Archive for October, 2012

Summary of Benefits and Coverage – the first step in expanding healthcare education

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment

In a recent visit to a doctor’s office, I overheard a fellow patient getting frustrated with the payment collection process. It is clear that more education is required around how health plans work. Whether you still have a traditional co-pay plan or a high deductible plan, the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (the “SBC”) disclosure is designed to aid in educating American consumers.

With all the changes PPACA has brought, the SBC requirement is worth noticing. If your medical plan renews after September 23, 2012, you should be aware of the new health plan disclosure requirements. All plan sponsors are required to distribute a single, uniform document which is easily understood and should be used to compare an employer’s health plan options. Read more…

Wind energy and the future of the Production Tax Credit

October 18, 2012 Leave a comment

What is the Production Tax Credit?
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides a tax credit for each kilowatt-hour of wind power produced by utility-scale wind turbines and is applicable for the first 10 years of electricity production. It was created under the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Critics of the PTC feel that the wind industry is stable enough to survive without subsidies, while PTC supporters identify the array of subsidies available to the more-than-stable fossil fuel industry. Supporters fear the credit’s expiration will create job losses and lead to higher project, electricity and insurance costs.

How does it affect the wind industry?
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), many in the wind industry are already blaming Congressional inaction on the PTC extension for job losses in virtually all areas of the industry. Read more…

Death toll prompts push for tighter federal regulations for compounding pharmacies

October 16, 2012 2 comments

The recent meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated injections has led to many complaints about Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation and oversight of the compound pharmaceutical industry. Congress has pushed for more authority over this industry since the 1990s, but despite attempts to strengthen regulations, the industry has been successful in getting most of those efforts thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. It has left contradictory court rulings and uncertainty about how much power the FDA has to regulate compound pharmacists. Reports say that the compounding industry in is a $3 billion business with 7,500 pharmacies.

Sales representatives from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham MA, the pharmacy responsible for distributing the steroid shots that lead to the outbreak, reportedly undercut Read more…

Scary numbers and mixed messages

overweightDo you ever get the feeling that reading the news and keeping up with new information can be a good thing (you stay informed, keep learning, work the brain muscles) yet the confusion caused by mixed messages can be a bad thing? Too much conflicting information can make you ignore everything. A number of recent items in the news provided both some scary numbers but some mixed messages that may make you discount the numbers. Hopefully, these mixed messages don’t dissuade us from addressing these societal health issues.

Example #1: One of our favorite annual reports was just released: “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012.” This is an annual report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and it measures both America’s obesity Read more…

Presidential election puts Medicare back in the spotlight

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Medicare is a prominent topic in the 2012 Presidential election and in last week’s debate it was in the forefront on primetime television. How did Medicare get such a coveted position?

The first reason is the Baby Boomer vote. More than 72 million Baby Boomers will be 65, or Medicare reliant by 2030. In the 2008 presidential election year, there were 169 million registered voters. Based on these statistics, Baby Boomers make up a significant percentage of the voting base for the 2012 Presidential election and they’re concerned about retirement and healthcare after retirement.

After we’ve determined that an influential and large population has a vested interest in the topic of Medicare, we come upon the second reason that Medicare has become such a controversial Read more…

Meningitis outbreak – who will pay?

October 9, 2012 4 comments

Reports of deaths and illness from the fungal meningitis tainted steroids continue to accelerate. With nine deaths and reports of up to 13,000 potentially at risk in 23 states, the wrongful death claim settlements will likely exceed $20 million. Tens of millions more may accumulate for injuries and new reported cases.

All of which begs the insurance question – who will pay the claims? The pharmacy at the center of the case is small, and probably does not carry sufficient insurance for all the likely claims.

That will take the matter into the dark corners of bankruptcy, contract and common law. Any insurance held by the pharmacy will most likely be exhausted quickly in bankruptcy as claimants Read more…

Art as an asset – now is the time for reappraisals

Investors, take note. While the future of the economic climate may not be clear, there is at least one market on the upswing – art collecting. While there’s no doubt that the financial crisis struck the art world hard in recent years, with famous art museums across the country saw endowments shrink and faced budget cuts and staff layoffs,  values within the fine art community seems to be moving upward.

Based on data from Artprice quoted in Barclay’s Wealth’s 2011 report Profit or Pleasure? Exploring the Motivations Behind Treasure Trends, last year marked the best year ever for sales of art at auction.  Large auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s both showed increases in annual sales and profits. Art investment has become a strategic way for many investors to diversify their portfolios and distribute their assets Read more…