Starting Up

Wow! – It has been a really long time since I have posted anything. Not really sure why I haven’t been active and blogging, but I kind of miss it. I’ll have to start blogging, at least somewhat more frequently.

It’s been a great month – family, friends, travel, weddings, work, etc. I’ve been to weddings in Milwaukee and rural Indiana. I’ve been with my family to Niagara Falls and Detroit. I have started working on a new health plan in New Hampshire. All of it has been great- and I am constantly amazed at how time flies by.

I am feeling good about life right now. I have some big plans. And a lot of ideas. I’ll try to start doing a better job of sharing my thoughts on here.

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Flying Home From Louisiana

I am sitting on the plane flying home from New Orleans for the last time (for work), listening to Valse de Opelousas and reflecting on the past 11 months. I haven’t done as good of a job of chronicling my time in Louisiana as I should have, but I can simply say that it has been a fantastic experience.

For the past eleven months, I have been traveling to Louisiana weekly (with very few exceptions) to build the provider network for a new Medicaid health plan, Louisiana Healthcare Connections (LHC), a subsidiary of Centene Corporation. When I started, there were five of us in Baton Rouge developing strategy and starting to do outreach for contracting. Now, LHC has 140 employees and provides health insurance to ~168,000 individuals in Louisiana generating estimated annual revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We were key players in essentially building a start-up into a major contributor to its Fortune 500 parent. I am very proud of the work we have done.

When I started this job eleven months ago, I essentially knew nothing about what I was to be doing. While I still have a lot to learn, I have helped train several people on contracting/network development and have been a point person for escalated issues. I appreciate all of the people who have taken time to train me, share with me, support me, and trust me. I am excited to keep growing in this position.

I have been to every corner of Louisiana and many places in between. I’ve seen some places that I would love to visit again – and some that I hope to never visit again. I’ve met some great people and have heard some very interesting stories. I’ve sampled local culture and cuisine. Louisiana is a great state with so much to offer, I highly recommend it to everyone. Just be sure to get off the beaten path and explore a little bit. You never know what you might find. That is certainly a lesson I am taking forward myself.

Importantly, I have worked with some amazing people and made some great new friends. These people really made my time in Louisiana enjoyable – and are making leaving Louisiana much harder than I had anticipated. I hope to visit soon.

I do not yet know what the next state is in which I will work. I should be finding out soon. Regardless of where it is, I am looking forward to applying the skills I have learned in a new market, continuing to learn and grow, and see what the future holds!


Update Upon Arrival in St. Louis:

I found out upon landing that I will be helping with our Missouri health plan, Home State Health Plan, for a few weeks. Likely working on provider data and accuracy/usability. After that I am on to the next plan. That is still up in the air.

Over the Past Year…

Wow, how fast a year goes! I have now been a college graduate (with two degrees: BA & MBA) for just over a year! How crazy. I can’t believe it has been a year. I miss college a great deal, but I think I have done a good job transitioning out of the DU mode, which as some of you know, I was quite worried about after having been so involved.

I moved back to St. Louis after graduation and spent a lot of time applying for jobs, interviewing, catching up with friends, and worrying about my future. The summer went by very quickly and I enjoyed my time off while looking forward to what was next. Then very quickly I ended up with three job offers around the same time. All were great opportunities – and it was a very difficult decision.

I ended up taking a position as a Contract Negotiator with Centene Corporation, a Fortune 500 managed care company in St. Louis. I am part of the New Business Contracting & Network Development team. When Centene is exploring/wins a contract for a new health plan, we develop the outreach strategy and develop our network of health care providers. We negotiate contracts and provide training. As the plan goes live, the local health plan hires staff to do what we do and then the corporate team gets deployed to a new market. I am always learning new things and enjoy the challenges that come with working in healthcare and Medicaid, specifically. I have great coworkers and enjoy the support of my supervisors.

My position requires me to travel 4-5 days a week so I’ve become a frequent traveler and while that can be tiring and difficult at times, I really like it. I’ve been working in Louisiana since I’ve started and have explored the whole state, while getting to know Baton Rouge and New Orleans pretty well. Soon, I expect to be moving to a new state and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned to a new market and observe the similarities and differences that come with the territory.

Because of my frequent traveling, I have been able to take advantage of the perks and have been to Denver several times, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tampa/St. Petersburg, San Diego, and Los Angeles. I have a trip planned to Chicago and have plenty of other ideas.

Otherwise, I have enjoyed staying in touch with Denver friends, reconnecting with old friends, spending time with family, and meeting new people. I struggled with meeting new people for a little while as I was trying to figure out if I’d be staying in St. Louis and as I was starting the new job, but I’ve gained traction and have met some great new people. I’ve also been trying to figure out what all St. Louis actually has to offer and have been pleasantly surprised.

So, life is good. It’s been quite the year and I’m looking forward to the next one.

On the Way to Vegas – A Quick Update

I wrote this on Friday on the way to Vegas, I head back home today…

I’m on a plane again. But this time it isn’t for business; it’s for pleasure! I am on the way to Las Vegas! I’ve never been and I’m pretty excited! J Should be a good time – I’m going with some friends from DU. And while I have zero idea of the plan for the weekend, I have no doubt that it will be a blast.

