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Visit One News Page for Health Insurance news from around the world, aggregated from leading sources including newswires, newspapers and broadcast media. Search millions of archived news headlines. This feed provides the Health Insurance news headlines.

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    New hire adds depth to company's strengths in cyber security, systems integration, M&A

    RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (PRWEB) January 30, 2018

    Jon Kelly, a 29-year leader in IT systems and strategy, has joined CREO, Inc., a Research Triangle Park-based management consulting firm specializing in the life sciences, healthcare, and technology services industries. Kelly will serve as principal consultant, advising clients in cyber security, due diligence and integration of IT systems, and regulatory compliance.

    Kelly joins CREO after 12 years in progressively senior roles at CSRA, an IT services company serving US government customers. He most recently held the position of Senior Director, Managed Hosting Services, where he led a group that created full-service hosting and data center operations supporting more than 50 contracts operating under stringent Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) Moderate level requirements. He was a member of CSRA’s senior leadership team.

    Kelly spent nearly a decade leading IT due diligence during mergers and acquisitions, including post-merger systems integration, at SRA and The Constella Group, both later acquired by CSRA. Earlier in his career, he held a variety of technical, consulting and sales engineering roles at legal and accounting firms. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.

    “Jon offers our clients a wealth of experience to help solve their critical technical challenges,” says Mike Townley, co-founder and managing partner at CREO, Inc. “Many companies, especially those in industries such as drug discovery and clinical research organizations, recognize the need to strengthen technology, procedures and training for data privacy and security. Jon has built these systems from the ground up, and led teams that implemented effective solutions.”

    Kelly is excited to return to consulting, which will provide him an opportunity to work both with emerging companies and established industry leaders. “I am looking forward to putting my nearly 3 decades of hands-on operational, leadership and technical skills into helping CREO’s clients address their most pressing issues, using proven solutions,” he says. Kelly says he anticipates helping companies assure that their IT systems are compliant with federal regulations, including FISMA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the electronic records requirements mandated by the Food & Drug Administration.

    ABOUT CREO, Inc.: CREO, Inc. is an innovative management consulting and advisory firm based in Research Triangle Park. CREO helps its clients operate effectively, freeing them to apply their talents, pursue their mission, and realize their vision through a focus on effective operations and organizational health. CREO’s senior team of C-level advisors works shoulder-to-shoulder with clients to solve their toughest challenges and realize their biggest opportunities. To learn more, visit http://www.creoinc.net. Reported by PRWeb 1 day ago.

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    Dear Abby: My 25-year-old niece still lives at home. She works full time and attends college online. She’s a hard worker who doesn’t do drugs or engage in risky behavior. I pay her a bonus for every A she earns, and I also pay for her health insurance. While I gladly pay the college bonuses, I have misgivings about continuing to pay for her health insurance, even though I can afford it. She doesn’t make much money at her job, but she goes out to restaurants and bars often, attends concerts and takes trips out of state three or four times a year. When I was her age, I also went to college, worked a low-paying job and lived with my mother. Reported by SFGate 23 hours ago.

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    Amazon is partnering with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank, to explore getting into the health insurance business. Reported by CNNMoney 22 hours ago.

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    Health insurance industry could be shaken up as Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announce they're looking at joint venture in field. Reported by CNNMoney 22 hours ago.

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    World-class, affordable healthcare is a top priority for retirees abroad. Luckily, it’s easy to find and access in the 5 countries that win top ranking in the Healthcare category of International Living’s just-released Annual Global Retirement Index 2018.

    BALTIMORE (PRWEB) January 30, 2018

    Healthcare is one of the most important and hard-to-plan-for costs in retirement. For many Baby Boomers in the United States, it’s the biggest expense they incur in their “golden years”—and it can be crippling.

    But in the right places overseas, according to the editors at International Living, it’s possible to access world-class care for pennies on the dollar.

    The high level of service and low cost of quality healthcare has attracted thousands of U.S. and Canadian retirees to the world’s top retirement havens abroad. Expats in these countries praise the quality of care, reporting that physicians take time and often share their personal cell phone numbers with patients.

    They say, too, that they’re impressed by the affordability of healthcare. Prices are often so low, expats simply pay out of pocket. And health insurance premiums can come to less than $100 a month for a couple.

    “Our evaluation of the healthcare across the 24 countries we compare and contrast in our annual Index includes an investigation of the typical quality of care for expats, access to care, and costs for care and medications in the communities where we recommend expats go,” says International Living’s Executive Editor, Jennifer Stevens.

    “In addition to a survey of specific prices for a range of treatments, medications, and insurance, we also take into account the ease with which expats can access care. In the communities we recommend in all the nations that top our list, expats can find excellent healthcare at prices as low as 50% or less of what they’d expect to pay at home in the United States.

    “This is as true for medical tourists who simply ‘dip in’ to a system to get their teeth cleaned, say, or have an in-depth physical with tests...as it is for full-time expats who enjoy what they say is often better care than they received at home—for a small fraction of what they used to pay.”

    The five countries that scored the highest marks for Best Healthcare in the World in this year’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2018 are...

    1.Costa Rica

    Costa Rica claims the top spot in the Healthcare category of International Living’s Global Retirement Index, scoring 99 out of 100.

    Texan John Michael Arthur, M.D. has a lot of praise for the Costa Rican healthcare system. “When my partner and I left Texas for Costa Rica, many friends said, ‘Well sure, you’re not worried about medical care, you’re a doctor,’” Arthur says. “To tell the truth, that actually makes me much more critical of the medical care available in other countries.

    “Costa Rica has modern, state-of-the-art healthcare available to everyone. We pay $82 a month as a couple for the universal public healthcare system—after that, all care is covered and free.

    “If you prefer a second opinion or more immediate care, there’s the private system which runs about one third of the U.S. costs. I had a dental crown replaced recently with a new, state of the art zirconia crown—total cost $320. Due to a very complicated prescription, my last set of eyeglasses in the States cost me $1,200. Here I got the same for $420—and it includes a one-year guarantee.”

    Jackie Minchillo, IL Costa Rica Coastal Correspondent, lives in the beach town of Tamarindo, on the Pacific coast. She enjoys the choice of medical options available in Costa Rica.

    “My experiences with the doctors since moving to Costa Rica have continually, pleasantly surprised me. There's a wide array of options to combine the public healthcare system with private options once you're a resident. And even before you are a resident, access to private healthcare is high quality and affordable to pay for out of your pocket.

    “I had bronchitis just before the holidays last year. I walked into a private clinic with no appointment and was seen right away. I paid $80, which covered my visit and the prescribed antibiotics and I was back home resting within an hour.

    “Another thing that I really love has been the access to variety of alternative healthcare practitioners that seem to flock to Costa Rica. I work out a lot and I've found incredible sports massage therapists who offer deep tissue massages for $40 per hour. In the States, I could never see a reputable traditional physical therapist or masseuse for muscle soreness or sports injuries for that price.”

    2.Malaysia

    Malaysia attracts many retires for affordable, high-quality healthcare. All the doctors speak English and most were trained in the UK, U.S., or Australia so they are familiar with Western standards of care.

    Many of the hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and Penang are Joint Commission International accredited, meaning that they are considered to meet the gold standard in healthcare throughout the globe.

    Malaysia is second from the top in the Healthcare category with a score of 94.

    Penang offers a world-class medical care, which expat Larry John experienced when he suffered a frozen shoulder. “I was unable to rotate my arm without feeling incredible pain,” says John. “In Canada, it would take at least three months to see a specialist.”

    But in Penang he walked into the hospital and saw one. After the initial exam, he made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed the problem as a frozen shoulder.

