Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Healthcare Insurance Coverage Information

The Kaiser Family Foundation has put up  comparisons of one new way (if passed) to obtain healthcare coverage and two existing ways of obtaining healthcare coverage (subsidized coverage) for those who lost job-based health insurance since in the Covid-19 pandemic. I had talked about two of the ways previously.

Options

The two existing options (besides over priced Cobra) are:

  • Medicaid, for which 47% of those lacking insurance are eligible (Kaiser’s estimate) and,
  • ACA Subsidized Marketplace Coverage, for which 31% may be eligible dependent on income.

A third possible option alluded to above is the subsidization of 100% of the cost of COBRA (now 65% subsidized of cost of employer sponsored healthcare) premiums as provided in the House  HEROES Act recently passed. This new bill could win some Republican backing in the Senate even with McConnell blocking it and calling for a stipulation to be inserted in the bill to release companies, providers, hospitals, etc. of liability. As written, the Heroes Act would be a windfall for employers, healthcare providers and insurers as well as individual recipients. The first three pluses favoring Republicans are likely to support.

Comparisons

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Coronavirus dashboard for June 2: the US has settled into a depressing status quo

Coronavirus dashboard for June 2: the US has settled into a depressing status quo

– by New Deal democrat

The US seems to have settled into a status quo where it accepts 20,000 new coronavirus infections and 1,500 deaths each day. This is what I forecast about a month ago, as lockdown regimens were abandoned in much if not most of the country: periods of waxing and waning waves of infection because there simply isn’t the political or social willpower to “crush the curve.”

Meanwhile Vietnam, a developing country with a 90,000,000 population, which immediately went on a regimen of testing and tracing per the WHO recommendations, and has nearly universal wearing of masks, has not recorded a single coronavirus death. Below I show cases, because there are no deaths in Vietnam to show!:

Domestically, it continues to be the case that only Oregon, with a population of about 4.5 million, in addition to several rural States and the island State of Hawaii, has “crushed the curve”:

 

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Coronavirus dashboard for May 31: comparing US States and regions with European countries

Coronavirus dashboard for May 31: comparing US States and regions with European countries

 by New Deal democrat

Among all countries in the world, Sweden has the worst death rate from coronavirus: 5.9 per million per day over the past week. But, even with massive declines from their peaks, most of the States in the US’s eastern megalopolis are worse.

To begin, here’s Kevin Drum’s dashboard of major European countries, plus Canada, as of May 27:

He doesn’t show it, but since Spain had the worst outbreak among major Western European countries, here it is:

 

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Meanwhile, As Minneapolis Burns

Meanwhile, As Minneapolis Burns

So now we are all focused on the recent horrific murder in Minneapolis and now the subsequent events that are happening in many parts of the nation, with Minneapolis the epicenter.  This is serious, and I have an idea how it will end.  This has even distracted us from the usual pandemic and economic issues, which are historically serious.

But while all this has been going on, just in the past week or so our president has been engaging in a series of serious actions that will have long run serious consequences people are barely aware of if they are not undone.  It is almost as if he is just outright melting down his presidency and taking the nation with him, although we are too busy looking at the flames in Minneapolis to notice.

Here is a list without comment. The US will withdraw from the Open Skies  agreement, first proposed by President Eisenhower, that has 35 other signatories.  The administration claims the Russians are breaking the treaty, although the specific offenses publicized seem to have nothing to do with this treaty at all.  This follows Trump withdrawing us from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement, the Paris Climate Accord, the the TPP, and the Iran JCPOA nuclear deal that Iran was adhering to.  Today it was announced that the US will withdraw from the World Health Organization. The administration is proposing changing the status of Hong Kong in connection with the US as well as possibly forcing Chinese corporations to leave the New York stock exchange, not to mention that the daughter of the CEO of Huawei is about to be extradited to the US to be prosecuted for fraud in connection with violating US sanctions against Iran. Another round of EPA regulations are to be ended. Trump refuses to provide aid to the US Postal Service, which might go bankrupt later this year, with Trump declaring that voting by mail is a rigged fraud. He has also issued an executive order to allow the FTC to make social media subject to lawsuits by his conservative allies. And then also today it was announced that his official pandemic task force is now effectively not functional.

