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31 May
The Closing Donut Hole

If you haven’t been really, really sick in the last few years, you may not have ever heard of the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.  This is the common name in the medical field for a quirky coverage gap where, if you incurred $3,750 worth of drug costs in any given year, you would suddenly be paying for a significant portion of your drug expenses out-of-pocket.  Last year, patients who breached that threshold would have to pay 35% of the cost of brand-name drugs and 44% of generic drugs until their out-of-pocket spending reached $5,000. After that, they would pay no more than 5% of their drug costs for the rest of the year.  Of course, not everybody knew about the donut hole until they suddenly had to pay a significant fraction of the high cost of rare prescription drugs, and their expenses skyrocketed.

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24 May
Shifting Economic Balance

Ever wonder how the balance of the world’s economies have changed over the last 120 years?  Here’s a really interesting snapshot (see graphic), which shows the size of many countries’ stock markets at the beginning of the 1900s (as a percentage of the total), and as of the start of this year.  Notice the enormous growth of the U.S., from 15% of the total to more than 50%. Also notice that much of this growth came at the expense of European economies, notably the UK (down from 25% to 5.5% over the past 120 years), Germany (13% down to 2.8%) and France (11.5% to 3.3%).  Russia and Austria were significant at the end of 1899; less so now.

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17 May
Advance Directives in the Real World

Many people wait too long to create advance health directives and designate a health care surrogate, and the results can be tragic.  A recent article, by a physician who is also a financial planner, illustrates a not-uncommon situation that nobody wants to find themselves in.

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09 May
Habits for Entrepreneurship

Virgin Group founder and self-made billionaire Richard Branson dropped out of school at the age of 16 to start Student Magazine, and later founded Virgin Records—and a few other businesses along the way.  Over time and various blog posts, he has recorded some thoughts on how to be successful in business and in life, apparently without taking himself too seriously.

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03 May
Rich or Comfortable?

What would you have to make to be a one-percenter—that is, to have an income in the upper one percent of the population—in the U.S., Singapore, China, Brazil, England or Australia?  The answer, of course, differs in every country. At the bottom of the scale, someone earning $81,000 a year in India is in the upper one percent, while in the oil rich United Arab Emirates, you’d need to earn $891,000.

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