What people who don’t buy ObamaCare (ACA) can do to manage self insurance risks
Smart young people who don't have pre-existing medical conditions are deciding to self insure rather than enroll in hugely expensive insurance plans sold on ObamaCare (ACA) health exchanges. If they self insure, I think they should understand their risks and know how to deal with a huge medical bill if they are hurt in an accident or are stricken by an expensive illness. Some ideas:
Ethics • Health insurance • Community Rating • Health Insurance Reform • Individuals • Healthcare Providers • Hospitals • Read More
Colorado State Sen. President Morgan Carroll plots path to Eastern California
Colorado • Employers • Legislation • Politics • Education • Read More
RNC, GOP should not sell out to U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Business Roundtable
Republicans won't win elections with candidates who are just sound bite specialists and empty suits and who sell out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
Campaign Mgmt • Ethics • Trust • Health insurance • Health Insurance Reform • Immigration Reform • Taxes • Read More
Real fixes for ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act)
Congress and pundits are proposing shallow, ineffective fixes for ObamaCare, which is the nickname for the Affordable Care Act. Of course, ObamaCare is just as unaffordable as expected by those who read at least parts of the act and wrote about it in 2009 and 2010. I've written several times about how I think ObamaCare should and could be fixed if only Obama wanted to fix it. Here's my latest version, which I posted in the comments section of http://www.nationaljournal.com below an article: Why ObamaCare isn't so easily fixed, by Sam Baker:
Health insurance • Health Insurance Reform • Medicaid • Preventive Care • Medicare • Read More
Why are individuals’ health insurance premiums soaring on ObamaCare exchanges, healthcare.gov?
So far, neither President Obama nor Congress have proposed real fixes for ObamaCare. There is a lot of grandstanding going on while people who've been notified that they will have to find new health insurance plans sit and worry about what will happen after Dec. 31 when their current plans will be cancelled.
I'm pretty well convinced that Obama and HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius have the power to rewrite what The Wall Street Journal editorial pages says are changes in eight regulations so that insurers and state insurance commissioners can decide whether current health insurance polices can be renewed. Many states are trying to get insurers to extend the policies that have been cancelled as required by the regulations that were written as far back as 2010 by Sebelius. More states aren't going along with the Obama nonfix.
Putting asside the constitutional questions about the changes in the Sebelius rules, I have some more thoughts and questons:
Health insurance • Community Rating • Health Insurance Reform • Individuals • Preventive Care • Uninsured • Permalink
8 ‘defensive stocks’ I won’t buy
Like many speculators these days, I'm waiting for a market correction in what looks like an overbought market. At the same time I'm looking for defensive stocks and for opportunities to generate income by writing covered calls on the stocks that I might buy. So a column, What to buy as the market tops, Commentary: Is it time to bring back the blue chips?, by Mark Hulbert, caught my eye today. Hulbert writes for MarketWatch.com and has been writing advisory letters since 1980.
Rather than watch the Broncos, I've spent more than three hours researching Hulbert's defensive investment ideas for this overbought market. I found two almost buys (PPL, WMT), a hold (my MO), and four stocks and an ETF that I won't even consider (ADM, BAX, DVY, FE, K). (Actually, the ideas came from a source Hulbert quotes in his column.)
First, I put the "Hulbert's defensives) into watch portfolios on SeekingAlpha.com, Morningstar.com and StockCharts.com so I could look at their ratings, fundamentals and technicals. Then I checked out their ratings and dividend cushions on Valuentum.com. Finally, I read some analysts' reports.
What I found is that ADM, DVY, K, MO and WMT are overbought or too close to it for my comfort in this market. On point and figure charts, ADM and DVY are breaking out while PPL and WMT are below their point and figure price objectives. PNF price objectives are met some 70% of the time. Some are beat as with MO and some are undershot one way or the other.
BAX, FE, K and MO are above their PNF price objectives.
ADM, DVY, K, MO, and WMT are above Morningstar's estimated fair values for those stocks.
