It’s September, which means the enrollment period to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is practically around the corner.
If you're signing up later this fall, you should consider this: despite provisions under the health law to guarantee coverage for all, some insurance policies are still designed to keep the sick away.
We all know thanks to the ACA, the days when insurers denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions are over. Cherry picking the healthiest among us is one of the ways many insurers used to make their money. Even though the law has changed, former state insurance commissioner Joel Ario says some companies haven’t.
“We have not eliminated discrimination from insurer DNA yet. So you are still going to see remnants of insurers using strategies that are trying to drive away risk than manage risk,” he says.
One of those strategies is to make drugs for high cost conditions like HIV or multiple sclerosis more expensive through hefty deductibles. Another is to limit the network of doctors and hospitals. If consumers want somebody out of that network, they pay through the nose.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Tom Baker says to thrive in today’s insurance climate companies must accept that sick people are part of the mix. “The health insurance companies that are trying to have fewer of those people, just want to have fewer,” he says.
Baker says the insurers who find the sweet spot between healthy and less healthy will be the ones at the top of the industry.
Not long after I posted my Marketplace story about the 25th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square protests on LinkedIn, the company sent me an email:
Australian journalist Fergus Ryan received this email, too. His post, a story he did about artist Guo Jian being detained in the run-up to the Tian’anmen anniversary, was also removed.
“I felt outraged, really. Because professionally, as a journalist, I feel that this is why a lot of people would follow me on LinkedIn," says Ryan.
LinkedIn says it did not come to its decision to censor posts from its members in China lightly.
“It is difficult," says LinkedIn's Director of Communications Hani Durzy. "We are strongly in support of freedom of expression. But it was clear to us that to create value for our members in China and around the world, we would need to implement the Chinese government’s restrictions on content.”
But LinkedIn isn't just blocking this content inside China. The company is removing these posts from its site worldwide. In LinkedIn’s email to me, the company explains it does this to "protect the safety of our members that live in China."
“Yeah, well, I mean, bullshit,” says Chinese social media expert Jeremy Goldkorn. “Their Chinese members should be able to choose what they should post and they know better than a foreign company how to protect themselves from the government.”
LinkedIn got help from Shaun Rein, director of China Market Research, to develop its China strategy. Even he’s disappointed in the company’s censorship policies. “A lot of western players, they so want to make money that they actually do more to heed what they think the authorities want," says Rein.
LinkedIn seems to have recognized this. Durzy says his company will continue to block sensitive content inside of China, but,"after talking to a number of people, we recognized that it may be better if we were to change our policy and allow that content and profile to be viewed outside of China,” he says.
Which leaves me wondering what will happen when I post this story to LinkedIn.
Two of Atlantic City’s casinos, the Revel and the Showboat, closed down this past weekend, bring the total closures to three this year.
Five thousand people lost their jobs, and a fourth casino – Trump Plaza – will shut down in two weeks.
“We’re trying to ease the blow,” says Ben Begleiter, an analyst with UNITE HERE Local 54, the union which represents many casino workers in Atlantic City. The union booked the convention center to get resources to people laid off. “We want to make sure that people have unemployment benefits, health benefits, utility and food assistance.”
Atlantic City is experiencing something that many cities have experienced before it. It hitched itself to a star, and that star faded.
“Atlantic City was predicated on being an east coast monopoly in the casino industry now there’s no monopolies any place,” says James Hughes, dean of the school of planning and public policy at Rutgers University.
All the neighboring states have casinos now, allowing those states to retain their own gamblers and poach some of New Jersey’s.
Despite that, Atlantic City still draws millions of visitors and some of its casinos are still quite profitable. But, says Hughes, “it’s going to have a permanently smaller economy.”
Gambling revenue is still half what it was in 2006.
“The big question is what Atlantic City does in the future to rebuild and diversify,” says Oliver Cooke, professor of economics at Stockton College. “There’s a whole countless litany of proposals that have been put forward,” he says, from expanding resort offerings to making the city a concert destination.
The future of Atlantic City will be the topic of a forum hosted by Governor Chris Christie, on Sept. 8.
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