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This Week's Editorial
Thinking About Health PDF Print E-mail
Written by Trudy Lieberman   

Quiz of the day: Will next year’s insurance rates go up or down?

It’s now the silly season for insurance rates with government agencies, consulting groups and the media all speculating about next year’s premiums. Will your insurance premiums go up or down this fall? Never before have I seen such intense interest in insurance rates, which editors have usually considered a snoozer of a story.

It’s no wonder, though, that insurance rates are hot news. They’ve become as politicized as the Affordable Care Act itself. Supporters of Obamacare have focused on what people pay for health coverage—remember all that stuff about it being affordable? And opponents? Well they jump into overdrive when any shred of evidence points to higher rates. So what’s really going on?

For starters, you’re apt to hear a lot of talk about average increases or decreases. Forget about them! Averages are just that—averages. That reminds me of the old joke: Did you hear about the statistician who put her head in the oven and her feet in the refrigerator? She said, “On average, I feel just fine.”

Although Obamacare supporters, opponents and state insurance regulators use them to indicate a general direction of where rates are headed and sometimes twist them to suit the political points they want to score, most of us don’t pay average rates.

“The end game is the actual rate someone pays,” said Jim O’Connor, an actuary with the consulting firm Milliman. The increases themselves, he added, don’t tell you which policy has the most affordable rate. Some people will pay higher premiums in 2015; others will pay less.

What premiums a company charges for next year will depend somewhat on what it charged this year. O’Conner explained that a carrier that charged high rates in 2014 may be asking for lower rates for 2015 to make its policies more competitive. Insurers that sold coverage with lower premiums last year in an effort to grab market share may be raising them for the next round.

In those cases, a company may have experienced a lot of sick people signing up for coverage. That means a lot of claims to pay and the need for higher premiums next year. Remember insurance companies are not charitable institutions.


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Holyoke Enterprise July 17, 2014

 

 
Extension Corner PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Talamantes   

Stinking smut stirs commotion

There has been a lot of commotion in the past week about stinking smut, or common bunt, in this year’s wheat crop. Calls started coming in to the office in the middle of last week, mostly concerning one specific variety.

As of then, CSU researchers said they don’t believe that the particular variety is any more susceptible to this disease than others, but they are looking in to that possibility. All varieties of wheat are susceptible to bunt.

Bruce Bosley, CSU extension agronomist for Morgan and Logan counties, wrote an excellent article on the subject.

In addition, I would also like to add that some of the questions that have surfaced are what to do with contaminated grain and if it can be fed to livestock.

I was able to find two publications from other areas that had the following to say: The Alberta Department of Agriculture and Rural Development stated “Smutted grain should be stored separately from clean grain. Heavily smutted or bunted grain will not be accepted at the elevator and may even be difficult to sell as feed owing to respiratory or feed refusal problems that might result. Smuts and bunts are not toxic to livestock.”


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Holyoke Enterprise July 17, 2014