I try to be a pretty easy going guy. Especially when I’m traveling. As I was discussing with my shuttle driver from National earlier this week, if I am having a bad day, it’s not her fault. Why make her day bad? I’ve ended up parking at The Parking Spot 2 in St. Louis the past two weeks. I like the original The Parking Spot better, but I’ll probably go back: the lady at the check-out stall remembered me and was extremely friendly. It makes a difference.

All of this was actually leading towards something though. On planes, loud crying babies usually don’t bother me. They can’t help it, and usually the parent(s) can’t either. What does bother me is people who are obnoxiously loud. Like this one 20-something year old girl is behind me. Holy cow is she way too loud. Someone should probably say something – it isn’t necessary to yell on a plane. Even on the way to Vegas.

I’m way behind on my blog again, so here is a quick update: I’m traveling a lot for work. Work is going well. I like it. I like the travel. It is also hard not spending much time at one place where I am living. But I like the perks – I just qualified for the Companion Pass from Southwest! I miss Denver and my friends I no longer see. I got to see my aunt, uncle, and cousins from Dallas last night. That was nice. I feel like I am caught/stuck between different worlds. And I am always wanting something more/to be challenged.

Things are going well though and I can’t complain. Except about that loud girl who, I am pretty sure, will keep getting louder for the next two hours of the flight…

My First Business Trip

I’m writing this post while on the plane back to St. Louis to be posted once I get home.  I am wrapping up my first business trip for my new job with Centene Corporation.  It seems that I will be doing a lot of travel in my position so this is the first of many more trips to come.

What all I, specifically, am responsible for still seems to be in flux.  On this trip, I met the guy who is running development of the Louisiana network and shadowed two people who are managers in the trajectory I am on.  Both of them have 15-20 years of experience in healthcare.  We drove around and met with doctors and office managers at clinics and private practices.  We actually had pretty good results.  I like all of the people in Louisiana with whom I will be working.

I still have a lot of details to learn if I am doing what they are doing.  For now, I am focusing more on learning the contracting/negotiating role and serving more of a support function.  Right now that means developing tracking and reporting tools.  I should have a better ability to do that now that I know what it looks like in the field.  I will likely be traveling again next week and working out of the Baton Rouge office.  I was told that it’s easier to ramp up and ramp up faster if I am in the field.  It will be my second week traveling Monday-Thursday and I think that type of travel could be happening weekly.

I did get to explore New Orleans a little bit.  I’m hoping to be back there (I’m sure there is more going on in New Orleans than Baton Rouge).  I walked/ate on Bourbon Street, went by Jackson Square, walked along the Mississippi River, and ate at Red Fish, Pat O’Brien’s, and Café Du Monde.  I did hear some great musicians, but next time, I’d like to check out more live music.

Travel Preferences

I still need to figure out things like which airline and hotel chain I want to focus on.

On this trip, I flew Southwest, which was great, and stayed at the Marriott New Orleans.  The location of the hotel was great, but I wasn’t impressed by my room.

For the future, I’m leaning towards Hilton hotels.  I’m between Southwest, which only flies to New Orleans (I’d have to drive from there), but has a direct flight from St. Louis, Delta and American.  Both Delta and American fly to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other airports in Louisiana, but there are no direct flights and it takes longer to earn free tickets.  I will mostly be renting cars from National.  Centene lets me sign up for the Emerald Club.

Anyone have any recommendations on flights – quality of the airline and best rewards program?

First Week On The Job

I recently completed my first week working at Centene Corporation.  It was a good week and I am happy with my job so far.  Working full-time is certainly a change.  I am definitely not used to being somewhere at 8:00 a.m. every morning (if not earlier) and doing the whole work thing all day.  It is going to take some adjusting, but I am enjoying myself after the first week.  Hopefully I will continue to do so.

Week one started with orientation.  I saw the videos and presentations on policies, procedures, standards, etc.  As the week progressed, I got setup with my equipment, sat in on meetings, and began to understand more about what my role as Contract Negotiator is.  I spent a good amount of time on the phone with the Service Desk getting everything set up.  I still am waiting to get setup in some systems (e.g. expense reports), but I am well on the way.

My second day on the job I was listening in on a conference call and sitting in on a meeting.  By the end, some of it was making sense 🙂  I’ve also had my first WebEx meeting in a corporate setting.  I’ve got a company laptop, BlackBerry, and aircard, and should receive my corporate American Express card soon.

As a Contract Negotiator I am building provider networks for managed Medicaid plans.  I have been assigned to help develop the network for Louisiana.  As such, I will be spending much of my time on the road traveling around Louisiana.  I will be functioning as a Network Development Specialist for Louisiana Healthcare Connections – a Centene subsidiary.  It is headquartered in Baton Rouge.

My job has best been described as follows: when you enroll in a health insurance program, you may be given a book of providers (doctors, clinics, hospitals, etc.) that you can visit and which are covered by your insurance.  My role is to get those providers to be in the book.  From what I’ve gathered around the office, there are a lot of pieces to making that happen.  Some are designated by the company and some are designated by the state.  I will be interacting with quite a few corporate departments including legal, credentialing, business development, and more.

The people are great so far.  Most people do seem to be older than me, but that’s okay.  And I’m sure there are more people to meet.  My first business travel begins tomorrow morning.  I’m headed to New Orleans and then around Louisiana.  Hopefully I’ll have an even better idea of where I will plug in when I get back Thursday night.  I’m sure I have a lot to learn. 🙂