Category Archives: Money and risk

Your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan bets

Pill bottle

In recent posts, I have discussed viewing the selection of Medicare Part B Medigap and Part C Advantage plans as a set of probabilistic “bets” that you are making with your money against your health. This post extends that idea to Medicare Part D prescription coverage plans that were first instituted in the early 2000s during the George W. Bush… Read more »

The human costs of innumeracy

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Samoa

“I don’t do math!” How often have you heard this expression, sometimes more as a brag than an excuse for some consequential mistake? As of December 19, 2019, seventy-seven people, many of them small children, had died in the small South Pacific island nation of Samoa. The cause of the epidemic was a confluence of several factors, but a significant… Read more »

Seven bets on your Medicare supplement

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Medigap

An old cynical joke says that when you buy life insurance, you are betting that you are going to die, while the life insurance company is betting that you are going to live. Having just survived the annual mail onslaught from prospective Medicare supplement providers, I found it helpful to view the different plan options as bets on several different… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 2

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In a prior post I introduced my view that we are not paying enough attention in the healthcare discussion to the top-line “giant cash suck” that causes U.S. healthcare costs to be over twice the per-capita level of many countries that achieve true universal coverage while delivering equal or better outcomes. In this second part, I will explore where much… Read more »

The “giant cash suck” of healthcare – part 1

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Michigan

What do the great cathedrals of Europe, the Las Vegas “Strip” and an impressive new hospital in economically-challenged northern Michigan have in common? They all answer the question, “Who controls the big cashflow here?” I have been struck in awe visiting many Old Europe cathedrals, but I also have been troubled by the “real history” of the stark contrast between… Read more »

Marginal investors and the sport of curling

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I have long compared professional investment advising to the sport of curling. The financial market is this heavy stone sliding down what seems like an inexorable path toward some destined end. But instead of the sport’s two sweepers trying as a team to influence the “curl,” or the direction of that stone, the capital markets employ tens of thousands of… Read more »

How credit card debt makes income inequality worse

Debt leverage

Debt financing is commonly called leverage for a good reason: The lever is one of the classic “six simple machines” we learned about in school. Using a long stick and a fulcrum, a lever trades distance moved for force, enabling the lifting of a heavy object, or, in a financial example, the purchase of a new car with little money… Read more »

A refresher on Trump real estate finance

With the recent New York Times publication of an investigation into Donald Trump’s early-1990s taxes, a lot of bad information has bounced around social media from both Trump’s supporters and his detractors. I wrote a four-part “primer” about how Trump real estate finance works last April, plus a follow-up in May, but this post is a “TL;DR” for those who… Read more »

More than you wanted to know about e – part 2

Part One of this post looked at the mysterious number called e, also called Euler’s number, a transcendental number (never resolving in our decimal numbering system) with a value of approximately 2.71828. That prior post showed examples of this value occurring repeatedly in nature and in the world of finance. This post gets a bit more technical to present perspectives… Read more »