Mark's Feed
Apr 26, 2012

All Medicare plans are above average now

CHICAGO (Reuters) – In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days, all the children are above average. In Washington, the same impossible math is being applied to Medicare’s managed-care insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes funds to pay special bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans offering above-average quality of care. Instead, the Obama Administration is paying the bonuses to nearly all Advantage plans, including a majority that are rated just average.

Apr 24, 2012

Is Social Security really “exhausted?” Not at all

CHICAGO, April 24 (Reuters) – It’s rare to see a federal
official publicly beg reporters to get a story right, but the
commissioner of the Social Security Administration seemed ready
to get down on his hands and knees at a Monday press briefing.
Michael Astrue was cautioning journalists not to scare the
public about the meaning of the word “exhaustion.”

“Please, please remember that exhaustion is an actuarial
term of art and it does not mean there will be no money left to
pay any benefits” he warned in issuing the trustees’ annual
report on the financial health of the Social Security program.

Apr 19, 2012

Consumer-directed U.S. health insurance surges

CHICAGO, April 19 (Reuters) – There may not be a consensus
in the nation’s capital on how to control the cost of health
care, but businesses and their employees are not sitting around
waiting for clarity. They are voting with their wallets for one
approach that’s already available: Account-based health
insurance plans, which offer lower premiums in exchange for high
deductibles.

Consumer-directed health insurance is a cornerstone of
Republican-backed market-oriented health reform solutions. It
will also be offered as an option to shoppers in the public
health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA),
if the law isn’t struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Apr 17, 2012

Law or no law, some states adopt healthcare reform

CHICAGO (Reuters) – If the Supreme Court overturns President Obama’s health care reform law in June, Americans without health coverage may get some relief anyway – especially if they live in Rhode Island, Maryland or Oregon.

These states are at the head of the pack in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they were working to expand health coverage well before the law was passed. If the ACA is thrown out by the high court, these states – and others supportive of the law’s goals – will keep pursuing reforms.

Apr 17, 2012

COLUMN: Law or no law, some states adopt US healthcare reform

CHICAGO, April 17 (Reuters) – If the Supreme Court overturns
President Obama’s health care reform law in June, Americans
without health coverage may get some relief anyway – especially
if they live in Rhode Island, Maryland or Oregon.

These states are at the head of the pack in implementing the
Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they were working to expand
health coverage well before the law was passed. If the ACA is
thrown out by the high court, these states – and others
supportive of the law’s goals – will keep pursuing reforms.

Apr 10, 2012

How to get the most from Social Security

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The trustees of Social Security will release their annual report on the program’s health sometime in the next few weeks, and the news will not be good.

The 2012 briefing is expected to show further deterioration in Social Security’s financial outlook, due to the higher-than-expected 2.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment awarded this year and a decline in the taxable wage base available to the program. The report is the official gauge of the program’s health – signed by three Cabinet members, the Social Security commissioner and two independent Congressional appointees.

Apr 10, 2012

COLUMN: How to get the most from Social Security

CHICAGO, April 10 (Reuters) – The trustees of Social
Security will release their annual report on the program’s
health sometime in the next few weeks, and the news will not be
good.

The 2012 briefing is expected to show further deterioration
in Social Security’s financial outlook, due to the
higher-than-expected 2.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment
awarded this year and a decline in the taxable wage base
available to the program. The report is the official gauge of
the program’s health – signed by three Cabinet members, the
Social Security commissioner and two independent Congressional
appointees.

Mar 30, 2012

Can Twitter make Roth IRAs trendy for young?

CHICAGO (Reuters) – While it’s not trending as high on Twitter as #oomf (which stands for “one of my followers”), the hashtag #rothiramovement is hot in the personal finance Twitterverse right now.

Hashtags help Twitter users track a certain topic, and the Roth hashtag is being promoted by more than 140 bloggers. Many more social media users are retweeting, liking on Facebook and otherwise trying to achieve a singular goal: to boost interest in Roth IRAs among young people.

Mar 28, 2012

What’s at stake if healthcare law is overturned

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Ordinary Americans have a lot at stake this week as the Supreme Court holds hearings on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

It is not clear what the outcome will be, and it is not clear where Americans stand on it. While two-thirds of Americans oppose the individual insurance mandate that is at the heart of the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform law, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, the polls also reveal more nuanced attitudes.

Mar 26, 2012

Turned 70-1/2 last year? IRA deadline looms

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Seventy may be the new sixty — but not where the Internal Revenue Service is concerned. People who turned 70-1/2 last year must begin taking required annual withdrawals from their tax-deferred retirement accounts no later than Friday. Yet it seems that some of these seniors didn’t get the memo.

Fidelity Investments reports that nearly half (48 percent) of its IRA customers who hit the magic number in 2011 hadn’t yet taken their first Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) as of late December. That percentage was up slightly from 2010, when 45 percent hadn’t taken RMDs by that time.

    • About Mark

      "Mark Miller is a journalist and author who writes about trends in retirement and aging. He has a special focus on how the baby boomer generation is revising its approach to careers, money and lifestyle after age 50. Mark is the author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living (John Wiley & Sons/Bloomberg Press, 2010) and edits RetirementRevised.com. Mark is the former editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, and former Sunday editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. The opinions expressed here are his own."
    • More from Mark

    • Follow Mark