Tag Archives: Bargain

Bargain hunting and how the brain understands numbers

If you are among the lucky ones returning from a summer holiday this week, you might have brought back some souvenirs from markets where you bargained hard to get a good deal – or so you thought.

Even if you think you’ve got a brilliant price, the brain can easily be influenced to pay more – even by as little as a random number. In a study based on work by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a scientist went for a walk with a bottle of champagne in one hand and a bag full of ping-pong balls in the other. He told passers by that the balls had random numbers on, and asked them to pick one, which said 10 on it. When he asked the most they’d pay for the champagne, they said around £25. In fact, while the subjects believed the balls were random, they weren’t: every ball had 10 on. When the experiment was repeated with balls saying 65, the maximum amounts raised to around £45.

This is called anchoring, and occurs because the brain works with relative amounts rather than absolutes. It’s why the start of bargaining is so important, and why even keen bargain-hunters can be persuaded to pay above the odds.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross Snag Obamacare’s Bargain Shoppers

Americans purchasing on government-run exchanges for health insurance primarily based on the price of premiums leaned towards strategies from Aetna Aetna’s Coventry business, Humana Humana (HUM) or the array of Blue Cross plans sold by Wellpoint (WLP), according to a new review out this week.

Based on costs they supply in following fall’s open enrollment period for coverage in 2015, this kind of competitive pricing could assist them expand their membership amongst folks getting coverage on exchanges below the Affordable Care Act.

In regions exactly where these firms participated on the exchanges underneath the Inexpensive Care Act, people have been most likely to take into account merchandise supplied by Coventry, the Aetna (AET) subsidiary, which had 54 percent of its programs competitively priced, in accordance to an analysis by Avalere Wellness, a research and advisory services firm on well being policy issues tracking the Cost-effective Care Act.

A plan was considered competitively priced if it was at or under the benchmark prepare, or the “second-lowest price silver program in the area.” For the most part, silver programs cover 70 % of a subscriber’s health-related care expenses, but they could cover much more depending on income-based mostly subsidies.

Avalere vice president Caroline Pearson Pearson, in a statement accompanying the firm’s evaluation stated consumers buying on exchanges are “extremely cost-sensitive.”

For the duration of a parade of very first-quarter earnings conference calls, insurance firm after insurance firm confirmed that the silver strategies had been the going away favourite selection of buyers buying on the exchanges.

Humana had 45 percent of its strategies competitively priced. Wellpoint, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield strategies across the nation including people under the Anthem brand,  had 38 percent of its programs competitively priced.

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A better way to spend for a (bargain) NHS

In addition, although the concept that the NHS cannot be sustained in its current kind has gained widespread acceptance, this ignores the reality of the economics of healthcare.

The NHS is, as it stands, one of the least expensive delivery mechanisms in the globe. It undoubtedly wastes income – as all healthcare programs do – and could be far more patient-centered. But the basic principle on which it rests is the notion of nationwide threat-pooling – that the better demands of one particular man or woman are offset by the lesser needs of yet another. We all spend into the method being aware of that we are unlikely to use the full extent of its solutions, but that this contribution will give for individuals men and women who are sick and have a disproportionate call on individuals resources.

So, increased demand from 1 person is offset by decrease demand from an additional.

And it functions. Insurance coverage businesses operate on a similar principle, but due to the fact their cohort is smaller and they are concerned about profit margins, those with persistent conditions or requiring expensive remedies have to either pay out higher premiums or be excluded. A nationalised system is as a result egalitarian and just, as nicely as being the least expensive option.

All that the introduction of flat-charge charges to see a physician would do is supply yet another source of income. In actuality, it is just yet another type of taxation, but since it is not named that it is more palatable to politicians.

The unwelcome reality is that there is no selection right here: the income is both going to come by way of direct expenses for those that use solutions or by means of higher contributions from all of us. For the causes already mentioned, I’d plump for the latter. But that means raising taxes, and that is a brave political selection. (Presently, the NHS is largely funded from taxation with a tiny amount coming from Nationwide Insurance coverage.)

I think the solution is to produce a specific payment for the NHS and social care, in a comparable way to how Nationwide Insurance was introduced in 1911 to offer a safety net for employees.

It would have to come with a cast-iron ensure that the funds was only used for the NHS and social care, and would only function if there have been a corresponding drop in general taxation, to account for the new contribution getting produced.

Of program, folks would even now be providing the Government cash, but I feel most would not object to having to pay a tax that was ringfenced for the NHS. It would also support challenge the thought that the NHS was “free” by clearly exhibiting every person that we all shell out for it.

And, maybe, folks would be less most likely to miss appointments when they saw the NHS contribution depart their spend packet every month.

It will be very good for kids to go to school at two

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, needs children as young as two to begin college. There has been a chorus of disapproval at his suggestion, with dad and mom saying that it will more erode the magic of childhood and “undermine natural development”. I really don’t acquire this – this place is a luxury that ignores the thousands of young children whose growth is hampered by getting brought up in impoverished surroundings. Only a third of kids from minimal-cash flow homes have reached what is regarded a “good” degree of improvement by the age of 5. The achievement gap amongst people from disadvantaged backgrounds and individuals from more affluent families continues throughout their childhood into adulthood. By going to school at an earlier age, this inequality can be addressed.

