Free rapid tests could still take some time
Jan 14, 2022
Episode 580

Free rapid tests could still take some time

Here's what you need to know. Plus, our first game of Half Full/Half Empty of the year!

Grab your drinks, people. Economics on Tap is back (and we’re starting strong)! In our first Friday show of the new year, our hosts take a look at the anticipated response to a new rule that says private insurers will have to cover the cost of at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. With insurers not quite ready to implement the changes, we take a look at what you can do to get those costs covered when the rule goes into effect this weekend. Then we’ll discuss the impact of a major settlement against the NFL. And as always, we’ll end the show with another round of our favorite game, Half Full/Half Empty!

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Make Me Smart January 14, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal: Ready begin. Oh, look it worked. I said it and it worked!

Kimberly Adams:  It did! It’s like magic.

Kai Ryssdal: I do have some power. Hey everybody. Welcome back to Make Me Smart, making today make sense is what this podcast does.

Kimberly Adams: Well and it reveals your magic. I’m Kimberly Adams, it’s Friday, which around here means happy hour Friday. Snap, snap, snap. As we like to call it economics on tap, thank you so much for, I guess we’re not live streaming today, so for listening whenever you’re listening.

Kai Ryssdal: Just listening. I mean for those for those 5-600 people who usually live stream with us, we’re working on it. We will get back. I promise. We’re training up some people and doing some stuff sort of behind the scenes. But we are going to do some news, we are going to do some half full, half empty. And I need you Kimberly Adams to share what ever that vile concoction is that you’re drinking with the podcasting world.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, so I wanted to do an absinthe cocktail today. So I asked the folks in Discord for their suggestions of something with absinthe that it was not a Sazerac and someone who goes by Jack Daniel – yes, I know, all the things – on Discord suggested this drink called “death in the afternoon,” which is basically absinthe and sparkling wine, which I happen to have, which I know I’m not really a bubbles person. So the fact that I had it was something. But it felt like it needed a little snazzin’ up, you know, so I added of course bitters because I’m me. And then because I am still, still, I’m still trying to finish off that bottle of Midori from that project so long ago of song tails I went ahead and added a little dash of Midori to it and you know what? It’s not bad. It is incredibly strong. This will probably be the only drink I have tonight. But it’s a weird color but it does not taste bad. Unlike the last green cocktail I had it does not taste like college.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s fair. Mine tastes like beer cuz that’s what I’m having. A Golden Road right here, a local brewery now owned by a giant conglomerate. But it’s a session IPF from them just because I got some things to do this afternoon. Look, I’m very straightforward, although I will say in my defense and you gave me a little shout out on Instagram I think, I had some brown liquors over the holidays you know?

Kimberly Adams: Yes you did. You did.

Kai Ryssdal: I know, I know. I contain multitudes Alright, let’s do the news here, shall we?

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, you go first.

Kai Ryssdal: Okay, I’ll go first mines, mines quick and dirty and it’s just it’s more news you can use and so Sarah Cliff, healthcare investigative reporter extraordinare at the New York Times had a piece today on private insurers being required to cover the at-home Coronavirus tests that Americans are going to buy in pharmacies and other stores that starts tomorrow. So your purchases over the holidays, they don’t count. Your purchases yesterday, they don’t count. But any by tomorrow and on is going to count. But Sarah called your insurance companies and said, “Hey, are you guys set for this?” And they said, “No.” They said: “Save all your receipts, save the boxes from these tests save every scrap of evidence because filing these claims is going to be a nightmare.” The quote is, “It’s going to be exceedingly difficult for most health plans to implement this in four days.” Because the rules came out on Monday. So just look out that’s all I’m saying. Be ready, save your docsand and look, buy the tests and get tested, but but it’s gonna be a while before you get paid back. That’s all I’m saying.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, I cannot imagine they had no inkling this was coming.

Kai Ryssdal: We knew – the Biden adminstration was talking about it before the holidays, which is why when my wife bought zillion  – not a zillion she bought like five because that’s all you’re allowed to buy.

