Archive

Posts Tagged ‘health-insurance’

A Growing Number Of People Oppose Obamacare

October 17th, 2013

health careBarack Obama’s number one job is not to defeat the Republicans.  Rather, his number one job is to run the government well.  And when it comes to Obamacare, he has failed miserably.  The launch of Obamacare has been such a colossal fiasco that words like Read more…

Consumer, Economy, Government, Healthcare

Why Obamacare Will Just Make Things A Whole Lot Worse

August 6th, 2013

health careEverybody in America wants health care – but most Americans seem to want someone else to pay for it.  In the United States today, the way that our system works is that the hard working, productive members of society pay for the health Read more…

Government, Healthcare

50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam That Is About To Collapse

February 25th, 2013

health careThe U.S. health care system is a giant money making scam that is designed to drain as much money as possible out of all of us before we die.  In the United States today, the health care industry is completely dominated by government bureaucrats, health insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations. Read more…

Consumer, Economy, Healthcare

Tech Firms That Will Get a Boost From Obamacare (NYSE:IBM, NYSE:ACN, Nasdaq:ORCL)

January 4th, 2013

January 1, 2013 marked the beginning of the era of universal mandates, penalty taxes, tax credits and health insurance exchanges. Of all the features of Obamacare, the whole concept of health insurance exchanges should pique your Read more…

Healthcare

Nullification Goes Mainstream; States Defy Washington on Drugs and Health Care

November 11th, 2012

John Rubino: As the federal government gradually assimilates the rest of the country, a few states have begun to fight back. From the Kansas City Star: Read more…

Economy, Government, Healthcare

Things Are Getting Worse As Median Household Income Has Fallen 4 Years In A Row

September 13th, 2012

New numbers that have just been released show that things are getting worse for American families.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income declined to $50,054 in 2011.  That is a 1.5 percent decline from the previous year, and median household income Read more…

Economy

Our Economy Has Been Collapsing, It Continues To Collapse, and The Collapse Is Going To Accelerate Dramatically

August 27th, 2012

Michael Snyder: Did you know that median household income in the United States is lower today than it was when the last recession supposedly ended?  Read more…

Economy, Markets

This Huge Company’s Stock is Ridiculously Cheap

May 9th, 2011

This Huge Company's Stock is Ridiculously Cheap

There's something more to insurance giant Aflac (NYSE: AFL) than just the funny (and wildly successful) duck mascot.

Weighing in at a hefty $26.8 billion market cap, Aflac (originally the American Family Life Assurance Co.) writes supplemental health and life insurance in the United States and Japan. The company's products are marketed through multiple channels in both countries, which add up to 80% of the company's revenue. I'll discuss its distribution model in greater detail later because, to me, that's one of Aflac's greatest strengths — especially as the health care environment in the United States evolves.

The company's products in the United States include cancer policies and various types of health insurance, including accident and disability, fixed-benefit dental and hospital indemnity. Other products include long-term care, short-term disability and ordinary life. In Japan, the products are similar, also including hybrid products and stand-alone, whole-life medical plans.

Leveraging a strong brand and breakout numbers equal investor success…
So while the Aflac duck continues to quack and entertain while strengthening the brand, the numbers do the real heavy lifting. In the past five years, revenue has risen from $14.4 billion to $20.7 billion in 2010, a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Not too shabby for a company that large. The five-year earnings per share (EPS) growth story is even better: a 13.9% CAGR through 2010. The average annual return on equity (ROE) has come in at a little better than 21%. Typically, 20% and northerly is an indicator of good things.

Thanks to the leftovers of the 2008 financial crisis, there has been some persistent concern for the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) Aflac holds in its investment portfolio. However, the company has done a superior job of risk management by lowering MBS holdings to 1% of the portfolio from 1.5% the prior year.

So far, Aflac has come out of the gate strong in 2011. First-quarter operating EPS came in at $1.63 per share, which handily beat the consensus of $1.41. There was also marked improvement in the company's U.S. business: U.S. sales growth for the first quarter of 2011 was positive for the first time in nine quarters. But keep in mind that the United States represents only 20% of the business. Japan pays the bills, and Japanese sales grew by 13% for the same quarter.

Speaking of Japan, saying “Aflac” and “investing” in the same sentence lately makes the “Nervous Nellies” break out in hives. Is there risk to Aflac's Japanese business thanks to the earthquake and tsunami? Of course there is. Enough to knock the stock back nearly 10% or so (see chart below) in the trading days following the disaster. Shares fell from the $56-55 range to $50 and some change.