    “At 7 a.m. the next morning, I checked in for out-patient care and was put under general anesthesia, while the surgeon rotated the arm to loosen the frozen ligaments. The procedure itself took only minutes and I was very impressed with all the staff and the doctor from the time of check-in to check-out.”

    In two days, Mr. John resolved the issue without surgery and the total cost was just $1,167. To aid in the healing process, he went to a local physucal therapist for a couple of hours of therapy and home exercises. Each session was only $14 to $16.

    3.Colombia

    Many retirees have been drawn to Colombia’s top-class healthcare with five of Colombia’s hospitals being JCI accredited, the gold standard in world healthcare.

    There are many excellent hospitals and clinics all around Colombia which offer services from routine office visits and testing, to complex procedures such as joint replacements, organ transplants, ICU services, and cancer treatment—bringing Colombia into third place with a score of 93.

    “As a retired healthcare executive, I know what I’m talking about when I say that the quality of care for expats in Colombia is excellent,” says International Living’s Colombia Correspondent, Nancy Kiernan.

    Kiernan lives in Medellin with her husband Mike and says, “I have had laboratory tests, a mammogram, tests for cervical cancer, and a biopsy. In each case, the process was quick, the facilities were state-of-the-art, and most of the results were available online within a day or two.”

    These sentiments are shared by Curt Noe, a retired traffic engineer from New Jersey, who moved to Medellín in 2007. “I arrived with a pre-existing condition of cancer,” he states. “I expected to have a problem getting health insurance here and was pleasantly surprised that I was completely covered by the national health plan (EPS) after only a six-month waiting period.”

    During his first few years in Medellín, Curt flew back to the U.S. for second opinions and follow-up appointments. “I realized I didn’t need to spend the money to do that, after my U.S. doctors said that the care I am receiving in Medellín is on par with what they would do.”

    (Mexico and Panama are tied for fourth place in the Annual Global Retirement Index 2018 Healthcare Category with a score of 90.)

    4. Mexico(Tie)

    In Mexico, every medium to large city has at least one first-rate hospital. And a big plus, most doctors and dentists in Mexico received at least part of their training in the U.S.

    “When I moved to Mexico, one piece of emotional baggage I left behind in the U.S. was worry over the cost of healthcare,” says International Living ’s Mexico Editor, Glynna Prentice.

    “In Mexico, I have access to two affordable healthcare systems: public and private. In Mexico’s private healthcare system, costs—pretty much across the board—run 25% to 50% of U.S. costs for comparable services. And as a legal resident in Mexico, I also have access to Mexico’s public healthcare system, which runs most people around $300 to $400 or so a year—or less,” says Prentice, one of an estimated 1 million Americans now living in Mexico.

    She’s not alone in finding good healthcare in Mexico.

    Expat Kate Barron, who lives in Mérida, Mexico says that she visited one of the city’s top allergy specialists. “He was great, on time, and cheap,” she says. The cost: about $35. For quick treatment of minor ailments, you can also get a walk-in appointment with doctors on staff at discount pharmacies.”

    4. Panama(Tie)

    Panama provides good quality, affordable healthcare with clinics and hospitals tactically located in hubs across the country. And since the country is so small, it’s unlikely retirees will be more than an hour from a modern facility.

    “I’ve been in Panama for over 10 years now and sometimes I forget just how good we have it until I go back to the States and see some of the prices,” says Jessica Ramesch, International Living Panama Editor.

    “Though of course costs go up over time—everywhere—I am still spending around 50% less on doctor’s consults and dental appointments than my friends back in the States. Recently, my dentist spent two and a half hours with me and charged me just $50. I got a filling replaced and she x-rayed it afterward to make sure everything looked good. We chatted for a good 20 minutes afterward, as well. That’s how people are here. Providers spend time with you, give you their cell phone number…often they become friends."

    Maine-native Katherine Gallimore speaks just as highly of the healthcare offered in Panama. “I had surgery not long ago with an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor. The care and service were excellent and my out-of-pocket cost was only $900. And, as usual, the doctor gave me her personal cell phone number in case I needed to reach her.”

    More details on the top five countries in the Healthcare category of the Annual Global Retirement Index 2018 can be found here: 5 Countries with the Best Healthcare in the World

    Editor's Note: Members of the media have permission to republish the article linked above once credit is given to InternationalLiving.com.
    Further information, as well as interviews with expert authors for radio, TV or print, is available on request. Photos are also available.

    For information about InternationalLiving.com content republishing, source material or to book an interview with one of our experts, contact PR Managing Editor, Marita Kelly, +001 667 312 3532, mkelly@internationalliving.com
    Twitter: @inliving
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/International.Living/

    About International Living

    For 37 years, InternationalLiving.com has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving.com provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. InternationalLiving.com has more than 200 correspondents traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment. Reported by PRWeb 22 hours ago.

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    What we know about the new healthcare company Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway are forming (AMZN) · *Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are teaming up to form an independent venture that'll be focused on healthcare for their US employees. *
    · *The venture will be nonprofit, and its initial focus will be on technology solutions, the companies said in a press release.*
    · *Beyond that, we don't have many details about whether that means the companies will team up to form a health insurance plan, or another way to tackle healthcare spending. *

    --------------------It's official: Amazon is getting into healthcare. 

    Amazon, along with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan, are teaming up to form an independent venture that'll be focused on healthcare for their US employees. 

    "The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, the first time he's addressed the company's healthcare interests since news the online retail giant was making moves to potentially enter the sector bubbled up in 2017. "Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation."

    *Here's what we know about the new venture*

    · The new independent company will be nonprofit.
    · To start, the focus of the company will be on technology solutions that will provide "simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost."
    · The venture will be geared toward employees of the three companies, rather than healthcare consumers overall in the US, though JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said that potentially, all Americans could benefit. 
    · The hope is to lower the cost of healthcare while at the same time improving health outcomes and patient experiences.

    Beyond that, there aren't a lot of specifics about how the three companies will reach the goal of lowering costs and improving outcomes.

    "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable," Buffett said in the release. 

    In its initial stages, the venture will be led by Berkshire Hathaway investment officer Todd Combs, JPMorgan managing director Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, and Amazon senior vice president Beth Galetti.

    Combs has been frequently cited as Buffett's potential successor and also serves as a board member at JPMorgan. Sullivan Berchtold joined JPMorgan in August 2017, according to her LinkedIn page. Prior to working at JPMorgan, she was the global head of mergers and acquisitions at the pharmaceutical giant Novartis. Galetti is the senior vice president of human resources at Amazon, according to LinkedIn. 

    It's still unclear whether the joint venture will create its own health plan, or if it will take another approach to tackling healthcare costs for employers. Even so, the news was enough to send healthcare stocks — especially pharmaceutical supply chain members and health insurers — plummeting on Tuesday morning. 

    The companies also noted that more details about the venture will be announced later, including where it will be based. 

    *SEE ALSO: The entire healthcare business is being redrawn — and it's anybody's guess what's going to happen next*

    *DON'T MISS: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan are creating a new healthcare company to tackle the 'hungry tapeworm' of rising costs*

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Netflix is headed for a huge profit milestone in 2018 Reported by Business Insider 21 hours ago.

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    Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and Chase to Form Health Care Company Amazon is linking up with the world’s most prominent investor and the country’s biggest bank to tackle health care.

    The tech giant, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase jointly announced on Tuesday that they’re forming an independent company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,”  in an effort to provide American workers with better health insurance.

    “The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement.  “Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

    *Also Read:* Amazon Prime Monthly Membership Just Jumped 18 Percent

    Details were sparse for the unnamed partnership, but the companies will leverage “technology solutions” to drive down costs, according to the joint statement.

