Category Archives: money

Pharmaceutical Industry

Direct-To-Consumer ads. Have you ever seen those ads on TV all about the great medications available to help alleviate and protect against illnesses? Those ads that show people in pain and distress, until they meet with their Dr. who prescribes a magical medication that miraculously fixes all their problems? These commercials give the consumer the idea that their problems could be solved by checking out this new drug. This is what pulls people in. Who doesn’t want to be as happy as those people at the end of those commercials, right? So what is the problem with DTC ads?

After speaking to a close friend and roommate about DTC ads, we came to a few specific thought points. One point brought up in our conversation was the impact it has on consumers. These commercials may be guilty of pushing consumers to buy these drug products. Although these drugs be helpful to certain medical conditions, not all of them are necessary and not all are right for everyone. Like all other product commercials, the goal is to urge people to want to buy it. The question is whether this is right for drug companies to take part in.

Another point brought up similar to the last was the pressure doctors might feel to prescribe medication.  In some DTC ads they will recommend that the patient ask their medical provider to prescribe them a specific medication. At times doctors are asked by drug companies to advertise and recommend new drugs on the market. This could cause doctors to worry more about selling these medication, instead of being concerned with what is necessary for their patients health. This raises the question of the motives behind DTC ads and drug companies. Is there concern improving illnesses and medical conditions or is it the price tag.

I feel that not all DTC ads are terrible. From a public health stand point it is important that people can advocate for their own health. Our goal is to raise health related self-efficacy in our communities and guide people to where they can seek quality and efficient care. An FDA policy requires DTC ads to state at the end of their ads the most important side effects.  They also state where they can find the medication and whether or not they should consult with their doctor before choosing it. Although these ads push further consumerism in the drug industry, they are making strides for precaution by warning people or potential risks and how to protect against possible harm. These policies are great, but i believe in order to create a better balanced system we must continue implementing polices that protect consumers.

Resources:

Slides: Pharmaceutical

http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/8/09-040809/en/

 

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Glossary Building 3

Money is an integral part of the world. Since it is such an important aspect, it would do well to know more about it, but many people are lost in the terminology that comes along with finance. I really didn’t know what it was all about, nor was I concerned about it because I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about it for another few years. However, the least we could do is know the terminology so that when the time comes to put it into use or it comes up on the news, we know what they are talking about. John Oliver is good at presenting an issue, explaining why it should concern us, and telling us what can be done about it so we can help ourselves. The review on U.S Pirg over the John Oliver retirement episode, was very informative and was able to walk me through the issues people of retirement age face when being taken advantage by non-fiduciary brokers. They are not told what exactly it is they are investing in and usually what the broker does invest their client’s money in, tends to benefit him/her rather than the clients, gaining commission and splurging. Terms that are important to know are:

Glossary terms/definitions:

  • Fiduciary rule: legal term for a broad group of professionals who are required to put customers’ interests first. They cannot accept compensation or payments that would create a conflict of interest (Lee).
  • Hedge funds: highly active funds with very high costs
  • Index funds: A list of stocks are bought and you receive the average return for that class of stock from that particular index you chose.
  • Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE): a full disclosure contract under the fiduciary rule (Tucker). Ensures that investors know exactly what it is they are investing in.

References:

Lee, K. (2016, June 14). Blog. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://uspirg.org/blogs/blog/usp/last-week-tonight-john-oliver-retirement-industry-minefield-here%e2%80%99s-answer

Tucker, P. (n.d.). 4 Arguments Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from http://www.truemeasureadvisors.com/2016/04/20/20164145-argument-against-the-fiduciary-rule-debunked/

Glossary Building 2

There is indeed a lot of business to be made with new parents, which makes them some of the most vulnerable consumers. This is especially true because the grand majority of parents would do anything to protect their babies and the companies/industries that are targeting them use fear and emotion to convince them to do the “right” thing for their baby, and since many first time parents are trying to figure out the parenting thing, they will believe them. In the Early Life Matters page, I read several articles that provided some interesting terms and information on companies that are thriving on new parent’s fears. One of the worst industries that targets parents is that of the cord blood industry involving private cord blood banks. Private cord blood banks convince new parents to pay to store and freeze their baby’s cord blood since the blood in the umbilical cord has a plethora of stem cells that have been used to treat over seventy different diseases. The idea is that if their baby is found to have a life threatening disease in the future, the cord blood is there for them, but if the baby was already born with a disease, their infected cord blood does nothing for them. For other families, they pay, but never use that cord blood. It’s money wasted.

