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Archive for May, 2013

Nanoparticles – will they improve our standard of living or kill us?

nanoparticles-in-blueWhat would you say to a product that increases the strength of rope, makes blankets warmer or insulates our houses to keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter? Most people would respond favorably to a product with these enhancements. But what if it also contained hazardous minerals that led to serious health problems? In the case of the product mentioned above, the result was asbestos. Roughly 21,000 asbestos related deaths are estimated to occur each year. Some time ago the US Government made a prediction that more than 5-million Americans ultimately may die of cancer and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

Fast forward to today, where we are on the threshold of nanoparticles ready to remodel the way we live. What is nano? Nanoparticles are very tiny particles measured in nanometers. A nanometer is one millionth of a millimeter – approximately 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Read more…

Potential impact of Oklahoma tornado on property insurance market

oklahomaThe tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma is the latest in a series of massive tornadoes that have ripped through the U.S. in the last two years, causing billions of dollars in losses. While property damage continues to be assessed, insurance companies initially believe this week’s storm caused at least $2 billion in insured losses, based on preliminary estimates from other big tornadoes and analysts at Morgan Stanley. Replacement value of property within a mile of where the tornado struck is around $6 billion, according to AIR Worldwide.

The trend is a major cause for concern among business and homeowners in hard-hit areas who may not be able to afford repairs due to changes in storm policy coverage. Consumer activists say that due to the increase in severe weather and storms, insurers have raised deductibles and reduced coverage amounts, along with other changes to Read more…

El Nino and La Nina – are you prepared for hurricane season?

elninoOver the past decade there’s been a lot of debate over the topic of global warming and how much of an impact it may have on weather patterns, and how it may impact weather phenomena. Recently, Hurricane Sandy has been correlated to a hurricane on steroids by some, while other scientists and meteorological professionals have a slightly different view. Gerald North, climate professor at Texas A&M University states, “mostly it’s natural, I’d say it’s 80, 90 percent natural. These things do happen, like the drought, it’s a natural thing.” A lot of debate and a lot of questions remain when it comes to global warming. Over the years, as scientists are able to gather more data, hopefully more questions will be answered.

One thing scientists do have more certainty about is two atmospheric and oceanic phenomena called El Nino and La Nina. The former of the two is primarily associated to the warming of the water in the Read more…

New Medicare payment data offers pricing transparency for patients

medicare2Last week, CMS released hospital charges and the corresponding Medicare payments for the 100 most common diagnostic codes at more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide. This database has received quite a bit of press, but what does it really show us? In Massachusetts, we have 56 hospitals represented. Of these hospitals, it shows how many patients received the procedure, what the average price billed was to the government and what Medicare actually paid. For those of us not accessing Medicare coverage,  it may seem like data just for the sake of data, but in fact it can be quite useful to anyone accessing care at these facilities.

While a hospital may not actually receive the amount they are charging and your private insurance may not pay the amount that Medicare pays, it gives everyone a ballpark of how different facilities Read more…

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Social media use as a means to communicate with investors is on the rise at banks and financial firms: beware the risks

twitter_wallstWith the release of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new rules governing disclosure of social media use, an increasing number of companies are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with customers. Financial firms and banks are among those that are allowing employees to use social media sites on the job to post market updates and communicate with investors through tweets and status updates. Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc, and Goldman Sachs are among those on Wall Street incorporating social media use into their corporate communication strategies, granting stock analysts and traders use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in order to follow market trends and release financial information.

Despite the A.P.’s Twitter hoax last month, (which caused a brief drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after a false report about a bomb at the White House), social media use continues to expand Read more…