|Dow||-130.01 to 17,371.64|
|S&P 500||-17.97 to 2,002.61|
|Nasdaq||-59.83 to 4,592.74|
|10-YR Yield||-.076 to 1.963%|
|Gold||+$15.10 to $1,219.10|
|Crude Oil||-$2.21 to $47.83|
The hallowed halls of Harvard University. That’s where many of the best minds in the world meet, and where future leaders are molded and shaped.
It’s also where many of today’s health-care policies were cooked up, championed, and (increasingly) defended. That includes Obamacare, or if you prefer, the Affordable Care Act.
These Ivory Tower experts told us the program would help cut healthcare costs. They declared it to be sound policy. They advocated for provisions like the “Cadillac tax” on higher-cost insurance plans.
But here in the real world, I can tell you what it has done for me personally — not to mention countless friends, colleagues, family members and authors whose work I read …
==> It has helped push up health-care premiums, something confirmed by our own Weiss Research data. My per-paycheck deduction alone rose more than four-fold (albeit from very low levels) this policy year.
==> It has done nothing to reduce co-pays or deductibles, which continue to rise.
==> It has increased red tape and paperwork problems noticeably.
|Harvard University, where many of the best minds in the world meet, and where future leaders are molded and shaped.|
And now, according to the New York Times, even the very Harvard elites who helped bring us policies like Obamacare are getting a taste of their own medicine. But rather than accept it, they’re in an uproar!
Says the Times:
“Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.”
Again, the very university whose experts said Obamacare would help control rising costs are now contradicting that argument. That’s a key point, which the Times expands on by saying:
“In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it ‘must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,’ in the form of the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced ‘added costs’ because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.
“Richard F. Thomas, a Harvard professor of classics and one of the world’s leading authorities on Virgil, called the changes ‘deplorable, deeply regressive, a sign of the corporatization of the university.'”
|“Our health-care system was a mess before. It remains a mess.”|
My take? Welcome to the real world, guys! Our health-care system was a mess before. It remains a mess. And there is no real world proof that the theoretical “solutions” cooked up over the past few years are actually achieving their stated goals.
Or said another way, we may be saving money in one pocket when we fill up our cars thanks to lower gas prices. But that money is being siphoned right out of our other pocket for health care premiums.
Am I off base here? Is your personal experience different? Are your premiums, co-pays, and deductibles responding the way the Harvard experts said they would? Or are you facing higher health-care costs these days?
And what’s the overall impact on your budget? Are you saving more from cheaper gas than you’re paying out in more expensive health care? I know this is a hot topic for many of you, so please head on over to the Money and Markets website and share your perspective with me and your fellow investors!
|Our Readers Speak|
Where is oil headed? The euro currency? Interest rates? Lots of you weighed in on those topics in the past 24 hours, so let’s get right to it!
Reader Brian said: “$30 oil here we come. It’s about time the working class gets a break. It may not last, but we’ll take it. The bankers can just eat cake!”
But Reader Jim countered with the following view: “I understand the initial elation at the prospect of $30 oil, but with the revival of the American oil and gas industry over the last five years, it’s not all good news.
“Here in North Louisiana, a lot of very ordinary working people are getting creamed by the current Saudi assault. I don’t see how taking money from one working man’s pocket and putting it in another’s is going to provide all this wonderful economic stimulus. It certainly has not in the past.”
As for the currency backdrop, Reader Tommr said: “When the euro was rolled out circa 1998 it was at par with the U.S. dollar, one to one in value. It quickly sank to $0.80 to the dollar. From there, it went on a sustained rise for the next ten years to around $1.60-ish. It would not be at all surprising for it to hit $0.80 again sometime soon!”
Reader Robert C. added: “I believe that the euro will go down more. I shorted the euro two months ago and I am making money on the trade. Europe as well as us and Japan have serious structural problems which cannot be addressed by the central banks of the world.”
Finally, Reader Klaus B. weighed in on Fed policy, noting the negative impact of keeping rates pegged near or at zero. His take: “I am no friend of the Fed in general, but the current ‘no interest’ policy hurts all senior cash and fixed income account holders. For those of us who depend on fixed income, this makes it very difficult to maintain any sort of lifestyle.”
Thanks again for weighing in! The Fed’s interest-rate choices have definitely caused huge heapings of pain over the last several years. And the euro decline has sapped the wealth of countless individuals on the Continent. Now, we’ll have to see whether and how policy changes, what with key U.S. jobs data coming out later this week and the ECB holding one of its most important policy meetings in years later this month.
Still haven’t added your two cents to the mix? Then don’t wait — the website is online and waiting for you!
|Other Developments of the Day|
Money for nothing? That’s what major world governments are enjoying these days, courtesy of ongoing global QE and fears over deflation and decelerating growth overseas. Ten-year German government bond yields slumped to a record low of 0.44 percent today, while 10-year Japanese note yields dipped to a record 0.29 percent. U.S. yields were dragged down as well, breaching the 2 percent level.
The U.S. economy may be outperforming its foreign counterparts. But the ISM non-manufacturing report we got this morning suggests that we’ve lost some momentum. The group’s services sector index slumped to 56.2 in December from 59.3 a month earlier. That was a six-month low. Factory orders also dropped for a fourth month.
The Midwest and Northeast are getting socked by a healthy dose of snow and a frigid blast of cold weather. Anywhere from a couple inches to a half-foot of snow … along with sub-zero temperatures … are sweeping through those regions (even as it’s … ahem … 80 degrees here in Florida!).
Nobody is going to accuse me of being too skinny after the holiday merriment of the last couple weeks, that’s for sure! But U.K. officials are slamming Urban Outfitters (URBN, Weiss Ratings: C+) for using too-thin models in their advertisements.
Once again, your comments are welcome at the website here.
Until next time,