The long-time “Jeopardy!” host has also been a mainstay in Colonial Penn’s life insurance commercials since the late 1990s.

Original Source: adage.com

In March 2019, facing an estimated 2,600 lawsuits1,2 relating to its role in creating the opioid epidemic, Purdue Pharma — the maker of OxyContin — announced the company was considering filing for bankruptcy protection.

Around that same time, New York expanded its lawsuit against the company to include allegations that company funds had been fraudulently transferred into trusts and offshore accounts owned by members of the Sackler family in an effort to shield assets from litigation.3,4 In all, court documents reveal the Sacklers transferred more than $10 billion of the company’s funds into family trusts.5

How this does not fall under the fraudulent conveyance statutes, which is attempting to avoid a debt by moving assets to another person or legal entity, boggles my mind. It appears the only reason they got away with this is they found the loophole of transferring their assets offshore.

The New York complaint also charged Purdue with secretly setting up a new company, Rhodes Pharma, in 2007 while the company was being investigated by federal prosecutors, as a way to protect the Sacklers from the mounting OxyContin crisis and continue their profit scheme.6 Rhodes Pharma makes generic opioids, allowing the Sacklers to benefit from the opioid epidemic both in terms of brand name sales and generic sales.7

Rhodes Pharma and Richard Sackler also hold the patent to a new, faster-dissolving form of buprenorphine, a mild opioid drug used in the treatment of opioid addiction,8 allowing the Sacklers to further profit from the addiction crisis they helped instigate, the economic burden of which is costing the U.S. an estimated $504 billion a year.9

Indeed, according to a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts,10 Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers sought to increase opioid prescriptions while simultaneously developing overdose treatment to boost its profits.

US Government Enters Opioid Business

Purdue finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2019.11 At the end of October 2020, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to three federal criminal charges relating to its role in the opioid crisis, including violating a federal anti-kickback law, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.12,13

To settle the charges, Purdue is supposed to pay $8.3 billion in fines, forfeiture of past profits and civil liability payments.14 However, the company doesn’t have enough cash to cover the payments so, instead, Purdue Pharma will be dissolved, and its assets used to erect a “public benefit company,” in other words, a government-owned and controlled drug company.

The estimated financial cost of opioid addiction and death in the U.S. was $504 billion in 2015. In addition to health care costs, criminal justice costs and lost productivity due to addiction or incarceration, this figure also takes into account projected lost earnings and the value of statistical life for people who died prematurely.

This new company will reportedly be controlled by a trust that will “balance the trust’s interests against those of the American public and public health.”15 Future earnings from this public benefit company will be used to pay off the $8.3 billion penalty, which in turn is supposed to be used to combat the opioid crisis.

This is a remarkable development, and one wonders just how functional this setup is going to be. In essence, the government will now be in the business of making and selling opioids, the profits from which will then be used to combat opioid addiction. It seems like a circular and rather illogical setup. According to CNN:16

“Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who announced the settlement, defended the plans for the new company to continue to sell that drug, saying there are legitimate uses for painkillers such as OxyContin.”

Sackler Family Walk Away Scot-Free, Again

The Sackler family, meanwhile, have reached a separate settlement in which they will pay $225 million in civil liability for causing false claims about OxyContin to be made to Medicare and other government health care programs.17

While the agreement does not release the Sacklers from potential criminal liability, it seems the family will walk away scot-free. And, considering they already transferred some $10 billion into their family trusts, the $225 million fine is a very small fraction, so they won’t end up wanting financially either.

Proving they have no remorse, Sackler family members, in a recent statement, shifted blame for the company’s illegal activities on its managers, saying they “relied on management assertions the company acted lawfully.”18 This, even though several Sackler family members sat on the company board and were intimately familiar with the company’s marketing strategy.

It’s unclear whether this DOJ agreement affects or includes the Sacklers’ other opioid company, Rhodes Pharmaceuticals. If not, it falls short in that respect too, since they would then be able to continue their opioid business. Between 2009 and 2016, Rhodes’ market share of opioid sales actually exceeded that of Purdue itself.19

Aside from Purdue and Rhodes, the Sacklers have also profited from Napp Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge-based drug company that manufactures — you guessed it — opioids.20 In 2018, seven family members resigned from their directors’ posts at Napp following a string of bad publicity relating to alleged tax evasion schemes.

Mortimer Sackler, since deceased, was found to have avoided paying income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance taxes in the U.K. by falsely claiming non-domiciled status. The family was also accused of using a Bermuda-based company to avoid paying corporate taxes for Napp Pharmaceuticals.21

Penalties Still Won’t Cover States’ Claims

Even though $8.3 billion is a record-breaking settlement, states have filed claims exceeding $2 trillion in Purdue’s bankruptcy case, and according to a November 2017 report22 by the White House Council on Economic Advisers, the estimated financial cost of opioid addiction and death in the U.S. was $504 billion in 2015.

