Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.

Being a Leader is a Trained Skillset, an Innate Talent and Definitely a Practice

Contrary to what temp services and unemployed consultants are currently blogging about, it is essential to understand that while being a leader requires consistent practice and execution, effective leadership is also both innate and learned… nature and nurture.

Make no mistake. Effective leaders need a deep understanding of the discipline, tasks and environment in which they lead.  Those who believe a management degree or diploma somehow qualifies them to lead in an unfamiliar environment are sadly mistaken, likely BS’d by their college recruiter.  Simultaneously, great implementers are not necessarily great leaders.  The most common mistake in business is empowering the wrong leadership, either promoting implementers without leadership skills or hiring great sales artists with no leadership substance. 

Good advice is hard to come by.  Bad advice is abundant.  With advancement the #1 workplace motivator, promotions from within not only best engage the whole team but allow leaders to have deep understanding of that which they lead.  Nonetheless, self-starters and independent achievers typically do not “get” the average worker and do not know without formal leadership training how to effectively motivate and modify behavior in others.  If others do not become better performers directly due to those who lead, the leaders “lift right out” as ineffective.

Jessica Ollenburg - Saturday, October 02, 2010


Your Consulting Firm May Be the Very Last Job on Your Resume

Some believe filling resume gaps by labeling or creating a “consulting” firm is a positive resume builder.  More often than not, this adversely impacts one’s ability to be re-employed.  To set oneself apart as a freelance “consultant” or company owner can be synonymous with setting oneself apart as averse to taking direction from another… a statement likely to create de-selection from employment opportunities.  Top employers will also investigate the legitimate success in engagements during this “consultancy” time period on one’s resume.     

When choosing to be a consultant, know beforehand it is not all glamour and glitz.  A corporate career as an internal key member dedicated to one corporate environment at a time is NOT preparation for consultancy.  Successful consultancy requires the proven ability to simultaneously serve multiple unique organizations through analysis and adaptation... and deep knowledge of multi-employer case studies.  Serving one or a few selectively chosen organizations is not necessarily preparation for consultancy.  Conversely, consultancy is not necessarily preparation to become an internal expert. Deep knowledge of that organization is the only preparation for that role.

Consultancy requires reporting to many “bosses.”  It is a myth that one can succeed in consultancy without subordination.  While it is true that many employers are drawn to candidates who have demonstrated the responsibility and ambition of starting a business, employers of choice will carefully screen this situation and select/de-select candidates accordingly. 

If not prepared to forever risk livelihood, think twice before abandoning the safe route of remaining steadily and stably employed, creating documented successes as an employee. Embrace consultancy for what it truly is and understand that a great consultant is never “in between jobs.”

Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Great Consultants are Never "In Between Jobs" and HR is Never Part-time: When & How to Deploy Insource & Outsource Toolsets

With a wealth of auxiliary talent options available to company business plans, employers too often miss the mark in deploying the optimal schemata.  In any organization, flexible utilization of experts can create cost savings while simultaneously adding new problem solving opportunities.  Statistically, the most common related employer mistakes are either stagnation or selecting the wrong remedy.  The four primary categories for flexible talent utilization are each unique.  These are consultants, outsource firms, part-time managers and non-profit memberships, and in their uniqueness, these are not to be deployed interchangeably.  The following analysis is a blueprint to determining where to plug and play each option.  Let us start with definitions.


Consultant:  “an expert who charges a fee for providing advice or services in a particular field.”  Expertise relies upon extraordinary knowledge relating to a magnitude of employers and third party objectivity.  A consultant advocates specifically for and tailors programs on behalf of the retaining employer.


Outsource:  “to buy labor or parts from a source outside a company or business rather than using the company's staff or plant.”


Part-Time:  “working less weekly hours than the company’s typical hourly requirement for full-time.”


Non-Profit Association:  “tax exempt organization serving the membership as a whole without individualized attention… prohibited from advocating on behalf of or representing private interests” or, in other words, an intended “greater good” concern which is the exact opposite of consulting.  Non-profits are expected to substitute general population betterment in consideration for taxes not paid.  Non-profits by nature make great networking and collaborative organizations but cannot legally participate in the act of private interest consulting.  


Clearly, these definitions describe uniquely distinctive situations, at times mutually exclusive, yet many still erroneously use these ideas interchangeably.  The following is a breakdown of where to deploy each option and discussion of expected value provided.  The examples herein focus upon the field of HR Management and Organizational Development.


Non-Profit Associations can be a great source of access for publicly available information, to consolidate and discuss without concern for private interest and individualized attention.  Customization is limited but open door networking is high.  With the exclusion of private interest, members must take on their own responsibility to screen and select only applicable offerings and talent provided by such greater good organizations.  Especially in HR/OD, what is appropriate to one employer can be entirely irrelevant and inappropriate to the next employer.  Classroom learning, written publications and networking access are expected to be among top offerings, and these can be offered at great prices given the tax exemptions and other fiscal advantages awarded to these entities.  Individualized workshops, private employer advocacy, targeted strategic planning and custom programs are largely if not entirely prohibited.  Liability is more difficult to subrogate to a non-profit; therefore, reliance upon non-profits as "experts" can be challenging. Where customization and private interest is desired, the following 3 options are better suited.


Part-time Managers can be an outstanding remedy to those disciplines which are not required full-time by an employer.  Depending upon organizational structure, examples may include Training, Compensation/Benefits and Talent Acquisition.  Smaller employers without the headcount to support 40 hours weekly work in these disciplines can divert these activities reasonably to a smaller time increment per week.  Certain activities are more spontaneous in emergence and can be scheduled with less ease, making part-time management less appropriate.  These include legal compliance, performance management, employee relations and safety.  While a certain percentage of these disciplines can be compartmentalized to a part-time schedule, the organization needs at least a backup “go to” during all operational times.  Where part-time managers are utilized, there is typically opportunity to choose consultancy or outsource instead.  A challenge with finding a part-time manager is finding someone willing and able to consistently work only part-time and during the employer’s required hours.  Turnover can be high, jeopardizing the learning curve and cost efficiencies.  Semi-retirees can be a great option, provided they are still ambitious to learn proactively and do not demand to be paid for what they did well for a prior employer.


Outsource can be a great option where better efficiencies and/or outcomes are gained by using another dedicated entity’s site and resources.  Depending upon the company’s existing resources, possible examples include Employee Assessment, Training, Benefits Administration, Payroll and Talent Acquisition.   The most common outsource mistake is where labor intensive organizations rely inappropriately upon PEOs (professional employer organizations), temporary help services or RPOs (recruitment process outsource) for talent acquisition.  Used well, quality outsource companies in these fields can control costs and streamline efficiencies.  Used poorly, these methods can create barrier to attracting, selecting, engaging and retaining the right talent. Appropriate outsource of candidate assessment not only streamlines efficiency and allows expert input, but also very importantly allows third party unbiased objectivity, which is especially essential when incumbent talent is being evaluated.


Consultants and non-profits cannot be used interchangeably and by nature are mutually exclusive.  Consultants are entirely devoted to private interest concerns.  Top consultants understand that each employer is unique – in culture, brand, labor intensity, business plan and comprehensive operations.  “One size fits all” solutions do not exist in consulting.  A great consultant knows the difference and how to apply the other 3 options and will work collaboratively on that team, also offering his/her own resource team.  A great consultant works with and works for the employer, drawing upon multi-employer case studies without betraying any company’s intellectual property.  When selecting a consultant, it is critical to understand that consultancy is NOT the natural evolution of the seasoned professional who created success during internal corporate life… or was formerly entrusted by a successful corporate entity.  Successful consultancy requires the proven ability to simultaneously serve multiple unique organizations through never-ending research, analysis, adaptation and deep knowledge of multi-employer case studies.  As what works for one company need not work well for another, success for one or a few corporate entities is not necessarily transferrable predictive success for your organization.  Great consultants are never “in between jobs.” They are constantly in demand, loyally retained, adaptable, and they stay busy in any economy.  They do not rest on laurels and they hone their salesmanship… needing to constantly promote change and inertia.