Women who have had C-sections during one birth are usually not allowed to go through a vaginal birth because doctors won’t agree to do it it or it is against hospital policy. Unless, going through a vaginal birth for their next child is life threatening or would cause severe complications for the mother and her baby, it should be the mother’s choice what type of birth she should have.

Glossary terms/definitions:

  • Cord Blood Banking (Public/Private): The practice of preserving for future use fetal blood that remains in the umbilical cord at the time of birth. (medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)
  • Stem Cells: an unspecialized cell that gives rise to differentiated cells (www.merriam-webster.com)
  • Cesarean Section (C-Section): A surgical procedure in which incisions are made through a woman’s abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby (medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com)

References:

https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/cesarean+section

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Umbilical+Cord+Blood+Banking

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stem%20cell

Moninger, J. (2017, August 30). The Cord Blood Controversy. Retrieved November 08, 2017, from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/cord-blood-banking/the-cord-blood-controversy/

Roan, S. (2010, March 23). More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says. Retrieved November 08, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-0323-hosp-vbac-20100323-story.html

 

Finances Prompt 1

The first article I read was the Crackdown on Cheating Companies. After reading this article it doesn’t surprise me that large companies are misclassifying their employees to save themselves some money. Companies take advantage of full-time employees without actually having to pay or offer benefits that normally would come with being a full-time employee. The next article I read was about student loan debt and how to overcome it. This article was really helpful especially for college students like us who probably all have some sort of loans out that will need to be paid back after graduation. I think it is critical for people to know about the consequences that happen when you ignore your loan payments. Personally I know there have been times in my life where I have ignored responsibilities and it only causes things to get much much worse. That why these tips were helpful! Lastly, I read the article that touched on Debt and Deceased Relatives. This article really surprised me because I honestly thought that when you die, your debt is erased, simply because well, you are dead. Who’s going to pay it? Collecting estate to pay off debt seems reasonable if the person dies, however I think going as far to collecting it from significant others is drastic. I think it’s important to know that debt collectors are only allowed to contact third parties in order to obtain contact information ONCE. Its also important to know that you are legally allowed to have collectors stop contacting you. Just make sure to send that letter and get a return receipt for proof. As a consumer, it gives me hope that there is more investigation being done on companies who are misclassifying their employees. As an employee of a really large company myself, I would have to be taken advantage of by being called a “contractor” when I am still abiding by all company rules and not my own work. I think the first step in solving these problems is creating awareness for the consumers (I did not know about this deception going on, how many others don’t?) The more consumers know about it, the more change can happen. As for policy makers, it sounds like they are headed in the right direction with investigating unlawful companies. Making stricter consequences for companies misclassifying their employees could also aid in solving this issue.

Finances

Prompt 1

As a consumer we am automatically at risk  for some sort of financial struggle. As people age and slowly become more financially independent, more expenses tend to come into play.  Credit card offers, Schools loans, Personal loans, Legal assistance, Car Payments, Bankrupts, and more. These will most likely occur at least once in your life time. These things can be a product of disaster, enabling to accomplish many things and often make life much more difficult than it should be. Unfortunately young adult consumers are a main target for financial traps  because they are often much less financially knowledgeable and easier to receive money from (this is why young people receive so many credit card offers).  young consumers are the best consumers because of their willingness to spend money and participate in things that could possibly get them more money. This is what gets them in trouble. Not knowing how to budget, missing payments and not reading the fine print can put young people in a sticky place. This is when dept comes in. Not knowing how to manage your finances can leave someone with limited options of how they can live. By being more knowledgeable on things like how to manage student loans, apply for a credit cards and avoiding late fees, it could save someone a life of struggle.  The goal should always be to buy smart.

