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National Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003–2013

December 19, 2014 Comments off

National Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003–2013
Source: Commonwealth Fund

Looking at trends in private employer-based health insurance from 2003 to 2013, this issue brief finds that premiums for family coverage increased 73 percent over the past decade—faster than median family income. Employees’ contributions to their premiums climbed by 93 percent over that time frame. At the same time, deductibles more than doubled in both large and small firms. Workers are thus paying more but getting less protective benefits. However, the study also finds that while premiums continued to rise through 2013, the rate of growth slowed between 2010 and 2013, following implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While families experienced slower growth in premium contributions and deductibles over this period, sluggish growth in median family income means families are paying more in premiums and deductibles as a share of their income than ever before.

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New Report Proposes Better Outcomes, Lower Costs for State and Local Governments Through User Fees

December 19, 2014 Comments off

New Report Proposes Better Outcomes, Lower Costs for State and Local Governments Through User Fees
Source: Cascade Policy Institute

A new report released by Cascade Policy Institute suggests numerous ways state and local governments can lower the costs of public services through judicious, targeted use of “user fees,” rather than relying on general taxation. Resurrecting User Fees in Public Finance: A Prescription for Lowering the Cost and Improving the Fairness of Public Services was authored by Randall Pozdena, Ph.D. Pozdena is president of QuantEcon, Inc., an Oregon-based consultancy.

The share of personal income collected as revenue by state and local governments has doubled since 1945. Oregon and other U.S. state governments obtain approximately 75 percent of this revenue through broad-based taxation and 25 percent from fees levied on the beneficiary of the service.

This report details the theoretical and practical advantages of reducing reliance on broad-based taxation in favor of user charges. It reviews the economic philosophy of reliance on user charges versus broad-based finance and the findings of the public finance literature.

Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report
Source: Child Care Aware® of America

Eleven million children younger than age five are in some form of child care in the United States. The Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report summarizes the cost of child care across the country, examines the importance of child care as a workforce support and as an early learning program, and explores the effect of high costs on families’ child care options. This year’s report continues to expose child care as one of the most significant expenses in a family budget, often exceeding the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation or food.

Patient Engagement: Digital Self-Scheduling to Explode Over the Next 5 Years

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Patient Engagement: Digital Self-Scheduling to Explode Over the Next 5 Years
Source: Accenture

Driven by patient demands for greater convenience and more control, US health systems are adopting digital patient self-scheduling tools to differentiate themselves competitively, improve efficiencies and enhance patient engagement and satisfaction. A recent Accenture survey shows 77 percent of patients think that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important. A rapid explosion in use of digital solutions for DIY appointment making will radically alter the US health system marketplace over the next five years.

Accenture predicts that by the end of 2019, 66 percent of US health systems will offer digital self-scheduling and 64 percent of patients will book appointments using digital tools. Nearly 38 percent of appointments will be self-scheduled—almost 986 million appointments—creating $3.2 billion in value.

Student Loan Debt and Economic Outcomes

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Student Loan Debt and Economic Outcomes
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

This policy brief examines the impact of student loan debt on individuals’ homeownership status and wealth accumulation, employing a rich set of financial and demographic variables that are not available in many of the existing studies that use credit bureau data. It is important to understand whether and, if so, how student loan debt affects households’ economic decisions because student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt to become the second largest amount of household debt outstanding after mortgage debt.

Measuring Mortgage Credit Accessibility

December 16, 2014 Comments off

Measuring Mortgage Credit Accessibility
Source: Urban Institute

This paper provides a method of measuring credit accessibility that addresses several shortcomings of traditional methods. Credit accessibility is measured by calculating the demand-to-origination progression rate for low-credit-profile consumers. Using this improved measure, we explore several issues critical to credit accessibility including differences among demographic groups, changes over time and credit cycles, and the impact of government support for the single-family owner-occupied mortgage market.

Real Estate — The Effect of Listing Price Strategy on Transaction Selling Prices

December 15, 2014 Comments off

The Effect of Listing Price Strategy on Transaction Selling Prices (PDF)
Source: Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics

While true underlying home values are expected to be randomly distributed, actual residential listing prices tend to be highly clustered. Particularly, more than 75 % of the homes in our sample are associated with a round or “just below” round asking price. This study provides a theoretical and empirical examination of how the thousands digit in a home’s asking price is related to the final transaction price relative to its true underlying value. Our findings suggest that, on average, homes listed using a “just below” pricing strategy are associated with the greatest discount negotiated relative to the asking price. However, the higher initial degree of list overpricing reflected in “just below” pricing compared with other strategies more than offsets the greater discount. Therefore, “just below” is the most effective pricing strategy for the seller in terms of a greater dollar yield relative to value. These empirical findings have economic significance and are robust across both “buyer” and “seller” housing markets, new versus existing homes, and across multiple home price ranges.

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