Kimberly Adams:  Yeah, I bought five too.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. She said, “Oh, this is great. The health insurance companies are gonna pay us back” and I was like, “No, babe, they’re not because those rules don’t go into effect for two and a half weeks.” So yeah, it’s, they knew it was coming.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah. And I wonder how much of it and you know, far be it from me to assign ill intent to the health insurance industry in the United States. But it feels like they’re preemptively saying they’re going to make it exceedingly difficult to get access to something they’re legally –  to do something that they are legally required to let you do. And I don’t like that at all. But speaking of COVID related things that are kicking in tomorrow, here in Washington, DC, the vaccine mandate for where you have to show proof of vaccination or in order to get into most places, is starting tomorrow. So this is covering, let’s see restaurants, gyms, bars, indoor venues and things like that. And, you know, DC residents like full-time residents, for the most part, we’re just like bet, let’s do this, get it out of the way. But DC also happens to be home to our federal government with many, many people from all over the country who work in the federal government. And several GOP lawmakers who are very opposed to vaccine mandates of any sort, or mask mandates or any of these things have been trying to put pressure on the DC government to block this. Now they have not been able to do it. But they’re going online and tweeting and saying that they’re not going to comply with the local laws. And DC with its weird taxation without representation thing going on, is often dealing with Congress trying to weigh in on local governance, which is highly ironic, given the narrative that often comes from these folks. But anyway, it will be very fascinating, starting tomorrow to see what happens with these people who sit claim that they will not adhere to these requirements, because the fines are pretty stiff for business owners who don’t comply. So that’s my thing slightly related to your thing. Now, I do live in DC now. But as I may have mentioned, once or twice, I’m actually from St. Louis. And there was an amazing story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today about this $790 million settlement between basically St. Louis and the NFL Rams over how they left St. Louis to go to where you are. And to put it mildly., folks in my hometown were salty at the way that that went down. And as one of the lawyers involved said that, because they fought and won this settlement, the St. Louis region had basically gone into a low Luvox obscurity. The settlement put us back on the map in an incredibly positive manner. We just slew the dragon. And this article lays out sort of everything that the city and the sort of tourism bureau and everybody else had to go through to file this lawsuit. They’re accusing the NFL and the owners of like, all these different things and really calculating how much it costs the city to lose the team. They’re saying, the suit said that St. Louis  lost up to $3.5 million a year in amusement and ticket and tax revenue as well as 7.5 million in property tax and 1.4 million in sales tax plus millions in other taxes. The county claimed it lost hotel tax, property tax and sales tax revenue. $18 million that the city spent on a campaign for a new stadium to try to entice the Rams to stay. And so they’re recouping some of this money. And we often hear about how city’s paying for sports stadiums rarely makes economic sense. And on top of that, what they’re saying is that now this case is going to become precedent that people not only look at when a team is coming to town, but when a team tries to leave, so.

Kai Ryssdal: Hmm. Hmm.

Kimberly Adams:  I found it very fascinating.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah. The whole – no, go ahead.

Kimberly Adams: No, I was just gonna say this is what happens when you piss off Midwesterners, we get real petty and we hold a grudge.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, no …

Kimberly Adams: What were you gonna say?

Kai Ryssdal: Well, sports is a business and we can’t ever forget that. But that said, the idea that billionaire owners of these franchises sort of abscond without, you know, thinking it through. I’m not at all upset that the Rams had to pay. Not at all upset. Not at all, you know? Not at all.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: All right. Let’s, let’s do a thing. The first of the year. Here we go! My goodness.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, this is Half Full, Half Empty. I should say that this incredibly strong drink I have is still almost entirely full. Where we give you our thoughts and feelings and emotions and vibes on various topics. Drew Jostad is hosting this for us. Hey, Drew.

Drew Jostad: Hey, it’s great to be back.

Kimberly Adams: 

I know, it’s been a while.

Drew Jostad: Are you half full or half empty on the IRS processing refunds on time this year?

Kimberly Adams:  Half empty for sure.

