December 9, 2013 |
The week was big for small business - and not in an altogether good way. On the heels of Black Friday came Small Business Saturday, a national initiative started three years ago by American Express to spotlight the commercial little guy. But before all the shopping hype kicked in, small business got other attention that week - from Washington. The Obama administration announced that an easier way for small-business owners to shop for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange would not be available starting in January, as originally planned.
December 2, 2013 |
As the Affordable Care Act wobbles into its second month, more people are enrolling on the Healthcare.gov website and learning if they are eligible to get a subsidy and what their monthly premium payment could be. Not everyone is happy, especially those who happen to be just above the subsidy cutoff. Some single older adults who don't qualify for a subsidy - the cutoff is $45,980 for one person - are pulling out dictionaries (it's a book older people use) and rereading the definition of affordable . In Southeastern Pennsylvania a silver-tier plan, which covers 70 percent of insurance costs, can carry a monthly premium of $575 to $1,012, depending on the plan.
November 30, 2013
Deal on Iran's terms Since 1979, Iran has been directly or indirectly involved in terrorism around the world. Given that record, can there be any doubt as to future Iranian intentions? President Obama says America should test whether Iran will keep its word. The negotiations just concluded over their nuclear program permit the Iranians to enrich uranium to a limited degree, but this will move them closer to having material for a nuclear weapon. The president does not need to test Iran's intention; this leopard will not change its spots, and the six-month test period will provide Iran time to assemble a dangerous weapon.
November 28, 2013 |
Sandra Khalil is one broke woman. She lives in a ramshackle house in Hatfield, has no income or health insurance, and drives an ornery car whose display panel flashes "STOP" in red when she starts it. Khalil could be a comfortable woman. She is a trained engineer with a specialty in biomedical engineering and an M.B.A. She spent 12 years working for drug giants Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. as a process engineer. She was on the fast track to senior management. But after a layoff, she traded the big bucks, the gilded health insurance plan, and a car with manners for a life of helping people without health insurance find care.
November 27, 2013 |
Come into city offices ranging from the Free Library to the Department of Records over the next few months and you will, in theory, be asked whether you have health insurance and offered information about Obamacare, including the option of getting a call from a specialist trained in enrollment. The outreach, described by Enroll America, a national nonprofit, as its biggest partnership with a city in support of the Affordable Care Act, will be announced Tuesday by Mayor Nutter. "It is an amazing way to extend the reach that we have in coming into contact with consumers who have no insurance and may be eligible for insurance in the marketplace," said Bill England, Pennsylvania director for Enroll America.
November 24, 2013 |
Almost two months after its inglorious rollout, the healthcare.gov website appears to be slowly recuperating. But even if it is 80 percent healed by November's end, as some public statements suggest, it likely won't be the promised seamless shopping experience where consumers can compare plans and prices and see if they qualify for premium and cost-sharing subsidies. Several websites have stepped into the breach and are helping consumers unravel the differences among the various health insurance policies.
November 22, 2013 |
Nearly a third of small employers will drop their health benefits within five years, according to a survey released Wednesday by Mercer, a benefits consultant. With the Affordable Care Act requiring all individuals to obtain health insurance, employers expect to cover more dependents. In response, some companies plan to limit costs by charging more for dependents or by eliminating them from their plans. Nationally, costs for health benefits rose a modest 2.1 percent in 2013, averaging $10,779 per employee.
November 21, 2013 |
The frosty weeks before the holidays were always the hot season for Andre Butler. He would head downtown, looking snappy in his "blacks and whites" - industry argot for tuxedos - to work as a bartender, server, or host in Center City's finest hotels. But postrecession, those parties have become fewer and smaller. The only reminder for Butler of those days is the constant ache in his legs and hips from the years of lugging heavy trays. He needs tests to pinpoint the cause of his pain, but lacks insurance or the money to pay out-of-pocket.
November 18, 2013
Perhaps it's a symptom of some dread disease when the news that more than 100,000 Americans have acquired health insurance - many having risked financial ruin by going uninsured for years - is greeted like an outbreak of the plague. But Obamacare wasn't designed to cure civic maladies - much less the poisonous partisanship that colors critics' views of the health-care law's admittedly bumpy rollout. As it happens, President Obama's landmark effort to extend coverage to many of the nation's more than 47 million uninsured has more than enough real aches and pains to contend with.
November 13, 2013
I'VE OFTEN SAID that money problems are the result of issues people haven't addressed or don't even know they have. One of those issues is scarcity - having less than you feel you need. This is the focus of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir (Times Books, $28). Mullainathan is an economics professor at Harvard, and Shafir is a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton. Reading it could help you deal with the psychological barriers that prevent you from having the financial life you deserve.