Uncategorized

This Huge Company’s Stock is Ridiculously Cheap

May 9th, 2011

This Huge Company's Stock is Ridiculously Cheap

There's something more to insurance giant Aflac (NYSE: AFL) than just the funny (and wildly successful) duck mascot.

Weighing in at a hefty $26.8 billion market cap, Aflac (originally the American Family Life Assurance Co.) writes supplemental health and life insurance in the United States and Japan. The company's products are marketed through multiple channels in both countries, which add up to 80% of the company's revenue. I'll discuss its distribution model in greater detail later because, to me, that's one of Aflac's greatest strengths — especially as the health care environment in the United States evolves.

The company's products in the United States include cancer policies and various types of health insurance, including accident and disability, fixed-benefit dental and hospital indemnity. Other products include long-term care, short-term disability and ordinary life. In Japan, the products are similar, also including hybrid products and stand-alone, whole-life medical plans.

Leveraging a strong brand and breakout numbers equal investor success…
So while the Aflac duck continues to quack and entertain while strengthening the brand, the numbers do the real heavy lifting. In the past five years, revenue has risen from $14.4 billion to $20.7 billion in 2010, a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Not too shabby for a company that large. The five-year earnings per share (EPS) growth story is even better: a 13.9% CAGR through 2010. The average annual return on equity (ROE) has come in at a little better than 21%. Typically, 20% and northerly is an indicator of good things.

Thanks to the leftovers of the 2008 financial crisis, there has been some persistent concern for the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) Aflac holds in its investment portfolio. However, the company has done a superior job of risk management by lowering MBS holdings to 1% of the portfolio from 1.5% the prior year.

So far, Aflac has come out of the gate strong in 2011. First-quarter operating EPS came in at $1.63 per share, which handily beat the consensus of $1.41. There was also marked improvement in the company's U.S. business: U.S. sales growth for the first quarter of 2011 was positive for the first time in nine quarters. But keep in mind that the United States represents only 20% of the business. Japan pays the bills, and Japanese sales grew by 13% for the same quarter.

Speaking of Japan, saying “Aflac” and “investing” in the same sentence lately makes the “Nervous Nellies” break out in hives. Is there risk to Aflac's Japanese business thanks to the earthquake and tsunami? Of course there is. Enough to knock the stock back nearly 10% or so (see chart below) in the trading days following the disaster. Shares fell from the $56-55 range to $50 and some change.

Uncategorized

The Value of REAL Sovereign Debt Ratings

May 6th, 2011

Mike LarsonIf there’s anything we’ve learned about the major ratings agencies, it’s that they’re almost ALWAYS a day late and several bucks short.

In the early 1990s, they failed to downgrade or adequately warn about ailing life and health insurance companies … until it was too late.

In the early 2000s, they didn’t cut Enron’s debt ratings until days before the company went broke.

In 2008, Moody’s actually rated Bear Stearns “A2″ on the very day the firm failed! Standard & Poor’s gave it an “A.”

Just a few months later, when Lehman Brothers crumbled, they screwed up again! On the very morning the giant investment bank collapsed, Moody’s still gave it a rating of A2; S&P gave it an A; and Fitch gave it an A+!

Finally, we all know that the agencies blessed billions and billions of dollars worth of crappy mortgage securities with tip-top AAA ratings. Those securities subsequently imploded, helping precipitate the worst credit crisis in the history of the U.S.

That’s why I’m incredibly excited that Weiss Ratings is throwing its hat into the sovereign debt ring.

For far too long, the public debt markets have been dominated by the same major agencies that screwed up royally in the private debt markets. Weiss aims to change that by publishing accurate, timely, and conflict-of-interest-free ratings.

And this week, I’m going to tell you how you can put those ratings to work as an investor.

Practical, Real-World Uses for
Reliable Sovereign Ratings

By this point, you’re probably already using the Weiss Ratings to identify safe and sound banks that are deserving of the money you keep in checking accounts, savings accounts, and certificates of deposit. You’ve also probably used the stock ratings we publish in conjunction with TheStreet.com to identify the equities that offer the biggest margins of safety, and greatest profit potential.

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The Weiss sovereign debt ratings can help guide your investing strategy as well. Think of our A, B, C, D, and E ratings as stamps of approval or disapproval. Just like you wouldn’t want to place $1 million in unsecured deposits in a D-rated bank, you wouldn’t want to invest too much of your money in the bonds of a country with a lousy rating.