The caveman’s diet regime is just a mammoth gimmick

In accordance to analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the “caveman diet” is twice as powerful as some contemporary diet programs in helping individuals get rid of weight. The diet plan, which has a rash of properly-known followers this kind of as Uma Thurman (above) and Tom Jones, requires consuming plenty of berries, greens and lean meats this kind of as chicken, but rice, pasta, dairy items and some bread are banned. It is supposed to mimic the diets of our ancestors just before contemporary farming resulted in us eating more and more processed and refined food items.

The research showed that ladies who adopted the Palaeolithic diet regime lost twice as significantly weight within 6 months as these who followed a contemporary programme based on official health tips.

I actually consider the diet program is pure marketing hype. It’s fundamentally a framework for eating sensibly with a catchy identify.

And ahead of you try to supply free-selection woolly mammoth steaks from Waitrose, the research showed that after two years on the diet, the advantages tailed off. The researchers think that this was since people got bored with the regime and gave up.

It’s also well worth pointing out that, in spite of acquiring plenty of workout and eating wholesome, free-variety, organic meals, the regular existence expectancy of a caveman is believed to have been about 40 years.

Possibly not the very best function versions following all.

Max Pemberton’s latest book, ‘The Doctor Will See You Now’, is published by Hodder. To order a copy, phone Telegraph Books on 0844 871 1515

A Faustian Bargain On Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods

By Henry I. Miller and Drew L. Kershen

Pseudo-controversy continues to rage over no matter whether meals from plants and animals genetically engineered with the newest molecular tactics must be recognized as this kind of.  The battle has been fought in the media, state legislatures, referendum issues, and in federal courts.  Funded and supported by the organic meals industry, the professional-labeling groups, radical environmental organizations, meals activists, Television celebrities and other assorted antagonists have stopped at nothing at all.  They have lied, defamed, misrepresented and threatened.

In latest many years, the bulk of proposals to need labeling have gone down in flames.  However, in spite of the reality that mandatory labeling fails every test – scientific, economic, typical-sense – and that even activists’ “successes” are probably to be reversed as unconstitutional when they are challenged in the federal courts, the true believers soldier on.

Understandably, the food, farm and agribusiness industries are exhausted of fighting these countless brush fires.  Hoping to extinguish them when and for all, they have come up with a sweeping answer.  Unfortunately, it is facile and even worrisome.

Meals organizations and farm organizations have developed the Coalition for Secure Reasonably priced Food (CFSAF), which is lobbying for federal legislation with four targets:

  • Eliminate confusion and uncertainty caused by the prospect of a 50-state patchwork of security and labeling laws for genetically engineered foods, by affirming that Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) is the definitive nationwide authority.

Congress must explicitly preempt state and regional security and labeling laws, which are inherently misleading due to the fact they imply that genetically engineered substances are a “category” whose members are much less risk-free or nutritious than other folks.  But genetically engineered organisms and the food items derived from them do not in any way constitute real “categories,” which tends to make any selection of what to include in them wholly arbitrary and misleading.  Nor have they been shown to be less safe or in any way less “natural” than 1000′s of other widespread foods.  In reality, as federal regulators have explained, labeling to identify meals derived from plants modified with the newest strategies of genetic engineering (as some have proposed) would erroneously imply a meaningful variation exactly where none exists.

In an perfect planet, Congress could pass legislation to affirm that the FDA is the sole authority to call for mandatory labeling and that, as the FDA announced in a 1992 policy statement, labeling is proper to convey “material” information that bears on safety or utilization.  As FDA said at the time, this kind of danger-relevant variables in the context of novel foods could include the presence of a fully new substance in the meals provide, an improve in the level of a all-natural foods toxin, or the presence of a potent allergen exactly where a client would not count on to experience it.

  • Added regulation – need the FDA to conduct a security assessment of all new genetically engineered traits just before they are introduced into commerce.

Despite the fact that laboratory investigation on plants has been robust because the invention of molecular genetic engineering tactics in the early 1970’s, the commercialization of merchandise has been slowed by unscientific, excessive government regulation that discriminates against present day, molecular genetic engineering strategies.  For a quarter century, genetically engineered crops have been the most scrutinized in human history, without any scientific justification for such a burden.  They are far a lot more precisely and predictably crafted than their predecessors, and none has brought on documented harm to humans or disruption to an ecosystem.

Hundreds of danger-evaluation experiments as effectively as innumerable observations of “real-world use” have confirmed the safety of the technological innovation.  In spite of this huge amount of evidence, there has been no reduction or rationalization of the regulatory burden placed on plants created by the newer tactics of genetic engineering.  Indeed, in a lot of situations regulatory stringency and burdens are truly increasing, at times in the naïve hope that this will reassure skeptics.

