Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Sicko"--Hate it All You Like But Don't Ignore It! The Best Response is to Satisfy the Customer!

Michael Moore's harsh critique, make that condemnation, of the health insurance industry is going to be hard to watch for those who have spent their careers in the business.

The worst thing we can do is to rationalize it away as just another "single payer's" prescription for socialized health care.

Thirty years ago, I was taught by the insurance company I worked for that the way to be profitable was to satisfy your customers' needs. Satisfy the customer and you'll have plenty of business which will lead to a better top and bottom line. Somewhere along the line, much of it when Wall Street moved in, we lost that focus. The focus became almost entirely bottom line, earnings growth, and share price--in that order.

Those objectives are just fine--as long as they come after you have satisfied the customer.

Look at some of the most profitable companies in the world--Toyota, Apple, and the like--and you will also see some of the happiest customers.

Health plan managers that have satisfied Wall Street have taken an incredible amount of money out of this industry in recent years for themselves. But what have they done for the customer--and the next generation in this business coming up through the ranks?

Hatchet job or not, take "Sicko" for the big warning signal it is.

The private health insurance industry is under assault, and was long before "Sicko," and we don't have long to make it work the way it needs to.

Satisfy the customer and you will have satisfied every person who went to see that movie--that's the best response to Michael Moore.

It's no coincidence that those health plans with top scores in surveys like the JD Power customer satisfaction index weren't the ones who got trashed in "Sicko."

Oh, that insurance company that taught me to put the customer first thirty years ago; they later demutualized, went public, made tons of money for management, and even later paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements with state regulators over claim paying practices.




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