Kai Ryssdal: Please, please, please, it’s not happening. I mean, so this is the story where the National Taxpayer Advocate which is sort of the – Hello Kai! The advocate for taxpayers within the Internal Revenue, had a report that said they have 5 million pieces of unopened correspondence lying around, forget it, We’re never getting a refund.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, just get it in early, file it digitally if you can. And you know, of course, this is going to be yet another one of those things that hits people who can deal with it – who are least able to deal with it. The folks who are filing their taxes by mail. By the way, Nancy Marshall-Genzer once profiled the Taxpayer Advocate.

Kai Ryssdal: No, I know, it was a great little story. I’m sure it’s on our website.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Kai Ryssdal: There we go.

Kimberly Adams: Ope, puppy!

Kai Ryssdal: One of the dogs is here. Yep. Here we go. It’s Bonzai. She’s been needing some love lately, which I’m happy to provide. Number two, go.

Drew Jostad: Number two half full or half empty on investment in the femtech sector?

Kimberly Adams: Oh, I liked this story.

Kai Ryssdal: Was that on Tech?

Kimberly Adams: Yes it was.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah I thought so. It’s very early one. I heard tech. So.

Kimberly Adams: No, it’s okay.

Kai Ryssdal: Look, at least I remembered it was you.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. No, this is something that actually a bunch of folks on the on the tech team have been dabbling in and out of, but this is the the segment of the tech industry that focuses on products designed for women or intersex folks or other people who have traditionally been neglected by the mainstream consumer tech industry. So the classic thing that people think about when they think about femtech is like period tracking apps, or, you know, the apps that let you track when you’re ovulating, if you’re trying to get pregnant, or even, you know, sexual and wellness type consumer products, but the person that we interviewed was actually talking about really advanced medical procedure tech, like things that help screen more easily for breast cancer or that help kids that are born premature in developing countries. So there’s a lot of tech in this sector that was very interesting. But if the question is half full or half empty on investment in the space, I am still gonna say half empty, because it’s still a very, very small slice of it.

Kai Ryssdal: I’m going with Kimberly on this one, just cuz she’s the subject matter expert. So whatever Kimbery says.

Kimberly Adams: I wouldn’t go as far as I asked questions about it. Next!

Kai Ryssdal: Fair enough. Drew go ahead.

Drew Jostad: Next is half full or half empty on the impact of the vaccine mandate to cross the Canada border?

Kai Ryssdal: I don’t know. What’s, what’s is there? Okay. I don’t know the story.

Kimberly Adams:  If I recall correctly. And Drew might have to correct me. Truck drivers now have to show proof of vaccination to get into Canada, where they’d been exempted in the past. Is that right Drew?

Drew Jostad: That’s correct.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. And so this is tying into all the supply chain issues.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. I think I’m in favor of everybody having to show vaccines up to and including Novak Djokovic, by the way. If I could just mix my stories.

Kimberly Adams: Explain that story.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, well, come on you know, you know, the story, right?

Kimberly Adams: I know the broad outlines of it. But you know, you mentioned it. We’re making everybody smart. You got to add context.

Kai Ryssdal: So Novak Djokovic, the number one tennis player in the world. Oh man, went into Australia saying he had an exemption but the Australians took issue with it. And now it’s a huge mess. And he’s in some sort of immigration limbo. Sorry, I’m just looking to check. He’s in immigration limbo as to whether or not he’s going to be allowed to stay because he entered some false information on his visa application. And it’s just a huge mess. But anyway, get vaccinated.

Kimberly Adams: My whole like, Twitter thread related to this is imagine if it was Serena.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, completely or Naomi Osaka. Are you kidding me? Yeah. Are you kidding me? Right? Totally. Naomi Osaka skips a press conference. And everybody’s all up in arms and the WTA or whatever the, you know, professional organizing bodies, does bupkus to protect her when she’s clearly in mental distress. Right. And now Djokovic, because he’s a white dude is like yeah, I’m gonna go to Australia and see ya. You know?

Kimberly Adams: Break all the rules. No big.

Kai Ryssdal: Right? Rules don’t apply to me. I can’t break them because they don’t apply to me. Come on. Jesus.

Kimberly Adams: Okay, but vaccine requirement for Canada, I’m gonna go full on that one.

Kai Ryssdal: 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m full full.

Kimberly Adams:  … this pandemic to stop, please for the love of God.

