The recession that began in 2009 and continues to plague the economy of this nation and the world today has shifted the perspective on life insurance. The necessity for the coverage and the specific goals the benefits are intended to address have changed markedly. Traditionally, the assumption has been that young couples take out life insurance to protect their children and surviving spouse in the event of their untimely death. The benefits were intended to cover lost wages and to go toward educational costs and the like. Those are still valid goals, however, if you no longer have young children your life insurance may well protect your adult offspring at a completely different phase of your life and theirs.
If most Americans were honest, they would admit they know very little about the on-going battle for health care reform in the United States. They do, however, share common concerns. Will the changes make health insurance cost more, or will coverage become inexpensive enough that recession-strapped Americans can actually afford to pay the rates?
Over the past 20 years in the United States, sales of life insurance policies have steadily declined. The market picked up some steam after 9/11 with a 3 percent boost only to go flat by 2006, and then start back down in 2007.
Are Americans getting more fatalistic, preferring to limit their worries and their money to the here and now? Maybe, but those who are protected by a policy are covered at higher pay-out levels than ever before. During the same 20 years, the value of individual policies climbed steadily, and now averages about $256,000. Husbands are generally insured for more than $235,000; wives only $147,800. Continue reading
While it’s true that being a smoker will impact the cost of your life insurance premium, and being a heavy smoker can even force you into really expensive no-exam types of policies, it is actually possible for smokers to obtain life insurance.
Interestingly, they type and frequency of your smoking habit can actually affect your rate. For example, a pack-a-day smoker is going to pay a lot, even if they don’t have to get the more expensive policy where medical questions aren’t asked, but someone who only smokes the occasional cigar (and by occasional, insurers mean no more than one a month), will likely not have any issues getting premium coverage, and the same is true for people who use smokeless tobacco in moderation. Continue reading
It’s no secret that the shaky economy is having an adverse effect on both Social Security and Medicare the health insurance system for senior citizens, literally draining both programs’ funding sources much more quickly than had ever been anticipated. In addition, tax receipts that are less than expected and an ever increasing number of baby boomers hitting their retirement years are combining to give both systems a one-two punch that isn’t helping.
But how bad is it, really?
As of yesterday, the projection for when the Medicare hospital insurance fund for senior citizens runs out of money is in 2024 – five years earlier than last year’s estimate of 2029. Social Security funds are also projected to run out earlier than last year’s estimate as well – in 2036, rather than 2037. After that point, the government reiterated yesterday in a new report, payroll taxes only provide enough funding to pay partial benefits.
The National Institutes of Health are proposing new rules for reporting and managing financial conflicts of interest among scientists and other investigators working on NIH-funded medical research.
Frances Collins, NIH Director, said in a press briefing earlier today that updated regulations are meant to promote transparency and ensure that scientists’ findings are not under any influence from financial interest in or payments from companies with their own investment in the outcome of their research. She also said, “Clearly to move forward with innovations, partnerships between scientists and industry remain important. At the same time, we have to protect patients and maintain the public trust.”
The NIH awards more than $23 billion in research grants annually to universities, medical schools and other research institutions.
Under the newly-proposed regulations, the threshold for reporting an investigator’s financial interest would be reduced from $10,000 to $5,000. The responsibility for disclosing and determining such conflicts would become that of the institution, such as medical schools, that have been awarded research grants from the NIH. In addition, institutions would be required to provide management plans for handling any identified financial conflicts, and they must set up a website for public disclosure of their investigators’ financial interests.
The proposed regulations, “Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research for which PHS Funding is Sought and Responsible Prospective Contractors,” will be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register and open for public comment until July 21.