POLITICAL: The Medicare drug “benefit”. A benefit for whom? Not the poor retiree!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

http://www.smartmoney.com/thenewretirement/index.cfm?story=september2007

The New Retirement
Don’t Believe the Hype on Medicare Part D
By Peter Keating |Peter Keating Archive |Published: September 10, 2007

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Try this on for size instead. Under Medicare’s drug benefit, you pay $4,270 of the first $5,871 in prescription costs you incur.

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Part D has serious problems beyond the doughnut hole. For one thing, it requires insurers to offer just one drug per therapeutic class, which means no plan may cover all of the specific blood pressure or anti-inflammatory drugs your doctor wants to prescribe. For another, Medicaid, state insurance programs and private employers are all dumping beneficiaries into Part D. That may save those plans money, but it costs seniors. In the first half of 2006, for example, low-income retirees and their insurers paid an extra $325 million to Pfizer because they lost discounts in switching from Medicaid to Part D. Most important, after a quiet period following the prescription benefit’s enactment, insurance companies got busy hiking prices: 78% of Part D insurers increased the price of their most popular drugs at least three times last year, according to a Consumers Union study of 225 plans in the five biggest states. About a quarter of them pushed prices up by 5% or more in just the first two months of this year.

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You really didn’t think that this was anything but WELFARE for the drug companies?

Why DO you think they make all those big campaign contributions to both political parties? It not out of principle but out of greed.

Argh!

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MONEY: Success for the next generation

Saturday, September 22, 2007

http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/intelligent-leisure-time-activity

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7. Find a good hobby – A hobby is a great way to develop skills and interact with other people. Some of them can even generate income. A hobby builds on itself. You start out knowing nothing and gradually build a repertoire of skills. Even if these skills aren’t particularly useful, the process helps you learn how to learn. Once you’ve developed one set of skills from scratch, the next set is even easier.

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Sounds like I have to update my mantra-like spiel that I give to the youth I come in contact with.

Success for your generation is: (1) ruthless financial discipline; (2) education for a white collar job; (3) a blue collar skill — never saw a poor plumber; and (4) one or more internet based businesses.

Have to figure out to integrate: (x) have a hobby that generates income.

Here’s my new one:

Success for your generation is: (1) ruthless financial discipline — no bad debt; (2) a life long interest in learning — an education — a degree — they can’t take it away from you; (3) a white collar job in order to save big bux; (4) a blue collar skill for hard times — never saw a poor plumber; (5) one or more internet based businesses — your store is always open; and (6) a free time hobby that generates income.

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INTERESTING: Level the healthcare insurance playing field

Saturday, September 22, 2007

http://www.smartmoney.com/invisiblehand/index.cfm?story=20070912&hpadref=1&pgnum=2

The Invisible Hand
Retired Doctor Devises Plan to Cure Health Care
By Igor Greenwald |Igor Greenwald Archive |Published: September 12, 2007

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Fogoros serves up something like a layer cake: at the bottom, a sizable self-financed health savings account (with the government subsidizing the contribution on a sliding scale for the poor). Any money that’s not used up could be saved toward retirement or allocated toward optional insurance.

Those who’ve exhausted their health account would be entitled to a share of the rationed health-care pool. Treatments would be covered or not based on a cost-benefit analysis treating each human being as equally valuable but seeking to equalize the opportunities for a healthy life over time. So a quadriplegic’s life would be deemed no less valuable than anyone else’s, but at the same time young patients would get some preference over the old who’ve already lived it up. Patients with greater odds of being helped would also gain priority. This sounds like common sense, even if it’s common sense we would prefer not to exercise at the moment.

Beyond rationed care, the rich would remain free to bankroll the many fanciful treatment alternatives, doubling as guinea pigs for the rationed system that would look to adopt the most cost-effective advances. Fogoros understands that the public debates about what to pay for could get quite awkward, and the system, any system, can and will be gamed. But he’s right to argue that this will still improve on the mess we’ve got.

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At the very least, it would seem that we could end the distortion from the WW2 Wage and Price controls. At that time, since wages were frozen, businesses were allowed to give “benefits” that didn’t count towards the “controls”. That’s where we got into the whole insurance mess. We allowed the gooferment to put us into a meme that allows businesses to deduct healthcare expense but individuals are not. At the very least, we should level the playing field. My preference would be to get the businesses out of involvement with my healthcare. Having been in my own business, I was allowed to deduct my healthcare insurance cost. Love it. I think when the marketplace “figures it out”, we will become a nation of contractors. Cheaper for businesses and better for individuals.

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