• Category Archives Health Care

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    This post was published at Harvey Organ Blog on September 22, 2017.

  • This $700 Billion Public Employee Ticking Time Bomb Is Only 6.7% Funded; Most States Are Under 1%

    We’ve spent a lot of time of late discussing the inevitable public pension crisis that will eventually wreak havoc on global financial markets. And while the scale of the public pension underfunding is unprecedented, with estimates ranging from $3 – $8 trillion, there is another taxpayer-funded retirement benefit that has been promised to union workers over the years that puts pensions to shame…at least on a percentage funded basis.
    Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB), like pensions, are a stream of future payments that have been promised to retirees primarily to cover healthcare costs. However, unlike pensions, most government entities don’t even bother to accrue assets for this massive stream of future costs resulting in $700 billion of liabilities that most taxpayer likely didn’t even know existed.
    As a study from Pew Charitable Trusts points out today, the average OPEB plan in the U. S. today is only 6.7% funded (and that’s if you believe their discount rates…so probably figure about half that amount in reality) and many states around the country are even worse.
    States paid a total of $20.8 billion in 2015 for non-pension worker retirement benefits, known as other post-employment benefits (OPEB). Almost all of this money was spent on retiree health care. The aggregate figure for 2015, the most recent year for which complete data are available, represents an increase of $1.2 billion, or 6 percent, over the previous year. The 2015 payments covered the cost of current-year benefits and in some states included funding to address OPEB liabilities. These liabilities – the cost of benefits, in today’s dollars, to be paid in future years – totaled $692 billion in 2015, a 5 percent increase over 2014.
    In 2015, states had $46 billion in assets to meet $692 billion in OPEB liabilities, yielding a funded ratio of 6.7 percent. The total amount of assets was slightly higher than the reported $44 billion in 2014, though the funding ratio did not change. The average state OPEB funded ratio is low because most states pay for retiree health care benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis, appropriating revenue annually to pay retiree health care costs for that year rather than pre-funding liabilities by setting aside assets to cover the state’s share of future retiree health benefit costs.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 20, 2017.

  • Really Bad Ideas, Part 4: Federal Flood Insurance

    As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaked their havoc over the past couple of weeks, several interconnected questions popped up, the answers to which make us look, to put it bluntly, like idiots.
    Why, for instance, are there suddenly so many Cat 4 and 5 hurricanes? Is this due to man-made climate change and is this summer therefore our new normal? The answer: Maybe, but that misses the point. There have always been huge storms (like the one that wiped Galveston, TX off the map in 1900, long before global warming was a thing), and barring another ice age there always will be. So the US east coast will remain one of Mother Nature’s favorite targets.
    A second (and vastly more pertinent) question is why we’ve been encouraging millions of people to move into this bulls-eye in recent decades. Since 2000, Houston and surrounding Harris County have added 1.2 million people. Since 1980 Florida has added 10 million people – most of them in the coastal corridor from Miami to Fort Lauderdale.
    Seems a little unwise, doesn’t it, to put tens of millions of people and millions of houses and cars where they’re guaranteed to be damaged or destroyed by inevitable future storms. But it’s not an accident. Government programs actively encourage this migration by picking up part or all of the tab for homes that are flooded by storms. The result: A massive and growing liability for future damage on top of all the other massive and growing liabilities for Medicare, Social Security, underfunded state and local pensions, etc. From last week’s Wall Street Journal:
    One House, 22 Floods: Repeated Claims Drain Federal Insurance Program
    Brian Harmon had just finished spending over $300,000 to fix his home in Kingwood, Texas, when Hurricane Harvey sent floodwaters ‘completely over the roof.’

    This post was published at DollarCollapse on SEPTEMBER 19, 2017.

  • To Hell In A Bucket

    No-one Cares… ‘No one really cares about the U. S. federal debt,’ remarked a colleague and Economic Prism reader earlier in the week. ‘You keep writing about it as if anyone gives a lick.’
    We could tell he was just warming up. So, we settled back into our chair and made ourselves comfortable.
    ‘The voters certainly don’t care about the federal debt,’ he continued. ‘They keep electing the same spendthrifts to office. And the politicians know the voters don’t care. They also know that making more and more promises is the formula for getting reelected.
    ‘Deep down, the aging masses know they need massive amounts of government debt to pay their social security, medicare, and disability checks. On top of that, many of the so-called gainfully employed are really on corporate welfare; they hang their hats on government contracts to fund their paychecks.
    ‘You know as well I do how this crazy debt based fiat money system works. The debt must perpetually increase or the whole financial system breaks down. The best we can hope for is that the ongoing currency debasement merely leads to a subtle erosion of living standards. That’s the best-case scenario.
    ‘But, again, no one except maybe a handful of your readers’ gives a rip about the federal debt. Plus, if you’re gonna keep writing about it you need to use better terminology. The federal debt has grown at such a rapid rate that standard dollar units no longer capture what’s going on. The debt numbers are so large it is difficult to distinguish between hundreds of billions and tens of trillions of dollars.

    This post was published at Acting-Man on September 19, 2017.

  • Which Countries Have The Most Economic Complexity?

    As Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, rvery country has an economy that is unique.
    In some places, such as the United States or Germany, economies are able to produce many different goods and services that get exported around the world. These countries tend to house world-class businesses in sectors like financials, technology, consumer goods, and healthcare, with companies that produce highly specialized goods like automobiles, software, or pharmaceutical products. Ultimately, these are innovative economies that can roll with the punches, creating growth even when prospects are dim.
    In other places, this level of sophistication is just not there. Innovation and knowledge are stunted or non-existent for most industries, and these countries may focus exclusively on one or two goods to pay the bills. Venezuela’s reliance on oil is an obvious example of this, but there are even many Western countries that miss the mark here as well.
    MEASURING ECONOMIC COMPLEXITY In 2009, a team at Harvard formalized a measure of economic complexity that compared nations based on the sophistication of their economies. Now known as the Economic Complexity Index (ECI), the exact measurement is complicated, but it essentially uses data on two main things to uncover the underlying level of economic complexity:
    1. Economic Diversity
    Measures how many different products a country can produce.
    2. Economic Ubiquity
    Measures how many countries are able to make those products.
    In other words: if a country produces only a few goods, that economy is not very complex. Further, if a country produces many different products, but they are all simple ones that can be replicated elsewhere, the economy is still not complex. See full details on the project here.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 18, 2017.

  • Mapping The World’s Most Liveable Cities

    If you want to move to one of the world’s most liveable cities, pack your bags and book flights to Australia or Canada…
    As Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, The Economist assessed 140 major cities worldwide on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure, declaring Melbourne the most liveable city in 2017 for the seventh year running. Australia’s second most populous city scored 97.5 out of 100. Vienna, the Austrian capital, came second and three Canadian cities rounded off the top five – Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 23, 2017.

  • Microchips Should Be Used As “Identification Tool”, Says Doctor With 6 Implants

    As we’ve reported, at least two companies, one in the US, and one in Sweden, have begun offering their employees optional microchip implants. In theory, the chips make life easier by allowing employees to effortlessly open locked doors and pay for lunch.
    In the US, 41 employees at a small Wisconsin technology company voluntarily agreed to be microchipped at a ‘chip party’ thrown at the office. At Epicenter, the Swedish company, employees hold parties for newcomers who take the plunge and become a cyborg.
    ‘The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.
    ‘The biggest benefit I think is convenience,’ said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter. As a demonstration, he unlocks a door by merely waving near it. ‘It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.’

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 21, 2017.

  • Barclays Installs Desk Sensors To Monitor Employees

    As we reported last month, a Wisconsin company called Three Square Market has become the first company in the US to offer microchip implants to its employees. The firm, which designs software for breakroom markets, wants employees to use microchips to help facilitate vending-machine payments. The firm wanted to use its employees as test subjects for their product. And though the program was strictly voluntary, it marks an uncomfortable beginning of a trend that could someday result in all humans being involuntarily microchipped.
    Now, across the pond, companies are escalating efforts to monitor their employees.
    Barclays Plc has installed devices at its London headquarters that track how much time bankers spend at their desks. While a spokesperson for the bank says the devices aren’t meant to evaluate employees’ performance, their introduction has clearly spooked members of the rank-and-file, who leaked the story to Bloomberg.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 20, 2017.

  • Where is Investigative Reporting?

    Folks, brain surgery is not routine. Ever.
    Further, you do not discover a blood clot in the brain during a routine physical. In fact a so-called “routine physical” in today’s world catches damn near nothing — ever — simply by design, since you usually spend less than 5 minutes with an actual physician. Granted, a Senator doesn’t get “your” physical, he probably gets an hour with an actual physician. But the point here, in addition to the vast difference between “you” and “Senators”, is that there is no instrument that a doctor has in his office that is diagnostic for a clot on the brain. Generally you find them on a CT (or similar), which is never done routinely because (1) it is relatively expensive and (2) it involves ionizing radiation exposure, which is never appropriate without a damn good reason.
    A 2 centimeter “clot” is of course inadequate to describe what was found, since it only speaks to one dimension and such a thing occurs in three dimensions. Second, a clot occurs after bleeding does, which leads to the next question: What caused it?

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-17.

  • More Ignorance from Rand Paul

    This is just flat-out ridiculous:
    As Paul explains in his letter, ‘While I appreciate the inclusion of Small Business Health Plans in the BCRA, I believe improvements could be made to expand upon this provision to allow for greater freedom for individuals and small businesses to pool together for the purpose of obtaining health insurance coverage.’
    Under the BCRA, self-employed people could participate in small business health insurance plans, but Paul wants ‘the language [to] be changed to allow any individual, including self-employed individuals, to form associations for the purpose of purchasing group health insurance.’
    Basically what Rand wants is two-fold, although this OpEd only focuses on one of the two points.
    This focus is on the ability for any group of people to get together and “form an association” to buy health insurance.
    Think about this one folks. It sounds like a good idea — your church, your civic organization, your local chamber of commerce, your homeowner’s association or scout troop could get together and form an association “for the purpose of buying health insurance”, then negotiate with various insurance companies exactly like a business does.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-09.

  • Europeans Are Dying For A Drink…Especially The Lithuanians

    “Everything in moderation” appears to be a phrase the Europeans are willing to ignore. A new report shows the average European puts away between one and four drinks a day, enough to notably increase the risk of colorectal and esophageal cancers. Americans drink 20 percent less alcohol each year than Europeans.
    ‘The majority of people aren’t aware that alcohol is a risk factor in these cancers,’ said Professor Helena Cortez-Pinto, a gastroenterologist at Hospital Universitrio de Santa Maria in Lisbon. ‘This epidemiological evidence is clear about the association.’
    As Bloomberg reports, United European Gastroenterology, a nonprofit coalition of specialists, analyzed data collated by the World Health Organization, which shows that Europeans drink more than people on any other continent, an average of 11.2 liters of alcohol per year – the equivalent of just under two drinks a day.
    Americans drink 20 percent less alcohol each year than Europeans, while the average African drinks half the amount. One in every five Europeans over the age of 15 drinks ‘heavily’ – more than four alcoholic drinks – at least once a week.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 6, 2017.

  • What’s The Real Story on The NY ‘Doctor’?

    A doctor who killed another physician at a New York City medical center and wounded six other people before taking his own life had sent an email to a newspaper blaming hospital officials for wrecking his career, the New York Daily News reported on Saturday.
    Yes, it was all the hospital’s fault.
    Let’s see what we know. The “doctor” was an immigrant; from Nigeria, it appears. Reuters “mentions” that he obtained a medical degree from Dominica, but doesn’t mention a few other things.
    Like, for example, that his name is a muslim northern Nigerian name. He apparently threatened to kill his co-workers, if this source is to be believed, and then carried out that threat. Oh, and he has three prior arrests, all involving allegations of various improprieties with women, dating back to 2003.
    It appears that he came to New York for the explicit purpose of carrying out this act; CBS New York says he was living in California, which certainly implies he went to a hell of a lot of trouble and this was no “random” incident.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-01.

  • A Totally False And DANGEROUS Meme

    There’s a meme flying around the last few days that has managed to “snag” a few people I know on Zuckerpig’s site related to vaccinations.
    I’ve seen two variations of it. One “features” a kid (but not an infant) who cannot be vaccinated because she’s immunocompromised and a “attenuated” live vaccine could kill her. The other features an infant too young to have been vaccinated against the evil (in this case, whooping cough.)
    Both are attempts to shame people who are “anti-vaxxers”, and take a shot at the autism claims.
    Let’s start there.
    There is no evidence that vaccines in fact cause autism. Zero. There are a lot of claims that said occurs, but there’s no scientific evidence for it.
    The “meme” is basically a my kid got screwed because of you evil bastards who didn’t vaccinate your kids.
    The problem is that the meme is false.
    Let’s deconstruct it because down this road lies a dangerous and false set of beliefs.
    First, there’s the explicit claim that “if your kid was vaccinated mine would not have gotten sick.”
    This is false unless every single kid is vaccinated with vaccines that are 100% effective.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-06-30.

  • Trump Goes After “Fake News” NYTimes, Slams Media Criticism On Healthcare: “I Know The Subject Well”

    One day after he repeatedly lashed out at CNN, on Wednesday President Trump blasted the the NYT in particular, and the broader press in general, for reporting that he is “not totally engaged” on healthcare.
    “Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare,” Trump tweeted shortly before 7am. “Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U. S.”
    Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U. S.
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 28, 2017.

