Bird Watching

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Writing Assignment One: Bird Watching
Now that you’ve been exposed to the taxonomy of payer health plan types and of IDSs, you’ve seen how many different types there are, and how much they can overlap. Large Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and large commercial payers such as Aetna, CIGNA and United HealthCare have many of them under one corporate umbrella even in the same market. In other cases, smaller local or regional plans usually have only one or two plan types, and are often only a single type.
That means it’s now time to do some bird watching. Dedicated bird watchers try to see as many different types of birds as possible, especially rare species, and record each one on a “life list.”
Finding payers that are primarily one type of organization is a challenge, but they are not as rare as a Red-flanked Bluetail or a Narcissus Flycatcher.* So like a rookie bird watcher searching for different species of birds to add to their list, you are to find at least one example of each of the following types of payer health plans.
Your Assignment: Find one example each of the following types of payer organizations or plan types:
 A Direct Contract Model HMO
 An Independent Practice Association (IPA) model HMO
 A True Network Model
 A Group Model HMO (not Kaiser)
 A Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP)
When possible, find an organization that is mostly a single type of payer. If you can’t find one, find an example of a payer type within a larger company that operates like a complete organization instead of simply another product offering; for example, a single-state IPA HMO owned by a national carrier.

Structure: Structure the paper as follows:
 Brief Introduction: Briefly describe what these plans are (one or two sentences only), what your
assignment is and how you have organized your paper.
 Method: Briefly describe the method you used to carry out the assignment.
 Results: Provide the salient information about each example, including a brief history, current
size and makeup and other such information you deem worth noting such as size, geography,
financial performance, etc.
 Analysis and Discussion: What are the strengths and weaknesses of each type of payer model,
and specifically how those strengths and weaknesses affected and were addressed for each of
your examples.
 Conclusion: a summary of your findings and conclusions and any parting comments.
Composition Counts: Watch out for common composition problems such as:
 Excessively long paragraphs and/or sentences,
 Single paragraphs containing multiple points or ideas,
 Larding your writing with clichés or loads of extra wording (e.g., using complex past tense when
simple present tense is better, or
 Padding.
Do Not Blindly Trust a Non-Reputable Source of Information: You can’t take the word of any blogger, columnist, PR writer, etc. You need to ascertain for yourself whether something is what it purports to be. For example, the website of a local HMO may describe itself using terms that obscure what the plan’s actual type is, but you can figure it out for yourself without too much difficulty. This issue will be of far greater importance in future assignments than here. Length of Paper: Approximately 6 to 10 pages, not counting cover sheet, references or graphics. Use double or 1.5 space – your choice. I suggest you limit descriptions to no more than a page each.

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