Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary “reading list” which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for “reading list” items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.
- Japan shares outperform, crude continues drop (Lise Twaronite, Reuters) The Nikkei stock average soared to a 7-year high Tuesday (11 November), buoyed by falling oil prices and the rumor that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might postpone the next consumption tax hike scheduled 11 months from now.
- Obama officials work on health site contingency plans as enrollment nears (Amy Goldstein, The Washington Post) As the Nov. 15 beginning of open enrollment nears, administration officials have been eager to draw public attention to the fact that parts of the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov computer system, have been rebuilt. They have said online insurance applications will be easier to use and new federal managers are in charge. But, behind the scenes, contractors are working to have a back-up system in place if and whenever problems arise.
- ACA ‘family glitch’ unlikely to be fixed soon (John Murawski, Raleigh News & Observer) There has been a lot of publicity about the ambiguous wording in the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care) law that has been interpreted by Obamacare opponents to prohibit federal insurance subsidies for all who obtain policies through the federal HealthCare.gov website. That case is scheduled for a Supreme Court hearing. But there is another case of sloppy statute writing which is causing problems which is not likely to end up in court. It is called the “family glitch”. The PPACA law is written to define employer-provided healthcare insurance as affordable if it has an employee cost of 9.5% of income or less. If the employer plan is affordable the employee and immediate family members are not eligible for ACA policy subsidies based on income. The IRS interpretation of the law is that, if the employer plan is affordable for the employee only, it remains affordable no matter what the cost to add family members. Because the Republican majority in the House (and soon to be in the Senate) wants to repeal the law, correction of the wording defect is unlikely. In 2012 North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin testified before Congress:
“The average salary of North Carolina state employees is about $41,000. And the cost of family coverage in the basic plan is $516 a month, which is not affordable for many state employees.
“Because employee-only coverage for this plan is provided at no cost to the employee, all family members would be prohibited from obtaining subsidies through the exchange.”
The News&Observer article has the following conclusion:
According to Monday’s policy brief, the average U.S. worker contributed $999 a year for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2013, but the cost of insuring an entire family was $4,565.
The federal health law doesn’t require employers to provide truly affordable health insurance to spouses of employees, only to the employees themselves. “The primary concern was the employers would raise the employee’s share of family coverage, driving even more families to opt for premium tax credits,” the policy brief said.
Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, has introduced a bill to fix the “family glitch” but its prospects are not favorable.
Because the ACA requires that most Americans have health insurance, spouses who can’t afford coverage will have to apply for an exemption under federal law so they can avoid paying penalties.
The policy brief referred to is The Family Glitch (Health Affairs with support of Robert Woods Johnson Foundation).
- Articles about conflicts and disease around the world
New York doctor cleared of Ebola, which means there are no known Ebola cases in the U.S. (The Washington Post)
Suicide bomber kills 48 students in Nigeria (Associated Press, MSN News)
The battle for Kobane offers a glimpse of Kurds’ new model democracy (The Conversation)
UK drone carries out first strike in Iraq (BBC News)
US must not miss another chance to mend fences with Iran (The Conversation)
The Russian Sanctions Are Working: Putin Can’t Keep Buying Popularity (New Republic) Hat tip to Ken Workman, GEI Discussion Group, LinkedIn.
Russian Planes ‘Play Dangerously’, Report Warns (Skye News)
Putin Hits on China’s First Lady, Censors Go Wild (Foreign Policy)
New Russia-China deal could further hit natural-gas prices (China Spectator)
Jail sentence for South Korea ferry captain (Reuters) Video
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