Day: December 6, 2021

Should dealcoholized beer be taxed the same as regular beer?

Beer is one of those products that gets heavily taxed however should that mean the tax should be equal between alcoholic and dealcoholized beer?

Listen to the interview here

Electrifying Alabama: ‘They want to be the forefront, let’s make it the forefront’

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey launched “Drive Electric Alabama,” a public awareness campaign promoting electric vehicle sales and “showing the nation, once again, Alabama is a driving force in the automotive industry,” the governor stated.

However, a June Consumer Choice Center report ranks Alabama among the worst states to purchase an electric vehicle, while Bumper, an online search tool for vehicle history reports, ranks Alabama 49th for ease of owning one.

Alexander City resident Carl Kovach, a five-year Tesla owner, calls it “ridiculous.”

“They’re saying they want to be the forefront; let’s make it the forefront,” Kovach said of his state government. “Let’s do what we need to do to ensure that their citizens are able to get a vehicle and know that they have the availability and the servicing and the fuel and everything else they need.”

Read the full article here

Economías colaborativas: Buenos Aires quedó 9° en un ranking de 44 ciudades de América Latina

El estudio evalúa la disponibilidad de una serie de servicios de movilidad, transporte, alojamiento y actividad física a través de plataformas digitales que conectan a consumidores y prestadores.

En los últimos años, la tecnología ha presentado un sinfín de nuevas alternativas en productos y servicios que han permitido a las personas elegir y modificar sus hábitos de consumo, de acuerdo a sus necesidades diarias. La pandemia del Coronavirus produjo el desembarco de más herramientas, pero fundamentalmente ha acelerado procesos de adopción por parte de los consumidores.

De acuerdo a relevamientos realizados por PwC relacionados a diferentes estudios y encuestas sobre la temática a nivel global, el valor de la industria de la economía colaborativa llegaría a los u$s335.000 millones para 2025, compartiendo un 50% del mercado con el modelo tradicional.La investigación establece que los consumidores consideran que esta nueva manera de hacer negocios ayuda a reducir los costos de consumos diarios, implica mayor eficiencia, reduce la contaminación, genera mayor comodidad a la hora de comprar y construye una comunidad más fuerte, que basa su éxito en la confianza entre oferentes y demandantes.

Buenos Aires quedó ubicada en el noveno puesto del Índice de Economía Colaborativa Latam 2021, un relevamiento que analiza 44 ciudades de Latinoamérica y evalúa la disponibilidad de una serie de servicios de movilidad, transporte, alojamiento y actividad física a través de plataformas digitales que conectan a consumidores y prestadores. El estudio, realizado en conjunto por la red Somos Innovación, Relial y el Consumer Choice Center, también tiene en cuenta la accesibilidad que presentan dichas plataformas, en términos de requisitos, para quienes buscan ofrecer o consumir servicios a través de ellas.

Read the full article here

Reckoning with insurance for better patient choice in healthcare

A new Senate bill seeks to take the hassle of dealing with healthcare companies away from patients and into the hands of insurance companies. Although it falls short of the mark, this bill is a step in the right direction toward sensible healthcare reform in Pennsylvania.

Regardless of your job, your income, or where you live, we’ve all had at least one nightmare scenario when it comes to health insurance.

There are forms, claims, reimbursement requests, schedules, and negotiations. Doctors, dentists, and health practitioners understand the burden, and often have to face their own bureaucratic tests of will before focusing on their patients. The growth of healthcare administration costs emphasizes this. And that’s for people with private plans.

The price inflation that comes with the amping up of health insurance plans in our entire system — not to mention the role of government subsidies — is a well-known phenomenon. Insurance becomes involved in every rudimentary doctor visit or procedure, leading to bad incentives for health providers, employers, and insurance companies. This process involves a middleman in what should essentially be a simple medical contract between patient and practitioner. 

The answer, however, is not in abandoning free exchange in healthcare, as Medicare For All proponents would have us believe, but rather it is in reckoning with insurance to make our system more competitive and fair.

In Pennsylvania, one particular bill is addressing the process of making insurance more accountable and lowering patient costs and headaches.