    “The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable,” added Buffett. “Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.”

    The cost of the new operation wasn’t disclosed, and there was no mention of when it would roll out to workers beyond those tied to the three companies.

    *Also Read:* Amazon Pulls 'Slavery Gets S-- Done' Merchandise

    “Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their health care,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. “The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans.”

    *Related stories from TheWrap:*

    Amazon Pulls 'Slavery Gets S— Done' Merchandise

    Amazon Prime Monthly Membership Just Jumped 18 Percent

    Will Amazon Add Target to Its Cart in 2018? Reported by The Wrap 17 hours ago.

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    Three of corporate America’s heaviest hitters — Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase — sent a shudder through the health insurance industry Tuesday when they announced plans to jointly create a company to provide their employees with high-quality, affordable care. The announcement was short on details about precisely what the independent company will do. But given the three companies’ outsize influence — and Amazon’s ability to transform just about everything it touches — the alliance has the potential to shake up how Americans shop for health care, and the stocks of insurance companies, drug distributors and others slumped in reaction. Reported by SFGate 13 hours ago.

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    The link between capitalism and drugs reaches back to the middle of the 19th century, when the British Empire forced their surplus opium crop from their South Asian colonies into the Chinese market creating massive demand from millions of addicts. In the 21st century, a similar process of deterioration has been occurring internally in the United States.

    By James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya

    *Introduction*

    The link between capitalism and drugs reaches back to the middle of the 19th century, when the British Empire forced their surplus opium crop from their South Asian colonies into the Chinese market creating massive demand from millions of addicts. The Chinese government, which had banned the use and sale of opium, was alarmed at the growing social chaos created by mass addiction and went to war with the Western powers to halt the flood of drugs. Their defeat at the hands of the British and their Chinese drug lord allies opened China to massive exploitation and pillage for the next century. Chinese opium addicts were a tremendous obstacle to organizing national resistance. In essence, the British East India Company and its imperial protectors transformed China into the history’s largest ‘shithole’ – until an earth-shattering revolution broke the chains of addiction and degradation.

    In the 21st century, a similar process of deterioration has been occurring internally in the United States. The ‘prescription opioid epidemic’ is ravaging American families, neighborhoods, communities, cities and states – shredding the entire fabric of US society, especially in rural, mining and former manufacturing ‘rust belt’ regions.

    Hundreds of thousands of mostly working class victims have died and millions of addicts, unable to resist the destruction of their futures, have replaced a once powerful labor force.

    Official government studies estimate almost 700,000 deaths since 1999, based on the scattered and incomplete coroner reports and death certificates that characterize the state of vital statistics in the US. There is no uniformity in data collection and no interest in developing a uniform national system on which to formulate social policies.

    Most likely additional hundreds of thousands of drug deaths have gone un-recorded or attributed to ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, suicides and accidents – despite clear evidence of over-prescription of narcotics and sedatives in the victims.

    The US opioid epidemic accounts in large part for the ‘declining numbers of workforce participants among prime age workers’ according to Senate testimony by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, an Obama appointee. An estimated 15% of US construction workers suffer from substance abuse. The escalating costs of ‘Suboxone’ and other forms of narcotic addiction treatment threaten to bankrupt the health plans of several building unions. Shortages of qualified American skilled building trade workers further allow employers to push for more immigrant labor to fill the gap.

    For over 2 decades the escalating numbers of opioid overdose deaths were ignored by both political parties, as well as by writers and academics of the left and right. Doctors and hospital administrators were either actively complicit or in denial. But more important the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) continued to approve manufacture, marketing and prescribing of highly addictive narcotics and sedatives to tens of millions of American patients earning the pharmaceutical industry scores of billions in profits despite the devastation. Between 1999-2014 pharmaceutical manufacturers were earning $10 billion dollars each year in profits from the sale and distribution of opiates.

    In the following section, we will discuss the larger picture, including the powerful socio-economic and political forces that have profited from the addiction and killing of millions of Americans – past and present. This deliberate policy, with strong neo- Malthusian overtones, has decimated a sector of the US working class, rendered ‘surplus’ or redundant by political-economic decisions of the American ruling elite. In its wake, the prescription addiction crisis has turned large swathes of the former manufacturing and mining sectors of the US into what the current President Donald Trump would characterize as domestic ‘shitholes’ and populated by what his rival, Hillary Clinton, callously derided as ‘deplorables’. In terms of rapid loss of life and social stability, this population devastation mirrors the patterns seen in countries subjected to US/EU neo- liberal economic dictates or to US/EU imperial invasions.

    *The Addiction Power Elite*

    Today there is a public frenzy among government officials clamoring for hearings and legislation to address the opioid addiction crisis – with the usual solutions of more imprisonment, expensive private addiction treatment centers, volunteer ‘support groups’, self-help courses and educational ‘Just Say No’ campaigns. No policy maker has dared suggest educating the victims about the socio-economic trends and elite decisions that devastated their lives and communities and sent them onto the death spiral of addiction.

    Recently a few leftist journalists have attacked the pharmaceutical industry, while others have cited the lack of oversight from the US-Federal Drug Administration, asking for a few tepid reforms. The former FDA Administrator David Kessler, who served under the Clinton Regime from 1990 to 1997, belatedly condemned his agency’s negligence over the mass destruction caused by unregulated prescription of powerful narcotics, which he admitted after 10 years of silence was ‘one of the biggest mistakes in the history of modern medicine’,(editorial NYT May 6, 2016).

    While hundreds of thousands of Americans have been killed by opioids and hundreds more are dying every day (at least 65,000 in 2016), the US Left and the Democratic Party focus on narrow gender identity issues and cartoonish hearing over ‘Russiagate’ – Moscow’s alleged plot to seize control of the US Presidential election. While touting her experience in health care reform, Candidate Hillary Clinton deliberately ignored the opioid addiction crisis during her campaign except to characterize its largely white lower class victims as ‘deplorables’ – ignorant racists and buffoons – whom she implied deserved their misery and shortened lives.

    The ‘drug epidemic’ in the US is all about the current structure of power and social relations in an increasingly oligarchic state amidst growing class inequalities and immiseration. At its roots, American capitalism in the 21st Century has degraded, impoverished and exploited US workers and employees with increasing intensity over the past two decades. Workers have lost almost all collective influence in the workplace and in politics. Working conditions and safety have deteriorated – while capitalists hire and fire at will. Salaries, pensions, health care and death benefits have been slashed or disappeared.

    The deterioration of working conditions is accompanied by a marked decline in social conditions: family, neighborhood and community life has been torn asunder. Anxiety and insecurity are rampant among workers and employees. In real terms, life expectancy in the affected areas has dropped. Youth and worker suicides are skyrocketing. Maternal and child mortality are up. American youth are 70% more likely to die before adulthood than their counterparts in other rich countries. In 2016, death rates for millennials (ages 25-34) rose to 129/100,000, with 35/100,000 deaths due to narcotic overdose. The carnage surpasses the height of the US AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s. Rural and small town child protective services are well beyond the breaking point with the neglected and orphaned children of addicts. Neonatal intensive care units are overwhelmed by the number of infants born into life threatening acute opiate withdrawal crises due to their mothers’ addiction. Despite this grim picture, taxes for the rich are being slashed and public services decimated.

    Meanwhile, the income gap between the working class and the oligarchs has widened and a sharp class-defined health care and educational apartheid has emerged. Children of the upper 20% have exclusive, privileged access to elite universities based on family and ethnic ties. Elite families, who have no need for ‘health insurance’ have access to the most thorough and advanced medical services in the world. No physician would dream of irresponsibly prescribing narcotics to a family member of an oligarch.

