Defaults Rise in Parent PLUS Loans

Parents who’ve taken out federal student loans to help pay for their children’s college education are increasingly finding themselves in serious financial trouble. Default rates on Parent PLUS loans have tripled in the last few years, according to federal data released this month. Some 5.1 percent of loans that originated in the 2010 fiscal year were in default three years later, according to U.S. Department of Education data released last week. Default rates were highest, at 13.3 percent, for Parent …

Medicare Patients Now Can Do a Check-Up on Doctors

In a major data release this morning, Medicare shared information on $77 billion in payments to more than 880,000 health care providers. Consumers for the first time can look up doctors, find out the number of procedures they have performed and how much Medicare paid. This is one piece of the puzzle for determining the overall value of care being delivered. The information, from 2012 Medicare Part B payments, already has generated some eye-popping articles, with reports of one Florida ophthalmologist receiving …

GlaxoSmithKline Ends Payments to Doctors

Pharmaceutical companies make lots of money and spend lots of money, including lavish payments to doctors for consulting; expenses-paid conferences, cruises and other events for doctors; and bonuses for sales reps who exceed sales targets, even if that means pitching a drug for uses the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved. Over the past three years, the investigative journalists at the nonprofit ProPublica, along with its news media partners, have been writing about these practices in the series Dollars for Doctors …

Social Security Enters the Debt-Ceiling Fray

There’s a lot on the line in the showdown over raising the federal debt ceiling – including, President Barack Obama says, retirement and disability benefits for millions of Americans. The nation’s economic situation could go from bad to worse if Congress fails to increase the government’s borrowing authority by the Oct. 17 deadline, according to Obama. “In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time; in an economic shutdown – if we don’t raise the debt ceiling …

A Renewal of Subscription Renewal Scams

Like reading home-delivered newspapers and magazines? Pay close attention to invoices that claim to start or renew your subscriptions. In an old scam that has recently been, ahem … renewed, third-party companies are mailing bogus subscription invoices that purport to be “on behalf  of” well-known publishers. Problem is, the firms may not be working with publishers as claimed. Several leading publishers have recently been hit in this scam, which aims to get you to make payments directly to the outside company, not …

More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …