Ask Amy: They admitted giving my sister this money and told me why

DEAR AMY: I’m a 37-year-old man. My sister is nine years younger than I am.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

I had always assumed that our parents treated both of us equally — financially and otherwise.

My sister was recently looking to buy a home. She asked for my opinion. I told her the home she chose was probably too expensive.

She then told me that our parents had already given her the entire down payment as a gift.

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I was shocked at how much they had given her, and yes, I was jealous.

My parents gave my wife and me a down payment when we bought our condo. What they gave us was around 10 percent of what they gave my sister.

I asked my sister about this and she said that our folks have also been helping her to pay off her student loans, paid off a credit card debt and give her a “small” allowance each month to supplement her income. She claims she never asked for money from them.

I never received any of that support.

I asked my mom why they’ve given my …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


Patients suffer when California health care behemoths quarrel over contracts

David Lerman, a Berkeley lawyer, changed health plans this year only to learn that his new insurer has no contract with the dominant medical provider in his community.

Anthem Blue Cross of California, one of the state’s largest health insurers, is battling with Sutter Health over how much it should pay to care for tens of thousands of its enrollees in Northern California. Sutter operates 24 hospitals in the region and lists about 5,000 doctors in its network.

“It’s not the peace of mind I thought I was buying to have the entire Sutter network — which is the biggest game in Northern California — be out-of-network,” said Lerman, whose family is insured through his wife’s job as a California State University professor.

Lerman and his family, who are enrolled in an Anthem Blue Cross PPO, can continue to visit Sutter facilities until midyear even if a new contract does not materialize before then. Fortunately, he said, nobody in his family suffers from a chronic illness. But not knowing which providers ultimately will be in his health plan’s network is aggravating, he said.

Contract disputes between insurers and medical providers have been a regular feature of the national health industry for a long time, but the stakes have risen as big players on both sides have expanded to gain market share — and leverage in network negotiations.

Most negotiations are completed before the old contract expires, and consumers usually don’t hear about behind-the-scenes disagreements. But when insurers and providers fail to reach an agreement on time, it can force patients to pay higher prices for care that is no longer covered by their health plans. At the least, it can cause considerable anxiety.

“It is a game of chicken, and at the end of the day somebody blinks and they come to an agreement,” said Wendell …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Is Oregon’s new whale license plate cooler than California’s?

California motorists may soon see a stylish new specialty license plate on the roads featuring a gray whale swimming in the ocean.

They can’t buy one unless they move to Oregon. But marine biologists say proceeds from the plate will help boost California’s environment and its tourism industry.

Late last week, Oregon’s Department of Transportation began issuing the plate — which was illustrated by artist Pieter Folkens of Benicia and features a mother gray whale and her calf — as a way to raise money for Oregon State University’s marine mammal research programs.

On Thursday, the first day the plates were first issued, the line at the DMV in Newport, Oregon went out the door and around the block 90 minutes before the office opened, said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, who was there. And it was raining.

“There’s so much enthusiasm. It’s been like a rock concert,” he said. “This is a way people can express their interest in conservation, marine resources and tourism. Some people want to promote the coast, some are buying it because they like whales, and some because it promotes research and education.”

Mate said under the Oregon law that established the program, $35 of each $40 plate sold will fund research projects at OSU, such as using satellite tags to track the migrations of whales, including gray, blue, humpback and others. It also will help fund genetic research, studies of the impacts of ship strikes and industrial noise on whales, public education programs and population counts.

That research will benefit California, said biologist Jim Covel of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“We here in California should thank the motorists of Oregon for buying those plates,” Covel said.

That’s because Oregon’s whales are also California’s.

The Oregon DMV began issuing a new license plate on Feb. 1, 2019 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World


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