For example, the one stock that looks mildly attractive at this point, WMT, is trading at $77.96. It's point and figure price objective (not target) is $91. But M* estimates its fair value based on discounted cash flow analysis at only $74, while Valuentum's FV estimate is $77 with a range of $62-$92
Three stocks (BAX, MO, WMT) have healthy Valuentum dividend cushions. That means their dividends are safe and likely to grow given their current and anticipated balance sheets. ADM, FE, K and PPL have dividend cushions of less than 1, which means their dividends aren't very secure and have no room for growth. Smart dividend investors buy stocks of companies that sport safe dividends and the potential to grow them. Dividend history is not a good indicator of the health of a company's dividend, according to Valuentum.
If you're looking to buy a stock that is already down so much from its 52-week high that it probably will stabilize soon regardless of what the general market does, BAX is trading at 87.4% of its 52-week high, FE 83%, K 91.5%, PPL 90.9%.
For income- and security-minded covered call traders, the news is bleak. Using the rule of thumb that you write covered calls only on stocks with high implied volatility and stocks that have wide spreads between implied and historical volatility, I wouldn't write covered calls on any of issues on Hulbert's list.
Lesson learned: After you read about a speculator's strategy, do your own research. You might come to a different conclusion.
Note: I am not an investment advisor, counselor nor professional, and I am not responsible for how others trade after reading my blog posts. I own MO, which is a hold for me at this time.
Stocks • Covered Calls • Defense Stocks • Dividend • Permalink
Economist article casts doubts on scientific research on global warming, fracking, drugs, GMF
Those of us who've been very skeptical about the "science" behind Al Gore's global warming alarmism and warnings about fracking and genetically modified foods are vindicated in the Oct. 19 Economist article, Trouble at the lab. This is a must read.
Basically, the same 40% to 70% of high school kids who have told pollsters that they cheated on tests to get in to top schools also cheated in college and grad school and continue to cheat and cover up errors in their scientific research.
I've always believed too much in science and scientific research. But decades ago a scientist with a strong background in statistics and medical research abused me of my confidence in scientists' intellectual integritiy. Since then, a number of articles in the scientific literature and elsewhere by scientists have made me even more skeptical.
This article in the Economist only increases my frustration with the smart scientists who do dumb things and undermine our confidence in their work.
I've tweeted the following: Unreliable #research: Trouble at the lab. Must read. #cancer #psychology #biotechnoogy #drugs #clinical trials #NIH http://econ.st/19QXzFe and I've posted a link to the article on Facebook.
Until ObamaCare (ACA) law is changed, it can’t be “fixed”
Health insurance • Community Rating • Fraud and Abuse • Health Insurance Reform • Medicaid • Preventive Care • Permalink
Why advertisers probably won’t use twitter and probably should not
twitter just announced that it plans to raise about $1 billion in an initial public offering of non-voting shares to the public. The IPO announcement has brought out the sharks in the advertising and stock picking worlds. In short, twitter doesn't look like a very good platform for its members, advertisers or speculators. But a bunch of twitter groupies (angels) probably will buy the stock even though the company is yet to make a profit and its growth is slowing.
When I want to mini blog on politics or sports, I use twitter. When I want to promote a post on my blog, I use twitter and/or Facebook. I am a fairly heavy user of twitter (6,900 tweets) and Facebook for mini-blogging about politics, but not about stocks or products.
When I want a product review, I go to Amazon.com. Great reviews, lots of opinions. The writing is as good, in some cases, as you'll see in computer and car mags.
When I want to talk to my real friends, some high school buddies and Colorado Republicans, I use FaceBook, my blog and email, if not a lunch date, etc..
When I want to get into discussions about products, politics, sports, health insurance, travel, hobbies, etc., there is nothing like the good old fashioned (1998- ) message board or forum.
When I want to send personal messages, I use e-mail.
If I want to sell something, there's nothing like Google Adsense, eBay, Amazon, Apple's app store or Craigslist.org.
