009 survey of state insurance regulators by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that average insurance policies will increase between 11% to 16%—and as high as 25% to 30%—annually in most states.

AVERAGE ANNUAL CHANGES IN PREMIUMS to 2010 (updated September 2, 2010)

In general terms, all 50 states regulate and initiate policies affecting health insurance. These statutes, and the Insurance Departments and other agencies that administer them, play a significant role in virtually every state.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has tracked and evaluated activities in several project areas in health care, and has collaborated with or relied on a number of outside experts in this field.

Jan 31


eLC 2.0 also known as Elements Learning Culture coming soon to you

eLC 2.0 also known as Elements Learning Culture coming soon to you

Jan 23

Mindfulness Meditation Training Changes Brain Structure in Eight Weeks

ScienceDaily (Jan. 21, 2011) — Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s grey matter.

"Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study’s senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."

Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced mediation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.

For the current study, MR images were take of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind — participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images were also taken of a control group of non-meditators over a similar time interval.

Meditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.

"It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life." says Britta Hölzel, PhD, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. "Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change."

Amishi Jha, PhD, a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness-training’s effects on individuals in high-stress situations, says, “These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training. They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an 8-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.” Jha was not one of the study investigators.

James Carmody, PhD, of the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School, is one of co-authors of the study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the British Broadcasting Company, and the Mind and Life Institute.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided byMassachusetts General Hospital.

Jan 16

The Truth and Consequences of Repeal

Published: January 15, 2011 New York Times

Get ready for more theater on Capitol Hill. House Republicans plan to push through legislation this week to repeal the health care reform law.

In deference to the new vows of civility, the tone of the debate may be a bit more restrained. But Republicans have already said that they will not strip the word “killing” from the bill — which is titled, “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” Civility apparently goes only so far.

While repeal will certainly pass the House, it has no chance in the Senate. So House Republicans are already planning other ways to undermine the reforms, like denying agencies enough money to hire personnel to carry out the program.

Americans will pay a high price if opponents get their way. Reform means that tens of millions of uninsured people will get a chance at security; and many millions more who have coverage can be sure they can keep or replace it, even if they get sick or lose their jobs.

Repeal would also take away the best chance for reining in rising health care costs — and the government’s relentlessly rising Medicare burden.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the reform law would drive up the deficit by $230 billion over the first decade and much more in later years.

For all his claims of fiscal rectitude, John Boehner, the House speaker, immediately dismissed the budget experts’ report as “their opinion.” In a particularly cynical move, Mr. Boehner and his new team have exempted the repeal bill from their own rule that any increase in spending be offset by cuts in other programs.

Many individuals and businesses are already benefiting from reform, and they will benefit even more once it goes into full effect in 2014.

Thanks to reform, it is now illegal for insurance companies to deny children coverage because they have pre-existing medical conditions, or to rescind a policy after a person becomes sick, or to cap the amount that insurers will pay for medical care over a lifetime. After 2014, it will be illegal for insurers to set annual limits on the amount they will pay for medical care or deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions.

Young people are now allowed to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26. And insurers are now required to cover preventive care in new policies without cost-sharing, and to spend at least 80 percent of their premium income on medical care and quality improvements, not profits or administrative costs. Repeal would eliminate all of these new protections.

Repeal would also eliminate federal tax credits that are helping small businesses provide coverage to employees as well as a reinsurance program that is helping more than 4,700 employers, large and small, provide health coverage to early retirees.

Republicans are getting considerable traction with their claims that the reform law will drive up the price of insurance, and some are blaming the law for recent premium increases primarily caused by medical inflation. Once again, the official analysts and other experts disagree.

In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that repeal would cause premiums for coverage obtained through large employers to rise by a bit in future years, while premiums at small employers, on average, would be little affected. Projected premiums for people who buy their own policies would come down somewhat with repeal, mostly because the policies would provide skimpier coverage than required under reform. Many people in this group would end up paying more out of their own pockets for health insurance, because they would not get the subsidies provided under the reform law.

Until now, the Republicans have dominated this debate with scare tactics and posturing. Democratic political leaders say they are finally ready to mount a vigorous campaign arguing the case for reform. They should be prepared for a long fight.