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Michael A. Fletcher
The Washington Post|washingtonpost.com

Walgreens announced last week that it is moving 160,000 workers to a new health insurance model, joining a growing list of large employers seeking to control costs by having employees shop for coverage in a private marketplace.

The drugstore chain said that beginning in 2014, it will give employees a set amount of money to choose health insurance coverage from a wide range of offerings in a fast-expanding private online marketplace run by Aon Hewitt, a benefits firm.

Walgreens joins Sears Holding, Darden Restaurants and other firms in pushing its workforce into the private exchanges, part of what employee benefit analysts call a historic shift in health-care benefits accompanying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — The buying power of Americans continues to be weaker than it was when the recession ended four years ago, underscoring the lasting damage wrought by the downturn, according to a new report.

Inflation-adjusted median household income has fallen 4.4 percent to $52,098 since June 2009, the official end of the recession, said the report issued Aug. 21 by Sentier Research, a data-analysis firm headed by two former Census Bureau officials.

Although the incomes of average Americans have been recovering from their recent low point in August 2011, they remain 6.1 percent below where they stood when the country toppled into recession in December 2007. read more »

 

WASHINGTON — For the first time since the New Deal, a majority of Americans are headed toward a retirement in which they will be financially worse off than their parents, jeopardizing a long era of improved living standards for the nation’s elderly, according to a growing consensus of new research.

The Great Recession and the weak recovery darkened the retirement picture for significant numbers of Americans. And the full extent of the damage is only now being grasped by experts and policymakers.

There was already mounting concern for the long-term security of the country’s rapidly graying population. Then the downturn destroyed 40 percent of Americans’ personal wealth, while creating a long period of high unemployment and an environment in which savings accounts pay almost no interest. read more »

 
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