- Early warnings of steep Obamacare premium increases
- Two workarounds for the high cost and low quality of Obamacare
- The single biggest advantage you can seize on for next year’s taxes
- Never mind earnings, says Chris Mayer: Watch this instead
- Military gear for cops, revisited… reader complains of repetition… clearing up a misunderstanding about the IMPACT system… and more!
The Obamacare bill is coming due. Or, shall we say, bigger bills than have come due already.
As of this morning, health insurers in six states have filed their 2016 rate increase requests for customers who bought their insurance through the “exchanges.” Here in Maryland, the biggest Obamacare insurer, CareFirst, is asking for premiums for most of its members to jump 30.4%.
Some people have it better: The top insurer in Michigan is asking for “only” 9.8%. But others have it worse: BlueCross Blue Shield covers 165,000 people in Tennessee… where it’s asking for a 36.3% increase.
Blame it on rising costs: In Oregon, Moda Health is asking for 25.6% rate increase… because costs exceeded premiums by 61% last year.
Sure, many Obamacare customers get subsidies — or more accurately, advance tax credits. But “for anyone who doesn’t get subsidies,” writes Jed Graham at Investor’s Business Daily, “these increases would deliver a shock.”
And it’s not as if the unsubsidized Obamacare customer will be getting more for his money… which brings us to a dirty little secret about Obamacare.
Our friend Jud Anglin, health services expert for the Laissez Faire Letter, learned about it from a successful insurance agent in California with three decades of experience. For reasons that will soon be obvious, we’re protecting his identity. Here’s what this gentleman says about the various Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum plans under Obamacare…
“This metallic plan program was designed to make consumers believe that they had different options to choose from based upon their perceived health care needs along with their ability to pay.
“But all the providers, like the doctors, surgeons, nurses, etc…. they only see Obamacare as Medicaid — which is why it should be named ‘Obamacaid.’ Whether you have the Bronze plan or Platinum plan, it makes no difference in their eyes. They get paid the same low Obamacaid rate regardless of what plan you have.”
Of course, Medicaid — government health care for people with low incomes — pays providers much less than private insurance plans. That’s why many providers don’t take Medicaid patients.
“Even if you have the Platinum plan,” Jud sums up, “you may be in for a shock when you try to schedule an appointment with a doctor or specialist… because the doctor may not want to see you.
“The good news is there are solutions,” says Jud. “You just have to know where to look.”
One solution to consider is insurance supplementals. “They provide good coverage for incredibly low monthly payments,” he tells us, “some as low as $20 per month.”
For instance, there’s critical illness insurance. “This covers cancer, heart attacks and strokes. When you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, they pay out one lump-sum, tax-free amount.” And you’re not locked into any network of hospitals and doctors.
Then there’s accident insurance. “Suffering a bad fall, a sports injury or even a car wreck can send you to the ER, setting you back thousands. But with accident insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive a check in the mail the following week for $5,000 or $10,000 (depending on the coverage level you opt for) to cover your expenses. This makes it a great option if you need to cover a high deductible.”
These supplementals don’t meet the Obamacare coverage requirements. “However,” Jud concludes, “when combined with your current policy, these options offer you an affordable solution in covering your ever-increasing deductibles.”
Next April 15 is still nearly 11 months away… but it’s not too early to start looking for ways to trim Uncle Sam’s take.
“One of the best ways to do this,” says Laissez Faire tax strategist Mark Kohler, “is by starting your own small or home-based business. Compared with salaried employees, the tax law is far more generous to those who operate their own businesses.”
And many of those business owners don’t take full advantage of the deductions they’re entitled to.
Consider travel-related expenses. “You would be shocked,” says Mark, “to know how many tax returns come across my desk every year from new clients with literally zero travel deductions.”
From a tax standpoint, Mark says you should try to make every trip a business trip. “Plan to attend a seminar for at least half the day when you go to your favorite city,” he says. “You can deduct your travel to and from the city, and the travel day to get there and the travel day you leave are both considered business. Moreover, you can deduct a pro rata share of the trip if you have personal days while there.”
[Ed. note: This morning’s tax guidance from Mark and Obamacare guidance from Jud are ripped from the pages of the current Laissez Faire Letter. Every issue is packed with ideas just like these — empowering you to live a healthy, independent and more prosperous life.
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Major U.S. stock indexes look increasingly like a mountain climber needing more time to catch his breath as the air gets thinner.
After inching its way to another record yesterday, the S&P 500 has pulled back about a point as we write, to 2,128.
The big earnings number of the day is Wal-Mart… and it came in lower than the vaunted analyst estimates. Home Depot delivered a “beat,” but just barely. The mighty American consumer is looking a little flabby again.
As long as we have earnings on the brain…
“If you want to find stocks that return 100-to-1, you have to learn the difference between earnings and earnings power,” says our Chris Mayer.
As we’ve been reminding you for several months, Chris is on the trail of 100-baggers — stocks that can turn a $10,000 investment into $1 million. Tomorrow, he’ll be speaking about his ongoing research project in Columbus, Ohio.
“Earnings are the reported numbers, whatever they are,” Chris explains. “Earnings power, however, reflects the ability of the stock to earn above-average rates on return of capital at above-average growth rates. It’s essentially a longer-term assessment of competitive strengths.”
That’s a distinction Thomas Phelps made in his 1972 book 100 to 1 in the Stock Market: “Failure to distinguish between ephemeral earnings fluctuations and basic changes in earnings power accounts for much over trading, many lost opportunities to make 100 for one in the stock market.”
So Chris is unconcerned about one of his picks that just delivered weaker results, sending the share price down. “All that’s really changed is the stock is cheaper.”
Chris is writing his own book about 100-baggers, inspired by the work of Phelps. “I should have a manuscript ready by the end of the month,” he tells us. Stay tuned…
It’s the dollar that’s the big mover today, thanks to more easy-money talk from the European Central Bank. ECB leaders are suggesting they might amp up their “quantitative easing,” buying even more bonds than originally scheduled before the summertime trading lull.
The euro’s recent rally is pausing for the moment; the Esperanto currency has slipped more than 1.5%, to $1.114. The dollar index has leaped to 95.4.
And with that, gold is down nearly $17 as we write, to $1,209. Crude is taking an even bigger hit — down nearly 3%, at $57.80.
“Maybe we should do what Schindler did during WWII,” a reader writes after we connected some interesting dots yesterday. “He had his factories make ammo that was just slightly off spec and therefore would not be able to be fired by the Germans.
“Since Iraqi soldiers are going to run away and leave their American weapons behind anyway, as they did in Ramadi, when the ISIS fighters try to use them, they won’t work!”
The 5: Hmmm…
As long as you brought it up, we should follow up on the domestic side of all that military gear. Radley Balko of The Washington Post reminds us the 1033 program isn’t the only place your local cops can armor up as if it were the Third Infantry Division; indeed, little of the weaponry brandished in Ferguson last year came from 1033.
“Since 2003,” Mr. Balko writes, “the Department of Homeland Security has been giving grants to police departments around the country to purchase new military-grade gear. That program now dwarfs the 1033 program…
“It has also given rise to a cottage industry of companies that build gear in exchange for those DHS checks. Those companies now have a significant lobbying presence in Washington. I suspect that presence will now only grow stronger. So if the Obama administration really wants to roll back police militarization, this program needs reform too.”
That doesn’t necessarily shoot down our thesis yesterday — that someone within the federal government is growing worried about all that military gear falling into “the wrong hands” during a mass uprising. Frequently, one arm of the government has no idea what another arm of the government is doing.
“Two annoyances that seem to be becoming chronic,” reads the subject line of a reader’s email.
“One is the Canadian piggyback scheme to realize great wealth, security, etc. Despite the tons of superfluous hype, nothing specific is given other than a desperate desire for contact information. If this scheme is so good and safe, why not give out some details of how (specifically) it works? Does this wondrous program also cure snakebites and baldness ?
“The other, of course, is your desperation to push this IMPACT trading bit. It seems that every other insert links to the same exact hype.
“The first big assumption is that your readers have a brokerage account, and that (also big assumption) they are going to lay out big money for an unknown ‘system.’ Bear in mind that Rickards was CIA and is still associated with a corrupt, inefficient and greedy government out to grab whatever is not nailed down. From the desperation manifest in this attempt at a hard sell, he must really need some long green right now.
“C’mon, guys! Give us a break and get back to hard data and reliable information. Please.”
The 5: You might not like it when we say this, but… We’re responding to the marketplace. We wouldn’t hammer away at these two ideas if they weren’t resonating so strongly with prospective subscribers.
As for Jim Rickards, he was doing just fine before he came to terms with Agora Financial about doing a suite of services with us. His links to people within the intelligence community? They’re no more suspect than his links with Wall Street hotshots and central bankers. In both instances, he’s determined to speak his truth to everyday Americans in a way the elites can’t or won’t.
“There are enough people in positions of real power who see what I see and won’t be honest with people about it,” he told us last summer. “And they’re perfectly prepared for all those people to lose all their money. I think that’s despicable.”
“So many readers seem to be getting touchy (and not feely, either) lately,” writes our final correspondent, whose letter we’re truncating to stay within our 5 Mins. today. “Could it be heightened anxiety? Stress over what is going on? I’m going through a bit of that now, but I switched jobs, and it will pass. (Ya, I still need one!!)
“I’ll give those who complain about the length of the presentations a nod, but so what if you are a little repetitive? You folks are head and shoulders staffed above any others that are doing this, from what I have seen! And the prices, when you do get around to saying, are as reasonable as anybody’s! Better than some others, actually! Keep up your good work!”
The 5: Thank you.
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Let’s clear up one potential misunderstanding about Jim Rickards’ IMPACT system.
Yes, it gives you a way to profit from the currency wars waged by governments and central banks. But it does not entail forex trading. That’s a sure way to get skinned alive. Besides, it’s no fun to stay glued to a trading screen every waking hour (and these days, sleeping with one eye open and peeled on a smartphone).
The IMPACT system steers clear of all that… and still delivers the potential for returns of 533%… 955%… and more. All within the space of a few weeks or months. Give it a look right here.