Call it the luck of the draw. When a series of viral infections destroyed my wife's thyroid gland she needed to take a hormone replacement drug. Her health insurer mailed a 90-day supply of Levothyroxine, the generic version of Synthroid, which had no effect. When she refilled the prescription the insurer mailed another 90-day supply, but this time the pill was etched with the brand name Synthroid. Within days she felt better. This seemed strange, since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that brand name and generic drugs, which can be produced when the brand name comes off patent, are "bioequivalent." But what does bioequivalent really mean? Indifferent insurers I switched jobs and, in turn, health insurers, and soon discovered that our new insurance company wasn't interested in the difference in efficacy between Synthroid and its generic Levothyroxine. Our insurer told her it would only pay most of the cost of the generic and that she would have to pay out of pocket for the brand name - even though the generic didn't provide any results. Talking with drug company representatives, pharmacists and doctors, it became clear that this is a common problem, especially since 80 percent of all… (continue reading......)
New York City's multi-billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the ultimate social engineer. Not content to run our country's biggest city, Mayor Mike is out to reshape human behavior. He's gone after tobacco, sugared drinks, super-sized sodas and guns. Now, like certain dogs, he's chasing cars. And the result could cost New York, New Jersey and Connecticut motorists more in car insurance -- or even make it more difficult for them to get. Some of Bloomberg's cockeyed crusades have merit, but he has also butted heads with more rational thinkers. The New York State Supreme Court blocked his plan to stop the sale of 32-ounce sodas in local stores. The International Olympic Committee nixed his bid to bring the games to New York. And his grandiose vision of a pro football stadium on the city's already overcrowded west side never scored a touchdown. But let's give Mayor Mike his due. For a man often described as a "nanny stater," he definitely knows how to play hardball. Car counting One of his less-publicized endeavors, keeping passenger cars out of his city, shifted into high gear when traffic "counters" with clickers were stationed at each corner on the way into the city to… (continue reading......)
The annual postcard from my township assessor arrived. At first glance it looked like good news. The appraisal of my New Jersey coast home was lower by almost $60,000, which indicated that this year's taxes should go down. Then I thought about it. There was a reason why the assessment was less. Assessments reflect housing values, and my house, like most others in the Long Beach Island area of Ocean County, had been flooded by Superstorm Sandy. Now we, as homeowners, will be faced with a myriad of new problems and all of them, in some way, seem to involve insurance. My conclusion: it is getting more and more difficult to either repair -- or sell -- our homes. Risky business The natural inclination of property insurance companies is to avoid risk. So when an area has too much risk, insurers back off, as they did in the Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Just how much is too much? Sandy is the sixth costliest insurance event in our country's history, with up to $25 billion in losses just for private insurance companies, predicts Insurance Information Institute (III) President Bob Hartwig. And now two of the top… (continue reading......)
A lot of people are complaining about their home insurance policies. And the loudest cries are from the victims of Superstorm Sandy, who are trying to rebuild on a shoestring budget. These homeowners say their insurance companies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the banks are keeping a tight lid on the amount of money they thought they would get. Now we can add the victims of sinkholes such as the unfortunate residents of Seffner, Florida, where Jeff Bush was swallowed up whole and his neighbors forced to flee their homes. Florida allows people to obtain sinkhole insurance, which may cover some of their needs, but the restrictions on this insurance have tightened up after tort lawyers took advantage of it. Earth, wind and fire The basic premise of home insurance is that events emanating from the earth, like earthquakes, floods, water seepage, and even mudslides, aren't covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. The wind that blows your roof off or flings a branch through your window is a "covered peril." So is fire damage, assuming that you didn't intentionally start the fire. But there are a lot of variables in a home insurance policy that don't fit… (continue reading......)
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