Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan are forming a new company to address the healthcare costs of their employees. Their shock announcement sent shares of healthcare companies down sharply across the entire sector. Amazon's Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday (30 January) that he, Buffet and JPMorgan would attempt to make healthcare better for hundreds of thousands of their employees and perhaps, eventually, the country. There were few details available. Those involved said the project was in the early planning stage. "The ballooning costs [of health care] act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," said Buffett, the head of Berkshire Hathaway. "Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable." The company would be independent and "free from profit-making incentives and constraints", he added. The businesses said the new venture's initial focus would be on technology that provided "simplified, high-quality and transparent" care. JPMorgan … [Read more...] about Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan form healthcare goliath
Employer sponsored health plan
Online retail giant Amazon is teaming up with investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and New York bank JPMorgan Chase to create a healthcare company “free from profit-making incentives” that helps their US employees find quality care at a reasonable cost. The business leaders offered few details, saying that the project is in the early planning stage. Mr Buffett said: “The ballooning costs of (healthcare) act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. “Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.” The new company will be independent and “free from profit-making incentives and constraints”. The businesses said the new venture’s initial focus would be on … [Read more...] about Amazon to set up healthcare company with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway
The problem is well known in the health sector: seemingly independent studies about cigarette consumption turn out to be contract work for the tobacco industry. Such a conflict of interests is an issue in other industries as well. And it is a particularly sensitive issue with economists - the main advisors to policymakers. That so many economists in Europe and beyond were clueless when the financial crisis hit the world raised doubts about their objectivity and independence. To save their reputation, nearly 3,800 German-speaking economists agreed to a code of ethics in September 2012. Twelve months later, an assessment of those self-imposed guidelines is rather sobering. Difficult to fake numbers Essentially, the code requires researchers to disclose their source of funding, not mix scientifically proven findings with subjective, judgmental estimates and consider the current state of research in their studies and recommendations. Especially the last point would seem to be … [Read more...] about Ethics code for economists: more show than go?
The world's top oil exporter - which sits on a fifth of the planet's reserves - is one of the West's most important strategic and economic allies in the Middle East but its position as such has often led to many Western nations turning a blind eye to the repression and human rights abuses which have helped keep the modern version of the Saudi royal family in power for over 80 years. The House of Saud has often ruled with an iron fist and as a consequence, a simmering discontent has festered among its underprivileged classes. The Saudi elite's control has rarely allowed any significant opposition and dissent has usually been silenced quickly and with disproportionate force. However, a number of pressing concerns within the kingdom are coming to a head at a time when the storm of unrest blowing through neighboring states has removed other seemingly intractable leaders from power. "Stability is fragile and may be illusive in Saudi Arabia," Kristian Ulrichsen, a Middle East expert at … [Read more...] about A perfect storm of various problems could threaten Saudi rulers
"There, have a look," the taxi driver said. He took a hand off the steering wheel and pointed across the street at a brand new showroom for the Mini, a car produced by a British subsidiary of Munich-based BMW Group. The showroom highlight was a white Mini Cabriolet, the sort of car one might like to drive in the hot sunshine of Ho Chi Minh City. Car sales rose by 40 percent in Vietnam last year. An impressive growth rate by any standard, but the Mercedes luxury brand beat even that - it recorded an increase of 60 percent. However, the market is growing from a low base. Just 150,000 cars were sold last year in Vietnam. The most popular means of transport is still the scooter. The rattling, fume-spewing two-wheelers are nimble and affordable. The government estimates that there are over six million of them in Ho Chi Minh City alone, buzzing about with only moderate regard for street signs. Pedestrians intending to cross a street here need sharp eyes and steely nerves. Jobs for the … [Read more...] about Vietnam: A country on the move
Hasan is being sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and is currently doing an internship at the Deutsche Welle. She speaks to DW’s Martina Bertram about her future plans. DW: Pakistan is an Islamic republic. How difficult is it to write about religious themes? Ayesha Hasan: It is very difficult. One can actually write about all possible issues, lifestyle, celebrities and health. But religion in Pakistan affects all social spheres. If you report on issues like violence against a woman, many groups will try and defame the woman, who is not a victim for them, but actually the criminal because her clothes or her behavior are against religious norms. The same is also true for women who are abused by their husbands. Religious groups usually do not consider writing about such issues as a violation of Islamic law, but the journalist doing so definitely comes under scrutiny because there is a suspicion that he or she does not accept Islamic law completely. These groups believe that … [Read more...] about ‘Journalism is no business, it is a responsibility’
Up until now, Germany's grand coalition of Social Democrats and conservative CDU/CSU parties has been slow to tackle major reforms. Chancellor Angela Merkel has instead reveled in her winning appearances on the international stage. Political aides waited patiently for last Sunday's three major state elections to pass. This Wednesday evening, the waiting will be over. Merkel will meet with the coalition's political elite to reach agreement on one of the country's most pressing and complicated reform projects: the health care system. Next year the public health care system will have a budget hole between 8 and 10 billion euros ($9.6 billion to $12 billion). Germans, who have long enjoyed one of the most beneficial health care systems in Europe, will have to steel themselves for difficult changes ahead. As is, workers and employers split the monthly premiums to health care providers. About 10 percent of the population has elected out of the state-sponsored public system, preferring … [Read more...] about Merkel’s First Big Health-Care Test
Deutsche Welle: To what extent is a marathon in the major city of Cologne prepared for a disaster scenario? Markus Frisch: We have a "traffic direction squad," which is sort of a crisis task force. It's situated in the downtown area and constantly keeps track of the event. All the institutions involved are present: police, the fire department, paramedics, a representative for the public transportation services, the tourist office with the surveillance cameras in the urban area and us, the organizers. If you take a look at Boston - in the end, the police assume responsibility for the operation that unfolds in such a scenario. We, the organizers, basically prepare everything - the infrastructure is there and can be used in such an event. We have to ensure that we are always in the position to react to such a situation. Does the Boston attack give cause for an expansion of the security concept? As organizers, we will most certainly revise it once more. I also expect the Federal … [Read more...] about Boston bombing: How safe are mega-events?
German conservative chancellor Angela Merkel, who has won widespread praise for her appearances in the international arena and on the foreign policy front, started her address to the parliament on Wednesday with an optimistic assessment of the country's role in peace-keeping missions. She said that reunited Germany was now assuming greater responsibility in line with United Nations and European Union requirements. Success on the international scene, however, was not the main topic of the parliamentary debate. As widespread protests against pay cuts and layoffs continue throughout the country, Merkel and her grand coalition government said they were stepping up efforts to find solutions to the pressing social and economic problems. Labor reforms The latest unemployment figures for Germany, which are published this Thursday, are good news for the government: The number of jobless has dropped below the 5 million mark. Frustrated by some of his coalition partners: Labor Minister … [Read more...] about German Parliament Debates Reforms
The first three provisions of the German government’s far-reaching labor market reforms were approved by the German parliament, the Bundestag on Friday. After the Bundesrat, the country’s upper house, rejected one of the proposals on Friday, it was returned to the Bundestag. Here, the government adopted the so-called "Chancellor's majority" - a method seen as a last resort to push through laws which have not been approved by the Bundesrat - where it was finally voted through. The approval comes as a relief to the German government, after a turbulent week which saw various central elements of the Hartz reform proposals up for implementation under severe criticism from the opposition. Earlier this week, a proposal relating to the employment of temporary staff was rejected by the Bundesrat, where the conservatives have a majority, and had to undergo the joint mediation committee representing both chambers of parliament before it was passed back to the Bundesrat and Bundestag … [Read more...] about Three Reforms Forward, Two Reforms Back