I just searched twitter for printers because we all buy them at one time or another. #printers is unhelpful. Then I tried a brand, and all I got was that company's ads. No conversations, opinions, suggestions, rating. I won't go back to twitter for that kind of information. Facebook pages don't seem to be any more useful.
So as a small business, I'd probably continue to use Google's Adsense, Craig'slist.org, Amazon, ebay and maybe LinkeIn if I was selling services.
For car, health and property & casualty insurance, none of the above make much sense to me as a marketer unless I' was trying to drive some traffic to my web site. I'd use TV, Radio and direct mail. Same goes for consumer electronics, foods, drugs, investments, etc.
What social marketers seem to be forgetting is that most people who write well enough to be comfortable on twitter, Facebook, etc., are smart enough to shop, ask questions, demand answers and use Amazon, eBay, Craigslist and the web sites of retailers and producers of goods and services. We're not going to be swayed or even attracted by banner ads, annoying display ads or marketers' trolls.
Marketers, of course, are under pressure from their clients to use social media, and they're pressuring their clients to use social media or be left out. The herd has been moving into social media for more than a decade (CompuServe, message boards, news and topic sites and then FaceBook and twitter.) To me, it seems they'd better be sure that they're not the lemmings who are being led to the last cliff.
But, then, I'm not in marketing today, and I'm old fashioned as a marketer and as a consumer. Retired. The kids are having their fun making money with twitter and Facebook, and they probably are helping some clients. But I keep thinking that a lot of clueless CEOs are being had.
Why are Americans and Washington bitterly divided? Big Government is Corrupt Government
Obama will call trillion dollar ObamaCare (ACA) a success; GOP will call it a failure
Obama will call whatever happens to his multi TRILLION dollar wealth transfer program that is known as ACA or "ObamaCare" a "success".
Republicans will call it a failure.
Consumers will vote with their dollars and their votes in future elections. Congressmen who are overwhelmed with constituent calls complaining about ObamaCare will have their opinions.
As one who was writing editorials and columns advocating competition in health care markets in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, the exchanges look ok until you realize that local markets are now monopolized by a few providers and insurers who have no reason to get into price wars.
As a believer in high deductibles for those who can afford them, I worry about the high deductibles for the subsidized poor enrollees in ObamaCare. I'm thinking we may see a new surge of medical bankruptcies as the subprime enrollees decide that they don't need to pay their deductibles just as they have used bankruptcy courts to get out of paying their medical bills.
Finally, the exchanges are untested and won't be secure, accurate and workable for months, if not years. How may people will have to be screwed and frustrated by the exchanges to get them fixed?
Who will fix them?
The government that still has millions of workers using 10-year-old PCs?
Health insurance • Health Insurance Reform • Permalink
9 tips on how to use your new state health insurance exchange
Millions of insured, underinsured and uninsured Americans are being told by President Obama to sign up for very expensive health insurance plans that will be offered on states' health insurance exchanges beginning Oct. 1.
As expected, newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and cable TV networks are trying to win some new readers and viewers by offering advice on how to use the exchanges and how to pick the health insurance plan that will be best for them. Most of them are and will be misleading consumers.
My suggestions, which are based on years of blogging against and about ObamaCare and reading numerous articles and comments about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), follow:
1. Exchanges probably will give more choices of insurers in urban markets than in rural markets where only one insurer may be available. That could make rural insurers more expensive.
2. You will have a choice of deductible plans. Chose a plan that involves deductibles and copays that you can pay off in a year or so at your current income.
3. Many state insurance exchanges won't be fully functional on Oct. 1, and nobody can predict when they will be bug free and give you accurate price quotes on your premiums, copays and deductibles.
4. Health insurance brokers and people certified as "navigators' will be as intimidated by ObamaCare as you are. Don't rush to signup. Give the exchanges, brokers and "navigators" time to learn at the expense of other people.
5. While the government is inviting you to lie on your applications about your income and other variables, remember that sooner or later the IRS will come after you. Violating federal laws is a big deal.
