Posts Tagged With: increase

Obamacare ‘bronze’ plan premiums expected to jump 14% in 2015…..


Obamacare “bronze” plan owners may be in for a shock next year. Investors predict the cheapest healthcare offering under the Affordable Care Act could jump nearly 14 percent in price.

In an analysis of expected rates for the biggest 15 cities in the nation, including Washington, D.C., Investor’s Business Daily reported Friday that the cost for the plan could increase by an average of 13.9 percent for 40-year-old non-smokers earning 225 percent of the poverty level.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/18/obamacare-bronze-plan-premiums-expected-jump-14-20/#ixzz3GcEgIXA4
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Up to 75% Could Be Hit by Obamacare Tax……


The so-called “Cadillac Tax” facing employers who offer premium healthcare plans to their workers already is affecting employees, even though it doesn’t kick in until 2018.

Employers say they have to get started bringing down costs now, The New York Times reports, so employees who are used to $20 co-pays at the doctor’s office and $500 deductibles are learning a new reality. Many now are looking at deductibles as high as $6,000 for families.

That’s exactly how Obamacare planners designed it, the Times story says. The intent of what is officially known as the Affordable Care Act all along was to get companies to drop plans that protect workers from the high cost of healthcare, which can lead to unnecessary tests and procedures.

“The consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits,” Cynthia Weidner of the benefits consultant HighRoads told the Times.

Still, the tax is one of the most controversial parts of the healthcare law. It imposes a 40 percent tax on the portion of a health plan’s cost that exceeds $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family. That cost includes what both the employer and employee pay.

Some employees are feeling the pinch already. The Times talked to a nursing assistant who had to drop out of school and get extra jobs to pay for medicine for her husband, who has cystic fibrosis.

“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” said Abbey Bruce.

“The reality is it is going to hit more and more people over time, at least as currently written in law, ” said Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Herring estimated that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade — unless employers manage to significantly rein in their costs.

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Precious Metals Market Update…..


As Americans prepare for Turkey Day, the threat of Washington “gobbling” up more in taxes could continue to weigh on markets. The upshot is that precious metals appear to be resuming their role as a safe haven in this politically treacherous environment.
Gold and silver have shown remarkable resilience to adverse equity market conditions seen since the election. Over the same period that the S&P 500 has fallen roughly 5%, precious metals have traded modestly higher.
Last week, gold and silver relinquished some of the prior week’s big gains, but have been building a strong base for a likely rally into 2013. For the week, gold fell $17/oz (-1.0%) to $1,715. Silver lost $0.30/oz (-0.9%) and finished at $32.37. Both gold and silver are up substantially this morning.
Platinum and Palladium dodged the negative sentiment impacting most asset markets and put on some gains. Platinum rose $6/oz (+0.4%) to end the week at $1,564. Palladium – the best performing precious metal during the week – jumped $20/oz (+3.3%), closing at $631/oz.

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Congressional Report: Welfare Spending Soars 32% Under Obama…..


Welfare spending has grown substantially over the past four years, reaching $746 billion in 2011 — or more than Social Security, basic defense spending or any other single chunk of the federal government — according to a new memo by the Congressional Research Service.

The steady rise in welfare spending, which covers more than 80 programs primarily designed to help low-income Americans, got a big boost from the 2009 stimulus and has grown, albeit somewhat more slowly, in 2010 and 2011. One reason is that more people are qualifying in the weak economy, but the federal government also has broadened eligibility so that more people qualify for programs.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, who requested the Congressional Research Service report, said it underscores a fundamental shift in welfare, moving away from a Band-Aid and toward a more permanent crutch.

“No longer should we measure compassion by how much money the government spends but by how many people we help to rise out of poverty,” the Alabama conservative said. “Welfare assistance should be seen as temporary whenever possible and the goal must be to help more of our fellow citizens attain gainful employment and financial independence.”

Overall, welfare spending as measured by obligations has grown from $563 billion in fiscal 2008 to $746 billion in fiscal 2011, or a jump of 32 percent.

The report from CRS — a nonpartisan service that provides policy and legal analysis to members of Congress and staffers, regardless of party affiliation — tells a complex story of American taxpayers’ generosity in supporting a varied social safety net, ranging from food stamps to support for low-income AIDS patients to child-care payments to direct cash going from taxpayers to the poor.

By far the biggest item on the list is Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor, which at $296 billion in federal spending made up 40 percent of all low-income assistance in 2011. That total was up $82 billion from 2008.