In addition to health care costs, criminal justice costs and lost productivity due to addiction or incarceration, this figure also takes into account projected lost earnings and the value of statistical life for people who died prematurely.

In response to the Justice Department’s settlement with Purdue Pharma, 25 state attorneys general sent a letter23 to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, in which they object to the settlement and argue against the government getting involved in the opioid business. The letter, dated October 14, 2020, reads in part:24

“We write to ask you to revise a proposed DOJ settlement agreement that reportedly would wrongly mandate that Purdue Pharma’s infamous OxyContin business be preserved as a public trust.

A business that killed thousands of Americans should not be associated with government. Instead, the business should be sold to private owners, so the government can enforce the law against it with the same impartiality as for any other company …

The role of government in any OxyContin business should be to enforce the law, just as against any other company. The public deserves assurance that no opioid business is given the special protection of being placed under a public umbrella.

Although it may take time to find a private sector buyer, the public should be confident that public officials are seeking to avoid having special ties to an opioid company, conflicts of interest, or mixed motives in an industry that caused a national crisis.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong also told CNN:25

“This settlement provides a mere mirage of justice for the victims of Purdue’s callous misconduct. The federal government had the power here to put the Sacklers in jail, and they didn’t. Instead, they took fines and penalties that Purdue likely will never fully pay.

Every dollar paid here is one dollar less for states like Connecticut trying to maximize money from Purdue and the Sacklers to abate the opioid epidemic. Preserving Purdue’s ability to continue selling opioids as a public benefit corporation is simply unacceptable.”

How Purdue Launched and Fueled the Opioid Epidemic

In previous articles, I’ve discussed the role false advertising played in the creation of the opioid crisis.26 To recap, a single paragraph in a 1980 letter to the editor27,28 (not a study) in The New England Journal of Medicine — which stated that narcotic addiction in patients with no history of addiction was very rare — became the basis of a drug marketing campaign that has since led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people.

Purdue Pharma used this letter to the editor as the basis for its claim that opioid addiction affects less than 1% of patients treated with the drugs. In reality, opioids have a very high rate of addiction and have not been proven effective for long-term use.29

Research30 published in 2018 also shows opioids (including morphine, Vicodin, oxycodone and fentanyl) fail to control moderate to severe pain any better than over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Various court cases have demonstrated how Purdue systematically misled doctors about OxyContin’s addictiveness to drive up sales. The inevitable result of Purdue Pharma’s ruthless and immoral marketing campaign has been skyrocketing opioid addiction, which killed 46,802 Americans in 2018 alone.31

Adding insult to injury, when it became clear that people were dying in droves from opioid overdoses, Purdue launched an extensive damage-control operation that included the suggestion that those dying from opioids were already addicts, and that this wouldn’t happen to patients who were not already addicted to drugs. The company also sought to cash in on the rising addiction trend twice by getting into the business of creating overdose treatments.

Opioid Misuse Paves Way for Heroin Addiction

Perhaps most egregious of all has been the reckless prescribing of opioids to young people. Here, dentists have been a major part of the problem, as opioids are frequently prescribed when extracting wisdom teeth.

Insurance claims data from 2016 and 2017 reveal 60% of children between the ages of 1 and 18 with private insurance filled one or more opioid prescriptions after surgical tonsil removal,32,33 and dentists wrote a staggering 18.1 million prescriptions for opioids in 2017.34

As noted by Ronnie Cohen in a March 2019 article35 in The Washington Post, “until recently, dentists seemed to have had no idea they may have been helping to feed an epidemic that resulted in a record 70,237 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2017.”36

But contribute they have, and according to data37 from the University of Michigan, 31.8%, or just over 1 in 3 people who misused opioids during their high school years ended up using heroin by age 35. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse also confirms that prescription opioid use is a significant risk factor for subsequent heroin use:38

Incidence of heroin use was 19 times higher among those who had used opioids nonmedically than among those who had not used an opioid
86% of young, urban injection drug users had used opioid pain relievers nonmedically before starting heroin. The three primary sources of opioids were family, friends and personal prescriptions. This is the reverse trend from the 1960, when more than 80% of those who started abusing opioids had started with heroin
Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75% reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug
Nearly 80% of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin

Struggling With Opioid Addiction? Please Seek Help

Regardless of the brand of opioid, it’s important to realize they are extremely addictive drugs and not meant for long-term use for nonfatal conditions. Chemically, opioids are similar to heroin, so if you wouldn’t consider shooting up heroin for a toothache or backache, seriously reconsider taking an opioid to relieve this type of pain.

The misconception that opioids are harmless pain relievers has killed hundreds of thousands, and destroyed the lives of countless more. In many cases, you’ll be able to control pain without using medications.

