Numlock News: January 7, 2020 • Labor, Milk, Gambling
By Walt Hickey
In the United States, the average cost of a having a baby was $4,314 out-of-pocket in 2015 for a vaginal birth, which was up from $2,910 in 2008. For cesarean births, that out-of-pocket cost jumped from $3,364 to $5,161, putting the overall average cost of having a baby at $4,500. Health care costs have shifted to the mothers away from insurers, with 87 percent of women owing a deductible in 2015 compared to 69 percent in 2008. Childbirth — the largest reason for hospitalization of American women — has become an immediate, shocking price sting, and it’s possible we’ll never know why…
Wait, here’s why.
In the United States, in 2017 insurers spent $812 billion on administration alone, fully $2,497 per capita and good for 34.2 percent of all national health expenditures. In Canada, that figure is a more reasonable $551 per capita, or just 17 percent. Canada, which has a single payer system, spent $146 per capita on insurers’ overhead compared to $844 per capita in the U.S., and spent merely $196 per capita on hospital administration compared to $933 in the U.S.
Sports betting is legal in New Jersey but not in New York, leading to a real modern-day Hamilton/Burr situation where New Yorkers looking to dabble often discreetly abscond across the mighty Hudson to get their hands dirty. This has been fairly big for bars near train stations that link to New York, especially hubs like Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and even Newark Liberty Airport. Last year, $680 million in bets were placed on site in casinos and racetracks while $3.35 billion was wagered online, meaning you’ve just got to get a foot on Garden State soil and a mobile app to get in on the action.
Daimler AG will recall 744,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles produced from 2001 to 2011 because the glass panel on the sunroof might detach, and though I’m hardly a gearhead it’s my understanding this is perceived by some to be a significant bug. A U.S. government investigation into 1.4 million recalled Mercedes-Benz vehicles over the past several years resulted in a $20 million civil penalty last month after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the company failed to alert car owners soon enough or initiate recalls quickly enough in two cases.
Borden Dairy will follow Dean Foods to become the second major milk producer to file for bankruptcy protection. Over 2,700 dairy farms have gone out of business over the past 18 months, but Borden is a massive player operating 12 processing plants and moving 500 million gallons a year. Combined, Borden and Dean Foods control 13.5 percent of American milk sales, which have dropped 6 percent since 2015.
Free For All
Scientific journals are scrambling to get ahead of a proposed policy that would require that all academic research financed by the federal government be published without paywalls. A 2008 law required research funded by the National Institutes of Health be available within 12 months, and the new policy would resemble an E.U. policy that will open up all research funded by 19 agencies by 2021. But for scientific societies, like the American Chemical Society, American Medical Association and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, this presents a problem: of the $361.3 million in revenue for the AMA, $265.9 million of that — 73.6 percent — is derived from publishing, as is 76.3 percent of the American Psychological Association’s revenue and 65.7 percent of the American Mathematical Society. Academia is not necessarily on their side: a survey found 64 percent would be happy to see the traditional model replaced by open access.
Old tractors from before 1980 are prompting bidding wars at auctions, as farmers are looking to ensure their machinery is easier to service and obtain parts for without needing to pay a bunch of money to John Deere see some equipment as a steal. A new tractor can go for $150,000, but a John Deere 4440 — produced from 1977 to 1982 — with low use has gone for a fifth of that. Tractors tend to last 12,000 to 15,000 hours of use, and can be retrofitted with autonomous steering, and even after a $15,000 to $20,000 repair an older model can come in way less than new $150,000 to $250,000 tractors.
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