Jessica Ollenburg - Tuesday, September 14, 2010


September and January are Best Times to Attract Working Talent

Year after year we statistically validate that applicant pools shrink during summer and holiday seasons. Working candidates find these times the least attractive for job change. As a direct result, the best times to gain recruitment attention are September, January and Springtime (with the exclusion of Spring break).
The factors that will affect this phenomenon related to any individual employer include geographical seasonality, workplace demographics, employee retention and labor market pressures.
Working candidates under normal circumstances do not wish to give up paid time off accruals during typical vacation and holiday times. Back to school, summer plans and holiday pressures can also overburden the personal tasks in a working family, deferring job change to a time where appropriate time and attention can be devoted.
Although even in recessionary times certain market sectors continue to experience talent shortage, extreme recessions outplace otherwise employable candidates. When these fine people are seeking work during these less popular times, we can expect the existence of an above average work desire. Keeping in mind that desire for work does not necessarily translate into better work habits, the desire is still considered a positive attribute.
Under typical conditions, please expect longer talent acquisition lead times during summer and holiday seasons. Given that each employer is subject to unique talent needs, offerings and market conditions, please consider all applicable variables when planning. HRS is enthusiastically available to provide further insight, custom design and/or implementation assistance.

Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, September 02, 2010


Choosing Employee Assessments … Hand Scoring Still Safeguards Findings and ROI!

With a wealth of employee assessments emerging, the right assessment can seem as elusive as the proverbial “needle in a haystack,” yet absolutely worth the diligent hunt. Best practices deployment in this specific arena increases human capital ROI by tenfold plus. The bottom line results of assessments gone right is not contested, and we stand firm that every candidate hired, trained or promoted without this proper intelligence is a profit opportunity missed. And coming from staunch advocates of progressive technology… computers are no replacement for hand scoring. A five criteria process, the following roadmap guarantees ROI and avoids common pitfalls. 

1. Tailoring instrument selection to specific job requirements.

Ensure the assessment criteria are documented in the job description itself. Consider both the immediate position and requirements along the progressive career path. Separate the two, and consider realistic expectations for advancement. Creating a business model where every team member is worthy of quick advancement can be risky and inappropriate unless your business can keep each of them advancing swiftly. Most organizations are pyramid shaped where not everyone can move up… accordingly, too many advancement worthy candidates creates damaging turnover. Additionally to ensure legal compliance, give greater weight to characteristics validated BFOQ’s (bona fide occupational qualifications) to the immediate job, without disparity. To safeguard meaningful interpretation and to prevent legal challenge, strictly avoid personality profiles and psychological profiles. Steer clear of interest-based surveys, as results are tainted by the human flaw of erroneous self-perception. We recommend job-related in-baskets and business simulations which specifically showcase and predict results-oriented business behaviors.  

2. Controlling environmental variables for meaningful consistency and reliability.

Deliver assessment in an environment which corresponds to assessment norms as well as the actual job environment. For example, online delivery is best when measuring computer-based job performance. Online delivery falls short of measuring in person performance. Online and written instruments presuppose communication skills using those media. Multiple choice vs. essay, written vs. verbal, time limits, noise factors, environmental conditions, fatigue, comfort, and stress levels are all further examples of variables which affect assessment performance. Allow the assessment organization to create and/or control the assessment environment and its variables. A distinguished partner will have this automatically safeguarded, but please inquire. 

3. Ensuring validity.

Gain confidence in the business results and overall organizational development success of your assessment team and assessment developer. Validating scores against existing organizational top performers is not enough. One of the most common pitfalls, this says absolutely nothing in validation of the elimination rate. Many instruments are currently circulating at which your top performers will always perform well. Be certain those you eliminate have been eliminated for good reason. Creative thinking and unconventional ideas are the cornerstone to progress and competitive edge. Do not keep these attributes excluded from your organization.  