This proposal by CFSAF would represent however another escalation of regulation, without having any justification for it – except probably as a bargaining chip for the creation of explicit prohibitions against state and neighborhood regulation.  That is not a enough justification.

At current, the FDA operates a voluntary consultation system for genetically engineered food items whereby the developer supplies the FDA various details about the solution.  Published reviews indicate that developers have with no exception utilised this voluntary consultation and that the voluntary consultation is much more than ample to defend the American customer.  There is a broad consensus that there is no scientific purpose to contemplate food manufactured with modern molecular tactics fundamentally diverse from other food: Corn is still corn regardless of the breeding strategy used to make the seed.  Therefore, even the “voluntary” consultation – which no meals producer dares to flout – is gratuitous and extreme.  (Almost identical food items created with older, less precise and much less predictable tactics are not routinely topic to assessment, voluntary or otherwise.)

Yet another concern is that a necessary FDA review and approval of new genetically engineered foods would constitute a “major federal action” that would set off FDA procedural obligations beneath NEPA, the federal National Environmental Policy Act.  In the previous, activists acting in poor faith have delayed approvals by bringing several nuisance lawsuits that claimed purely procedural deficiencies underneath the Act.

Other issues incorporate gratuitous delays in the evaluation of applications.  For example, beneath its authority to regulate “veterinary drugs,” FDA floundered for much more than 15 years reviewing the AquAdvantage genetically-engineered, fast-developing salmon.  Then, as the application neared the finish line, for political causes the approval was hijacked by the Obama White House, in which seemingly it has vanished into an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole.  This regulatory debacle has forced some U.S. animal genetic engineering researchers to get their promising analysis to other countries such as Brazil and China, since those nations appear to provide a friendlier regulatory regime.  An total, as soon as-promising sector of U.S. biotechnology has evaporated.

Let’s be clear: CFSAF’s intended adjustments would do absolutely practically nothing to boost the security of the food supply.  In truth, by creating even much more burdensome regulation and uncertainty about the path to the advertising and marketing of essential new items, it would do specifically the opposite.  Regulatory alterationsare in order, but they need to be in the course of generating regulation more scientific and danger-primarily based — not mandatory regulatory oversight targeted on a bogus pseudo-class.

And that brings up perhaps the biggest concern of all about the CFSAF energy – that Congress is amongst the loosest of loose cannons, and as soon as it is engaged in crafting legislation, given the reality of low scientific literacy and political horse-trading, there is no telling where we’ll finish up.

  • Inform Shoppers.  The FDA would set up federal specifications for organizations that want to label their solution voluntarily to indicate the absence or presence of foods elements made with molecular genetic engineering techniques.

Voluntary labeling allows shoppers to make options about what to purchase. Companies will make decisions about when to label, in buy to inform shoppers typically or to appeal to consumer preferences.  But federal law demands that foods labels be truthful and not misleading, and labels that imply any kind of warning about genetic engineering are, by definition, misleading.

FDA could provide advice about the use of distinct terms such as “GMO free” or “Non-GM verified,” along with specifying the paperwork that’s needed to document this kind of a declare, just as the agency did many years in the past for dairy products from cows not handled with the protein bovine somatotropin.  (Nevertheless, FDA has not enforced people rules regularly, and many dairy merchandise continue to bear misleading labels.)

This undertaking would be far more challenging than it may possibly seem, nonetheless, and in the finish would arguably be a fool’s errand, not as opposed to trying to make a decision how a lot of Lexus elements could be used in a Toyota without having needing to offer a “warning” label or rename the car.  The problems arises from the reality that genetic engineering is only a device, and although the resulting products – plants, animals or microorganisms — could possess novel traits, alternatively they may be completely indistinguishable from the very same solution produced via various, “conventional” technologies.

An additional argument for involving FDA in defining these terms is that the agency’s decisions will preempt state and nearby foods laws, once more staying away from a patchwork of arbitrary and potentially inconsistent demands.  Moreover, if federal regulators workout their authority to define terms, companies using them appropriately on labels would achieve a safe harbor from litigation under state and regional food laws. Consumers would advantage from uniform terminology, and businesses would acquire certainty about which terms are allowable.

  • Give Consistency.  The FDA would define the term “natural” for use on meals and beverage items so that food and beverage companies and customers have a consistent legal framework that will guide food labels and inform customer choice.

This is another red herring.  During the previous decade, quite a few class-action lawsuits have been brought against foods firms searching for damages for false marketing when the firm placed the phrases “all natural” or “100% natural” on the label of a food item.  In spite of several requests, some from federal trial judges, FDA has consistently declined to define the phrase “natural” – most recently in January — pleading that it has increased priorities for its time and assets than acquiring into a years-lengthy philosophical and ideological quagmire.  At best, this exercise would have absolutely nothing at all to do with the healthfulness or quality of the foods in result, it would be the regulatory equivalent of making an attempt to establish how a lot of angels can dance on the head of a pin.