Marketplace Scratch Pad

Morning Reading

Scott Jagow Aug 3, 2009

Just a couple of things to point out this morning, including a disturbing look at health insurance math. Let’s start with that.

Consider Unconscionable Math by Taunter Media. It’ll take you a while to read this article on rescission, the retroactive cancellation of health insurance policies, but it is well worth reading. A sample:

It is in the health insurer’s interest to have application fraud, not only because it saves time and expense on the front end, but also because it lets them get out of any policy that isn’t going well for them. If the health insurer had to verify the information… it wouldn’t have the opportunity to bail out. It would catch more genuine liars, but many of these liars would have turned out to be healthy, profitable customers, and what the carrier really wants is a population devoid of expensive claims, not devoid of liars.

…if a bank manager went to half of his highest net worth clients and said “sorry, you misspelled your address when you opened your account, I’m confiscating your balance,” he would be lucky to get himself assigned to minimum security.

NPR looks at whether the US is becoming more like Europe and vice-versa:

Daniel Yergin chronicled the global expansion of capitalism in a book and TV series titled The Commanding Heights. He says confidence in the capitalist system has been shaken by the financial crisis…

“You know, Washington, D.C., is not only the political capital of the United States, it’s the financial capital, it’s the auto capital, it’s the energy capital, it’s the health capital of the United States,” he says. “So I think people recognized that the game is here — here in Washington.”

More from Harvard professor Ken Rogoff:

He says a move toward European-style capitalism, with its more generous social safety net and tighter regulation, will mean higher taxes — and not just for the wealthy.

“Certainly, the administration and the Democrats talk about raising all the money from the wealthy,” he says. “But I think the empirical evidence shows that’s not likely to begin to pay for everything, and the tax hikes are going to have to be much broader.”

Given what the administration is contemplating on health care, the environment and other initiatives, Rogoff estimates taxes could rise by 25 to 50 percent. And he argues there’s no question that higher taxes would slow U.S. growth and raise unemployment closer to European levels. While Rogoff says he might personally tolerate that in exchange for European-style social benefits, it’s not clear that most Americans would.

Fortune has the six ways to be happier at work:

“Most people make the mistake of thinking that success leads to happiness. In fact, our brains work precisely the other way around,” says Shawn Achor, head of Aspirant, a consulting firm that advises clients like Microsoft, American Express, Credit Suisse, and UBS on how to keep morale and productivity up in these extraordinarily difficult times.

A positive approach to the daily grind, he adds, “gives rise to resilience, energy, and the ability to influence other people — all things that create success.”

So if you want to come through this downturn with flying colors — and maybe even a promotion or a raise — you need to think positive.

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