Beyond that, the next big program is food stamps, at $75 billion in 2011, or 10 percent of welfare spending. It’s nearly twice the size it was in 2008 and accounts for a staggering 20 percent of the total welfare spending increase over those four years.

Several programs to funnel cash to the poor also ranked high. Led by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Supplemental Security Income and the Additional Child Tax Credit (CTC), direct cash aid accounts for about a fifth of all welfare.

Mr. Sessions’ staff on the Budget Committee calculated that states contributed another $283 billion to low-income assistance — chiefly through Medicaid. Combined, that means the federal and state governments spent $1.03 trillion on welfare programs.

Richard Kogan, senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that while the dollar amounts for low-income assistance are growing, they are still about the same slice of the budget pie when viewed over the long run. He said the costs may have spiked during the recession but are projected to drop back to regular trends once the economy recovers.

“In short, whatever one thinks about the merits or costs of these programs, other than Medicaid they are contributing nothing to long-run budgetary pressures,” he said.

As for Medicaid, which has seen major spending increases, Mr. Kogan said even there it may be a savings.

“Medicaid provides health care at a noticeably cheaper price than Medicare does, and both are cheaper than the cost of private-sector health insurance,” he said. “The problem is not that the programs are badly designed — it is that the entire health care system in the U.S. is much more expensive than in any other advanced country.”

Mr. Kogan said that, despite the increase, the cash assistance figure was “a shockingly small amount of money” in the scheme of things.

“Virtually all the rest is in the form of in-kind assistance: Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, housing vouchers, Pell grants, LIHEAP, and child care vouchers; or in the form of direct services, such as community health centers, Title 1 education, foster care, school lunch, and Head Start,” he said.

Rather than straight transfers, those other programs provide support for services Congress has deemed worthy of funding. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or what used to be called food stamps; LIHEAP is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; WIC is the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program; and Pell Grants provide assistance for college costs.

The report comes as President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are fighting over the size and scope of government assistance.

Mr. Romney was damaged last month by caught-on-camera remarks in which he said 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government and see themselves as victims.

In Tuesday’s debate Mr. Romney blasted Mr. Obama for overseeing a 50 percent increase in the number of people on food stamps during his first term, which has risen from 32 million to 47 million.

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6 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2013…..


Social Security recipients will get slightly bigger checks in 2013. The Social Security Administration also recently announced several other ways the program will be tweaked in the coming year. Here’s a look at the Social Security changes workers and retirees will experience next year:

Bigger monthly payments. Social Security payments will increase by 1.7 percent in 2013. That’s considerably less than the 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment retirees received in 2012. Social Security payments are adjusted each year to reflect inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Previous inflation adjustments have ranged from zero in 2010 and 2011 to 14.3 percent in 1980. The average Social Security check is expected to increase by $21 as a result of the change from $1,240 before the cost of living adjustment to $1,261 after. Couples will see their benefit payments grow from an average of $2,014 to $2,048.
Payroll tax cut scheduled to expire. Workers will pay 6.2 percent of their income into the Social Security system in 2013, up from 4.2 percent in 2012. The temporary payroll tax cut expires at the end of December 2012 under current law.
Higher Social Security tax cap. The maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxes will be $113,700 in 2013, up from $110,100 in 2012. Approximately 10 million people will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.
Increased earnings limit. Retirees who work and collect Social Security benefits at the same time will be able to earn $480 more next year before any portion of their Social Security payment will be withheld. Social Security recipients who are younger than their full retirement age (66 for those born between 1943 and 1954) can earn up to $15,120 in 2013, after which $1 of every $2 earned will be temporarily withheld from their Social Security payments. For retirees who turn 66 in 2013, the limit will be $40,080, after which $1 of every $3 earned will be withheld. Once you turn your full retirement age you can earn any amount without penalty and collect Social Security benefits at the same time. At your full retirement age your monthly payments will also be adjusted to reflect any benefits that were withheld and your continued earnings.
Maximum possible benefit grows. The maximum possible Social Security benefit for a worker who begins collecting benefits at their full retirement age will be $2,533 in 2013, up from $2,513 per month in 2012.
Paper checks will end. The U.S. Treasury will stop mailing paper checks to Social Security beneficiaries on March 1, 2013. All federal benefit recipients must then receive their payments via direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or loaded onto a Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Retirees who do not choose an electronic payment option by March 1 will receive their payments loaded onto a pre-paid debit card. Most people already receive their benefit payments electronically, and new Social Security recipients have been required to choose an electronic payment option since 2011.

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