    These inequalities are deeply entrenched: Working people in the areas affected by the opioid epidemic receive only cursory and inadequate, if not incompetent, care from physician assistants and over-burdened nurses. They are subjected to long waits in deteriorating emergency rooms and rarely see a physician. Virtually none have regular family physicians. If they are injured or suffer from pain, they are prescribed long courses and large amounts of narcotic pain killers – opioids, instead of the safer, but more expensive physical therapy and non-addictive medications. This has occurred with the approval of the FDA. Even rural high school students with sports injuries would receive narcotics, despite the well-known increased susceptibility to addiction among youth. Politically powerful ‘pain lobbies’, funded by the giant pharmaceutical corporation, have pushed this trend for over two decades creating huge profits for the billionaire pharmaceutical executives.

    The opioid killing fields of America have their origins and logic in the convergence of several inter-related features of US capitalism. This was due to the relentless pursuit of profits for the corporations and elite, while turning the deindustrialized and agricultural parts of the country into domestic ‘Third Worlds’.

    First, the capitalist class cut the production costs by limiting access to quality health care for labor to increase their profits. In the US this has led to millions of workers depending on cheap and available prescription narcotics. Employer-provided insurance companies routinely deny more costly non-narcotic treatment for injured workers and insist on prescribing cheap opioids to get the workers back on the job.

    Cheap opioids were tolerated by union health plans in the beginning to save money, while union bosses looked the other way as thousands of workers became addicts.
    Secondly, capitalists freely fire workers who are injured at work and seek treatment, forcing workers to avoid sick leave and to rely even more on opioids, like Oxy-Contin, which ‘Big Pharma’ falsely marketed as non-addictive.

    Thirdly, capitalists profit immensely from the premature deaths by overdose and related preventable causes among older workers because this lowers pension costs and health insurance payments. Wall Street has brazenly celebrated the billions of dollars of pension and health care liabilities saved by the shortened life expectancy among US workers. The drop in life expectancy and rise in premature death in the US resembles the pattern seen in Russia during the first decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rampant pillage by the US-backed mafia oligarchs under Boris Yeltsin.

    Fourthly, capitalists are free to hire young replacement workers (eighteen to thirty years old) as temporary labor at lower wages and without any benefits. They are subject to the insecurities of contingent employment, as part of the ‘gig economy’ (outsourcing to ‘self-employed’ workers and employees). These overstressed workers, with no future, turn to opioids to overcome physical pain and emotional stress – until they drop out as slaves to addiction. This is the main reason for the declining numbers of young workers available in the US – despite relatively high employment levels.

    Fifthly, and to add a morbid insult to injury, the opioid death epidemic has been a bonanza for the tissue and organ transplant industry, where ‘materials’ harvested from young overdose victims, including bones, skin, cornea, tendons, heart valves, teeth and blood vessels are worth tens of thousands of dollars per corpse. Organs harvested from brain-dead overdose victims are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And harvest companies and tissue brokers hover around hospital emergency rooms like carrion birds waiting for news of new victims – often contacting next of kin before the authorities. This bizarre profiting from the completely preventable domestic deaths of US capitalism recalls Jonathan Swift’s satiric ‘Modest Proposal’ for British entrepreneurs to harvest the skin of the Irish Potato Famine victims to make commercial items, like ladies’ purses!

    In sum, the structure and relations of contemporary US capitalism is the general cause and beneficiary of the opioid epidemic. The inevitable result is a rapid destruction of communities marginalized by capitalist decisions. This has benefited capital by culling the surplus, and potentially restive, population in a manner reminiscent of the British Empire during the famines in India in the previous two centuries. Social Darwinism and Neo-Malthusian rationales proliferate among the oligarchs, politicians, medical professionals and even seep into the language used by the public (‘survival of the fittest’) providing the ideological justification for the carnage.

    *Specific Operative Power Elites Driving the Epidemic*

    Multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical corporations manufacture and market narcotics and highly addictive sedatives. Their agents manipulate the medical community and lobby among the politicians for a ‘pain-free’ America.

    The producer of the leading commercial ‘gateway’ into addiction, Oxy-Contin, is Purdue Pharmaceuticals. The company was founded and run entirely by the Sackler family under the leadership of the recently deceased Raymond Sackler and his brothers. The Sacklers were of Eastern European Jewish origins and have close ties with Israel. They started by manufacturing laxatives and ear wax, then introducing the highly addictive tranquilizer, Valium, to finally producing and pushing the most profitable prescription drug in history, Oxy-Contin in the 1990’s, during President Bill Clinton’s ‘health care reform’ administration.

    The Sacklers set up an aggressive large-scale sales force to convince physicians that their product was not addictive. They paid physician-researchers to publish fraudulent data on the safety of Oxy-Contin. These experts-for- hire in the burgeoning pain industry received huge fees to peddle Sackler’s products. They peddled the notion of American patients enjoying a completely ‘pain free’ existence – touting the value of the highly subjective ‘pain scale’ as the fifth vital sign in the assessment of all patients. The ‘pain scale’ never caught on in other wealthy countries, where objective assessment remained the primary basis for diagnosis and therapy. Interestingly, the ‘pain scale’ has been less frequently used with African American and Hispanic patients, due largely to an inherent racism in US medicine that views minorities as potential addicts and unreliable with prescribed narcotics. As a result, African American and Hispanic patients were largely spared the prescription narcotic addiction epidemic – where over 95% of overdose deaths were white, mostly working class. It was also evident that African American patients presenting to emergency rooms in severe pain receive far less care than their white compatriots – even when their pain is a symptom of a serious life-threatening medical or surgical emergency.

    The Sackler family’s net worth rose to over $14 billion dollars, according the Forbes billionaires listing, while Purdue Pharmaceuticals reaped over $35 billion dollars in profit from Oxy-Contin. Prescription murder and addiction elevated the Sackler’s to the political, cultural and oligarch elite.

    The Sackler’s became major collectors of fine art and patrons of the arts and sciences in New York, London, and Tel Aviv. New York’s glitterati swooned over Raymond and Queen Elizabeth awarded him a knighthood. Meanwhile scores of thousands of prescription addicts died each year and millions sunk into addiction, ill health and degradation, dragging their communities with them.

    Following Sackler’s example, other pharma billionaires joined the slaughter, the deaths and mayhem multiplied. Opioid pain medication was so cheap to produce and had created its own ever-expanding demand as teenagers raided grandmother’s medicine cabinet in search of narcotics and poor workers lined up at ‘pill mills’. Oxy-Contin and its siblings produced the highest profit margin in pharmaceutical history – far exceeding the so-called block-buster drugs.

    The totally preventable and predictable devastation eventually led to Purdue Pharmaceuticals being fined $634.5 million dollars in 2007 for fraudulently covering up the addiction and overdose potential of Oxy-Contin. The political influence of the Sackler family protected their members from any accusation of misconduct or criminal conspiracy. Their influence in elite political and judicial circles was unparalleled.

    Oxy-Contin and other addictive drugs are still being mass produced, massively prescribed and are contributing to the death of over 65,000 workers each year. In response to the recent crack-down on prescriptions of narcotics, millions of addicts have transitioned to cheap street heroin and the dangerously potent illegal fentanyl to feed their craving. Physicians provided the gateway to a life of street addiction, violence and eventually death – while authorities throughout the United States deliberately looked away.

    The second operative power elite are the medical professionals who prescribed the drugs in an irresponsible and callous manner to millions of American over the past 2-3 decades. They too have been largely spared by the political and judicial system and even remain the ‘pillars’ of local communities ravaged by drug addiction.

