Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Rules on Reimbursements from Health Savings Accounts

Source: Deloitte

Distributions from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to pay for a medicine or drug will not be qualified medical expenses unless the medicine or drug:

  • can be obtained only with a prescription
  • is available without a prescription (i.e., “over-the-counter”) but the individual obtains it with a prescription, or
  • is insulin.

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FRB Issues Final Rules on Gift Cards

Source: Federal Reserve Board

The Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday announced a final rule implementing recent legislation modifying the effective date of certain disclosure requirements applicable to gift cards under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

KFF Puts Spotlight on Medicare Advantage Programs

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Medicare Advantage 2011 Data Spotlight: Plan Availability and Premiums

This Medicare Advantage Data Spotlight provides an overview of recent changes made to the Medicare Advantage program and examines trends in plan participation, premiums and certain benefits. About 12 million people, or nearly a quarter of the Medicare population, are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, the privately administered plans that are an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program.

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Most Won’t Buy House Due to Economy

Source: FindLaw

In the current tough economic times, is the American dream changing, or fading away? A new survey says right now, most Americans are not interested in purchasing a home. In a demographically balanced national survey of over 1,000 people, FindLaw.comasked people if the current economic situation made them more likely, or less likely to buy a house. Most responded in the negative.

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Working in Retirement

Source: Families and Work Institute

Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon

Until recently, most of us considered retirement to be a phase of life more or less devoted to a combination of unpaid activities, including volunteering, caring for family members, taking care of ourselves and enjoying leisure time. Working during retirement used to be considered to an oxymoron. Yet, as growing numbers of workers continue to work for pay during their socalled “retirement,” this is no longer the case.

Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College partnered to explore the implications of this growing phenomenon—for both employees and employers. Focusing on workers aged 50 and older, we examine what it means to be working in retirement and how employers might best meet the needs of older workers, to the advantage of workers and the employers themselves.
Key findings include:
• One in five workers aged 50 and older has a retirement job today; 75% of workers aged 50 and older expect to have retirement jobs in the future.
• People work in retirement for a variety of reasons, including the opportunity to earn more money for a comfortable retirement and because they would be bored if they weren’t working.
• Those working in retirement are highly satisfied and engaged in their work.
• Using a number of critical indicators of workplace effectiveness, those working in retirement rate their workplaces more positively than those not yet retired.
• A significant number of employees transition to self employment for their retirement job.
• While those working in retirement work fewer hours, on average, than those not yet retired, the majority of working retirees report working full time and wanting to work the same or more hours.

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CRS Warns Against Significant Risk of Deflation

Source: Congressional Research Service

Deflation: Economic Significance, Current Risk, and Policy Response

Despite the severity of the recent financial crisis and recession, the U.S. economy has so far avoided falling into a deflationary spiral. Since mid-2009, the economy has been on a path of economic recovery. However, the pace of economic growth during the recovery has been relatively slow, and major economic weaknesses persist. In this economic environment, the risk of deflation remains significant and could delay sustained economic recovery.

Deflation is a persistent decline in the overall level of prices. It is not unusual for prices to fall in a particular sector because of rising productivity, falling costs, or weak demand relative to the wider economy. In contrast, deflation occurs when price declines are so widespread and sustained that they cause a broad-based price index, such as the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to decline for several quarters. Such a continuous decline in the price level is more troublesome, because in a weak or contracting economy it can lead to a damaging self-reinforcing downward spiral of prices and economic activity.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Health Insurance Consumer Guides for the Fifty States

Source: healthinsuranceinfo.net

healthinsuranceinfo.net carries Health Insurance Consumer Guides for all Fifty States and the District of Columbia, letting you know in a simple and straightforward format what protections you have, and lack, if you need to find individual health insurance coverage after a major life event like divorce, losing a job, or the company you work for going out of business

Go to Web Site

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Google Plans Alternative Price Index

Source: CNBC

Google is using its vast database of web shopping data to construct the ‘Google Price Index’ – a daily measure of inflation that could one day provide an alternative to official statistics.

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Estimate Your 2011 Tax Burden

Source: The Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation Projects 2011 Tax Parameters Using New Inflation Numbers

Interactive 2011 Tax Calculator at www.mytaxburden.org Updated to Reflect Inflation Figures, Republican Plan for Expiring Bush-Era Tax Cuts

Washington, DC, September 17, 2010 - The Tax Foundation has updated its 2011 income tax calculator atwww.mytaxburden.org to reflect new inflation figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, which are used by the IRS to determine tax parameters such as brackets and amounts for the standard deduction and personal exemption.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Average annual expenditures per consumer unit(1) fell 2.8 percent in 2009 following an increase of 1.7 percent in 2008, according to results from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The spending decrease was larger than the 0.4-percent decrease in prices from 2008 to 2009 as measured by the average annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). This was the first time there has been a drop in spending from the previous year since the CE began publishing integrated data in 1984 from the Diary and Interview components of the CE.	

Spending on housing and transportation fell 1.3 percent and 11.0 percent,respectively, contributing to the overall drop in spending in 2009. Healthcare expenditures rose 5.0 percent, the only increase among the major components of spending. Among the other major components, food dropped 1.1 percent, apparel fell 4.2 percent, entertainment dropped 5.0 percent, and personal insurance and pensions fell 2.4 percent.

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2007-2009
Percent change
Item 2007 2008 2009 2007-2008 2008-2009
Number of consumer
units (000’s) 120,171 120,770 120,847

Income before taxes $63,091 $63,563 $62,857 0.7 -1.1

Average age of
reference person 48.8 49.1 49.4

Average number in
consumer unit:
Persons 2.5 2.5 2.5
Earners 1.3 1.3 1.3
Vehicles 1.9 2.0 2.0
Percent homeowner 67 66 66

Average annual
expenditures $49,638 $50,486 $49,067 1.7 -2.8
Food 6,133 6,443 6,372 5.1 -1.1
At home 3,465 3,744 3,753 8.1 0.2
Away from home 2,668 2,698 2,619 1.1 -2.9
Housing 16,920 17,109 16,895 1.1 -1.3
Apparel and services 1,881 1,801 1,725 -4.3 -4.2
Transportation 8,758 8,604 7,658 -1.8 -11.0
Healthcare 2,853 2,976 3,126 4.3 5.0
Entertainment 2,698 2,835 2,693 5.1 -5.0
Personal insurance
and pensions 5,336 5,605 5,471 5.0 -2.4
All other expenditures 5,059 5,113 5,127 1.0 0.3

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

HealthCare.gov Updates Pricing Data on Health Insurance Plans

Source: HealthCare.gov

HealthCare.gov now has a convenient search for pricing data on health insurance plans. It currently has data on 200 insurance providers and 4,400 insurance plans.

Go to HealthCare.gov