Student loans are one of the first things people experience when growing into an independent adult. Student loans are sometimes the only way most people can fully afford a higher education. The first time a student loan is taken out, we don’t have to think about how we are going to repay it because that moment isn’t for another 4+ years. But the truth is, we should always consider what we can do in the mean time. There are options. first, you can get acquainted with which loan or loans you have. You should learn what type it is, its terms and conditions, their interests rates, as well as what their grace periods look like. It is possible that if you begin to pay your interest rates sooner, the amount you’ll have to pay in the future can be a lot less. The grace period for most loans can start between 6 to 9 months, meaning you’ll have time to figure out what your financial situation is depending on the loan. what ever your financial situation may be, you may have options on what kind of payments you are able to make each month. when your financial situation changes, you may also have the ability to adjust how you make your payments. The goal is to stay in contact about your situation and try to NEVER miss payments. It is also helpful to keep in mind that if you obtain a job in certain fields such as, government positions, Non profit, public service, teaching positions, Americorps, peaceCorps, and more, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs. These could be extremely helpful in the long run. Knowing more about what your future may look like can prepare you for much more.

We also must watch out for ourselves when entering the work force. Depending on our field and position, we may be a risk for being taken advantage of by the companies and businesses we work for. We must stay aware of the rights we possess, what we are eligible for and how the places we work for “run”. This could avoid misclassification, mistreatment, lack of qualification/benefits and other unethical practices that could negativity affect workers. It is our right to uphold our employers to the laws and regulations that protect us as workers. We must be aware that our health and well-being is much more important than any amount of money or tax break. By being unaware mistreatment, could possibly enable workers from greatly benefiting from things they may qualify for. Doing the research could make a huge difference.

It is great to be a smart consumer. it could save you from a world of hurt and struggle in the future. If we take initiative and begin to use our resources for information and answers, we can avoid financial traps. to be aware means that you are using your knowledge to make smart choices. Choices that could benefits your future in very positive way.

Sources:

Financial Slides

P. (2013, August 23). A Crackdown on Cheating Companies. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://parade.com/49312/parade/100411-a-crackdown-on-cheating-companies/

Project on Student Debt. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://ticas.org/content/posd/top-10-student-loan-tips-recent-graduates

 

Glossary Post 2

After reading through the finance articles and slides this week, I had come across a few words that I was not super familiar with and thought I would share. I think with finance in general, there are a lot of big words that we come across and never really think about or try to understand but they most likely play a role into our financial education and decisions.

The first word I came across was Envelope-Stuffing Schemes. The name seems self-explanatory but I did not know that this was the term used for “get rich quick schemes”. It also seemed like another form of a pyramid scheme almost.

Envelope-Stuffing Schemes: you send your money, you’re likely to get a letter telling you to get other people, even your friends and relatives, to buy the same envelope-stuffing “opportunity” or another product. The only way you can earn money is if people respond to your solicitations the same way you responded. The promoters rarely pay anyone.

Definition Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0112-envelope-stuffing-schemes

The second word, one I am familiar with because a lot of people my age take part in it, is Pyramid Schemes. Pyramid Schemes are when one person at the top makes all the money while the people below make little to none and the fight to reach the top is rather difficult.

Pyramid Schemes: a form of investment (illegal in the US and elsewhere) in which each paying participant recruits two further participants, with returns being given to early participants using money contributed by later ones.

Definition Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme

The third word is settlements which I came across while reading the article about Fandango and Credit Karma. Settlements, to my understanding, are how much money the “winner” receives after a lawsuit. The settlement can range for any dollar value and it is settled through the clients and the lawyers.

Settlements: a resolution between disputing parties about a legal case, reached either before or after court action begins. The term “settlement” also has other meanings in the context of law.

