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Americans need to separate health insurance from our jobs

Americans need to separate health insurance from our jobs

If we want to radically improve insurance and health care in our country to ensure that every American receives the care they need, we have to be bold. And that begins with divorcing insurance from where we work.



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Not only would that improve the choices of consumers, but it would also help lower costs and provide more options for people who aren’t covered in the current system. That would empower individuals to choose their health plans according to their needs.

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As of March 2019, the U.S. Census estimates that 91% of the population had health insurance. Nearly one third receive coverage from government health insurance, whether Medicare, Medicaid or state employees. Left out are approximately 29.9 million Americans without health insurance — public, private or otherwise.

The number of uninsured is an important metric because it is the target group for most substantial health insurance reforms of the past decade, including Obamacare at the federal level and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility at the state level, both problematic in their own right.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 45% of the uninsured say the cost is too high, while 31% of the uninsured lost their coverage because they made too much money for Medicaid or they changed employers.

The single largest category of the insured in our country is those who receive insurance through their jobs, approximately 54%. Why is that?

Since 1973, the federal government provided incentives to employers who set up Health Maintenance Organizations for their employees. Since then, our health insurance market has pivoted to match having a job with health insurance. Incentives to employers to cover health care for their employees is good policy on its face, but it has led to unforeseen economic consequences.

Employee

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The Stock Market and Economy: Still Separate

The Stock Market and Economy: Still Separate

Between March 23 and Aug. 1, the MSCI World Index surged 45%.[i] Meanwhile, global gross domestic product (GDP) was down sharply and unemployment was at historically high levels. How can the stock market climb while the U.S. economy is in a significant contraction and facing plenty of political and geopolitical uncertainty?

The economic pain and suffering tied to our current economic contraction are real. Many people are out of work, many businesses are in danger of bankruptcy and cities across the country face significant budget shortfalls. And yet, against this stark backdrop, stock prices march higher. Is this the sign of a world gone mad or of a new relationship between the market and economy? Should we worry or cheer? Stop investing or buy more stocks?

At Fisher Investments, we don’t believe stocks’ recent rise is a sign of madness nor that it marks a new disconnect between the economy and the stock market. Granted, COVID-19 has certainly offered plenty of novelty. In just a few weeks, it drove stocks from all-time highs into bear-market territory, due to the government-imposed economic lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the virus. While the historical particulars and the social and cultural context are new and unique, what isn’t new, in our opinion, is the likely longer-term outcome.

The world currently faces plenty of problems, but we believe the longer-term economic prognosis is positive, despite shorter-term uncertainty. For long-term investors, as we explain below, the apparent disconnect between the economy and the stock market seems like a normal phenomenon, as bull markets often begin with jobless recoveries, only modest GDP growth and widespread investor pessimism. It may seem callous, but markets can climb despite widespread suffering caused by regional conflicts, civil wars and even global pandemics.

Stock Market Prices in Probable

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