6. Don't believe much of what you see and hear on ABC, NBC, CBS or CNN. They are in the business of selling ObamaCare and making Obama look good. They're serving Obama, not you. The article published recently by WSJ.com shows the same kind of pro-ObamaCare optimism that should be taken with huge grains of salt.
7. Carefully calculate whether you can go wiithout ObamaCare insurance until you have a catastrophic financial loss due to a sickness or accident. Enrollment periods last only six months. That could mean that if you need insurance outside the enrollment period, you won't be able to buy it when you need your free lunch.
8. ObamaCare covers a lot of worthless preventive care and wellness care services for the worried well. The literature warns that such services too often give false positives and result in unnecessary procedures that could do more harm than good. But if you have pre-existing conditions that require wellness or preventive care services, use them. See my previous post.
9. If your health insurance premiums and deductibles seem unaffordable, Obama will be happy to see you stop smoking, skipping your daily Starbucks, canceling your health club and cable TV contracts and keeping your old vehicles for four or five more years than you otherwise would. And you really don't have to buy that new home, appliance, smart phone, computer or mattress.
State insurance exchange blind spots: Unknown risks and unintened consequences, by Seth Kneller. The Health Care Blog.
Will ObamaCare Survive? Nine key questions, by Robert Lazewski. The Health Care Blog.
Health insurance • Buying Insurance • Health Insurance Reform • Individuals • Preventive Care • Mutual Funds • Permalink
Wellness programs are being exposed as big time and money wasters
Al Lewis and Vik Khanna write on The Health Care Blog that corporate wellness programs imposed by clueless CEOs and personell departments have been huge time and money wasters.
The Summer of Wellness's Discontent, by Al Lewis & Vik Khanna, The Health Care Blog.
Preventive care, cancer screenings are costly and can hurt more people than they help, by Donald E. L. Johnson, The Business Word.
Employee Benefits • Health insurance • Health Insurance Reform • Preventive Care • Permalink
10 fixes for ObamaCare; Speaker Boehner has to get real
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) should include the 10 fixes for ObamaCare in the bill that he announced he will have the House vote on next week.
If the House bill doesn't include fixes for ObamaCare that are being demanded by both Republicans and Democrats, it's a political fraud.
1. Remove provisions that give DHHS the power to give special treatments to unions and other Obama Democrats, the power to dictate insurance premiums and premium increases and the power to manipulate health insurance benefit designs.
2. Remove provisions that are causing employers to shorten work weeks to less than 30 hours and keep their payrolls under 50 people.
3. Remove mandated benefits that make ObamaCare plans unaffordable for all but those who will be subsidized by the federal government.
4. Remove the "death panels" that will decide without political review what will be covered and what won't be under ObamaCare.
5. Ban state laws that will make it unlawful for small and large companies and unions' Taft Hartley plans to self insure and buy stop loss reinsurance.
6. Remove the corrupt IRS from the role of enforcing ObamaCare rules.
7. Remove all pork that makes ObamaCare a multi-trillion dollar loser. The real positive provisions in ObamaCare can be implemented for less than $20 billions, not trillions.
8. Remove all provisions that fund immoral, unethical and dishonest government promotions of ObamaCare to clueless consumers.
9. Remove funding for worthless wellness and preventive care programs.
10. Remove the 37 new government agencies that are created under ObamaCare.
Health insurance • States' Health Legislation • Health Insurance Reform • Preventive Care • Permalink
Walgreen will send employees to private health exchanges for health insurance
The Wall Street Journal reports that Walgreen will put its 160,000 employes on private health insurance exchanges where they'll be able to shop the offerings of several regional and national health insurers. The Journal reports:
Under Walgreen's new arrangement, to take effect in 2014, the firm will pay a fixed amount for employees to select coverage options in a private insurance exchange run by Aon Hewitt, a consulting unit of Aon PLC. The exchange will offer up to 25 different plans in some states.
Health insurance • Buying Insurance • Preventive Care • Permalink