Definition Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlement_(litigation)

 

Finance Prompt One

Being a young adult, financial health seems to be something I feel not only myself but other people in my age bracket are struggling with. I think that there are several factors as to why young adults are stuck when it comes to their financial situation and I think that not all of these factors are taught in schools or talked about home, or if they are, then they are not taught properly.

One thing I know that is a big conversation is financial aid. Schools promote financial aid all the time and how to get it and parents always speak about how their child should apply for it once they get the chance to. However, what I feel is never talked about is what happens when that financial aid is not given to you or when the school year is up. Financial aid can cause the student or the family to accumulate debt rather quickly due to the amount of interest that can occur once the student graduates. If the debt is not paid off quick enough, the more consequences occur. Financial aid is beneficial when helping a student pay for school – but there is a lot of fine print with it. Also, with the prices of college increasing every year, financial aid can either increase, decrease, or remain the same. I believe that politicians should work to lower interest rates, provided more financial aid when necessary, or work to make community colleges free or the first two years of college free. That way there is an opportunity for everyone to get a higher education without having to dig themselves into debt.

Another factor is credit cards. I think that growing up and hearing my parents and other adults around me talk about credit cards or even the term “credit” created this idea that I needed to start building credit once I was old enough to – and that is what I did. At 18 years old, I applied for a credit card and I have had one ever since. I have done well, thus far, at maintaining my credit score with my credit card, bills, etc. but I feel that some other people my age may not be so fortunate. There is an assumption that one needs credit in order to do any other “adult” purchases or decisions and therefore, that is why young adults open credit accounts at the first moment possible. But then they are not educated enough on how to fix the issue once it gets out of hand. I think that there should be courses offered on how to avoid financial issues like this and how to resolve them. As mentioned in the slides, education and counseling about credit can be extremely beneficial especially to young adults.

The third factor, that I actually struggled with personally while living on my own in a college town, is landlord and tenant issues and the fees that came with it. A few years ago I was living in a house with five other young adults in Bellingham going to Western at the time and we had run into a number of financial issues with our landlord – more specifically, our management company that was overseeing the paperwork for our landlord. While the lease was rather detailed, there were some things missing from it. We got random “noise compliment” charges or “extra garbage bags” fees and none of these minor fees were laid out in the lease. Being college students, we are all slightly limited on income so being hit with random fees ontop of rent was always really annoying. Long story short, we eventually all left the house because our management company was going to keep draining our wallets. However, during the process, we did not get any of our security deposits back when that was promised. That was the biggest concern of ours, was getting our $500+ back into our pockets – but the check never showed up. In situations like this, I wish that more help was available to us when we needed it and I wish that we had all taken the proper legal actions to protect ourselves as tenants so that we did not have to pay endless fees.

 

Finance Matters Prompt 1

The first resource I chose to use from the content section was the simulation, SPENT. Though this was just a simulation, it was incredibly stressful to think about having to make these decisions with so few options. The option to ask a friend was helpful but so many friends and family members are often in the same situation so it can be almost unfair to ask them for help because it may put them in a worse position than they are already in.

After this simulation, I moved onto the tips for students and paying back loans. This was almost as stressful as the first resource but not in the same way. This was more relatable to me because I am very worried about paying back student loans, especially since I plan to pursue a Masters Degree and a Doctoral Degree. Some options for loan repayment include public service or federal work. Luckily, I want to work for the CDC and I would most likely be eligible for loan forgiveness after 10 years. One thing I learned in my personal finance class was to pay loans and bills in a snowball effect. When one is paid off, continue paying that amount of money into other loans and bills to pay them off sooner.

I also read the student aid bill proposed by the President Obama and it sounds ideal. However, our country does not all think the same way and believe that personal responsibility is more important than helping others. Many believe that college assistance is a hand out that not everyone deserves. With the current political administration, I am worried that it will become harder and more dangerous to borrow from the government to earn a college education.

I think it is important for future students and borrowers to understand how loan repayment works, especially the differences between federal and private loans. I also believe it is important for more people to be taught about personal finances and how to be an “adult” in high school. I left high school not understanding how to balance a checkbook, pay off a loan, or even how to apply for a credit card. These are important things that people need to be taught in order for them to be the most educated and prepped for “the real world”.