Sovereign credit ratings don’t just impact bond prices, either. Big money investors take them into account when deciding which international currencies and stocks to buy as well. Timely sovereign ratings, like those published by Weiss, can help guide your investment decisions in those markets, too.

Following sovereign credit ratings could also help you anticipate moves in currencies.

Following sovereign credit ratings could also help you anticipate moves in currencies.

Here’s an example: Sweden is rated B+ and the U.S. is C. Sweden’s economy grew at a 7.3 percent year-over-year rate in the fourth quarter, while the U.S. has been growing much more slowly … 2.3 percent YOY in the most recent quarter.

Sweden’s central bank is also taking its inflation-fighting job much more seriously than the U.S. Federal Reserve. It has raised interest rates six times since last July while the Fed has just twiddled its thumbs!

Investors have rewarded Sweden by dog-piling into its currency. The Swedish krona has jumped roughly 36 percent in value over the past 12 months while the U.S. Dollar Index has tanked 18 percent.

If you were able to follow the lead of the Weiss Ratings, you could have generated hefty profits …

All you would have had to do was buy the currency of the country with the stronger rating (using something like the CurrencyShares Swedish Krona Trust, or FXS) and sell the currency of the country with the weaker ratings (using, say, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bearish Fund, or UDN).

Foolproof? No.
Extremely Valuable? Absolutely!

Now I’m not going to suggest the Weiss Ratings are completely foolproof. Other factors influence the price of sovereign bonds, currencies, and equities, and they must be taken into consideration. Those factors include relative growth outlooks, interest rate differentials, fiscal policy approaches, and more.

But I do believe you now have another powerful tool to put in your investing toolbox — and you’d be wise to use it! If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you click here to go to the Weiss Ratings website and learn more about the ratings as soon as you can.

Until next time,

Mike

P.S. Want to learn even MORE about America’s debt crisis — and how to protect yourself? Then I urge you to register for our upcoming conference — America’s Financial Armageddon — on Wednesday, May 11. Registration is free but you must do so by Tuesday, May 10. Click here to register now.

Read more here:
The Value of REAL Sovereign Debt Ratings

Commodities, ETF, Mutual Fund, Uncategorized

Weiss Ratings: No Rise in Health Insurer Medical Costs for First Time in 10 Years

February 14th, 2011

JUPITER, Florida (February 14, 2011) — For the first time in ten years, the U.S. health insurance industry is expected to report no rise in medical expenses, according to a new study of 852 health insurers by Weiss Ratings, the nation’s only provider of independent insurance company ratings.1

Overall, health insurers incurred medical expenses of only $234.9 billion in the first nine months of 2010, representing a $3.7 billion, or 1.6%, decrease from the $238.6 billion in medical expenses reported during the same period in 2009.

Moreover, based on this trend, Weiss Ratings estimates that medical expenses for the entire year will decline as much as $9.8 billion, or 3%, from $323.1 billion in 2009 to $313.3 billion in 2010.

Commodities, ETF, Mutual Fund, Uncategorized

Searching for Lenny Skutnik: Small Business Owners and the State of the Union

January 25th, 2011

The president delivers his State of the Union message tonight. We’re told he’s going to say some things about the economy. We don’t yet know what those things will be…but for clues, we’ve checked out this year’s list of Lenny Skutniks.

You probably don’t remember, and neither did we, till we looked it up: Lenny Skutnik became momentarily famous in 1982 after an Air Florida plane crashed into the icy Potomac River in Washington, DC.

He dove into the river to save a passenger. Days later, Skutnik sat in the gallery for the State of the Union. President Reagan pointed him out by name and commended him.

Thus began a tiresome tradition – the president pointing to “everyday Americans” in the gallery as an example of heroism – or, more typically, as an example of why their policies are so swell.

If a president hopes to launch some new signature program, then some potential beneficiary of that program is sure to be sitting in the gallery during the State of the Union.

Lenny Skutnik

Looking over this year’s Lenny Skutnik list, we see 25 invited guests. They are…

  • The vice president’s wife
  • The president’s chief liaison to Congress
  • Two corporate CEOs
  • Four people connected to the shootings in Tucson
  • Three service members, and one service member’s spouse
  • Five students, either high school or college
  • A cancer patient we’re told is benefiting from the new health care law
  • Seven small business owners

So one out of four guests is a small business owner. This might lead us to wonder if the president will call a truce in the War on Small Business we’ve explored in this space from time to time. Maybe he’ll launch an initiative to address issues like these…

  • Companies with 20 or fewer employees pay more than $10,500 per employee to comply with federal regulations, according to the Small Business Administration’s advocacy office
  • Companies with 500 or more employees pay less than $7,500 per employee
  • That gap will surely grow next year with the infamous “1099 provision” of the new health care law – requiring business owners to send IRS 1099 forms to everyone from whom they buy $600 or more in goods or services each year.