    For two thousand years, a guiding moral and professional principle in medicine had been to ‘first do no harm’ in the course of treating a patient. There has been a huge difference in the way working class and elite patients are treated in the US. Thousands of physicians and other medical professionals ignored the obvious addiction and deaths among their lower and middle class patients and succumbed to bribes and greed to promote opioids. Millions of patients and their family members have been betrayed by this grotesque failure to address the addiction crisis. The economic changes in medicine pressured many doctors in corporate medicine to rush patients in and out of their offices with only cursory examinations and prescriptions for multiple narcotics and sedatives. Physicians allowed the for-profit goals of their corporate employers to dictate how they served their patients – thereby betraying the sacred trust. Many physicians relied on poorly supervised and over-worked physician assistants and nurse practitioners to diagnose and treat patients – already addicted to narcotics. It is easier and cheaper to write a prescription than to thoroughly examine and properly treat a low income patient. All accepted the corporate and capitalist ideology that the addicts were the regrettable victims of their own inherent moral or genetic degeneracy.

    The chain of causation went from systemic capitalist profiteering to billionaire pharmaceutical corporations to hospital enterprises to doctors and their poorly supervised staff.

    The principal political accomplice of death by addiction is the federal government and elected representatives who accepted scores of millions of dollars in ‘donations’ from the pharmaceutical lobby.

    The President and Congress, Democrats and Republicans ignored the epidemic because they were bought off by their campaign donor-owners at ‘Big Pharma’, the term used to describe the powerful pharmaceutical industry and its lobby. Over the past twenty years, the political elite received many millions of dollars in campaign funds from Big Pharma lobbies – including politicians from states ravaged by prescription narcotics.

    The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) allowed the overuse and distribution of narcotics and then ignored the terrible consequences for over 20 years. One cannot imagine US veterinarians and their regulators noting the drug deaths of 3,000 family pets without quickly identifying and correcting the situation, while the FDA, DEA and US elite ‘ignored’ the deaths of hundreds of thousands of poor and working class Americans.

    Finally, after two decades, local politicians and state attorneys general saw a new potential source of revenue with lawsuits against the offending drug companies and major distributors. Some senators have sponsored hearings but no decisive action has been taken over the carnage among the poor civilian population. In 2010, the Pentagon and Senate Armed Services committee held hearings on the huge increase in prescription drug abuse overdose deaths among US military personnel and have taken some effective measures to address the issue. At that time, US senators in the hearings warned jokingly about the perils of upsetting ‘Big Pharma’. Clearly, unlike the generals who need healthy soldiers, US capitalist and politicians have had no interest in protecting working class citizens – given the overall profits their addiction and deaths bring to the elite.

    *Conclusion: What is to be Done?*

    The prescription narcotic and subsequent illegal narcotic addiction epidemic has become a million-person killing field – sowing havoc in the poor and marginalized, de- industrialized working class communities of the US. However the victims and their executioners, the merchants of death, all have a name and location within the capitalist system. The logic and the consequences are clear.

    Most victims are working class, poor and lower middle class, and overwhelmingly white: the low paid, young and old, the insecure and under employed, and especially those without adequate or competent health care.

    Over 5 million are afflicted by prescription drug abuse or at least started on the road to addiction via prescription narcotics. This is a truly American Holocaust leaving multi- million family survivors. Scores of thousands of children are living with elderly relatives or swept up into foster homes and the over-burdened child welfare system.

    The executioners and their accomplices have become rich, elite college-educated patrons of the most sophisticated arts and sciences. They receive the best health care services in the world; rely on docile but highly educated servants, nannies and cooks – many of whom are immigrant. Most of all, they enjoy immunity from public censor and prosecution. They are the politically well connected, perfectly dressed, manicured, be- knighted dealers of death and despair.

    The addiction crisis is a part of the class war waged by the upper class against the middle and lower classes of this country. The real, if not stated, consequence of their trade has been to cull the population rendered superfluous by elite economic and political decisions and to destroy the capacity of millions of their victims, family members, neighbors and friends to understand, organize, unify and fight back against the onslaught for their own class interests. Here is where we find a basis to approach a solution.

    There are historical precedents for the successful elimination of drug lords, both elite and criminal and for bringing addicts back to productive social life.

    We begin with the case of China: After a century of British-imposed opium addiction, the Chinese revolution of 1949 took charge in arresting, prosecuting and executing the war-lord opium “entrepreneurs”. Millions of addicts were rehabilitated and returned to their communities, joining the workforce to build a new society.

    Likewise, the 1959 Cuban revolution smashed the drug dens and brothels run by brutal Cuban gangster oligarchs and death squad-leaders, together with American mafia bosses, like Meyer Lansky. These thugs and parasites were forced to flee to Miami, Palermo and Tel Aviv.

    The first step in an effective class-conscious drug war in the US would require the organization of mass movements, dedicated anti-drug lawyers, physicians, medical personnel and community organizers, as well as brave well-integrated educators and community leaders. A truly involved national Center for Disease Control, not a mouthpiece for the corporate elite, would be re-organized to collect quality national data on the scope and nature of the problem and provide further bases for reversing the trends of decreased life expectancy, increase child and maternal mortality and epidemic preventable-premature deaths among workers.

    The second step would involve taking control of the prescription of narcotics limited to the narrow indications recognized in other industrialized countries (intractable cancer pain or short term post-operative pain management) and developing a national data base to track the prescription practice of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others. Those unwilling to reform their practice would face arrest and severe prosecution. Heath care would be patient centered, not profit oriented and the dictum ‘Primum non nocere’ would replace callous Social-Darwinism and greed in medical practice.

    The manufacturers and distributors, as well as the lobbyists and merchants of deadly opioids, would be forced to pay for the devastation and face prosecution.

    The process of restoring viability to drug-ravaged domestic ‘shit-holes’ created by the US capitalist elite finally would require attacking and transforming the economic roots of the addiction crisis. It would require replacing a system that sows pain and suffering among the workers with one where the workers and their communities finally take control of their lives. Professionals and intellectuals, rather than viewing the victims from the point of view of the elite decision-makers, will have to fully integrate their interests with those of the masses.

    Successful local struggles can build the political power base that transforms ‘studies’ and ‘critiques’ to direct action and electoral changes.

    Outlawing this revolting source of profit and scourge of thousands of communities can weaken the power of the billionaire drug dealers and their political allies.

    Millions of lives are at stake, they have their survival to win. Understanding the root of this class centered affliction and mobilizing to reverse this trend can have major consequences benefiting the widely dispersed imperial and capital induced shit-holes of the world! Reported by Eurasia Review 9 hours ago.

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    SOTU: Trump Calls For Unity, Then Touts GOP Agenda President Donald Trump used his first State of the Union address to tout the GOP’s huge new tax-cut bill, saying that many Americans would start seeing more take-home pay soon, The Washington Post reported. “Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses,” Trump said, speaking about a bill passed with only Republican votes. He celebrated the end of a provision from President Obama’s health-care law, which required many Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax. “The individual mandate is now gone. Thank heavens.” Trump pointed out small business owners from Ohio, who he said had just had the best year in the 20-year history of their business.... Reported by WorldNews 8 hours ago.

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    Fresh off passing massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, Trump and congressional Republicans want to use the deficit they’ve created to justify huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    As House Speaker Paul Ryan says “We’re going to have to get… at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

    Don’t let them get away with it.

    Social Security and Medicare are critical safety-nets for working and middle-class families.