Finance: Prompt 2

Personally, both articles were easier to read than I thought they were going to be but for some reason 4 Reasons Against the Fiduciary Rule Debunked was a little easier for me to understand and grasp the concept of what we are supposed to be learning about this week. The Fiduciary Rule is basically all financial advisors helping there clients save money need to have the clients best interest in mind instead of there own.

What I don’t really understand is how someone can be so cruel in there job. No matter what your job is whether it is a teacher, CNA (Certified Nurses Assistant), social worker or even a manager at Walmart, you ALWAYS have someone else best interest in mind because it is part of your job! The second you put yourself first is when you lose your job. How can someone keep there job when they aren’t even doing the main portion of it which is help there client save money.

If I had to chose one of the articles that was easier for the consumer to understand it would be 4 Reasons Against the Fiduciary Rules Debunked because the lay out was easier to read, the main points they wanted to explain were very much in detail with words that were easier to understand and it explained everything as you read along. It was a tad bit longer but only because it had more explanations. I liked both articles and I really like how Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Retirement Industry is a Minefield — But Here’s the Answer had five main points at the end that they thought were necessary to include sort of as a reminder.

Finance Prompt One

This is my example of financial health:  I have always saved some monies for rainy day such as losing a job, and I do not believe in blowing everything you make because you want to live for today.   I believe in being thankful for so many things I do have and do not believe in living beyond your means.  My situation is unique and am a very blessed or lucky individual.

Others, however, are struggling like the short game you can play at the end of the financial matters page about what it is like to be unemployed and what it feels like when you are down to the last $1000.  So unless, you have lots of monies saved, I guess you can lose it all then you end up taking any job offer.

Under Finance matters, some workers called contractors and a good percentage of work go to temporary agencies and I guess these workers are mis-classified as contractors even if when they work full-time.   These companies are saving monies by not paying insurance companies for these workers and save a lot of monies.

I guess if you’re a student; you will need to read all the options if you have to take out a loan and how or when to pay back and about loan forgiveness for the people who qualify.   Please look over  “A Student Aid Bill of Rights – proposal and Presidential Memorandum by the Obama administration. Pretty powerful, “basic” healthy public  policy around financial issues most of us face. ” Student debt issues and a helpful resource.  These topics are discussed in detail at the Finance matters page.

As far as Policymakers regarding finance that can cover all kinds of loans, credit cards, etc.; I really do not know how to comment on this.  There are many departments just for finance;  Federal Trade Commission, The Budget Office, IRS, etc. plus all of the state departments for finance.   For instance, our healthcare is still not even resolved by the Trump administration; the democrats and republicans do not agree on everything.  This is what I heard when I was watching the morning news.  Anyway, the government department control all revenues, funding, and expenses; so I am not sure what to say on the major work by policymakers but I have stated my opinions below.

Federal Trade Commission even offers advice on who is responsible for debts that a loved one may leave behind and who will have to execute and pay off these debts from estates.    There are some exceptions for some situations.   This is also under Finance matters page.

For more information, look over finance_2017 slides; it has all kind of information through links about various topics from seeking information, who to contact, how to file bankruptcy, etc.

As consumers; we should not live beyond our means like getting a huge house or focusing on new vehicles.   Some people put themselves in lot of credit card debt; I know a few people who do not know how to get out of their debts because they have to keep paying these companies interest payments and that is pretty much their minimum payment.   Just be thankful for what you have; if you have extra monies then spend it on things you been waiting or wanting.

We should even be careful about how many children we choose to have if you are not in a solid relationship.   Another example, if there is a way to petition some workplace positions’ salaries to be reduced as these people are paid way too much then the government could pay more for public education.   One more example, government should have a cap on how many children can be on Medicaid so some people are not taking advantage of this program and we should vote for a cap also.   This would save the government lots of monies and hopefully then it will go towards needed funding.