This session, State Sen. Judy Ward has introduced SB850 that would enact assignment of benefits reform, compelling insurance companies to follow a patient’s wish to directly pay healthcare providers rather than leaving them with the paperwork and negotiation. This would simplify life for patients by requiring insurers to pay providers directly.

One would think this is standard practice, but especially for dental insurance, there are additional steps and vetting that often leave patients responsible for paying their dentists only after the insurance company has paid out the claim.

Though only a small reform, and leagues from where we need to be to have a truly free market in healthcare decoupled from our employers, this bill would make the entire process simpler and better empower patients and consumers.

Since the Affordable Care Act and large Medicare reforms at the federal level, assignment of benefits is recognized in most medical insurance markets, but not yet for dental patients.

These reforms are complicated by the often cumbersome terms of dental insurance contracts: only portions of care or procedures can be covered by insurance, there are caps on the amounts one can reimburse in a single year, and dentists must navigate these steps to accurately bill their patients without producing a shocking bill. This balanced billing approach is necessary for any medical professional who wants to stay in business.

The answer, however, is not in abandoning free exchange in healthcare … but rather it is in reckoning with insurance to make our system more competitive and fair. 

But the status quo often makes it more complicated than it otherwise would be.

That is why price transparency remains an important principle for these debates, and why legislators should continue ensuring patients have choice and access to the information they need.

There are dozens of easy reforms state legislatures could follow that would help improve care: fostering innovation, reducing bureaucracy, giving incentives to patients to use direct-to-consumer options, and more.

By continuing to promote competition and transparency, patients and consumers can benefit from better care and lower costs. It is only a small degree of change we need, but it beats the alternative.

Originally published here

Counterpoint | Ontario, We Have a Problem

Tanya is joined by David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at Consumer Choice Centre, and Jay Goldberg, Interim Ontario Director at CTF, for an in-depth discussion on Ontario’s debt problem.

Watch the interview here

End the War on Nicotine

Reducing the number of smokers remains public health priority for governments around the world. However, the war against nicotine prevents further progress.

The bad reputation of nicotine is getting in the way of providing smokers with a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. A new paper, published by the Consumer Choice Center, aims to debunk myths associated with nicotine and provide some more clarity around what nicotine actually is.

Smoking rates have been steadily declining but it is not thanks to tools applied by the governments,  but rather the innovative alternatives to smoking such as e-cigarettes, snus, etc. Unfortunately, rather than promote an alternative that is far less harmful and gives people a chance to live healthier and longer lives, public officials are waging a war on nicotine. This limits access to those life-saving alternatives. 

Contrary to popular belief, the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic. And while nicotine is an addictive substance, it is relatively harmless and doesn’t increase the risk of serious illnesses (heart attack, stroke) or mortality.

Unlike vaping, conventional nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, nasal sprays, gums are endorsed by public health bodies. Going against vape and snus just because it is a different way of consuming nicotine is inconsistent, to say the least. NRTs work for some people, but others prefer vaping, and it should be up to consumers to choose their preferred harm-reduction tool. Instead of limiting their choices, we should use all tools at our disposal to help smokers switch.  

Nicotine has been demonised for so long that the health benefits of nicotine consumption have been completely ignored. Research since the 1960’s has demonstrated that smokers show lower rates of Parkinson’s disease, and recently a study suggested the reason for this is nicotine. Another study suggests that nicotine has an appetite suppressing effect and therefore acts as a weight suppressant, and could be used to fight obesity Studies also suggest that nicotine can improve exercise endurance and strength. This explains why many professional athletes use nicotine to improve their performance.

Distorted perceptions about nicotine stand in the way of more smokers switching to less harmful ways of consuming nicotine. Many physicians falsely believe that nicotine is the substance causing cancer in patients. Public health advocates and health experts need to get educated on the topic and encourage smokers to switch to alternatives, such as vaping which is 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.  

Prohibition doesn’t work, as demonstrated by the American prohibition era and numerous other examples. Instead, it pushes consumers towards the black market where providing high quality products is not a priority.

Innovative nicotine products have the potential to save millions of lives around the world, and we should not allow misconceptions get in the way of the fight against smoking-induced diseases.

Read our new paper “Six reasons to stop the war on nicotine” to find out more on the topic

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