    Before they existed, Americans faced grim prospects. In 1935, the year Social Security was enacted, roughly half of America’s seniors lived in poverty.  By the 1960s poverty among seniors had dropped significantly, but medical costs were still a major financial burden and only half of Americans aged 65 and over had health insurance. Medicare fixed that, guaranteeing health care for older Americans.

    Today less than 10 percent of seniors live in poverty and almost all have access to health care. According to an analysis of census data, Social Security payments keep an estimated 22 million Americans from slipping into poverty.

    Medicaid is also a vital lifeline for America’s elderly and the poor. Yet the Trump administration has already started whittling it away by encouraging states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

    Republicans like to call these programs “entitlements,” as if they’re some kind of giveaway.  But Americans pay into Social Security and Medicare throughout their entire working lives. It’s Americans’ own money they’re getting back through these programs.

    These vital safety nets should be strengthened, not weakened. How?

    1. *Lift the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax.* Currently, top earners only pay Social Security taxes on the first $120,000 of their yearly income. So the rich end up, in effect,  paying a lower Social Security tax rate than everyone else. Lifting the ceiling on what wealthy Americans contribute would help pay for the Baby Boomers retirements and leave Social Security in good shape for Millennials.

    2. *Allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prescription drug prices.* As the nation’s largest insurer, Medicare has tremendous bargaining power. Why should Americans pay far more for drugs than people in any other country?

    3. *Finally, reduce overall health costs and create a stronger workforce by making Medicare available to all.* There’s no excuse for the richest nation in the world to have 28 million Americans still uninsured.

    We need to not just secure, but revitalize Social Security and these other programs for our children, and for our children’s children.  Millennials just overtook Baby Boomers as our nation’s largest demographic.  For them — for all of us — we need to say loud and clear to all of our members of congress:  Hands off Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Expand and improve these programs: don’t cut them. Reported by Eurasia Review 7 hours ago.

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    Company Grows Florida Workforce By 15% To Service Customers In Arkansas And Hawaii

    DANIA BEACH, Fla. (PRWEB) January 31, 2018

    Issa Asad, founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless, announced today that his company, the nation’s third-largest provider of free phone service through the federal Lifeline program, will add 40 new fulltime jobs at its headquarters in Dania Beach. The job creation comes after the FCC awarded Q Link a license to provide its wireless services in Arkansas, the first license of its type issued by the FCC in more than five years, followed by another license in Hawaii. Expansion into Arkansas and Hawaii increases Q Link’s geographic presence to 30 states and Puerto Rico and will translate to significant growth beyond its existing 1.9 million customers.

    “These new jobs increase our Broward-based workforce by 15 percent in c-suite, mid-, and entry-level positions,” said Issa Asad, founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless. “While we have operations throughout the nation, Florida – and more specifically, Broward County – is our home. So we want to do everything possible to make sure this community benefits from our growth and success.”

    The company is actively recruiting employees in all areas, from sales and customer service, to fulfillment, to senior management; and several of the jobs are high-paying positions. Q Link provides employees with competitive pay, health insurance, a retirement plan, and bonus opportunities.

    The company’s rapid growth since its founding in 2014 has resulted in more than 300 local jobs. Unlike many of his competitors that outsource jobs overseas, Issa Asad has purposely sought to keep the entirety of his employees together in one location. He maintains this staffing approach at every level, housing compliance, marketing, and even warehouse services at the headquarters location in Dania Beach.

    “Over the past few years, Q Link has grown dramatically and hired full-time workers from diverse backgrounds,” said Rafa Carvajal, chief operating officer for Q Link. “Now, as we expand service to new parts of the county, I have every expectation we will continue to contribute to the economic stability of our community here in South Florida.”

    Q Link serves people who might not otherwise have access to wireless phones, including veterans, SNAP recipients, Medicaid recipients, and people living in Section 8 housing. Program participants receive a free smart phone, 350 minutes of calling each month, unlimited texts, and up to 1 gigabyte of free data. The program was designed for Americans who might not otherwise have access to vital communication services, including the ability to make 9-1-1 calls.

    For more information about Q Link Wireless, or to schedule an interview with Issa Asad, please contact Meieli Sawyer at 305-668-0070 or msawyer(at)weinbachgroup(dot)com.

    About Q Link Wireless

    Q Link Wireless, a Quadrant Holdings Company, is one of the nation’s leading providers of wireless voice and data service through the Lifeline Program. With more than 1.9 million customers, Q Link is wirelessly connecting people to the world around them, regardless of their income. Reported by PRWeb 4 hours ago.

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    Healthcare a recurring US theme at the moment. Anthem Inc (NYSE:ANTM) is a stock in focus in pre-market, with shares adding 1.40% to US$246.85 in extended hours. The health insurance group beat analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, posting revenue of US$22.4bn, up 4.5% from a year ago and more than the US$22.2bn analysts had predicted. Anthem reported a profit of US$1.23 billion, or $4.67 a share, compared with US$368mln a year ago. Enrolment in the group's medical plans dropped by 13,000 in its latest quarter but increased slightly overall last year, it told the market. Elsewhere, Wall Street expects Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) beat estimates for its fourth-quarter earnings before the New York bell, posting strong results for both its top and bottom line. In New York, shares are down 0.91% in pre-market. Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY) shares were up 1.75% to US$87.60 after hours.  The group posted a fourth quarter earnings beat, while the new tax law boosted its 2018 earnings guidance Last but not least Tuppwerware Brands Corp (NYSE:TUP) saw shares close down  0.44% yesterday. It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $326.5 million, or $6.41 per share, compared with income of $79.0 million, or $1.55 per share for the same period last year, whioch beat estimates, but revenue missed Wall Street expectations. Tupperware earnings beat but revenue misses https://t.co/yKjjJPzrfX — MarketsTicker (@MarketsTicker) 31 January 2018 Reported by Proactive Investors 23 hours ago.

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    A bunch of people are betting that a 70-year-old health system could hold the key to fixing out-of-control healthcare costs · *Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan announced Tuesday they're teaming up to launch a new nonprofit healthcare company. *
    · **Venture capitalist Bill Gurley — the legendary investor who backed Uber, Snap, and eBay —*** thinks employers should get out of healthcare.*
    · *But there's one piece that needs to fall into place before much change can happen, Gurley said: narrow networks.*
    · *At Kaiser Permanente, a health system on the West Coast that has both a health plan and a hospital, members see the doctors Kaiser Permanente employs in network. The model is a favorite of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger.  *

    --------------------Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway plan to build a new nonprofit healthcare company that will provide to their employees "simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost."

    Depending on how that company takes shape, it could have a big impact on the role employers play in healthcare.

    Bill Gurley, a general partner at Benchmark Capital, told Business Insider that the new venture could be a sign that companies are trying to create change in how employers interact with healthcare for their employees. 

    But there's one piece that needs to fall into place before much change can happen, Gurley said: narrow networks.

    In the US, employers are mandated to provide health insurance for their employees. The US isn't alone in having an employer-funded healthcare system, but in many other countries, it's supplemental to a government-run insurance system as opposed to full coverage.

    Narrow networks are plans that offer fewer health providers in the hopes that it will keep costs lower and members will get better quality care than if health plan members could go to a wider selection of doctors. And Gurley thinks for the JPMorgan-Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway health venture to work, it will need to include one of those.

    In the case of Kaiser Permanente, a health system on the West Coast that has both a health plan and a hospital, members see the doctors Kaiser Permanente employs in network. The model is a favorite of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger.  

    "If the whole nation had Kaiser Permanente care, the average quality of the care would go way up and the cost would go way down," Munger has said.

    Narrow networks are becoming standard, especially among Medicare Advantage plans, or private insurance alternatives to Medicare. About 35% of Medicare Advantage members were in narrow network plans, while 22% were in broad-network plans in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. They're also common in the Affordable Care Act marketplace. 

