BizFeed: Health Insurers Want Big Rate Increases in PA

Plus: Yahoo admits their products suck; Kill the performance review already.

Roman Motizov/Shutterstock

Roman Motizov/Shutterstock

1. Health Insurers Want Big Rate Increases in PA

The News: Health insurance rates could rise significantly for Pennsylvanians that buy coverage through the new marketplaces set up under the health care reform law. The Associated Press reports that rates could rise around 10 percent for the 473,000 Pennsylvanians that bought coverage on the exchanges last year. A very notable example is Highmark, which is proposing a 25 percent rate increase for its 118,000 customers in the state.

Why it Matters: For many insurers, 2015 was their first go-around in this brave new health care world, and they’re looking to make adjustments.

From the AP:

The marketplace is a new experience for insurers, and they will be basing their 2016 premiums on a full year’s worth of data, the first time that’s happened on the 17-month-old exchanges.

“There’s a lot they have to learn: What the markets are and the profile of the people who are enrolling,” said Robert Town, a professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania. “They really went into it pretty blind, so it’s not surprising that they have to make adjustments.”

It’s important to remember that health care reform primarily helps increase the number of people covered — but doesn’t do much to keep costs down. Sure, the influx of more people into the marketplace should help, but there’s nothing inherently regulating that costs stay low.

The proposed rate increases still need to be approved by the state’s Department of Insurance, and many will qualify for tax credits to help cover costs.

2. Yahoo Finally Realizes that Many of Its Offerings Suck

The News: Yahoo is shuttering its Maps and Pipes offerings. It will also no longer support its Mail option for the built-in mail feature on older Apple operating systems, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it Matters: Companies pivot all the time, and Yahoo needed a pivot desperately. Once cutting edge, its e-mail system seems dated, allowing junk mail to easily pass though spam filters. (I should know, I’ve been a customer for more than 10 years and I still use the system. I literally got gmail three months ago. Don’t judge.) It’s Maps got crushed by mighty Google Maps and to a lesser extent Apple Maps (because even though many people hate them, they’re the default for iPhones.) Yahoo Pipes obviously never became the web aggregating tool the company was hoping for. But this could be a good thing, companies don’t often admit failure, and by shutting down unsuccessful product lines, it will open itself up to the possibility for new innovations.

3. The Argument to Kill the Performance Review

The News: Inc. magazine argues that we should just kill the performance review already. Enough is enough with these forced conversations where both sides avoid conflict — and thus avoid talking about any real issues.

“Here’s your 3 percent raise, now get back to your desk.”

From Inc.

The trouble arises … when this theory collides with human nature and our general tendency to avoid conflict.

For example, Jisoo Ock, the lead researcher of one recent study on the practice, argues “that the classic ‘sit down with your manager and review the year’ model ignores the social context of the workplace,” the post reports. “No one wants to hear negative feedback, and most people feel uncomfortable when they have to dole it out, too. Plus, the formalized feel of the process makes it feel weird; Ock points out that supervisors suddenly have to shift ‘from being inspirers, motivators, or even friends to being judicial evaluators of employees.'”

Why it Matters: The performance review is such a staple of the American corporate system that it will be tough to eliminate altogether. Inc. offers this alternative:

Science of Us helpfully offers a research-validated answer: “Informal feedback sessions — conversations that take place directly following some disappointment in performance–have been shown to result in an actual improvement in performance.”

Well, that’s simple then. Cut it out with the five point scales and awkward, time-wasting end-of-year one-on-ones and simply start telling your staff when they could have done better.