There  is more, but all that is more than quite enough.

Barkley Rosser

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Death And The Pandemic Economy

Death And The Pandemic Economy

The relation between death and the pandemic economy is a fraught one that has become hotly debated, although with not much clear empirical evidence.  I note that recently over on Econbrowser Menzie Chinn has had a series of posts on this matter in various forms.  Obviously a big issue has been the claim by the anti-lockdown crowd that not reopening the economy quickly will lead to an increase in suicides by the increasingly large numbers of unemployed people out there.  There certainly have been many studies in the past showing a variety of bad social outcomes from high unemployment, including suicides, domestic abuse, drug abuse, depression, and more. There does seem to be some strong evidence of several of these notably higher domestic abuse and depression.

When it comes to suicide and death more broadly, the empirical picture is very murky.  Menzie in one of his recent posts reported on a regression he ran covering monthly data from 1998 to very recently that used dummies for months and then unemployment rates and suicides (in the US) and found the an unexpected “wrong sign” with lower suicides correlated with higher unemployment, although this was not a statistically significant result. He provides no explanation for why this odd result seems to be there, but it does show that this is not a simple matter.

Regarding current data on the main question, so far there does not seem to be any data showing a noticeable rise in suicides in the US since the pandemic, with only reports of some increases among medical personnel, who have suffered from overwork, stress, and even guilt, along with fear.  That we might be seeing that out of them is completely understandable.

So why might we not be seeing much increase in suicides so far despite all the things going on such as increased depression as well as unemployment and more that would suggest we might expect to see it?  Some have suggested a “wartime” effect: people are suffering, but they know others are as well and so rally around the flag to hang in there. This rally around the flag effect even worked for awhile to boost Trump’s polls for a few weeks in late March and early April until people saw how we was botching things, and now his polls are lower than they were before, even as those of some generally unpopular leaders in other hard hit nations like Italy, France, and Spain have seen their poll numbers continue to be noticeably higher than they were previously.

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Coronavirus, the economy, and the election: the jury is still out on all three

Coronavirus, the economy, and the election: the jury is still out on all three

There is some housing data out today; I’ll probably have a post up about it tomorrow at Seeking Alpha, and I’ll link to it here.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on the effects of the “reopening” of many States on coronavirus infections.

Here’s a graph of the 7 day average of tests, new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, divided between the Boston, NYC, Philadelphia metro areas and Michigan on the one hand and everywhere else:

Testing has continued to increase dramatically, while cases “everywhere else” have plateaued or possibly begun to slightly rise again. This still shows hospitalizations and deaths declining.

 

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Mask-less While Standing in A Crowd

This is the same stuff/sh*t, I am seeing in Michigan. I wish I could give them one week of Covid so they could learn. The following is from Digby at Hullabaloo:

I just watched another 60 something mask-less Republican woman in Arizona standing in a crowd of others just like herself tell the news media that she thinks the Coronavirus is not worse than a cold or the flu and she has no fear of it. (She also weirdly said that they don’t even have a name for it yet, which she didn’t explain.)

Maybe she will listen to this fellow:

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COVID-19 progress, take 2

In response to the comment on my last post . . . rolling 7 day average death rates with the peak for each country set to 100.

 

We peaked later than most countries other than Germany, which seems to be making better progress than us.  We may be doing as well (or as badly) as the U.K.  It seems like France and Spain are also outperforming the U.S. on this metric.

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Coronavirus dashboard: emphasis on testing

(Dan here…NDd’s post points to more than the impact of the US catching up in testing only recently, but also points to beginning answers readers have asked in comments about what the statistics show regarding re-opening and where we might be failing to report. )

Coronavirus dashboard: emphasis on testing

I want to focus this edition on testing issues.

While the seven day average number of deaths continues to decline:

The seven day average number of new infections has leveled off:

The average number of daily tests *may* also be leveling off again in the past few days:

What is worse is that the number of new cases in the US has only declined -22% from its peak in the last 45 days. Meanwhile, even hard hit countries in Europe like Spain have seen a -90% decline from peak in new cases over a similar timeframe:

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