Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Slams Wall Street While Taking Millions From Them • Your World HeathMon, 27 Jun 2016 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSocial Justice Warriors Should Support Ryan Health Plan<p> House Speaker <a href=""><strong>Paul Ryan</strong></a> unveiled <a href=""><strong>an alternative to ObamaCare</strong></a> this week. The ideas in it aren&rsquo;t exactly new, but conservatives should use a new argument to advocate for it: Anyone concerned about social justice and economic opportunity should support this plan.</p> <p> The plan &mdash; among other changes &mdash; takes steps to equalize the tax treatment of employer-provided insurance plans and plans that individuals buy on their own. &nbsp;</p> <p> The status quo system favors Americans with good, full-time jobs who are more likely to have access to employer health plans than other Americans and benefits the highest earners the most, because it offers an unlimited tax exclusion on health benefits from taxable income.</p> <p> On the other hand, Americans who are unemployed, work part-time, or work in the so-called &ldquo;gig economy&rdquo; are at a disadvantage, because they must use after-tax dollars to buy health insurance. This even makes many people feel trapped in their current jobs because the fear of losing their on-the-job health plan is so great.</p> <p> The status quo needs to change, and Ryan&rsquo;s plan attempts to do this. He would cap the tax exclusion on employer plans and offer a universal, refundable tax credit to those who buy insurance on their own. This is a more equitable way forward.&nbsp;</p> <p> Why aren&rsquo;t more Democrats behind a proposal like this? Democrats favor the tax credits already available to (some) people in the ObamaCare exchanges. They might also point to ObamaCare&rsquo;s &ldquo;Cadillac Tax&rdquo; as something similar to a cap on the tax exclusion for employer plans.</p> <p> Yet ObamaCare fails the &ldquo;social justice&rdquo; test on many measures. &nbsp;First, the exchanges offer plans that are so expensive &ndash; due to ObamaCare&rsquo;s many mandates &ndash; that even subsidies and tax credits do not make them affordable. Secondly, someone who is lucky enough to find an ObamaCare premium he can afford often finds that his plan&rsquo;s out-of-pocket costs would ultimately bankrupt him anyway.</p> <p> ObamaCare also ends up effectively punishing low- and middle-income earners when they get a raise, which can be discouraging for hard-working Americans trying to climb the economic ladder. Subsidies decline as income increases, which is effectively a major tax rate increase. Furthermore, many people aren&rsquo;t eligible for ObamaCare&rsquo;s assistance at all, including some low-income people in the <a href=""><strong>coverage gap</strong></a>, meaning they must pay the full, unsubsidized premium or go uninsured.</p> <p> The ideas in Ryan&rsquo;s plan are far superior. Alongside a universal tax credit (based on age, not income), Ryan&rsquo;s plan would roll back many of the regulations that have made ObamaCare plans so costly. This would foster greater competition among insurance plans and allow consumers to buy just as much &ndash; or as little &ndash; insurance as they see fit.</p> <p> The cap on the tax exclusion is also different from the Cadillac Tax. The Cadillac Tax is very regressive: a 40-percent excise tax (regardless of income) on every dollar of health benefits above a certain threshold.</p> <p> The cap on the tax exclusion importantly would work differently: &nbsp;Each person would pay taxes on his health benefits (above the cap, which is adjusted geographically for cost of living) at his progressive income tax rate.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s time for conservatives to make it clear that their health reform ideas favor the little guy and would result in greater social justice. Paul Ryan&rsquo;s plan and the long-standing conservative ideas in it would offer all Americans, especially those who&rsquo;ve been at a disadvantage in the current system, more freedom to work, move, and consume health care as they choose. &nbsp;</p> <p> Now that&rsquo;s something social justice warriors should get behind.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is the director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></p> HeathMon, 27 Jun 2016 09:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNew Data Shows Terrorist Attacks Blocked Since 9/11 • Coast To Coast HeathThu, 23 Jun 2016 16:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHeathcare Premiums On The Rise<p> An expert on health policy says premium increases for ObamaCare plans may lead to shock and awe for some. But others? Not so much.</p> <p> Some insurers have been losing money on ObamaCare exchanges for a variety of reasons, including less-than-stellar enrollment, a smaller number of younger, healthier people compared to older, less healthy enrollees, and insurance companies setting premiums too low in the beginning. Regardless, <a href=";t=ObamaCare-Rates-Set-to-Spike-Across-the-Country">premiums are expected to be much higher</a> for the enrollment period beginning this November.