Sadly, no. Two of the invited small business owners got $500,000 in federal money to retool their part of a roofing business into a solar panel factory. Two more got $250,000 to open an organic ice cream shop.

Another supposedly saved $10,000 in health insurance premiums for his employees thanks to tax credits tucked into the health care law. And the last two own the company whose technology helped rescue the trapped miners in Chile.

Conclusion: Unless you manage to be part of a feel-good story or you’ve taken a handout for some politically correct cause, you don’t count. The War on Small Business is still on.

Addison Wiggin
for The Daily Reckoning

Searching for Lenny Skutnik: Small Business Owners and the State of the Union originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning. The Daily Reckoning, offers a uniquely refreshing, perspective on the global economy, investing, gold, stocks and today’s markets. Its been called “the most entertaining read of the day.”

Read more here:
Searching for Lenny Skutnik: Small Business Owners and the State of the Union




The Daily Reckoning is a contrarian e-letter, brought to you by New York Times best-selling authors Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin since 1999. The DR looks at the economic world-at-large and offers its major players – investors, politicians, economists and the average consumer – some much-needed constructive criticism.

Uncategorized

Why Congress will not bail out YOUR bank!

November 17th, 2010

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Not long ago, Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG and dozens of the world’s largest financial institutions were on the brink of failure.

Washington rushed to the rescue with trillions of dollars in loans and guarantees. London, Berlin and Brussels did the same.

The crisis subsided. The market rallied. And Wall Street eventually breathed a great sigh of relief.

But now, as 2010 approaches a close …

A New, Broader Kind of Crisis Is Looming

Now …

  • We not only have a debt crisis among corporations, but we also have a debt crisis for entire national governments — Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, and even Washington.
  • The threat of big losses is not merely to those holding individual stocks or bonds, but to anyone who has assets denominated in the U.S. dollar.
  • The political will to bail out banks is not only gone, the new Congress is actually inclined to reverse prior bailouts.

In sum, the old theory that giants like Citigroup, Bank of America or AIG are “too big to fail” is dead! They are actually too big to SAVE!

Beyond the standard, oft-flawed safety nets — such as the FDIC for the banks and the state “guarantee” associations for insurers — every institution you trust with your money is largely on its own.

Fortunately, some have the wherewithal to withstand the toughest of times.

But many do not.

So the big question now is …

How can YOU know the difference?

How can you know if your bank or insurance company has what it takes to survive the worst of shocks?

How can you know if it’s likely to fail even in normal times?

My team and I worked through last weekend and are now working around the clock — quite literally — to put the finishing touches on a brand-new presentation that will give you the answers:

It’s a complimentary online video that’s designed to do three things:

  • Help you make sure that you never have to lose another minute’s sleep worrying about your bank CDs, money market accounts and checking accounts
  • Show you how to safeguard your life insurance, annuities and health insurance, plus …
  • Evaluate the safety and potential of your stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

So be sure to watch your inbox. The minute this all-important video is available for viewing, you’ll be among the first to know.

Good luck and God bless!

Martin

Read more here:
Why Congress will not bail out YOUR bank!

Commodities, ETF, Mutual Fund, Uncategorized

Why Congress will not bail out YOUR bank!

November 17th, 2010

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

Not long ago, Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG and dozens of the world’s largest financial institutions were on the brink of failure.

Washington rushed to the rescue with trillions of dollars in loans and guarantees. London, Berlin and Brussels did the same.

The crisis subsided. The market rallied. And Wall Street eventually breathed a great sigh of relief.

But now, as 2010 approaches a close …

A New, Broader Kind of Crisis Is Looming

Now …

  • We not only have a debt crisis among corporations, but we also have a debt crisis for entire national governments — Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, and even Washington.
  • The threat of big losses is not merely to those holding individual stocks or bonds, but to anyone who has assets denominated in the U.S. dollar.
  • The political will to bail out banks is not only gone, the new Congress is actually inclined to reverse prior bailouts.

In sum, the old theory that giants like Citigroup, Bank of America or AIG are “too big to fail” is dead! They are actually too big to SAVE!

Beyond the standard, oft-flawed safety nets — such as the FDIC for the banks and the state “guarantee” associations for insurers — every institution you trust with your money is largely on its own.

Fortunately, some have the wherewithal to withstand the toughest of times.

But many do not.

So the big question now is …

How can YOU know the difference?

How can you know if your bank or insurance company has what it takes to survive the worst of shocks?

How can you know if it’s likely to fail even in normal times?

My team and I worked through last weekend and are now working around the clock — quite literally — to put the finishing touches on a brand-new presentation that will give you the answers:

It’s a complimentary online video that’s designed to do three things:

  • Help you make sure that you never have to lose another minute’s sleep worrying about your bank CDs, money market accounts and checking accounts
  • Show you how to safeguard your life insurance, annuities and health insurance, plus …
  • Evaluate the safety and potential of your stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

So be sure to watch your inbox. The minute this all-important video is available for viewing, you’ll be among the first to know.

Good luck and God bless!

Martin

Read more here:
Why Congress will not bail out YOUR bank!

Commodities, ETF, Mutual Fund, Uncategorized

Economic Irony: Creating Bubbles to Maintain Stability

November 11th, 2010

“Global Backlash Grows,” says The Wall Street Journal.

This is the backlash against Ben Bernanke’s crackpot money-printing scheme.

The foreigners don’t like it. Because the US is flooding the world with “hot money.” This fast cash chases oil, commodities, collectibles, farmland – just about everything.

It creates bubbles. It distorts markets. And it will certainly lead to busts and bankruptcies…and maybe to hyperinflation, too.

So, sit back and enjoy the show, dear reader. It’s the greatest show on earth. Yes, it will most likely lead to embarrassment and poverty in the US. Yes, the US dollar will cease being the world’s reserve currency. And yes, America’s leading economists – many of whom have won Nobel prizes – will be shown to be hapless goofballs.

But this is all good news to us. Under the leadership of modern US economists, Americans have been getting poorer for the last 10 years.

Why? How could that be?

With the encouragement of the Fed and Congress, Americans consumed more than they produced. “Go out and buy an SUV,” said a Federal Reserve governor. “Buy a new house,” said Fannie Mae. “Spend, spend, spend,” said mainstream economists.

Result: Americans have less real, net wealth than they had when this millennium began.

Now, finally, the average yahoo is wising up. He’s lost this job. And he knows he’s been played for a fool. But he’s learning. He’s defaulting on his mortgage…and he’s paying down his debt.

Consumer credit keeps contracting…it went down by $2.1 billion in September.

But the feds have kept at it. They tempted him with lower interest rates: the Fed brought its key rate down to zero; it can’t go lower.

The Fed also bought up worthless mortgage loans so he could borrow more cheaply and took over Fannie and Freddie so they could continue suckering people into a lifetime of mortgage payments. The latest word is that losses from Fannie and Freddie could reach to $363 billion through 2013, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

But with Tea Partiers in the House…and the Fed hard up against the “zero bound,” what else could they do?

The Fed could print money! No need to ask Congress to pass spending legislation now. Forget what it says in the Constitution. The Fed can print money. And it can use the money how it sees fit – even funding an “off the records” stimulus program if it wants to.

Each dollar is, in effect, a liability of the US government…engaging the full faith and credit of the government and its taxpayers. But what law was voted on? What act of Congress authorized spending billions of dollars?

How came it to be that the taxpayers are on the hook for $600 billion more in financial responsibilities with no vote of their elected representatives? No point in even asking the question….

This is, after all, late, degenerate state-guided capitalism. If Congress can make citizens buy something they don’t want – such as health insurance – surely the Fed, which is a privately-owned bank, can write checks from the taxpayers’ checkbooks. Heck, nothing is too absurd.

So, the Fed goes boldly where no sensible person would want to go. It is trying – trying! – to create bubbles…asset bubbles, to make people feel like they have more money. If people feel richer, the feds reason, they’ll spend more money. Presto, we’ll be richer.

Are we beginning to rant and rave? Are we “losing it”? Is there a doctor in the house?

Regards,

Bill Bonner

for The Daily Reckoning

Economic Irony: Creating Bubbles to Maintain Stability originally appeared in the Daily Reckoning. The Daily Reckoning, offers a uniquely refreshing, perspective on the global economy, investing, gold, stocks and today’s markets. Its been called “the most entertaining read of the day.”

Read more here:
Economic Irony: Creating Bubbles to Maintain Stability




The Daily Reckoning is a contrarian e-letter, brought to you by New York Times best-selling authors Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin since 1999. The DR looks at the economic world-at-large and offers its major players – investors, politicians, economists and the average consumer – some much-needed constructive criticism.

Commodities, Uncategorized

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