Here's what we emailed out the week of May 14, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.
While the force may not yet be with us… lightsabers could. Inspired by your favorite sci-fi films, researchers have figured out how to create lightsaberswith actual, free-floating luminous beams. The lightsabers are tiny at present, but they’ve been able to change their colors and have even engineered movie-inspired battle vessels. For now, we’re battling with mainstream headlines to bring light to these stories.
“Junk” health insurance could be quietly costing Americans thousands
Wed May 5
Imagine thinking you have great health insurance only to find out you have the worst options available. Millions of Americans are in this boat as they accept short-term health plans that, on the surface, seem comprehensive from companies like Pivot Health, Golden Rule, Companion Life, and American Financial Security Life Insurance Company.
What exactly are these short-term healthcare plans? These are low-cost plans that are stuffed with fine print excluding payments for common treatments, imposing more severe limits than general insurance plans, and denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. They’ve been around for decades...
- Historically, they have existed to temporarily bridge coverage gaps for, as the name implies, short term healthcare needs.
- While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) limited their lifespan to just three months, the Trump administration extended that to 364 days and even allowed for renewals to extend to three years.
- This led to a surge in offerings and increased benefits to those selling them (for example, brokers earned a 23% commission on every plan sold, compared to just 2% for ACA-approved plans).
- The plans are also far cheaper and not bound by the strict ACA rules, which allows them to fly under regulatory radar and increase profitability with tactics like basing coverage and pricing off an insurer’s medical history.
- While Biden’s administration is working on making ACA-approved plans more affordable, not much has been done to address these short term plans directly.
While we wait for action, new stories continue to appear of Americans ending up with shocking hospital bills. One healthy man in his 30s was charged over $30,000 after insurance for surgery to resolve his appendicitis, learning the hard way that his short-term plan had hidden severe coverage limitations. His insurer, Pivot Health, responded by blaming the hospital for not just accepting the ~$1,600 payment they sent, despite the hospital having a contract with the insurer holding them responsible for 85% of costs.
Some additional resources...
- Extensive Coverage: ProPublica
- Trump’s admin allowing bad health plans to thrive: Vox
- Biden’s plan: New York Times
Golden Globes faces cancellations and boycotts from lacking diversity
Fri May 7
While diversity may feel like an obvious commitment for companies working for years on inclusivity initiatives, the Golden Globes are severely behind — so much so, that NBC will no longer be airing the program in 2022. Beyond experiencing a 13-year low in viewership (losing two-thirds of their usual audience), the awards have been facing continued controversy and criticism.
Some Quick Context
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit that represents the awards, comprised of journalists and photographers who also report on the industry. Of their roughly 90 voting members, none are Black. The HFPA has also come under fire for...
- Discrimination exhibited in both Golden Globe selection and even the questions asked during press conferences.
- Exclusive access through publicity swag, private parties, and extravagant trips that can influence nomination decisions.
- Overlooking qualified applicants of varying backgrounds and operating like a cartel, as detailed in a recent lawsuit by a Norwegian journalist.
While the HFPA has come forth with a plan to hire a diversity and inclusion consultant, many say it’s not enough to change the systemic issues outlined above. Beyond NBC’s 2022 cancellation, Netflix and Amazon Studios have threatened to cut ties while some actors boycott the awards. Actor Tom Cruise even returned three Golden Globe Awards back to the HFPA in protest.
Some additional resources...
- Full coverage: NBC
- Tom Cruise’s protest: Variety
- Investigation and lawsuit: LA Times
- HFPA reform plans: Golden Globes
- Viewership drops: CNBC
ASCII OF THE WEEK
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They recreated our weapons?
Art Credit: Shanaka Dias