  • US Is A “Second Tier” Country, According To Social Progress Index

    Most Americans’ idea of happiness involves lounging by the water or on a beach somewhere. But it turns out, human happiness can flourish even in freezing climates far from the equator.
    To wit, the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based nonprofit, released the results of its annual Social Progress Index report, which purports to rank countries based on the overall wellbeing of their citizens. Four Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway claimed the top spots, while the US placed 18th out of 128, leaving it in what the SPI defines as the ‘second-tier’ of countries based on citizens’ wellbeing, according to Bloomberg.
    Luckily, being ‘second-tier’ doesn’t seem that bad, according to a definition found in the report.
    ‘Second-tier countries demonstrate ‘high social progress’ on core issues, such as nutrition, water, and sanitation. However, they lag the first-tier, ‘very high social progress’ nations when it comes to social unity and civic issues. That more or less reflects the U. S. performance. (There are six tiers in the study.)’
    ‘We want to measure a country’s health and wellness achieved, not how much effort is expended, nor how much the country spends on healthcare,’ the report states.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 21, 2017.

  • A Surgeon Stands Up

    No, this is not the first thing Ramin has posted on this general topic, and no, it’s not the first time he’s gone after the real issue. It is, however, particularly poignant given the circumstances and worth a read.
    Americans pay four to 10 times more for prescription drugs than what citizens of other developed countries pay. It’s true that drug prices must be high enough to pay for research and development, but there is no reason that only American consumers should bear that cost. We effectively subsidize the generous national health systems of Canada and other western countries by allowing them to get away with paying much lower prices that don’t reflect the much greater R&D costs of the drugs they use.
    When I point out that I can reduce the cost of medicine in the United States by 80% in a single day without screwing one patient or killing one person by withholding (rationing) care I usually get blank stares in response. It’s utterly true, however; when you pay 4-10x — or even 1,000x as much as a market price for something that simply putting a stop to that takes 60-90% or more out of the cost.

    This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-06-13.

  • GE CEO Jeff Immelt To Step Down

    In a major shakeup at one of the largest US industrial conglomerates, General Electric said Monday Jeff Immelt, 61, would step down as CEO and Chairman, a move that had been expected by many. Immelt will remain Chairman of the Board through his retirement from the company on December 31, 2017.
    John Flannery, 55, the company’s current president and CEO of GE Healthcare, will take over as companywide CEO effective August 1, concluding a 16 years period during which the stock price of GE has barely budged.
    The company said that the executive changes are result of succession plan run by GE Board since 2011. Flannery joined GE Healthcare in 2014, led turnaround, increasing organic revenue by 5%, and margins by 100 bps in 2016; began career at GE Capital in 1987.
    The company also said that CFO Jeff Bornstein has been promoted to vice chairman.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 12, 2017.

  • Slow Emotion Replay

    I just got back from New York, and I have to say, it was a bit of an emotional trip. Without getting into too much detail, some of my meetings dredged up old feelings that I’ve been carrying around for the last few days.
    First, I want to express annoyance about these feelings. They’re not productive; they don’t help me do my job. They’re a distraction. I wish I didn’t have them.
    There are a lot of times in my life where I wish I was just a computer and didn’t have feelings. I’d probably be a much better trader.
    And that’s what this piece is about. We’re all human beings, trading and investing, trying to make money, but these things called emotions get in the way.
    Now, most trading experts will tell you to get rid of your emotions altogether, to get as close to being a computer as possible.
    Let’s be realistic – you can’t get rid of your emotions. The best you can do is to try to use them for your advantage.
    I am probably more emotional than most people. I have a tendency to get really happy or really angry or really sad (more here). I got a stomach flu a few months ago and spent a day at home on the couch, watching 6 hours of My Cat From Hell reruns (and crying).
    I have spent most of the last ten years trying to be as dispassionate as possible – but emotions still sneak out sometimes.
    So if I can control my emotions investing, you can, too. One of the first things to work on is your response to making or losing money.

    This post was published at Mauldin Economics on JUNE 8, 2017.

  • CropMobster: How To Put Your Local Food System To Its Highest Use

    The following video was published by ChrisMartensondotcom on Jun 5, 2017
    In America alone, it’s estimated that up to 40 percent of the post-harvest food supply is discarded, according to The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That represents more than 1,200 calories per day for every man, woman, and child in the U. S. — just thrown into the trash.
    Yet at the same time we have food access issues and nutritional deficits that result in widescale health problems and hunger nationwide, despite having more than enough nutritional calories to go around. Our food system is a mess — and it doesn’t have to be that way.
    In this week’s podcast, we talk with Nick Papadopoulos, founder of CropMobster; an innovative company focused on helping communities dramatically improve the potential of their local food sheds. Nick explains how CropMobster provides a platform that any community can build on to connect local producers with local consumers in ways that boost economic development, reduce wastage of food and other resources, and assist local hunger relievers.