Kai Ryssdal:  Mm hmm. Again, again, I’ll just trot out that same phrase, whatever Kimberly said.

Kimberly Adams: 

I like the sound of that. Let’s go with it.

Kai Ryssdal: At least I’m consistent.

Kimberly Adams: Yeah.

Drew Jostad: Half full or half empty on companies using inflation in their marketing?

Kimberly Adams: Tell me more.

Kai Ryssdal:  I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know the specific story wherever you speak. But that would seem to be a double-edged sword. Is there? Is there a reference you can give us Mr. Jostad?

Drew Jostad:  I have a story from Matt Levin on the morning report this week about Del Taco, sort of referencing increased car prices in their advertising? But apparently, they’re not actually using the word inflation unlike they did in the 70s.

Kai Ryssdal: Wow. Look, I mean, it’s not like nobody knows prices are going up. So if it helps you sell your product, I suppose that’s more power to you. I’m half full I suppose, you know.

Kimberly Adams: I mean, advertising that works, I suppose is half full for your company. Not sure how great it is for our arteries to be eating more tacos, although they are delicious. You know, so I’ll just go half and half.

Kai Ryssdal: There you go. Fair enough.

Kimberly Adams: I guess it’s always half and a half. If it’s half full and half empty, then. You know, it’s the same.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s right. That’s right.

Drew Jostad: Yeah, it doesn’t matter.

Kimberly Adams: Nothing matters.

Drew Jostad: This is gonna be an all NFL lawsuit-themed show here. Because are you half full or half empty on a $6 billion lawsuit filed by a resident of New York State against the New York Jets and Giants because they play in New Jersey?

Kai Ryssdal: So I was living in New York as a teenager when the Giants moved to what was then called the Meadowlands. I don’t know if it still is, right. And everybody in New York was like, Oh, my God, are they gonna be the New Jersey Giants now? Blah, blah, blah. And then everybody conveniently forgot about it for you know, 35 ish, 40 years, whatever. And now, I guess it’s back. I don’t care. Dude, man. Get a life. Get a life. $6 billion. Shut up. That’s where I am.`

Kimberly Adams: I mean, despite the fact that I brought a sports story, I don’t really care. Let’s think I should be able to form an opinion about something I know very little about. That’s what we all do. Um, let’s go with half full. Why not? For fun.

Kai Ryssdal: Fair, fair.

Drew Jostad: No justification required.

Kimberly Adams: No. None whatsoever.

Kai Ryssdal: Not at all. Never. Boom, there we go.

Kimberly Adams: There we go.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Well, there we go. half full, half empty. That was it. That was us coming back after three something weeks off. We are off on Monday, by the way for Martin Luther King Day. We’ll be back on Tuesday when we’re talking to Neil Stevenson, about sci-fi. He’s a great sci-fi writer. And we’re gonna talk about a little bit about his latest book, but more importantly about the genre of sci-fi and how that might help us think about the future because I think you have to think about the future a little bit more now. Just the last couple of years has made me anyway realize that anyway. So we’ll be back on Tuesday with that. Me and Kimberly.

Kimberly Adams: Yes. And I do love I do love some sci-fi. If you have questions, comments or just want to share something that made you smile or you have sci-fi recommendations for me, go ahead and send us an email Or leave us a voice message or at 508-827-6278  or 508-UB-SMART. Okay today’s episode of Make Me Smart was produced by Marissa Cabrera and Marque Green it was engineered by the wonderful Drew Jostad. Senior producer is Bridget Bodnar.

Kai Ryssdal: The team behind our game Half Full Half Empty is Mel Rosenberg and Emily McCune the theme music for Half Full Half Empty was written by Drew Jostad he can actually do everything.  The director of On Demand, speaking people who can do everything, is Donna Tam. Oh, that’s some timing right there.

Kimberly Adams: That was beautiful. Nicely done.

Kai Ryssdal: Are you the one who told me about “The Expanse”?

Kimberly Adams: Probably, yes.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah so I watched an episode on a plane and I really liked it and for whatever reason I never got back to it apparently season six is just wrapped up and it’s getting all kinds of love on Twitter so I’m gonna have to go back to that actually.

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer