Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.

Opioids Are Killing Us: Here’s What We Can Do About It

Written with Larry Wedekind, Goodman writes: The treatment of choice, almost everywhere, is called Medication Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.) and it involves substitute drugs. It has an 80% failure rate. There is a treatment that involves microcurrent neurofeedback and a recovery support team. It costs one-fifth as much and has a high probability of success. What the Trump administration can do: create CPT (payment) codes for this new method of treatment. What Congress can do: reform the Obamacare exchanges. More.

Kotlikoff: Why You Should Pay Down Your Mortgage

Do you have a mortgage on your house? And instead of paying off the mortgage are you investing money elsewhere? If so, then you are borrowing (from a mortgage company) at one rate and using the funds to invest at a lower rate – after adjustment for risk. Larry Kotlikoff says it makes more sense to pay off the mortgage – especially under the new tax law. More.

Why Paying Down You Mortgage May Be Better than Investing in a 401(k)

The amount you will save by paying off your mortgage rather than investing in securities amounts to more than one year’s income. If the alternative is to invest by means of a 401(k) – with the advantage of tax-free growth – it’s a closer call. But even here, many families will be better off if they pay down the mortgage. More.

Want To Sue Social Security? This May Be Your Chance

In its February 2018 report, Social Security’s Inspector General formally accused SSA staffers of reducing the benefits of thousands of widows — to the collective tune of $132 million. Here’s how the fraud, intentional or not, works. SSA forces, cajoles, suggests, or simply permits widows to unwittingly simultaneously file for both their survivor’s (widow’s) and retirement benefits. Doing so prevents widows from taking one of these two benefits early and the other later, after it has grown dramatically. MORE.

Surprising Economics of Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise medical bills arise when hospital patients discover that certain fees are not covered by their health insurance. The reason for the surprise is that the patient’s insurance company and the hospital itself list the hospital as “in network.” Then, when the bill is presented, the patient discovers that certain doctors or certain services were “out of network.” As I wrote previously, in a free health insurance market this would rarely happen. Do you know of any other insurance market where this is a problem? I don’t. More.

Henderson in the WSJ: Some Drug Prices Are Too Low

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Goodman Institute Senior Fellows David Henderson and Charles Hooper say unwise federal policies are causing drug prices to be unnaturally low. This is causing shortages, low quality and unreliability of supply. Currently, as many as 260 drugs are unavailable or in short supply in the U.S. shortages are blamed for some patient deaths. More.

Republicans Have a Health Plan – Finally!

Nearly 150 House Republicans have signed on to a health plan that matches very closely the Goodman Institute plan developed for Donald Trump. It includes personal and portable health insurance, 24/7 access to a personal doctor, telemedical care in the patient’s own home, flexible Health Savings Accounts and a real market for the chronically ill. More.

The People’s Choices for Health Reform

Our reform framework was developed from extensive market research into demonstrated patient preferences. It draws on inputs from more than 25,000 patients, doctors, and health care professionals to determine what
stakeholders instead of politicians want from a health care plan. It is the first health care reform plan that comes directly from people rather than from Washington backrooms. Written with Alfredo Ortiz. More.

Kotlikoff in the WSJ: Myths of Warrenomics

Elizabeth Warren economic advisers say the rich pay the lowest tax rates of all. Laurence Kotlikoff says they are wrong. Using the most sophisticated tools available to economists, Kotlikoff finds that among 40-year-olds, the top 1% face a lifetime average net tax rate of 34.5 percent. Yet when positive and negative taxes (benefits) are included, the poorest fifth are facing a rate of – 46.6 percent. For every dollar people in the bottom fifth earn, they get 46.6 cents back from the government. More.