4. Hand scoring and personal feedback are still preferred.

Again addressing the need to engage progress, invention and creative problem solving… computer and/or empirical scoring just does not cut it. Exploring rationale and allowing interpretation are critical to meaningful methodology. Simply stated, there is nothing less common than sense. Valuable creative thinking is often specifically excluded from organizational entry unless expert multi-rater hand scoring is involved. Hand scoring and personal feedback each explore rationale and trainability, while exiting the candidate with a blueprint for advancement and improvement. Personal feedback is best delivered by an external assessor expert.   

5. Using organization-wide assessments in consideration of unique independent job descriptions.

Selection by assimilation is rarely the goal. A glut of like-minded people does not typically foster progress or invention. Embrace differences and deploy them to the correct opportunities. There are a few assessments, the SR2 for example, which can be gainfully implemented organization-wide; however, we recommend weighting mechanisms and scoring norms to consider job relatedness. Validation to both external and internal norms is to be ensured.

In the quest for cost containment and convenience typically achieved through progressive technology, one can be quick to overlook the occasional “old school” best practices. The cost of employee time and the likely payoff of increased productivity with waste avoidance need be factored into assessment ROI. Look to the substantive results and know-how, not glitzy sales, of assessment experts. Pursue experts offering a healthy catalog of instruments tailored to unique job descriptions and criteria, and you shall find experts committed to valuable guidance in pinpointed assessment selection. The sustainable success of any talent-based organization relies upon correct, comprehensive and consistent deployment of employee assessment as decision tools.

Jessica Ollenburg - Friday, April 30, 2010


How to Choose a Low Cost, Highly Effective Training Method: Forget Seminars!

Auditory or speech-based learning is validated as both the least effective and least preferred training method, yet we overuse.  Adults cannot absorb more than 2.5 hours new information at a time, yet we pay for full-day seminars.  Keep seminars as networking events and perks for team members who need an outing… but do not expect substantial knowledge transfer.  When learning is critical, remember that 92% of individuals required a three-fold approach to learning… and the most effective three are visual demonstration, participative discussion, and hands on learning.  As it takes 3 instances of learning to create long term knowledge – and long term is only 20 minutes or more – ”trilogy” training is essential. Employers of choice recognize success relies upon the right people doing the right things.  This rests heavily upon training effectiveness and cost efficiencies.  The old days of the “talking head” at the podium are phased out.

In a recent survey of more than 3000, 60% of respondents tell us “Kinesthetic” (hands on) is their preferred learning style and auditory learning is by far the least preferred, coming in at only 8%.  Visual training is more than twice as effective as auditory. Learning professionals suggests a blend of participative workshop and video training. 

Video training is best used in the procedural “how to” instructions which can be represented visually. As trainers find burnout, distraction and inconsistency in the act of training, a standardized video allows us to ensure every trainee receives the complete message and the same information. Think about how many times you left for work wondering if you locked the door, turned off an appliance, or could not specifically remember performing some other routine auto-pilot task.  Invariably, trainers miss opportunities to deliver consistent messages from one training group to the next.  Without knowledge that each employee received the same completeness and quality of training, we have no reliable basis of evaluation or comparison.  Video training is the demonstration that sets up kinesthetic learning.  We see how to do it, and then we try it ourselves.  The margin of error in video training is negligible because the message is consistent. Video does not have a bad day.  Video does not argue with a spouse or significant other.  Video doesn’t miss its morning coffee.  Video’s transportation does not fail, and video does not get the flu.  Video is reliable, convenient and completely consistent.  Done well, the return on investment is quick and strong.

Participative Workshops are necessary in all training regimens, at a minimum, as the checkpoint and validation of learning with long term sustainability.  As a component to trilogy training, these kinesthetic participative workshops are to be inserted where problem solving, judgment and deep topic understanding are essential to goal attainment.  While it is far more common to find a speaker with podium skills and a well-rehearsed presentation, audience adaptation and the ability to provide meaningful answers to spontaneous questions is more effective to this exercise.  Top universities inject kinesthetic learning into the classroom and assignment activities.  Participative discussion is where transformation happens and learning is validated.  This is also where we increase employee engagement, morale and motivation. 

Workshops delivered by internal personnel can be inserted as a component, but due to fear of reprisal and perception of company bias, third party professional trainers can accomplish training and secure employee buy-in otherwise impossible for the internal key team.  By experiencing it go right as validated by outside experts, trainees also feel more relaxed… and a relaxed mind enjoys a much greater potential for learning than a panicked mind.  

Memory is largely a component of attention and interest.  Seminar learning depends entirely upon a highly memorable performer using highly visual speaking tactics as “grabbers.”  Humor is participative, so that works… to a point.  The best podium performers, however, are not cost effective for everyday organizational learning, and most are rarely effective in transferring memorable content other than jokes and antics.  Pure entertainment only goes so far in expediting and safeguarding learning. Entertainment can be a tactic but should not overpower the presentation.  An outside trainer expert with audience adaptation, learning assessment and train the trainer technique is the company’s best cost-efficient and reliable methodology. Surveys repeatedly reveal that lack of confidence in a supervisor or trainer is a primary reason for resignation.  Training flaws create unnecessary turnover and loss of training investment.  Company time is company money.

For additional details on learning survey outcomes and examples of training videos, please visit





Jessica Ollenburg - Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Stop Saying “Work Smarter, Not Harder” and Great Things Shall Happen!

Emerging from a recession, grabbing opportunity and surviving intense global competition, we cannot be fooled by the dangerous and misleading propaganda... "Work Smarter, Not Harder!" Statements along these lines when misinterpreted can only lead to disaster. The blueprint for success requires balance. 

Agreed it can be more effective to work smart than to work hard, in most cases both are necessary. In addition, “smart” can be a matter of misinterpretation in itself. “Smart” can only truly be judged by one who is “smart” in the capacity and criteria to be evaluated. “Smart” can be ill defined.  Nonetheless, "Work Smarter" should remain our dedicated target, we just need to lose the "Not Harder" component.

Through study of human work ethic, it is undeniable that many top performers equate “working hard” with “doing your best.” Anything short of doing one’s best is less than adequate. Therefore, working “hard” is always one of the goals. Where and how we channel our energies and how we balance and care for ourselves is a matter of personal choice and commitment.

Nations rich in socialism and suppressed middle class existence present global competition of both working hard and working smart in tandem. Those who wish to compete must rise to the occasion or lose the opportunity to fight another day. While the U.S. is not easily adaptable by history and infrastructure to the socialist principles which have been embraced by other nations, Americans must not think they can exist in a vacuum, especially after centuries of global involvement.

Those proven to offer judgment, accomplishment and commitment to excellence effectively draw upon the “Work Smarter, Not Harder” mantra with astute understanding that successful results require efficiency and sound judgment. These toolsets can lead to quicker, easier and more accurate positive outcomes, freeing our resources to accomplish more in the end.  The mantra works best for those already working hard. Those, however, lacking necessary work commitment are adversely impacted and misled by this mantra, using it as an excuse to retract effort.

This is an essential organizational development topic to be safeguarded by employee education, policies, practices and daily performance management. The ambiguity of related remarks is polluting team members’ understanding of workplace expectations and the blueprint to security and advancement. Consider this both a “call to action” and an opportunity of betterment for organizational leaders at all levels.

Jessica Ollenburg - Saturday, January 09, 2010


“If I’m a Self-Starter, Why Aren’t You?”... Team Members High in Initiative are Challenged as Coaches

Until we learn otherwise, we tend to believe others think and behave as we do. Sometimes that learning comes with a thunderbolt and leaves us with our “jaw on the ground.” Pillared on more than 30 years experience in leadership coaching to a wealth of Fortune-rated and emerging employers alike, this evidence does not falter. Consequently, it is easy to conclude that common sense does not actually exist. Coaching requires understanding motivation, capability and learning style. Without these, the ability to transform is challenged.

If you ask a self-starter why he or she is a self-starter, you shall often encounter uncertainty. According to Bob Galvin, retired Motorola chairman, self-starters and leaders can be spotted by age 14. Being a self-starter derives from intrinsic motivation (coming from within), not nearly as easily influenced as extrinsic motivation (impacted by external variables). Self-starters rarely understand those who are not self-starters, and most individuals are not self-starters. This lack of understanding creates a barrier to audience adaptation and coaching effectiveness.

Employers tend to promote top performers, usually self-starters, to leadership roles. These promotions often occur for the wrong reasons. A self-starter with the right leadership training can lead by example and deploy certain tactics, yet he or she can be challenged in ability to understand and coach those without intrinsic motivation. Leadership is a lifelong learning commitment. Without learning and adaptation to new audiences, we stunt company growth and can only hire a small percentage of the available applicant pool.

Those who study leadership recognize leadership is not a natural progression, but rather a distinctive and precise skillset. Many self-starters are completely disinterested in coaching; however, they accept the role as a title award and advancement strategy. Self-starters are often admittedly more interested in managing processes than people. Employers who create advancement ladders not necessarily tied to supervision are able to truly gauge commitment to coaching and creating transformation. Self-starters often view themselves as self-transformed and therefore may not be inclined to transform others. A supervisor, trainer or coach who fails to create transformation also fails to provide betterment to employee productivity. If the employees are not better for the supervisor’s impact, why is the supervisor retained? Assuming the talent acquisition process is doing its job, successful coaching creates transformation and improves workplace productivity through improved employee performance.

By its very definition, extrinsic motivation is volatile, affected by the employer. Motivation is, in its simplest terms, a reason. Understanding what transformed you to improved performance is a valuable toolset to transforming others. This means looking beyond intrinsic motivation. Those who were “transformed” can be highly influential and motivational success stories for others.

HRS deploys these validated studies in globally recognized assessment and kinesthetic coaching programs, serving employers in more than 100 countries plus world respected academic and certification institutions. Programs are augmented through learning style surveys having earned more than 3000 global responses to date. Typical program methodology includes leadership assessment to pinpoint coaching style, transactional/transformational effectivess and learning opportunities. This analysis is most frequently followed by audience adaptive kinesthetic workshops proven highly successful in transforming leaders, entry through CEO and BOD, into transformational coaches. Please visit for more information regarding learning survey findings, validation studies, leadership assessment and kinesthetic workshop offerings.

Jessica Ollenburg - Thursday, October 15, 2009


Private Sector Solution to Health Care Industry Problems

If you want to understand why anything happens in health care simply follow the dollars.

After having spent 35 years in the health care cost management field I am convinced that this is a true statement. The dollars influence and in some cases dictate hospital expansion, physician carrier choices, additional technology, administrative systems, insurance company plan designs, employer benefits and any other aspect of the health care field. This being the case, influencing the dollars will drive solutions to the industries problems.

As evidence of this, look at the expansion of PPO type plans over the past 20 years. Offering employees a benefit incentive to use one doctor or hospital over another has resulted in the largest change in buying habits ever recorded, with over 90% of today’s health care being provided through PPO type plans. Even HMO’s have re-packaged their services into PPO type plans.
There are three changes that can be made to the existing system that will reduce costs, significantly limit cost increases, improve quality, improve access, streamline administration and expand insurance coverage. All three changes are made in the private sector and require no government intervention or additional taxes.  

1. Price Transparency:

Today we do not know the true cost of even the most routine procedure (normal deliveries). As a result of multiple PPO, HMO and government contracts the price has been distorted. In Milwaukee 38 procedures represent 65% of the dollars spent at the hospital. The price range of each procedure among Milwaukee hospitals is at least 100%, with 300% and 400% variances common. Each hospital should be required to disclose the average private sector revenue for the top 20 procedures. Because this is an average confidential contract pricing is not disclosed.  

2. Change the PPO and HMO contracts:

In the mid 1990’s most hospitals were reimbursed a set dollar amount per day of hospital stay. As a result the cost increases for benefit plans in 1995 and 1996 was virtually “0” according to the Mercer study on health care costs. In the latter 1990’s competitive pressures and improved hospital negotiating skills resulted in a move to a percentage off billed charges. The control of the cost of health care was turned over to the providers. From the late 1990’s to about 2006 cost increases were in the low to mid teens each year. A return to fixed pricing is essential to controlling costs. Both hospitals and physicians should be reimbursed according to a fee schedule.

3. Change Benefit Plan Designs:

Price transparency and a change to schedules under contracts allow the designers of benefit plans to create plans that embrace the schedules. The cost of this service ranges from $1000 to $4,000. The benefit plan will pay $2,500. These are the providers who will accept this price or less.

4. Create Global Services:

Fixed pricing allows the formation of Global Services. Under these services all of the parts of a procedure are contained in a single contracted price. For example a Global surgery would include the surgeon’s fee, assistant surgeon (if necessary), anesthesia, radiologist, facility, drugs, tests and any other items required to provide that service. This is the way that health care is provided when benefits are not involved. Most cosmetic surgeries are presented to the patient set fees are patient (who is going to pay the bill) as a single fee with all the necessary parts included.
These four changes would result in an immediate cost reduction (fixed prices are used and providers have an incentive to control costs since it will increase their profits), improve quality (the main differentiation factor is now quality of care and patient satisfaction), improve access (if providers know they will be reimbursed they are more likely to offer services in areas they might otherwise ignore), streamline administration (more efficient administration increases profits) and expand insurance coverage (better priced insurance products can be afforded by more companies and individuals).
These changes can be implemented by the end of this year with no government intervention or expense. If consumers demand better benefit plans they will be delivered.
On the flip side the current proposal of a government sponsored “public plan” will increase Medicare taxes by 20% to 30% within two years.
The “public plan” is based on fees that Medicare has negotiated with hospitals, physicians and other health care providers. These rates are often 60% below billed charges and according to a recent study 20% to 30% below provider costs. The only reason that the provider community has been able to tolerate these low reimbursements is because they can increase their costs to the private sector. A study by the Lewin organization estimates that if the “public option” were offered 85% of the private sector would move to this option within two years because of the lower cost to companies and individuals. This would effectively kill private sector helath benefit plans.
If there is no private sector there is no one to whom costs can be shifted. Medicare would have to increase reimbursement to at least cost or hospitals and doctors would go out of business. This would require a 20% to 30% increase in Medicare reimbursements and a similar increase in Medicare taxes. It would also result in limitations on services available and probably result in hospitals and doctors opting out of the “public” plan with their services being available to only those who could afford to bay the bill.
We have the ability to control health care costs in a fashion that benefits patients, providers and payers. The question is do we have the resolve to implement the changes.


This article was contributed by Richard L. Blomquist, Esteemed Member of the HRS Advisory Board
Mr. Blomquist's Bio and Contact Info 







Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, September 07, 2009


The Antisocialism of Socialism

Sending wholehearted gratitude to those and their families who paid the ultimate price defending their country against socialism, the false propaganda in this country threatening blind allegiance and subserviance to socialist principles needs also to be defended against.  Some proponents of the universal health care movement are now using socialism labels… and this is an unnecessary extreme to create the much needed change.  Nations choose their political systems carefully and defend them tenaciously.  The US has fought tenaciously as well and shouldn’t easily abandon longstanding beliefs.

Those who think they understand socialism need to visit a socialist nation and spend time truly analyzing its affects.  Socialist principles can be altruistic and often attractive in theory.  Like many political systems, the rollout of socialism yields outcomes completely contradictory to its perceived intention.   In the US we are entitled choice, and in that, let’s please remember that for which our founding fathers and millions of US military have shed blood.  Hitler and Mussolini also are also connected with socialism.  Think carefully.

In the US please consider rejecting all programs cloaked with the word “socialism” and “socialized” unless you really believe pure socialism is the answer... and you believe the US needs to reject its longstanding principles and overturn that for which many have given their lives.   There are many things to attempt here in the US short of socialism before overturning our guiding principles in such an extreme.  Many believe through research that true socialism simply eliminates the middle class… making the rich richer and the poor poorer.   

Whether you are for or against more government intervention in our BIG health care problem, socialism is not the next step in progression… and please don’t let much needed hope for betterment allow such a tricky movement to sneak past the great people of this country. 

Jessica Ollenburg - Monday, September 07, 2009