Tag Archives: Health Care

Retirement Shortfall: Will You Run Out of Money Before You Die?

The retirement savings shortfall in the U.S. is about $4.6 trillion and Medicare costs will almost double over the next decade to $1.1 trillion per year. Here are some explosive facts about your retirement safety net. (Source: Bloomberg)

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Digital Technology gives People Power over Their Health Care

Medicaid cuts force hospitals onto auction block – MarketWatch

Medicaid cuts force hospitals onto auction block – MarketWatch.

This only opens the door for a grim look into the nations health care system and people’s worries in the future. Combining the dots in the cuts in health care and the consequences for people should make people think. In the big picture, there is no way we are saving anything with health care cuts. While Medicaid and health care related budgets might, maybe, be “balanced”, we are opening up  bottomless pits in other social services, from welfare to law enforcement. Much worse outcomes not even considered.

This is the United States of America, why again is health care not a right?

Why the U.S. is unable to follow a good example to accomplish debt reduction and prosperity

Following the daily news regarding debt reduction is a nerve racking event these days. Congress and administration beat each other in political gambling on the expense of the American people. Both have their interests and are fighting hard to come through with their agenda. Armadas of lobbyists, mainly on the republican side, are crowding the internet message boards and are promoting interests. For Main Street America there is nothing left than sit tight and wait. What will it be? Reduced medical services? Cut in Social Security? Tax breaks for the rich? Cut in government spending? Tax increase for the rich and corporate? Raising the debt limit? Improving infrastructure in order to be competitive? Programs for better education and workforce? Anything else?

Last week President Obama entertained visitors from Germany. While it is unusual for America to take a look at what others do, this time it seemed the German model caught some interest in the political writer scene and amongst economists (see link below). Taking a look at the last 20 years, it became clear that the Germans faced some of the challenges we currently deal with here in the United States. Infrastructure round up in Eastern Germany after the iron curtain fell, immigration issues for the same reason plus several wars in Europe and elsewhere, a spoiled population with no need to work, Germany being one of the biggest welfare states in the world. Looking at these problems and others and seeing what the Germans did, one is wondering on whether German measures could be used in the U.S..

The quick answer is no, unfortunately not. Political system differences (only two parties), different party donation rules, different take on the government’s job and, I am afraid to say, a lesser politically and generally educated population in the U.S. make it impossible to adapt the German program here in the United States.

With only two parties and the current “donation rules”, political decisions and actions are always in danger of being “bought out” by lobbyists. Donating $260,000 to one party and $240,000 to the other, as it commonly happens, can have an influence on political decisions. The winner of any election is barely the man of the entire population. Nearly the half of the population is always in opposition. In Germany, coalitions form the government and represent more interests of the people. Many Americans argue that the government needs to stay out of everything and “markets” need to do the sorting out. In Germany the government is seen, and is, the balance between different sides, regulating and steering politics and business. Some in the United States, “educated” by certain groups sound bites, would call such as “socialist”, “communist” or “liberal”, without knowing what the words actually mean. Many European countries have also understood, that certain groups of the population need help and support, for various reasons and that such support actually pays off. While the Germans have cut down on this support over the past ten years, those that now say “aha, here we go, the freebies have to go”, need to understand that, even with cutting down services, Germany’s social services still beat American social services, including health care, by far.

U.S. politicians need to find the right mix in their negotiations for debt reduction and prosperity, matching the people’s need. The priority in all discussions should be people. America needs tax income, more of it. That can only be accomplished when jobs will be created and taxes will be increased for the rich and corporate. There is nothing wrong with tax decreases for those groups. As a matter of fact, this is a must happen, but only after delivering their “social services”, jobs and investments. If the tax decreases are given before, the money goes somewhere else.

America is on the brink of financial default. It is important that those in Washington understand what their responsibility is. A good poker game is a good thing, gambling with your peoples lives, is not.

The German Example

Negative Debt Outlook and Budget Discussions

While following the budget discussion over several news channels, I feel the need to comment on this. Let’s step on the devil’s tail and focus on facts that are already established and need no discussions. After that, we can discuss actions our government and parties want to take.

