Thursday, May 28, 2015

High-Occupancy Toll Lanes: Business Model

Like many in the area, I spend a great deal of time in traffic. I listen to radio, and just recently I heard some chatter about how the VA governor wants to deal with the I66 expansion differently than they did with the I95 and I495 "HOT" lanes system. The way those expansions were funded were that ostensibly a private corporation paid for the expansion, and in turn gets to operate the toll system and keep the proceeds. And in order to make a pay-to-save-time system work the systems would adjust the rates based on non-HOT line traffic conditions. Sounds like a win for everyone, right?

You'd be dead wrong. Without transparency on how the pricing is calculated, this encourages:

  1. The hiring of drivers to interfere with main line traffic. Result? More trips at a higher rate on the HOT lanes.
  2. Since the road maintenance crews are the same for the HOT lane and main line, it encourages extended, longer, and more inconvenient work on the main line. Especially if the toll road operator shares these with the road maintenance contractors in the form of preferential contracts.

Now of course, I have no proof. Just observations. But it makes one think, just a little, that perhaps the incentives, agreements, and general political sausage (after all, that's how you get to operate a toll road) needs a great deal more daylight.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Surprise! Carefirst didn't learn from BCBS

So after the phenomenal breach of BCBS (Blue Cross Blue Shield), releasing millions of customers', applicants', and affiliated persons' social security numbers and full personally identifying information, it should have served as a wake-up call to healthcare insurers that business-as-usual is cannot continue.

Carefirst (I call them Carelast because of my interactions with their customer "service" - if you can actually reach them), being part of the same umbrella organization, should have checked their corporate egos and gotten their house in order. I am not surprised at all at the outcome - silence, awkward silence, and then ... a public statement on a web site most corporate systems block as being virus-infested. Classy:

 The mouse here is hovering over the button "Learn More" and it points to - which shows up on a corporate network like so:

As usual with health "care" "insurers" and providers, no matter what the legislation or intent, the industry is an incomprehensible rabbit warren of actors, all of which are either corrupt or rotten to the core.  And we all pay the price.

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