MONEY MONDAY 8/27/18
TOPIC 1: Investing
When a billionaire offers a FREE financial product… you know there is more to the story. Last week, J.P. Morgan Chase launched a free investing app called "You Trade."
Anyone who downloads "You Trade" gets 100 free trades in a given year. The app has a visible countdown for the number of trades remaining. It also gives free access to a portfolio-building tool access to stock research.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan, said he was inspired by Amazon Prime to create this app. (He liked the idea that if you're an Amazon Prime member, you get a hodgepodge of free services).
And while we like the idea of encourage people to invest, we don't like the "gamification" of investing. Offering portfolio tools and stock research, okay great, but apps like "You Invest" encourages people, particulary young people, to become day traders. You, and your adult kids, should be LONG TERM INVESTORS. You shouldn't make 100 trades in a year!!
And it's not just JP Morgan Chase trying to lure you in with hard-to-resist products and promotions…. the brokerage firm Fidelity just came out with 2 Exchange Traded Funds that have zero-fees. These aren't inherently bad, but they are used as "bait" to get you to buy other products or services.
So, as some costs start to come down, the possibility of a sales pitch in other areas is something to watch for. Just be mindful if you're trying out any of these new products or services.
HERE'S THE SIMPLY MONEY POINT
Beware of anything "free" from Wall Street. There are usually alterior motives.
Every Sunday, Simply Money is answering your money questions in the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Debra in Fairfield: My husband doesn’t trust the stock market, so about 90% of our money is currently in cash. We’re still a few years from retirement, and I’m just wondering if we’ll be OK with this kind of strategy?
#3: Healthcare costs
What would you say is of the most frustrating aspects of healthcare these days? Besides the rising costs, at Simply Money we would say the fact that you don't always know the price of care BEFORE you actually GET the care!
Just think about it: when you go to a restaurant, you're given a menu. The price for each item is listed (usually), so it's right in front of you. This allows you to make an INFORMED decision. But with healthcare procedures? Nope. When the doctor tells you that you need an MRI, you probably just go get it... then find out the cost AFTER you have the MRI. This is crazy!
As you can see (and know from first-hand experience), competitive forces are out of whack in health care. Hospitals are often ignorant about their actual costs. Instead, they often increase prices to meet profit targets. Patients, especially those of you WITH insurance, often don’t know the price of a procedure and rarely shop around.
Only about 20% of Americans have tried to compare prices before getting care, according to the results of a 2016 survey by the non-profit "Public Agenda."
This dynamic is a driving force in the explosion in health-care spending in the U.S., which will soon reach close to 20% of GDP. Americans spend more per capita on health care than any other developed nation, even though they aren’t buying more health care overall.
According to study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the prices consumers paid for the surgery at some hospitals in the U.S. were more than double the prices at others, according to an analysis of 88 million privately insured people.
Research from Harvard: On knee-replacement surgery, higher-cost hospitals spent almost twice the amount lower-cost hospitals spent, despite largely similar quality and roughly comparable patients
So what can you do? A great starting point is HealthCareBlueBook.com -- it's free, and allows you to search for a "fair price" for numerous types of procedures. Then, discuss prices with hospitals/medical prices BEFORE going in for treatment. Most will negotiate. (Paying in cash can also get you a better price).
HERE'S THE SIMPLY MONEY POINT
When it comes to paying for healthcare, you need to be your own advocate. So, when possible, research prices in advance.