Friday, June 3, 2011

Finally Friday Edition

I'm off to a slow start today, so I better get right into the news:

In case you still don't know why raising the debt ceiling is so important, Moody's has now warned of a downgrade of the US credit rating. That could affect interest rates the US pays on money it borrows, thereby increasing the debt. Treasury Secretary Geithner says a failure to raise the debt limit would be "lights out" for the economy. The Tea Party's Sarah Palin says she doesn't believe the dire warnings of catastrophe if the debt ceiling is not raised. GOP Speaker Boehner pressures President Obama to make an offer, although Tea Partiers don't want him to compromise with the Dems. And the Dems are pressuring President Obama not to give up ground on Medicare, which is something the GOP insists on destroying. Meanwhile, the President has promised the Dems that he will not extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy again. He also told them that the debt needs to be cut, but without cutting Medicare.

Americans are still using less health care due to the recession, thereby driving up insurance company profits.

And get this -- one of the judges that is supposed to be hearing the appeal on the health reform law next week is the father of a Tea Partier who campaigned and won on the promise of repealing the law. Can anyone say "conflict of interest," really?

Insurance agents are complaining -- still -- about the effects of the medical loss ratio rules on their industry. The MLR rules put agent commissions on the "administrative" side of the equation, which is limited to 15 or 20 percent of premium dollars. That encourages insurers to try to cut agent commissions, or even cut agents out of the process. Tough problem.

Investing in health care funds is a good bet; they're steadily on the rise. Assuming, of course, you have any money left to invest after you're finished paying for health care.

The Connecticut budget deal would create a value-based insurance plan for state employees, with no health care costs -- deductibles, copays -- if employees follow the rules. The idea is to make it easier for people to get health care as long as they participate in care management programs and so on. Otherwise, they will pay a little more for their health insurance. This could be a very interesting experiment, which builds on the experience of companies that have already shifted to value-based care.

And that, my friends, is the news this Friday morning. Have a great day. Jennifer

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