Domestic Policy

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  Uninsured Get Less Health Care Than InsuredAugust 25, 2008 21:18 Uninsured Americans will spend $30 billion out of pocket for health care, and receive $56 billion in uncompensated care in 2008, new research shows.

Uncompensated care is defined as health care that is received but not paid for by the uninsured or a health insurer.

In a report appearing in Monday's online edition ofHealth Affairs, Jack Hadley, of George Mason University, and John Holahan, Teresa Coughlin and Dawn Miller, of the Urban Institute, analyzed data on medical spending in people who are insured versus those who are uninsured.

They found that people uninsured for any part of 2008 receive about half as much care as those who are fully insured. A person who is uninsured all year will average $1,686 in medical costs, while someone who is privately insured will average $3,915.

And, the researchers pointed out, the uninsured pay an average of $583 (35 percent) of their costs, while the insured pay an average of $681 (17 percent).

"The uninsured receive a lot less care than the insured, and they pay a greater percentage of it out of pocket.
  July Inflation Is A Real ScorcherAugust 14, 2008 09:52 An energy-fueled 0.8% monthly surge in consumer prices—double the rate expected by economists—boosted the year-over-year inflation rate to the highest level since the 1991 Gulf War. But the big August slump in energy prices could counteract the July jump. Meanwhile, another report on first-time unemployment filings points to continued weakness in the U.S. labor market.

The government's consumer price index for July, released Aug. 14, showed a jumbo 0.8% increase in the headline inflation figure, more than the 0.4% expected by the market. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.3%, slightly more than the 0.2% consensus. Energy prices surged 4.0%, and food was up 0.9% in the month. Energy prices were up 29.3% from a year ago, and food 6.0%.

Excluding food and energy, the core CPI was up 2.5% from a year ago, continuing its recent acceleration and well above the Fed's 2.0% top target. The total CPI is up 5.6% from a year ago—the largest year-over-year gain since the 1991 Gulf War—well above the 3.4% rise in earnings reported for the month.
  Jobless Rate Highest In 4 Years, Payrolls DropAugust 03, 2008 00:09 The U.S. unemployment rate hit its highest in four years during July as employers cut jobs for a seventh straight month, though less severely than predicted, a Labor Department report showed on Friday.

The rising toll of job losses and plunging new-car sales in July fueled worry that a recession may be unavoidable and helped drive stock prices lower again.

The jobless rate climbed to 5.7 percent from 5.5 percent in June as 51,000 jobs were eliminated in July, bringing losses for the year to 463,000. Economists had expected 75,000 jobs would be cut last month but had forecast the unemployment rate would rise only to 5.6 percent.

In a separate report, the Institute for Supply Management said manufacturing activity held steady in July and noted some moderation in inflation pressures. Its index of national factory activity slipped a bit to 50 from 50.2 in June -- with 50 being the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

"If you look at ISM and the unemployment number together, it suggests an economy that is, at best, stuck in neutral," said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist with Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.