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;At least in a dozen states there have been double-digit rate proposals,&quot; says Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> (IWF).</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Many states are just at the point now where health insurance companies submit a request for a rate increase, then state regulators have an opportunity to negotiate that rate increase down or to tell the health insurance company, &#39;No, you can&#39;t create a premium increase that&#39;s that high.&#39; Still, Manning points out that there are rate increases that can take your breath away.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I noticed Kansas had some insurers filing rate increases of 49 percent,&quot; she reports. &quot;Different states like Connecticut, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, New York, and Delaware -- all of these states are seeing insurers asking for significant rate hikes, many of them in the double digits.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">While she acknowledges it is outrageous, Manning concludes that this is really no surprise, especially to individuals, think tanks, and industry groups that have warned about it for years.</span></strong></span></span></p> HeathMon, 13 Jun 2016 13:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumShould Women Pay More for Healthcare Services?<p> Last month, the <a href="">Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)</a> issued a &ldquo;final rule&rdquo; prohibiting discrimination in healthcare and health insurance, clarifying a policy already laid out in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).</p> <p> Gender, race, disability, age, and place of birth should not affect the cost and quality of care a person receives from any provider receiving federal funding, the final rule states.</p> <p> This announcement did not inspire many headlines, perhaps because many Americans have already been reaping the benefits of the ACA&rsquo;s antidiscrimination policy for several years.</p> <p> For women, however, the changes could have a major impact.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Gender Rating</strong></span></p> <p> Before the ACA, women buying insurance on the individual market were routinely charged up to <a href="">50 percent more</a> for monthly premiums than men. In some cases the gap was as high as <a href="">81 percent</a>.</p> <p> The practice, known as &ldquo;gender rating,&rdquo; is similar to car insurance companies charging a higher premium to insure teenage drivers.</p> <p> When it comes to health insurance, women are considered a higher risk than men because they tend to visit the doctor more frequently, live longer, and have babies.</p> <p> Whether or not women truly cost health insurance companies more money is up for <a href="">debate</a>.</p> <p> Regardless, gender rating is now illegal. Under the ACA, insurance companies are prohibited from charging women more than men and are required to cover the total cost of certain key preventative services specific to women&rsquo;s health, like well-woman visits and contraception.</p> <p> Companies must offer maternity coverage, too, although a <a href="">loophole</a> in the law does leave some insured women without maternity coverage today.</p> <p> <strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Risks vs. Fairness</span></strong></p> <p> Some advocacy groups like the National Women&rsquo;s Law Center (NWLC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have celebrated the policy change.</p> <p> But it has also been met with criticism from those who believe insurance companies should be able to consider risk factors when taking on customers.</p> <p> <strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a right-leaning think tank, argued in favor of gender rating in a 2013 opinion piece published in </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Time Magazine</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">.</span></span></strong></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;If fairness were really the guiding principle, it would be quite simple: women would pay more for health insurance because women consume more health care,&rdquo; she wrote.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning told Healthline that her opinion hasn&rsquo;t changed in the years since that piece was published.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I still believe that gender based pricing should be a tool that is available to insurers,&rdquo; she said.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Taking away the ability of health insurers to assess risk and charge on the basis of that risk, Manning says, means that some people pay premiums that are too high while others pay premiums that are too low.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">On a broader level, though, the issue &ldquo;gets to the heart of what health insurance is,&rdquo; Manning said.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Health insurance is unique in that it covers routine services and not just unexpected costs. Car owners don&rsquo;t bill their insurance companies for oil changes and tire rotations. Instead, insurance only gets involved when there has been an unseen incident, like a collision, that would have been difficult to save for ahead of time.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Similarly, Manning and others have argued, routine doctors&rsquo; visits could be taken out of the realm of the third-party payer and paid for directly by the patient. That way, providers can compete with each other to offer the patient the best prices.</span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>It&rsquo;s Not Car Insurance</strong></span></p> <p> Some reject the car insurance analogy, however, because caring for cars is fundamentally different from caring for human bodies.</p> <p> &ldquo;Unlike 1984 Ford Tempos, we don&rsquo;t send people to the scrap heap if they&rsquo;re old, infirm, or otherwise financially inconvenient,&rdquo; Scott Galupo, a political commenter, wrote in a blog post for the <a href="">American Conservative</a>.</p> <p> James Kwak, Ph.D., a law professor at the University of Connecticut, wrote in a 2009 blog post for <a href="">The Washington Post</a> that the consequences of a free market healthcare system would be &ldquo;bleak.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;Actuarially fair health insurance is something that only works for healthy people,&rdquo; he wrote.</p> <p> To make a profit, the reasonable thing for an insurance company to do is to charge higher rates for sicker people, or avoid insuring sick people altogether.</p> <p> &ldquo;When we say that anyone should be able to get health insurance, we are saying that someone should be forced to lose money insuring sick people,&rdquo; he wrote.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Still No Guarantees</strong></span></p> <p> Even with the government mandates, women&rsquo;s access to healthcare is far from guaranteed.</p> <p> Women are less likely to be insured than men because their incomes tend to be less, Dania Palanker, J.D., a senior counsel at NWLC, told Healthline.</p> <p> <a href="">A 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation study</a> found that women still face greater financial hardship than men when it comes to paying for healthcare. One in four women reported putting off care for financial reasons, compared with one in five men.&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;A lot of what we&rsquo;re working on now is making sure that insurance companies are providing the services that are required to be covered according to the ACA,&rdquo; Palanker said.</p> <p> Part of the problem is that the new law is not always clear in what is expected of insurance companies. The NWLC advocates for clear, strong guidance in order to cut down on ambiguity and confusion, Palanker said.</p> <p> The &ldquo;final rule&rdquo; issued last month is an example of such clarification.</p> <p> &ldquo;There are also insurers working very closely with the administration to offer really good coverage through marketplaces and find ways to improve coverage, improve products, and reduce costs at the same time,&rdquo; Palanker said.</p> HeathMon, 13 Jun 2016 11:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFresh Effort at VA Health Reform<p> Recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald ruffled feathers when he inappropriately <a href="">compared the VA to Disneyland</a>. Specifically, he was commenting on the VA&#39;s failure to measure wait times, an issue that has received increased scrutiny since the 2014 scandal that started in Phoenix (revealing that scores of veterans died on manipulated waiting lists while waiting for care). The issue in Phoenix turned out to be a much bigger problem that affected tens of thousands of veterans at facilities nationwide.&nbsp;</p> <p> In response, Congress passed and President Obama signed the 2014 Access, Choice, and Accountability Act. It was a good law -- in theory -- but in practice it has not solved the problem of improper scheduling, too-long wait times, and a lack of transparency around wait times. It&#39;s a travesty that of all people our veterans are receiving substandard care. As Concerned Veterans of America <a href="">points out</a>, veterans are the federally-subsidized health consumers whose benefits are limited to certain facilities. Medicare, Medicaid and ObamaCare beneficiaries can use their support among a network of providers... Veterans must use their benefits only at VA facilities. It&#39;s time to change this and give veterans more options. The public agrees: <a href="">A March 2016 Gallup poll</a> found that 91 percent of Americans believe veterans should be able to get health care from any provider who accepts Medicare, not just VA facilities. That&#39;s a remarkably strong majority. There are very few issues that have this broad of agreement among the American people.&nbsp;</p> <p> The latest legislative proposal that would address this, along with other reforms to ensure greater accountability within the VA, is called the &quot;Caring for Our Heroes in the 21st Century Act.&quot; Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers supports the idea and is working to introduce the proposal in Congress. Concerned Veterans for America supports the legislative proposal and <a href="">said in a statement</a>: &quot;While the usual chorus of special interests and entrenched bureaucrats will fight to protect their political power, Congress must do the right thing by standing with our veterans and implementing this commonsense legislation.&quot; Indeed.</p> HeathThu, 9 Jun 2016 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum2016 Is More About Personality Than Policy • After The Bell HeathTue, 7 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHiding From The Press Doesn't Help Hillary's Trust Numbers • Coast To Coast HeathMon, 6 Jun 2016 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMiss USA: The Good, The Bad, The Beautiful<p> I&#39;m a sucker for beauty pageants. I love to watch! So I tuned in last night for Miss USA 2016.</p> <p> Here&#39;s my review. Let&#39;s start with the good:</p> <p> I was very impressed with the organization&#39;s obvious effort to highlight the women behind the pretty faces and lovely gowns. The introductions of all 52 contestants highlighted a diverse group with myriad achievements: Some were business owners. Some had started non-profit groups. Some had battled eating disorders or mental health issues. Some were first-generation American citizens, or the first in their families to attend college. There were women from practically every field, from arts and entertainment to STEM to athletics -- even one from the military. Each contestant had an interesting background and a compelling story to tell about her life. The USA should be proud to highlight such successful women.&nbsp;</p> <p> Now the downside of the night (the bad), in my opinion, was the interview portion.</p> <p> The USA organization chooses the questions and nearly every question this year was explicitly political in nature. I thought this was unfortunate. While the interview portion is important -- a great opportunity for judges and audience members to hear from the finalists -- it&#39;s not meant to be a political debate. There are many questions that would inspire critical or creative thinking in these young women without resorting to political issues. The worst question of the night was the last one, reserved for Miss Hawaii, who was explicitly asked whom she would vote for in November: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and why. Contestants in the Miss USA pageant are competing for a chance to represent the whole country, and they shouldn&#39;t be asked to tick off one half of the viewing audience by wading into politics. Miss Hawaii did a very graceful job answering, essentially refusing to say which candidate she would choose but offering her opinion about what leadership style the next president should embrace.</p> <p> Miss California&#39;s interview question has received the most attention today. Her question was about economic inequality and how to address it. Certainly, this topic deserves more than 30 seconds of a response. She struggled to put together an answer before she reached the time limit. It&#39;s hard to imagine the judges could objectively evaluate answers to questions such as these.&nbsp;</p> <p> Congratulations are due to Miss District of Columbia, who took home the crown. She competed with excellence throughout the competition. During the interview portion, she answered a question about women in the military - a fortuitous assignment, as Miss DC is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves. She applauded the Obama Administration&#39;s decision to open all combat roles to women. Personally, I saw a little irony in the question and answer: There was no mention of any reason why women might not serve in all combat roles. There was no mention of any inherent differences between the sexes. And yet, no men compete for the Miss USA title. For more on this topic, I recommend IWF&#39;s booklet on our &quot;<a href="">Women Fighting on the Front Lines</a>&quot; event, which showcased several thoughtful perspectives on women in combat.</p> <p> The final question of the night was more appropriate and less political. The three remaining competitors were asked to define what it means to be confidently beautiful. This seemed like another effort from the Miss USA organization to shift the focus of the pageant away from physical beauty, and to further a conversation about inner beauty. Miss Georgia stressed accepting our flaws and loving ourselves. Miss Hawaii stressed service and compassion and the most beautiful traits. And Miss DC pointed out that beauty is sometimes associated with weakness, but should be associated with strength. Each gave very different but heartfelt answers.</p> <p> Some people demean beauty pageants as outdated or patriarchical, but if you listen to those who participate, they often express that the experience is meaningful and empowering to them.&nbsp;To me, the whole evening highlighted many different ways women in the USA are leading beautiful lives.&nbsp;</p> HeathMon, 6 Jun 2016 14:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBleak May Jobs Report + More Young People Living With Parents Than Ever Before • Tipping Point HeathMon, 6 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRepeal Or Replace ObamaCare? Not An Easy Task…<p> <strong>One health policy expert believes that a new health reform bill that&#39;s been proposed on Capitol Hill shows why Republicans struggle with replacing ObamaCare.</strong></p> <p> Harris Meyer of <a href="">writes</a> that sweeping new legislation unveiled by two congressional Republicans to partly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act highlights the formidable political and policy changes the GOP faces in taking on a law that &quot;has significantly expanded coverage and made popular changes in insurance practices.&quot;</p> <p> The bill in question &ndash; the Health Empowerment Liberty Plan (HELP) &ndash; is authored by Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana). While the lawmakers aim to do away with mandates that big employers provide coverage and that virtually everyone have some form of health insurance, Sessions and Cassidy are in favor of a $2,500-per-person tax credit for buying coverage.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Independent Women&#39;s Forum</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, argues that </span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">H.R. 5284</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;"> reflects the reality of the current political environment.</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;I think the presentation or sponsorship of this legislation is an indication that Republicans are recognizing the future of our political landscape is uncertain; and in that uncertain atmosphere, there may need to be compromises that are made in terms of the Affordable Care Act,&quot; says Manning.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Manning does think that &quot;the best policy&quot; Republicans have worked and tried for many times is to repeal the ACA and replace it with a set of free-market reforms.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;But what this bill represents is sort of an improvement or a reform of the Affordable Care Act, rather than a total repeal and replace,&quot; the policy analyst continues.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&quot;... Many of the ideas in this legislation are similar to those that would replace the ACA under the ideal free-market policy, but it just doesn&#39;t go as far because, of course, it leaves in place some of the policy measures taken by the ACA.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Price (R-Georgia) continues to push his own legislation called the Empowering Patients First Act (<a href="">H.R. 2300</a>). It would fully repeal ObamaCare and start over with what Price calls &quot;patient-centered solutions.&quot; In a recent interview with Tony Perkins on &quot;Washington Watch,&quot; Price said he expects the GOP to agree on a plan in time for this year&#39;s presidential conventions.</p> HeathMon, 6 Jun 2016 07:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJobs Schmobs<p> Woohoo! The unemployment rate dipped from 5 percent in April to 4.7 percent in May. Unemployment under 5 percent! This is the lowest unemployment rate since 2007. Get excited!</p> <p> Actually... wait... hold the confetti.</p> <p> This<a href=""> latest jobs report</a> is NOT good news. The main reason the unemployment rate went down was not because more workers found work. In fact, only about 38,000 jobs were created in May. The main reason the unemployment rate went down is because <em>more Americans gave up looking for work and left the labor force</em>. The labor force participation rate went down 0.2 percent to 62.6 percent, similar to rates in 1977.</p> <p> Unfortunately economic data can fall prey to political spin, on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and those supportive of the current Administration may be tempted to see this jobs report with rose-colored glasses. Republicans may say this report means doomsday.</p> <p> To be fair, the 2.5 percent wage growth in the report is not bad. It&#39;s true, things could always be worse! But to sustain wage growth, we really need economic growth and job creation, which clearly we are not seeing. Another notable bit of bad news in the report is the number of involuntary part-time workers, which increased by 468,000 (nearly half a million people!) to 6.4 million in May. These are folks who&#39;d like to work a full-time job, but can&#39;t find one, so have settled for part-time work.&nbsp;</p> <p> This jobs report is pretty dismal. And while it may seem like just numbers on a page, for millions of Americans, this is personal. To be out of work is a great financial hardship. Our fellow Americans deserve better than the misguided economic policies that have held back our economy for too long.&nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathFri, 3 Jun 2016 16:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumEdited State Dept Video: Can We Trust Gov.To Properly Inform The Public? • Risk & Reward HeathThu, 2 Jun 2016 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon’t Let Political Correctness Blind Us to the Plight of Young Men<p> Pew Research recently reported that, for the first time in the modern era, more <a href="">young people (age 18 to 34) are living with their parents</a> than any other living arrangement, including living alone or living with a spouse or partner. It would be easy to blame this trend of &ldquo;boomerang kids&rdquo; on the Millennial Generation and accuse today&rsquo;s youth of being lazy or entitled, but the reality is much more complex.</p> <p> A variety of cultural and economic factors are contributing to the increasing share of young adults who live with their parents (and the corresponding decrease in those living with a spouse), but one of the primary problems is the plight of Millennial men.</p> <div class="ftb-widget" data-height="610" data-href="" data-widget-id="jZ0ZBQD8l1z" data-width="640"> <a href="" style="font:14px/16px arial;color:#3d3d3d;" target="_blank">Millennial Living Arrangements Over Time | Graphiq</a></div> <p> Despite all the media attention and political posturing about a so-called &ldquo;war on women,&rdquo; it&rsquo;s actually young men&rsquo;s educational achievement and economic prospects that have been on the decline, especially compared to their female counterparts. Men have experienced greater setbacks when it comes to education, labor force participation and wages. And all of this leads to trouble in marriage formation.</p> <p> When it comes to education, women are earning the majority of bachelor&rsquo;s, master&rsquo;s, and doctoral degrees. In fact, women ages 25 to 34 were <a href="">more than 20 percent more likely than men</a> to be college graduates in 2014. This means today&rsquo;s young female workers are substantially more educated than their male peers on average.</p> <p> This carries over to the labor market. In 1960, 84 percent of men aged 18-34 were employed. In 2014, only <a href="">71 percent were employed.</a> During the same time period, women entered the workforce in droves. Average women&rsquo;s wages have been increasing dramatically over the past few decades (a good thing!) but men&rsquo;s, sadly, <a href="">have remained flat</a>. In 2010, a <a href=",8599,2015274,00.html">market research company found</a> that young, single, childless women in cities were out-earning their male counterparts by 8 percent.</p> <p> It would be a mistake to assume a causal link between women&rsquo;s economic rise and men&rsquo;s decline just because the two are happening concurrently. Women are not &ldquo;taking men&rsquo;s jobs;&rdquo; the economy is not a zero-sum game with a static number of jobs or wage-dollars available. Rather, a <a href="">seismic shift in our economy</a>, away from traditionally male-dominated, labor-intensive industries (such as manufacturing) toward knowledge and service industries has left many blue-collar men behind.</p> <p> Men&rsquo;s education and employment problems fuel a mismatch in the marriage department, between women&rsquo;s desires and reality. In a separate Pew survey from 2014, <a href="">78 percent of single women</a> said finding a partner with a steady job was &ldquo;very important,&rdquo; putting more weight on this factor than any other, including sharing ideas about children (70 percent) or religion (38 percent). Unfortunately a shrinking pool of men meet that criteria.</p> <p> Given these trends, it&rsquo;s no surprise that so many young adults, and a disproportionate number of young men, are living with their parents</p> <div class="ftb-widget" data-height="489" data-href="" data-widget-id="fGRLwgzvw7X" data-width="600"> <a href="" style="font:14px/16px arial;color:#3d3d3d;" target="_blank">Median Age of Marriage Over Time | MooseRoots</a></div> <p> What can be done?</p> <p> Policymakers and the public more broadly should consider how to encourage men to attain marketable skills&mdash;rather than focusing solely on the idea that everyone needs to go to a four-year college for general higher education. Trades and technical education, once a boon to many non-college-bound males, has been <a href="">relegated to the sidelines</a> in favor of the &ldquo;college is for everyone&rdquo; mantra. Entry-level electricians make <a href="">$45,000</a> per year on average, and entry-level plumbers make <a href="">$43,000</a> &ndash; no college degree needed. Schools and communities should offer vocational courses and encourage students to consider learning these marketable skills as a worthy alternative path.</p> <p> For Millennial men who are already in the work force, economic reforms should focus on fostering economic growth, which leads to job creation and wage growth. Steady, increasing wages will allow more men to move out of mom and dad&rsquo;s basement and into self-sufficiency, or maybe even marriage.</p> <p> Finally, although it&rsquo;s politically incorrect, our society should be more frank about the challenges that young men are facing. Women, especially those with college degrees and strong economic prospects, have the support of various empowerment organizations, mentoring programs, and feminist initiatives.</p> <div class="ftb-widget" data-height="520" data-href="" data-widget-id="A1rGnz8WOh" data-width="600"> <a href="" style="font:14px/16px arial;color:#3d3d3d;" target="_blank">Median Age of Marriage Over Time by Gender | MooseRoots</a></div> <p> Women may face different challenges than men in today&rsquo;s economy, but this does not mean that men, especially those at greatest risk of unemployment, face none. Young men need help too &ndash; and communities should consider how to foster a healthy sense of self-worth, discourage self-destructive behaviors, and create more diverse positive role models for boys and young men.</p> <p> Everyone has an interest in promoting the well-being of young men, since the effects of their struggles impact all of society. Widespread delayed adulthood, marriage, and procreation will have downstream economic and cultural effects for decades to come, on both men and women, young and old. Living in mom and dad&rsquo;s basement may be a safety-net situation for a time, but ultimately we want better for America&rsquo;s young adults.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is a senior policy analyst and director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum ( and the Independent Women&rsquo;s Voice (</em></p> HeathThu, 2 Jun 2016 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIndependent Women’s Forum policy expert says more diverse health insurance plans are needed across U.S.<p> UnitedHealthcare, the nation&rsquo;s largest health insurer, has quit the Illinois Obamacare exchange, a move that will leave consumers in its wake searching among fewer policy choices, while seeing higher costs and less competition from other insurers.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s concerning,&rdquo; Hadley Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, recently told <em>Patient Daily</em>.</p> <p> Beginning this fall, UnitedHealthcare will no longer sell Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans on the federal exchange,, to consumers in Illinois as the company scales back operations to a handful of states.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve heard from a lot of major insurers that they&rsquo;re struggling with the exchanges under the (ACA),&rdquo; Manning said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re struggling because the pool of customers is more expensive than what they initially expected.&rdquo;</p> <p> In fact, a report from Blue Cross Blue Shield earlier this year showed that medical claims for this pool of customers was 22 percent more expensive than for people who had employer-sponsored insurance, she noted.</p> <p> &ldquo;And if it&rsquo;s not affordable and it&rsquo;s not financially viable for insurance companies to continue to participate in the exchanges, then they are going to have to find other options,&rdquo; Manning said. &ldquo;For UnitedHealthcare, that means exiting most of the exchanges. For some other insurance companies, we&rsquo;re beginning to see rate increases, so that means higher premiums for consumers.&rdquo;</p> <p> Additionally, major insurance companies across the country are requesting to merge with other insurers, further emptying the pool of insurers and deflating marketplace competition.</p> <p> &ldquo;Overall, this trend represents fewer options and higher prices for consumers who have to seek coverage in the ACA exchanges,&rdquo; Manning said.</p> <p> She suggested that the nation needs to go back to square one in terms of insurance reforms and allow people to buy policies that are very diverse.</p> <p> &ldquo;People of different ages and people with a different health history will have a lot of different needs and a lot of different comfort levels in terms of the financial risk that they&rsquo;re willing to bear, and that should be reflected in the type of insurance policies that are available for people to buy,&rdquo; Manning said. &ldquo;Our goal should not be a one-size-fits-all insurance policy available for people in the exchanges, but rather a lot of different options.&rdquo;</p> <p> Manning believes insurers would be happy to offer those different options, as well as more diverse plans.</p> <p> &ldquo;If we go back to a system where the insurance companies can offer a wide diversity of plans, then I think individual consumers and patients would be able to choose plans that best suit their needs,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p> Politically, Manning said she understands why people are concerned about the future of the issue.</p> <p> &ldquo;I think people are suffering from reform fatigue,&rdquo; Manning said. &ldquo;We just passed the (ACA) in 2010, and then major elements of it took place in 2014. The question on a lot of people&rsquo;s minds is: &lsquo;Where do we go from here?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p> <p> Consumers and patients want to hear more about the issue, she said, because they are not happy with the way things have been going under the ACA. But they also weren&#39;t thrilled about the system in place before the ACA because the country still had a high number of people without any form of insurance, Manning said.</p> <p> &ldquo;I hope that, in the future, we can continue to talk more about what we really need to be doing and what the positive steps are that we can take to make our health care system more competitive with more diverse options for consumers,&rdquo; she said.</p> HeathWed, 1 Jun 2016 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum