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Why the Supreme Court Should Keep Health Insurance Affordable

February 27, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Mike Cassidy TOPICS: Social Insurance, Continuing Health Care Reform

TCF policy associate Mike Cassidy looks at what the King v. Burwell Supreme Court case ignores: Americans love social insurance.

Tags: obamacare, obama, king v. burwell, health insurance, affordable care act, aca

If You Want to Know Who Gets Health-care Handouts, Look In the Mirror

Next week, the Supreme Court is set to hear the King v. Burwell case in the latest attack on Obamacare. While many Americans polled said that they are in favor of scaling back Obamacare subsidies, many of those same individuals did not realize that in some way, most of those who have health insurance benefit either directly or indirectly from government health-care subsidies. The fact that so many are unaware of the ways in which they themselves benefit from government subsidies refers to a concept called the "submerged state," a term that was coined by TCF fellow Suzanne Mettler.

These kinds of little-noticed subsidies are part of what Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler has memorably dubbed the “submerged state.” You see, we Americans aren’t trying to be hypocrites when we proclaim handouts-for-me-but-not-for-thee. We just often don’t realize we’re getting handouts in the first place.

Read a new article in The Washington Post that discusses how the idea of the submerged state refers to the Affordable Care Act debate.

Tags: suzanne mettler, supreme court, subsidies, submerged state, healthcare, affordable care act

At Sororities, Likeness Becomes Alikeness

Hearing the term "greek nepotism" typically conjures thoughts of brothers pulling strings to get a spot in a fraternity house. But what happens when "greek nepotism" extends past the college community and into the Supreme Court or boardroom of a Fortune 500 company? Combine this issue with the fact that fraternities and sororities are highly askew when it comes to racial diversity, and some serious issues come into play, says TCF policy associate Clio Chang.

Take the University of Alabama, for example. The school was put on the hot seat in 2013 when the university’s newspaper brought to national attention that Kennedi Cobb, an all-around perfect potential new member – minus the fact that she was black – didn’t receive a single bid from any of the 16 sororities on campus. In it’s entire history, the universities's sororities had only previously admitted a single black member.

Read Chang's full article from US News & World Report.

Tags: sororities, race-based admissions, nepotism, greek life, fraternities

Alcohol Is More Dangerous Than Drug Dealing or Gangs

February 25, 2015 BY: Harold Pollack TOPICS: Social Insurance

It's common knowledge that alcohol is strongly related to road fatalities and other health risks, but could it be more dangerous than drug dealing or gangs among youth? TCF fellow Harold Pollack discusses one study that suggests this may be the case.

Those diagnosed with alcohol disorders were much more likely to be murdered than were their peers. A whopping 21 percent of alcohol misusers were predicted to be murdered over the sixteen years. These risks were much higher than the risks experienced by drug dealers or by gang members.

Read Pollack's article in The Washington Post.

Tags: washington post, public health, harold pollack

The Best Investment the U.S. Could Make — Affordable Higher Education

"We can do better than this," says TCF fellow Mark Thoma on the topic of affordable higher education in the U.S. He provides shocking statistics on college tuition and the saddening student debt numbers that go with it. Since 2004, student loan balances have more than tripled for college-goers in America.

Our data indicate that both increased numbers of borrowers and larger balances per borrower are contributing to the rapid expansion in student loans. Between 2004 and 2014, we saw a 74 percent increase in average balances and a 92 percent increase in the number of borrowers. Now there are 43 million borrowers, up from 42 million borrowers at the end of 2013, with an average balance per borrower of about $27,000.

Check out Thoma's full article.

Tags: student debt, rising inequality, community colleges, college tuition

How 401(k) Accounts Widen Race/Ethnic Wealth Disparities

TCF fellow Harold Pollack takes a deeper look at the data that shows how race affects an employee's 401(k) savings account behavior. He says that although most employees contribute a similar amount to their accounts, minority workers were more likely to invest with caution, even if that means low rates of return.

In effect, these workers were using their 401(k) accounts as current savings reserves or as an emergency fund. As my writing collaborator Helaine Olen noted over email, these apparently foolish savings behaviors suddenly seem to make a lot more sense in the life-context of the people who are actually making these decisions.

Pollack's article from Washington Monthly can be accessed here.

Tags: savings accounts, minorities, fiscal policy, 401k


Social Insurance

Social Insurance

Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.

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