National / International News

Americans who have bought Obamacare are getting a good deal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:49

Over the past several months, some 3 million Americans have bought health insurance through a state or federal exchanges. According to a new report out this morning from PricewaterhouseCoopers, contrary to many initial concerns, consumers might actually be getting a pretty good deal.

PWC’s Ceci Connolly says the average premium on an exchange is lower than the average premium of an employer-sponsored health plan, and that when the exchanges opened in October, there was concern these new products might be flimsy and expensive.

“That’s one of the misperceptions out there. That somehow they are barebones or you are not really getting adequate medical insurance,” she says.

Connolly says even when you factor in all the out-of-pocket costs, the average top tier gold and platinum plans are similar to employer ones.

And that’s just how insurers want it.

“They see an opportunity to capture new customers. We believe part of the strategy was to be competitive,” she says.

But Matt Eyles with Avalere Health says there is an important difference between employer and exchange plans. “One of the big ways insurers have achieved this is by having a more limited choice or narrower network of providers,” he says.

Restricting doctor choice is a key way insurers keep costs down.

Eyles says if exchanges do well, he can imagine the 156 million people who get insurance at work may one day find themselves shopping on private exchanges a lot like the public ones. 

Child porn at dead teacher's home

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:46
Child sex abuse images are found by potential buyers at the home of a dead teacher, sparking a police inquiry.

Nowell & Burrell handed England debuts

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:45
Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell win their first caps as England make four changes for the Six Nations match against France.

Economy Ended 2013 With Growth Still Strong, Data Suggest

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:45

The nation's gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate, according to a preliminary estimate. That's solid growth and follows an even stronger third quarter. But claims for unemployment insurance rose last week.

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Fulham sign Stuttgart's Kvist on loan

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:44
Fulham complete the signing of Denmark international William Kvist on loan from Stuttgart until the end of the season.

Meet The Cronut's Humble Offspring: The Doughscuit!

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:39

The Cronut is old news. A Chicago restaurant offers the latest doughnut hybridization: an impossible mix of doughnut-fried sweetness and crumbly biscuitness.

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Meet The Cronut's Humble Offspring: The Doughscuit

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:39

The Cronut is old news. The latest donut hybridization is a doughnut-biscuit from a restaurant in Chicago.

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DONG brings Danish government to the brink of collapse

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:35

Things aren't looking so great for Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Socialists have quit her three-party coalition government, and Danes are protesting a bid by Goldman Sachs to take over state-owned utility, DONG Energy. The parliament approved the deal approved by this morning. The BBC's Marie Keyworth has the latest on the story from Copenhagen. Click the audio player above to listen.

DONG brings Danish government to the bring of collapse

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:35

Things aren't looking so great for Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Socialists have quit her three-party coalition government, and Danes are protesting a bid by Goldman Sachs to take over state-owned utility, DONG Energy. The parliament approved the deal approved by this morning. The BBC's Marie Keyworth has the latest on the story from Copenhagen. Click the audio player above to listen.

Russia names Volgograd bombers

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:33
Two suicide bombers who killed 34 people in the south Russian city of Volgograd were members of an Islamist militant group in Dagestan, says Moscow.

Inquiry told of abuse by older boys

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:32
A witness tells the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry that he was sexually abused by older boys at a children's home in Londonderry.

Tanzania manhunt for serial killer

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:31
Police in Tanzania are hunting a lone gunman who has killed eight people and injured three over several nights in the northern region of Mara.

A different way to pay for college

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:19

The president didn’t say much about college affordability in his state of the union address this week, unlike in previous years, but some members of Congress are pushing the issue. U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced a bill Wednesday that would waive tuition at public universities. Instead, students would pay a percentage of their incomes after graduation.

The concept is known as “pay it forward,” because ultimately the money graduates pay into the system would help fund college for those who come after them. Too many students are daunted by high tuition and expensive loans, says Bonamici. The average debt load for the class of 2012 was more than $29,000.

“We’re hoping that this actually encourages more students to enroll and complete college, knowing that they’ll be able to finish and pay back a percentage of their income,” Bonamici says.

Like a version already introduced in the Senate, the House bill is modeled after a pilot program in Oregon. Similar plans have been floated in states like New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Critics say forking over a chunk of their paychecks for 20 or 25 years could actually cost students more over their lifetimes.

“Changing what you call the financial obligation doesn’t mean that it’s not a financial obligation,” says Lauren Asher with the Institute for College Access and Success.

The idea is to test out a new way of paying for college, says Bonamici. If it passes the bill would provide federal funding for states that want to try it.

VIDEO: Neanderthals gave us disease genes

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:17
Gene types that influence disease in people today were picked up through interbreeding with Neanderthals, a major study in Nature journal suggests.

Banks look to exit commodities

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:13

JPMorgan is rumored to be selling its commodity business. The deal could be worth around $2 billion for the bank.

Commodities have been profitable for banks in the past. But now several banks are changing course.

To understand what’s changing, let’s start with how this business actually works.

Banks do more than trade commodities. Their holding companies will actually take possession the physical commodities, like aluminum or oil.

“So it might mean that you own tankers that sit off-shore, filed with oil, waiting for the price to rise. Most people don’t associate that kind of business with a traditional banking business,” says Duke University finance professor Campbell Harvey.

Government regulators aren’t crazy about the idea either.

“Federal agencies have been taking a much closer look at this kind of activity,” says law professor Michael Barr. He now teaches at the University of Michigan. From 2009 through 2010, he worked at the Treasury, helping to reform the rules for Wall Street.

He says the feds are reconsidering whether banks should be in the commodity business. Barr says, “If it’s traded for short-term swings in profit, commodities trading could be one of the activities that would be curtailed by the Volcker rule.”

JPMorgan and other banks have been looking for an exit.

Campbell Harvey says it would be good for the banking industry to move away from commodities.

“I don’t feel that good about bailing out a bank because of some bad bets they made on commodities,” says Harvey.

Sunderland complete Scocco signing

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:12
Sunderland sign Internacional's Argentina striker Ignacio Scocco on a two-and-a-half-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

Day in pictures: 30 January 2014

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:07
24 hours of news photos: 30 January

Pair deny forced labour charges

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:03
A father and son deny forcing a man to work at their farm near Newport over a period of three years.

'No plans' for school holiday change

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:02
Sources close to Education Secretary Michael Gove say the government is not planning blanket changes to extend the school year and day in England.

Team GB in low-key kit for Sochi

BBC - Thu, 2014-01-30 05:02
Team GB athletes should wear understated kit while travelling to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, the British Olympic Association says.

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