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Medical and Prescription Drug Deductibles for Plans Offered in Federally Facilitated and Partnership Marketplaces for 2015

November 26, 2014 Comments off

Medical and Prescription Drug Deductibles for Plans Offered in Federally Facilitated and Partnership Marketplaces for 2015
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Most health plans require enrollees to pay a portion of the cost of care when they seek services. While there are lots of forms of cost sharing — deductibles, copayments, coinsurance – people often focus on the deductible amount because it often provides the simplest indication of how generous a plan may be. A deductible is the amount that an enrollee must pay toward the cost of covered services before the plan will start paying for most types of care covered by the plan. Certain preventive services must be covered without cost sharing in all plans in the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces, and insurers sometimes pay towards other services, usually physician office visits or prescription drugs, before the enrollee has met his or her deductible. Still, people need to be prepared for the fact that they may need to pay the entire deductible amount out of pocket if they need a significant amount of care during a year.

The slide show provides an initial look at the deductibles for medical care and the specific deductibles applied to prescription drugs for the plans offered in the federally facilitated and partnership Marketplaces available healthcare.gov. The amounts are simple averages of the plans available (see Methods). The amounts are shown separately by metal level (“Bronze,” “Silver,” “Gold,” and “Platinum”). Deductible amounts are shown separately for plans where medical spending and prescription drug spending are both subject to the same deductible (called “combined) and for plans where there are separate deductibles for medical spending and prescription drug spending (called “separate”). Not surprisingly, deductibles tend to decrease as one moves from the levels with lower actuarial values (“Bronze” and “Silver”) to the higher levels.

The slides do not show the deductibles for silver plans that provide reduced cost sharing for people with low incomes (e.g., people receiving cost-sharing subsidies). Many people in Marketplace plans receive these subsidies, and would not be subject to the deductible amounts shown in the slides. We will be releasing a more complete analysis that has information for these plans and for the other types of cost sharing (e.g., copayments, coinsurance amounts) in the near future.

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U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — Subcommittee finds Wall Street commodities actions add risk to economy, businesses, consumers

November 25, 2014 Comments off

Subcommittee finds Wall Street commodities actions add risk to economy, businesses, consumers
Source: U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Wall Street banks have become heavily involved with physical commodities markets, increasing risks to financial stability, industry, consumers and markets, a two-year investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found.

The investigation’s findings, contained in a 396-page bipartisan report, add important new details to the public debate about the breakdown of the traditional barrier between commercial activities and banking. Included are previously unknown details about activities by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, including Goldman Sachs’ controversial management of warehouses storing most of the warranted aluminum in the United States. The new details raise new questions about whether such activities harm businesses and consumers and allow for possible manipulation of the markets.

See also:
Wall Street Bank Involvement With Physical Commodities (Day One)
Wall Street Bank Involvement With Physical Commodities (Day Two)

AU — Online shopping and potential changes to the low value threshold: costs and benefits for government, consumers and retailers

November 25, 2014 Comments off

Online shopping and potential changes to the low value threshold: costs and benefits for government, consumers and retailers
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

Australians spent $15.7 billion in the year to August 2014 buying online from both international and Australian retailers. Online shopping by Australians has increased over time, and is likely to continue doing so. A significant portion of Australian purchases online are from Australian retailers.

2014 CreditCards.com Penalty Rate Survey: The price of being late

November 24, 2014 Comments off

2014 CreditCards.com Penalty Rate Survey: The price of being late
SOurce: CreditCards.com

Those who fall 60 days behind in credit card payments face an average penalty interest rate of 28.45 percent, according to CreditCards.com’s survey of major 100 U.S. credit cards.

That’s down slightly from a 28.60 percent average penalty APR in 2012 — but still expensive.

For example, consider a cardholder who carries a $4,000 balance on a card charging 11.82 percent — the average APR for those carrying a balance, according to the Federal Reserve. At the 28.45 percent average penalty rate, the cardholder would have to pay an extra $665.20 in interest a yea

Losing the Future: The Decline of U.S. Saving and Investment

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Losing the Future: The Decline of U.S. Saving and Investment
Source: Tax Foundation

Key Findings

  • Saving and investment are necessary for a society to adequately provide for its future.
  • Saving and investment have declined substantially as a percentage of GDP over the last 40 years, and have collapsed almost entirely since the financial crisis.
  • American private saving barely keeps pace with total government deficits. On the whole, the country saves very little.
  • American investment barely keeps pace with depreciation; U.S. private and public capital stock and infrastructure deteriorates almost as quickly as it can be repaired or replaced with new investment.
  • The U.S., overall, does not save enough money to fund all of the worthwhile domestic investments and relies substantially on foreign investors to make up the difference.
  • Tax reform could help the U.S. become a forward-looking economy that invests and saves at more prudent rates.

Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment
Source: Brookings Institution

Student debt is becoming the norm for young adults in America. Aggregate student loan debt has more than tripled over the past decade, as both the number of borrowers and the size of the average balance have increased. Today, roughly 70 percent of American bachelor’s graduates leave school with debt. For these borrowers, the typical balance is $26,500—half owe more than this amount and half owe less.

The high incidence of student debt says nothing about whether taking out student loans to pay for college is a good idea. In a previous economic analysis Major Decisions: What Graduates Earn Over Their Lifetimes, The Hamilton Project examined earnings for approximately 80 majors and found that, throughout the entire career, median earnings for every major are higher than those for high school graduates. Differences in earnings reflect both the return to skills acquired in pursuit of a degree and the underlying capability and work ethic of individuals who pursue college education. However, experts agree that for most students, college will pay off by large margins over a lifetime.

But how easily students can repay the loans used to pay for college is another matter. While career earnings tend to grow rapidly for almost every major, student loans are typically repaid in the first decade of the career when earnings are at their lowest. Such a repayment strategy places a particularly heavy burden on graduates whose earnings start low before rising later in their careers. For these students, college likely still pays off in the end, but it may not provide the cash flow needed to easily pay off loans in the years immediately following graduation.

In this second economic analysis in the Major Decisions series, The Hamilton Project turns to the question of loan repayment. The analysis explores the relationship between earnings growth over one’s career and the relative burden of debt repayment across 80 majors. Specifically, we examine the share of monthly earnings needed to make monthly loan repayments for each major under the traditional 10-year repayment plan. Accompanying the analysis is a new interactive feature that combines a debt repayment calculator with major-specific earnings trajectories, allowing the user to see what share of earnings will go to debt repayment for each year of the repayment period.

Map: How Many Americans Could Lose Subsidies If the Supreme Court Rules for the Plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell?

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Map: How Many Americans Could Lose Subsidies If the Supreme Court Rules for the Plaintiffs in King vs. Burwell?
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

This map based on Foundation analysis of Congressional Budget Office estimates of Marketplace enrollment provides a state-level breakdown of the number of Americans who in 2016 could be denied financial assistance to help pay insurance premiums for plans purchased in the Affordable Care Act’s federally operated insurance exchanges.

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