A quarter of the people in Greece — and U.S. — can’t afford food

A recipe for revolution, if you ask me:

No matter where you’re from, not having enough to eat is the ultimate signifier of economic distress. Food is the base of Maslow’s hierarchy. It’s the first concern in disaster zones. It’s usually the last thing to go — after the car and the nice apartment — when you lose your job.

If you can’t afford food, there’s really nowhere to go but up. That’s why it’s so shocking just how many more hungry people there are now in what were formerly known as the world’s well-off nations. According to a new Pew report released today, almost a quarter of people (24 percent) in the United States and Greece answered “yes” to the question, “Have there been times during the last year when you did not have enough money to buy food your family needed?”

The levels in other Western countries weren’t quite that high, but the rate at which hunger has swept the eurozone since 2007 is still really dramatic:

hunger

Barbara and Bowser

Remember the nice lady from Oklahoma who found her dog in the rubble? She didn’t have homeowner’s insurance, and someone set up an online fundraiser for her — because she touched so many hearts. You can donate here if you want.

Good news for Obamacare

Young Ezra:

In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan — which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs — on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

As always, Sarah Kliff has the details. The California exchange will have 13 insurance options, and the heavy competition appears to be driving down prices. The most affordable silver-level plan is charging $276-a-month. The second-most affordable plan is charging $294. And all this is before subsidies. Someone making twice the poverty line, say, will only pay $104-a-month.

Sparer plans are even cheaper. A young person buying the cheapest “bronze”-level plan will pay $172 — and that, again, is before any subsidies.

California is a particularly important test for Obamacare. It’s not just the largest state in the nation. It’s also one of the states most committed to implementing Obamacare effectively. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — remember how that really happened? — California was the first state to begin building its insurance exchanges. The state’s outreach efforts are unparalleled. Its insurance regulators are working hard to bring in good plans and make sure they’re playing fair. If California can’t make the law work, perhaps no one can. But if California can make the law work, it shows that others can, too.
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