Things That Have Crossed Our Desk…

Health Care is a Big Number.

There is nothing more Rube Goldberg-esque than health care in America. It is one scaffold stacked on top of another scaffold. No one would ever create this system from scratch. But so be it, we have to play the hand we’re dealt.

The good news is health costs have been rising at a slower rate recently, from double digit increases to slightly more manageable levels. In addition the public seems satisfied with Medicare and Medicaid. It’s the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know. Medicare is complicated what with all the deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance but most of us have mastered the lingo well enough that we don’t want to learn something new. It would probably be even more complicated and confusing.

The health insurance price tag, however, is still significant. Medical prices have consistently gone up faster than the general rate of inflation. Money Magazine estimates that the typical 65 year old couple retiring this year will pay $11,752 in health care costs. This includes premiums on Medicare (both Parts B and Part D - drug coverage) and all copayments, deductibles and other out of pocket expenses. It also includes dental care which Medicare doesn’t cover. By age 85 the typical annual medical cost in today’s dollar goes to almost $32,000.

Caveat Emptor, these costs do not cover long term care either in the home or in a facility. And these costs are a biggie since so much of health care spending occurs in the last year or two of life. Our only advice: stay healthy!

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What’s in a Name Anyway?

In China I guess a lot is involved in a name. Hainan Island, the “Hawaii of China” is at the very southern tip of the country. Hainan has oodles of resorts and hotels and many use old world European names to spice up their image. But China is getting more nationalistic and Hainan officials are taking the lead, threatening to eliminate the “worship of foreign things” and replace “feudal” names with Chinese monikers. The JinJiang Group, a Chinese company with over 10,000 hotels worldwide uses names like “Victoria” and “Heidelberg” for some of its “Vienna” brand hotels. Hainan officials want these names “rectified,” although what “rectified” means is still very unclear. Even names associated with China’s imperial past such as “Coral Palace” and “Imperial Garden District” are thought to be no-nos.

This got us thinking about where this blame-game-in-names might end. The Trump Organization has registered dozens of trade names in China including Trump Estates, Trump Plaza, and, of course, Trump Tower. What if these get on China’s no-go list of names. And how do we respond? Does Washington fight back by forcing a renaming of “General Tso’s Chicken” in 10,000 Chinese takeout restaurants across the U.S.? It’s a complicated world.