Trump administration courts investors in broad effort to combat rising health care costs

The Trump administration is battling rising health costs by going after higher prices.
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Mortgage Rates Are Rising. Here’s What That Means if You Want to Buy a Home

Earlier this year, mortgage rates hit a seven-year high, fueling speculation that it was time to buy if you were in the market for a new house.

But mortgage rates have continued to climb since then — up nearly a full percentage point this year to 4.85% in mid-October. And data from the National Association of Realtors suggests potential homebuyers may finally be feeling the pinch.

Existing home sales have fallen 4% since January, and the number of new homes under construction has dropped 10% during the same period.

So far, a monthly mortgage payment on a $ 250,000 home has gone up about $ 150, Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Leonard Kiefer told The Penny Hoarder. “And that is quite substantial.”

And with the Fed likely to raise interest rates further in the coming year, it will just get pricier to take out a mortgage in 2019.

“Economists across the board are starting to forecast higher rates,” Kiefer said. And a lack of new housing just keeps pushing home prices up.

Still, there is some pent-up homebuying demand. The U.S. has one of the tightest labor markets in years, so the market might see modest growth in 2019, despite rate increases.

So if you are ready to make the leap from renting to buying, there are concrete ways to find savings.

Mortgage rates and housing prices vary across U.S. cities and lenders, Kiefer said. So if you are still planning to buy a home, make sure to do your research on the local market. Also, shop around for the lowest mortgage rate possible.

Getting one additional quote before locking in a rate and buying a home could save you $ 1,500 over the life of the loan, according to Freddie Mac.

Once you find the right rate, here are some other slick ways to save money on your mortgage.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He’s feeling the sting of regret for not shopping around for his mortgage.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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Housing stocks get hit hard amid weak data and worries on Wall Street about rising interest rates

Housing stocks fall broadly after analysts at Credit Suisse lowered their ratings and price targets on several companies in the sector.
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Rising prices and interest rates are a ‘one-two punch’ to homebuyers, Lennar chairman says

"Of course, we respect, like many, the independence of the Fed, but at the same time, would we like them to slow down the pace? Of course we would," Lennar Executive Chairman Stuart Miller said.
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New Study Finds Health Care Costs Are Rising Almost Twice as Fast as Wages

If you’ve noticed an increasingly bigger chunk is coming out of your paycheck for medical premiums and deductibles, you’re not alone, according to a newly released survey.

In 2018, the cost of premiums has outpaced raises and inflation, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employer Health Benefits Survey found.

The 20th annual survey looked at cost trends for the 152 million Americans who are covered by health insurance — almost half of the population.

Together, employers and employees now spend $ 19,616 annually on coverage per family, while single coverage costs $ 6,896, according to the foundation.

From 2006 to 2012, premiums rose 37%, while salaries increased only 18%.

Who’s Affected Most by Rising Health Care Costs?

“Rising health care costs absolutely remain a burden for employers, but they’re a bigger problem for workers as their cost sharing has been rising really much faster than their wages have been rising in recent years,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Average family premiums increased 5% in the past year, while singles paid 3% more. Meanwhile, wages outpaced inflation by just 0.1%, according to the report.

In general, employees at smaller companies shoulder a larger percentage of premiums and deductibles than their counterparts at bigger firms, Altman said. Average deductibles were $ 2,132 at small firms versus $ 1,355 at large employers (200 employees or more).

The cost paid for deductibles rose 212% over the past decade — eight times the growth of wages, he said.

On the upside for smaller firms, 27% of employees’ entire premium costs are employer-paid, versus 6% of employees at large companies, according to the report.

How Much Are We Paying for Health Care Each Year?

The average premium amount contributed by all workers is $ 1,186 for a single person and $ 5,547 for a family. Although that’s about the same as last year, the average amount for family coverage has increased 21% since 2013 and 65% since 2008, Kaiser found.

Most workers also are responsible for copayments when they go to a doctor’s appointment. The average is $ 25 for primary care and $ 40 for specialists, Kaiser calculated. Many workers also pay coinsurance of 18% of the covered amount of each visit, whether to a primary-care doctor or a specialist. (That was about the same as in 2017.)

Kaiser officials said employees should read their companies’ websites carefully to determine the most cost-effective option, although they acknowledge that the choices may not be plentiful.

“When you can, you should shop around,” Altman said.

Susan Jacobson is an editor for The Penny Hoarder. She also writes about health and wellness.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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#CancelKavanaugh Continues: Sexual Assault Survivors Aren’t Done Rising Up

This Thursday marked one week since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously testified before the Senate Judiciary committee about the night she alleges that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was just 15. To honor her powerful testimony, Women’s March organized a day of action on October 4, calling on Senators to #CancelKavanaugh.

In Washington, D.C., thousands came together to show solidarity with sexual assault survivors, declare that they believed Kavanaugh’s multiple accusers and insist that he be rejected for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest Court. Activists came to the nation’s capital via coordinated transportation from major cities including Boston and New York; they marched from Terry Courthouse, where Kavanaugh currently sits on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to the Supreme Court, where they made noise and demanded to be heard.

That day of action, however, also marked the release of an incomplete FBI investigation. In response, Women’s March stunned the nation by packing the Hart Senate building with over 1,000 activists from all over the country. The halls echoed with voices shouting a consistent chant: “Believe survivors.”

Later that night, feminist leaders and organizations staged an all-night People’s Filibuster outside of the Capitol Building, organized by Indivisible. Speakers including Senators Nancy Pelosi, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Christopher Murphy and John Lewis joined advocates like Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal to demand dignity for survivors.

Smaller events were also organized on the spot in other cities and on college campuses.

The report’s release was followed, today, by a floor vote on the Senate advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination—and now, what began as a single protest has become a days-long feminist marathon of activism.

Today, activists continued to come together on Capitol Hill, including celebrities like Amy Schumer (once featured on the cover of Ms.!), who was arrested along with over 300 other protestors during demonstrations at the Capitol as Senators voted this morning.

After Senator Joe Manchin voted to advance Kavanaugh today, protestors swarmed his office. A crowd of survivors were arrested outside of Senator Jeff Flake’s office for protesting his own vote to advance Kavanaugh.

As the Senate casts their final votes on his nomination tomorrow, the protests will continue.

Feminist Majority will be leading rallies in Tuscon and Phoenix. They’re aiming to appeal to Senator Jeff Flake, who insisted on an investigation when approving Kavanaugh to advance out of committee but said in a statement today that he intends to vote “yes” tomorrow. Events will also take place in cities across the country as part of the #CancelKavanaugh movement. (If you can’t take to the streets before the Senate vote, you can still make your voice heard.)

Regardless of how this fight ends, feminists have made clear that they’re not going silently into the night—and that they will remember this moment in November, and for years to come. The historic activism that has emerged since Blasey Ford came forward has forced the entire country to reckon with its rape culture, and women will continue to shatter silence around violence in the wake of her courageous testimony.

Rosalind Jones is a writer and global feminist thinker with a focus on international women’s liberation. Her goal is to use her writing and language skills to elevate the voices of gender equality advocates in all corners of the world. She is an Occidental College graduate with a degree Diplomacy and World Affairs and is currently an editorial intern at Ms.

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