    But still, the majority of health plans aren't built around narrow networks, especially employer-funded plans, which proponents of narrow networks say keeps healthcare costs high.

    "I don’t know how we get to reform until there’s narrow networks," Gurley said.  

    *SEE ALSO: Bill Gurley — the legendary investor who backed Uber, Snap, and eBay — is now betting big that healthcare has hit a 'tipping stage'*

    *DON'T MISS: Warren Buffett has been speaking out about the cost of healthcare for years — and it could hint at what’s to come with a new health venture*

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Expect Amazon to make a surprising acquisition in 2018, says CFRA Reported by Business Insider 21 hours ago.

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    Will it be a fancy app or a true disruptor? Those are some of the questions being asked about what's behind the big health insurance project announced yesterday by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase. Amazon.com Inc.’s first major step into health care follows a well-honed strategy the company has used to deploy some of its biggest businesses, writes Casey Coombs of The Puget Sound Business Journal, a sister publication of Bizwomen. Like Amazon's cloud unit, Amazon Web Services,… Reported by bizjournals 19 hours ago.

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    Today’s insurance industry is riddled with confusing and hidden costs, leaving consumers at a disadvantage in managing their healthcare. Transparency of actual costs is needed for both consumers and employers.

    PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (PRWEB) January 31, 2018

    Whether consumers buy their insurance themselves or are insured through their employers, they are subject to high deductibles, increasing coinsurance, and skyrocketing premiums. Because of costs, some people skip necessary medical visits, which can adversely affect their health1. But high costs are not the only issue—there are also examples of bait-and-switch and hidden costs in medical insurance. As noted by MyMedicalShopper, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires a number of tests and procedures to be covered by health insurance at zero out-of-pocket cost to the patient. This means that a range of preventive care, from annual physical exams to colonoscopies, mammograms, flu shots and other vaccines must be given without charging a copayment or coinsurance, often referred to by patients as “free.”

    Unfortunately, “free” is rarely free when it comes to healthcare. As an example, according to MMS Analytics, Inc., the average amount paid to medical providers by health insurance carriers and/or patients for influenza vaccines in the past 12 months is $27.30. But, they point out that some providers have collected as much as $270 per flu shot. Flu shots are very often marketed to patients as “free,” and providers do usually “seem” to keep that promise from the patient’s perspective, as the out-of-pocket cost is often $0. HOWEVER, EVEN WHEN the patient pays $0 for a flu shot, the average cost paid to the provider is still $27.30, which is paid by the health insurance carrier, as well as the employer and covered employees in the form of insurance premiums. 3

    "The healthcare marketplace in the U.S. is seriously broken," said Mark Galvin, co-founder and CEO of MyMedicalShopper. "When patients are tricked into thinking that services are free, they don’t realize that there are still very real, and highly variable costs associated with that care. They don’t have any way to know the difference between a ‘free’ flu shot that costs $10 and a ‘free’ flu shot that costs $270, but the one they ultimately choose can make a huge difference to the underlying medical loss to their health plan and employer, which directly affects their future premiums.”

    There are other issues that can blindside insurance consumers. For example, many consumers will attempt to keep their costs down by seeking out and receiving in-network services (services provided by health care providers who have contracted with a consumer's insurance company to accept certain negotiated (discounted) rates). A consumer might have surgery at their local in-network hospital, but later receive a bill from an out-of-network—and thus higher-priced—assistant surgeon. Or, a person might have a visit with their in-network primary care doctor, but then receive an out-of-network bill from the lab used for blood work. 4

    A tool which compares actual post-procedure, out-of-pocket expenses for non-emergency services between care providers gives a consumer the ability to make decisions based on their own criteria. It's simply a matter of entering the procedure in a database, and being able to instantly see the provider that would save them the most money. “Patients could unknowingly pay five to ten times more than needed, simply because they don’t have the ability to shop. We estimate that our users saved over 32% on their out-of-pocket medical expenses last year when MyMedicalShopper was provided through their employer-provided insurance,” Galvin said.

    About MYMEDICALSHOPPER

    MMS Analytics, Inc. dba MyMedicalShopperTM is a big data company with big dreams for healthcare. Co-founder and CEO Mark Galvin gave rise to the company out of the need to provide consumers and companies who provide healthcare benefits to their employees with transparency—the leverage needed to make informed decisions on their healthcare and improve their quality of life. Consumers previously unfamiliar with price variations in medical procedures and testing utilize real-time health insurance plan pricing information that makes it possible to choose care based on price, quality, and convenience. Experts document that as much as $1 trillion could be slashed annually from the cost of healthcare in the U.S. The company’s goal is to transform the healthcare industry into a fair market for consumers.

    For more information visit https://www.mymedicalshopper.com/.

    1. Reports, Consumer. “9 Ways to Save Money On Your Healthcare Costs.” Consumer Reports,

    2. Reports. “Will the Affordable Care Act Cover My Flu Shot?” Health and Human Services.Gov.

    3. Proprietary claims data and algorithms. MMS Analytics, Inc. January 2018.

    4. Fontinelle, Amy. “Why People with Good Health Insurance Go into Medical Debt.” Investopedia, 11 December 2017. Reported by PRWeb 19 hours ago.

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    Winning businesses recognized in over 40 categories

    Hartford, Conn. (PRWEB) January 31, 2018

    Locally owned and operated businesses are an important part of the fabric of the Greater Hartford business community. Last evening, movers, shakers and business leaders from across the region gathered at the Hartford Yard Goats Club to celebrate these enterprising companies.

    “Local businesses play an important role in the economy and the community,” said Joe Zwiebel, president and publisher of the Hartford Business Journal. “The Best of Business Awards are an opportunity for customers to recognize their favorite companies and commend them on their excellence and success.”

    The winners of the 2017 Best of Business Awards (honored in 2018) are as follows:·     Best Happy Hour Spot – City Steam
    ·     Best Spot to Grab a Coffee- Sarah’s Coffee House
    ·     Best Restaurant for Business Lunch – Max Downtown
    ·     Best Restaurant for Business Dinner- Max Downtown
    ·     Best Caterer for a Corporate Event- Café Louise
    ·     Best Outdoor Dining- Salute
    ·     Best Accounting Firm- CohnReznick LLP
    ·     Best Advertising Firm- Cronin & Company
    ·     Best Architecture Firm- S/L/A/M Collaborative
    ·     Best Law Firm- Halloran & Sage LLP
    ·     Best Engineering Firm- BETA Group, Inc.
    ·     Best Employee Benefits Company- OneDigital
    ·     Best Public Relations Firm- Cronin & Company
    ·     Best Health Insurance Provider- Connecticare
    ·     Best Commercial Real Estate Brokerage- CBRE
    ·     Best Credit Union- American Eagle Federal Credit Union
    ·     Best Bank- Webster Bank
    ·     Best Commercial Lender- Webster Bank
    ·     Best Financial Planning Services- Connecticut Wealth Management
    ·     Best Insurance Agency- Smith Brothers
    ·     Best Private Wealth Management- Connecticut Wealth Management
    ·     Best Corporate Event Venue- Dunkin’ Donuts Park
    ·     Best Public Golf Course- Keney Park Golf Course
    ·     Best Hotel- Hartford Marriott
    ·     Best Business Meeting Venue- Dunkin’ Donuts Park
    ·     Best Employee Outing Venue- Dunkin’ Donuts Park
    ·     Best Tourist Attraction- Mark Twain House
    ·     Best Private Golf Course- Hartford Golf Club
    ·     Best Commercial Landscape Company- E.A. Quinn Landscape Contracting, Inc.
    ·     Best Commercial Movers- Woodland Moving and Storage
    ·     Best Commercial Interior Design Firm- Ridgewood Designs
    ·     Best Electrical Contractors- McPhee Electric
    ·     Best Plumber/HVAC Contractor- Avon Plumbing
    ·     Best Office Furniture- OFI
    ·     Best Energy Company- Eversource
    ·     Best Commercial Property Managers- R&M Property Management
    ·     Best Audio/Visual Production Company- Powerstation Events
    ·     Best Web Design Firm- ImageWorks LLC
    ·     Best Internet Services- Comcast
    ·     Best IT Services- Whittlesey Technology
    ·     Best Printing Company- Allied Printing
    ·     Best Limousine Company- Lindsey Limousine
    ·     Best Luxury Auto Dealer- Hoffman Auto Group
    ·     Best Men’s Business Clothier – Morneault’s Stackpole Moore Tryon
    ·     Best Women’s Business Clothier- Morneault’s Stackpole Moore Tryon
    ·     Best Jeweler- Lux Bond & Green
    ·     Best Continuing Education Program- Manchester Community College
    ·     Best MBA Program- UConn
    ·     Best Nonprofit Fundraiser Event- Hartford’s Camp Courant Buddy Bash

    The Best of Business Awards were presented by Hartford Business Journal and sponsored by UConn School of Business, WFSB-3 Eyewitness News, and Hartford Yard Goats (presenting sponsors) and Express Strategies (event sponsor). Event Partners include J. Fiereck Photography, Merritt Graphics, Rider Productions and Co-Communications, Marketing & Public Relations.

    ####
    About Hartford Business Journal
    Hartford Business Journal is the only audited weekly, subscription-based business publication in Connecticut. Whether it’s market trends, the latest merger news or an update on state government, this award-winning weekly is the “must read” for area business leaders. Hartford Business Journal has a total readership of 31,000 affluent and educated business decision makers in the 61 towns that make up Metro Hartford. For more information, please visit http://www.hartfordbusiness.com or call 860.236.9998. Reported by PRWeb 14 hours ago.

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    A slew of measures for the agriculture and rural sectors, a new health insurance scheme for the poor and some relief in income tax for the salaried class and senior citizens, were announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today in the last full budget before the general elections.

    Presenting his fifth straight budget in the Lok Sabha, Jaitley raised the health and education cess, levied on all taxable income, to 4 percent from current 3 percent, and introduced a social welfare surcharge of 10 percent to fund social welfare schemes.

    He lowered the corporate tax for small, micro and medium enterprises with a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore to 25 percent from current 30 percent while reintroducing the tax on long-term capital gains of over Rs 1 lakh made from the sale of shares.

    While keeping the income tax rates and slabs unchanged, Jaitley introduced a Rs 40,000 Standard Deduction for salaried employees and pensioners in lieu of transport and medical expenses.

    For senior citizens, exemption of interest income on bank deposits was raised to Rs 50,000 from the current Rs 10,000, he said, adding that tax will not be deducted at source on fixed deposits.

    Also, exemption on medical expenses on critical illness has been raised to Rs 1 lakh, he said in his 110-minute speech.

    Jaitley said a 10 percent tax long on capital gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh made from the sale of shares has been introduced but those made till January 31 would be grandfathered.

    A 10 percent tax on distributed income by equity-oriented mutual funds has also been proposed in the budget.

    With excise duty and service tax being subsumed in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Jaitley made changes only in customs duty -- raising them in case of mobile phones and lowering for raw cashew.

    Stating that the focus of the government in the coming fiscal would be agriculture and rural India, the Finance Minister announced that all Kharif crop would be paid a minimum support price (MSP) that is 50 percent more than the cost of production.

    He announced that credit to agriculture would be raised to Rs 11 lakh crore in the coming fiscal from Rs 10 lakh crore.

    Kisan credit card will be extended to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers while Rs 2,000 crore provided for the development of agriculture market.

    In a bid to provide universal healthcare, he announced a National Health Protection scheme to provide health cover of up to Rs 5 lakh to each of the 10 crore poor families per year.

    But to fund these, he let go of the fiscal consolidation roadmap. As a result, the fiscal deficit for current fiscal will widen to 3.5 percent of the GDP as against 3.2 percent previously targeted, and to 3.3 percent in FY19 as opposed to 3 percent previously targeted.

    Fiscal deficit in 2016-17 was 3.5 percent of the GDP.

    "We have worked sincerely without thinking about the political cost," he said.

    Jaitley also announced 100 percent tax deduction for farm producer firms with Rs 100 crore turnover. The standard deduction allowed will benefit 2.5 crore people.

    The target for providing free LPG connection to poor has been raised to 8 crores from 5 crores and 4 crore poor households will be provided free electricity connections.

    Presidents emoluments have been raised to Rs 5 lakh per month and that of Vice President to Rs 4 lakh and Governors to Rs 3.5 lakh a month.

    For members of parliament, he announced a new law that would allow for an automatic revision in their emoluments every five years based on inflation.

    He said the focus will be on the agricultre sector, infrastructure and education sector as he promised to provide education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class-12 and move from blackboard to digital board.

    The emphasis would be on generating higher income for farmers. Our government wants to help farmers produce more and realise higher prices, Jaitley said.

    Stating that crop production is at record high, Jaitley said the government is committed to giving 50 percent more than cost of crop production to farmers.

    He said when the NDA government took over, India was considered one of the fragile five economies of the world and the Modi-led Government have reversed it. "India is today fastest growing economy... India is today a USD 2.5 trillion economy and will become fifth largest economy in the world from the present seventh largest," he said, projecting exports growth at 15 percent. In the second half (October-March) the growth is expected to be 7.2-7.5 percent and firmly on path to achieve 8 percent growth.

    Stating that air pollution in Delhi NCR is a cause for concern, he said the Centre will implement special scheme to support state Governments of Haryana, Punjab, UP and Delhi NCT to address it and subsidise machinery for management of crop residue. The Budget announced allocation of Rs 600 crore towards nutritional support of tuberculosis patients and setting up of 24 new medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading district level ones. The Government is slowly but steadily progressing towards universal health coverage and total budget for health, education and social security has been increased to Rs 1.38 lakh crore for 2018-19 from Rs 1.22 lakh crore in current fiscal. Stating that Rs 4.6 lakh crore has been sanctioned under MUDRA Scheme, he said government will soon announce scheme to address the issue of Non-Performing Assets in MSME sector.

    Mass formalisation of MSME sector is happening after demonetisation and GST and the target for loan disbursement under Mudra scheme has been set at Rs 3 lakh crore for next fiscal. Employees PF Act will be amended to reduce contribution of women to 8 percent from 12 percent for first three years, with no change in employers contribution, Jaitley said. The Government will contribute 12 percent of wages of new employees in EPF for all sectors for the next 3 years, he said. He said Rs 50 lakh crore is needed for infrastructure building and Government will allocate Rs 7,140 crore for textiles sector in next year National Highways exceeding 9,000-km will be completed in 2018-19 and allocation of over Rs 1.48 lakh crore has been planned for railways.

    Regional air connectivity scheme shall connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads and Government will expand capacity of airports by five times to cate to one billion trips a year. Reported by Deccan Herald 3 hours ago.

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    Reported by FT.com 6 hours ago.

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    NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Thursday it expected economic growth to surge above 8 percent as it announced a 2018/19 budget that allocated billions of dollars for rural infrastructure and unveiled a health insurance programme for around 500 million poor. Reported by Reuters India 4 hours ago.

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