  • The country is in debt! Deep debt! We are at a point that we can’t pay for it anymore. If you have children, look at them, they will have to pay for it. If we continue to do what we do, and that includes the stuff what they just came up with, we can start looking at our grandchildren to pay for it.
  • Our health care system is ridiculous! Over 10% of the population without health insurance! We claim we are the best in the world, but we are unable to provide health care and sufficient health care for ALL. If you have a parent that needs medical care and is struggling to pay for it, or needs to discuss for weeks and months until the provider finally decides to pay a share, look at your parent and think about what they did all their life that they have to go through this. Also, as it stands, prepare yourself for worse to come. If you don’t believe it, wait until you are retired, you might want to die.
  • Our infrastructure is in complete disarray and needs fixing and several new add-ons. Bridges, roads, airports, sewers, drinking water supply lines and lots of other stuff are closing in on third world status. We need hundreds of billions of good old dollars to catch up on that issue.
  • Our defense budget is the highest in the world. Not by a few bucks, but with great distance to the second we are leading the list in defense spending. As an example, our defense budget is 3 times higher than the budget of China and Russia together. Almost $700 billion!! Some of our politicians want to increase it by $5 billion. What is that for? To finance the checks? Our 3 most important allies, GB, France and Germany together can barely together reach a quarter of our spending.
  • The newest warning signal about “The Real State of the Union” is S&P’s downgrade of the outlook, which at one point leads to a downgrade in credit rating.
So, that’s quite a list of issues we have here (There are more issues out there, but lets just focus on those for now). With that, we can look at every single one and then discuss what we want to do with it. But first, let’s go over some of the ideas our leadership in D.C. came up with.
 
Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin came up with what he believed is a great idea. Besides others, he wants to cut taxes for the rich and affluent and cut and privatize Medicare. His idea is, if he cuts taxes for those that have enough money, they will reinvest it and it will bring additional tax revenue. Maybe. How about investing it before getting taxed, so that you can save taxes? Not so popular with the people who want to cut taxes for the above reason, because that would mean they would have to follow up with action, rather than coming up with “toilette paroles” and then cash in. This is what people do in so-called “high tax” countries and they do very well with it. Compare the economies in these countries with ours.
 
In regards to Medicare, some want it to go away. Health care is expensive, that is nothing new either. So, first they will cut certain services and then they want to privatize with the idea that it falls off the government books entirely. If its that easy, why don’t we outsource our defense completely, and pay some mercenaries when we need them? I mean more than we already do.
 
Our population is aging. That means we have increased health care costs in the future. Either we pay it on our own, or we get support from the government in form of Medicare or Medicaid. While there are lucky people amongst us who can pay for their own health care after they retire, the majority of us won’t be able to do it. And that is not a political phrase, that is just as clear as water. We might, as long as we don’t get sick or get sick and don’t go to the doctor. It is up to everyone to evaluate these options at an age of 65 and older. The old news in this case is, expenses will rise and with the proposed nonsense we will now save for health care entirely.
Health care is business. That means that those providers will increase prices for service on a regular basis. Not only will we face more people needing medical services, we will face the pressure of the medical providers to make more and more money. Not really a good recipe for saving money in retirement. The result will either be astronomical cost in well fare or a huge humanitarian crisis. Which one would you like? 
 
We need to cut our defense budget by half and increase taxes. With the money we save and the increased tax income we can tackle important issues such as debt cutting, infrastructure, health care and education. And while we cut in such drastic numbers, we wouldn’t have to wait until 2050 or so, to see results. The quicker and more intense we start, the shorter the period of “suffering” will be. On top of that, we wouldn’t have to take away important government services that we need in order to avoid a complete humanitarian fiasco down the road.

US Unemployment Rate falling to 8.8%

Good news from the job markets. According to today’s news, the nations unemployment rate fell to 8.8% with private-sector payrolls increasing by 230,000 jobs. This is the second month in a row that the private sector is gaining jobs by over 200,000. The results came in stronger than expected by economists.

While an increase in jobs is always welcomed, there are some indicators that prevent us from getting overexcited. Job growth occurred mostly in the service sector, mainly in health care and leisure. While health care is taking advantage of the crippled health care reform (no major changes for the industry), the growth in leisure indicates a seasonal rise. It has to be seen how the numbers develop in the near future to determine if this a seasonal spike or serious growth connected to a stronger economy. Also, government jobs continue to decline and could erase job growth in other sectors and put a drag on the overall job market.

Concerning is also the stand still in the average hourly earnings. With an increase in inflation that will leave less money in citizens pockets.

Overall, a drop of unemployment from 9.8% in November to 8.8% in March is a positive sign. The financial markets reacted immediately and rose.