In my previous article, “Billionaire Opioid Executive Stands to Make Millions More on Patent for Addiction Treatment,” I discuss several approaches — including nondrug remedies, dietary changes and bodywork interventions — that can be used separately or in combination to control pain, both acute and chronic.

If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking a higher dosage or taking the drug more often than you initially did, you may already be addicted. Resources where you can find help include the following.

Your workplace Employee Assistance Program
The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration39 can be contacted 24 hours a day at 1-800-622-HELP

You can also learn more in “How to Wean Off Opioids.” I also recommend keeping an eye out for my upcoming article about how low dose naltrexone (LDN), an opioid antagonist, is being used at ultra-low micro doses of 1 microgram to successfully treat opioid addiction.

Original Source: articles.mercola.com

Reaching your twenties is an exciting milestone for most as it means you’ve officially entered adulthood. Along with that milestone comes new responsibilities and worries that we didn’t picture when our teenage selves dreamed of turning 21. We imagined our college graduation, moving into our first apartment, and launching our new career. That vision didn’t include dealing with student loan debt, taking on a low paying entry-level job, or having to confront that despite spending 4 years in college, you’re still unsure how the world of personal finance actually works.

It’s easy to dismiss it all because well you’re a 20 something, and you’ll have plenty of time to play catch up. The reality is that each decade plays an important role in our future financial health. Take the time now to learn about your money and follow the money moves outlined below to put yourself on a path of lifelong financial success and eventual freedom.

Money Moves to Make in Your 20’s:

Learn How To Budget

Building a budget doesn’t have to be overly complicated or time-consuming. It’s actually the first step in putting yourself in control of your finances because it means you know where your money goes each month. The good news is that there are lots of apps and online tools that can make the process a breeze. Consider a system like Mint that will connect to your accounts and automatically categorize your spending for you. The right budgeting tool is simply the one you’ll stick with long term.

Pay Off Debt

Debt isn’t all bad. It may be the reason you were able to earn your degree, and a mortgage may help you one day buy a home. It can also quickly overrun your life if you aren’t careful. Now’s the perfect time before life gets more hectic with family commitments to buckle down and tackle any loans or credit card balances so you can be debt-free going into your 30’s.

Build a Cash Cushion

The financial downturn caused by the pandemic has reminded the whole world of the importance of having an emergency fund. We don’t know what life is going to throw at us and having a cushion can help you navigate the uncertain times. Though it’s not all about having a secret stash of cash to deal with the bad news of life (medical bills, car repair, layoff), it can also be about having the cash to seize an exciting opportunity. Having savings gives you the freedom and security to deal with whatever life brings your way – good or bad.

Understand Credit

Your credit score can dictate so much of your life. That little number can play a big role in the home you buy, the car you drive, and even the job you hold as some employers (especially in the finance world) will pull your credit. It’s important that you check your credit report and score (also available through Mint), learn how it’s calculated, and work to improve it.

Money Moves to Make in Your 30’s:

Invest For Retirement

Now that you’ve spent your 20’s building the foundation for your financial life, it’s time to make sure you’re also tackling the big picture goals like saving and investing for retirement. I typically recommend that clients save 10% to 15% of their annual income towards retirement. That may seem like an insurmountable goal, but starting small by saving even 1 to 3% of your salary can make a big difference in the future. Also, make sure to take advantage of any matching contributions that your employer may provide in your retirement plan. If, for example, they offer to match contributions up to 6%, I would try hard to work towards contributing at least 6%.

Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a top goal for many, but it also seems to be getting increasingly more difficult especially if you live in a major city. The most important steps you can take is to improve your credit score, pay down high-interest debt, and be aggressive about saving for a down payment. Saving 20% down will help you qualify for the best loan terms and interest rate, but there are still home loans available even if you aren’t able to save that much. Just be realistic with your budget and what you can afford. Don’t let a lender or real estate agent determine what payment will fit into your budget.

Be Covered Under These Must-Have Insurances

You’ve spent the last several years building your savings and growing your family. It’s now crucial that you have the proper insurance coverage in place to protect your assets and your loved ones. Life and disability insurance are top of the list. Life insurance doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Get a quote for term-life that will last a set number of years and protect your partner and children during those crucial years that they depend on you. Disability insurance protects your income if you become sick or injured and are unable to work. Your earning ability is one of your biggest assets during this time, and you should protect it. This coverage may be offered through your employer, or you can request a quote for an individual policy.

Invest in Self-Care and Well Being

Mental health is part of self-care and wealth. Most people don’t talk about how financial stress and worry affect their overall health. When you can take care of yourself on all levels, you will feel healthier and wealthier, and happier. But it is not easy. It takes work, effort, awareness, and consciousness to learn how to detach the value in your bank account or financial account from your self-worth and value as a human being. When you feel emotional about your money, investments, or the stock market, learn ways to process them and take care of yourself by hiring licensed professionals and experts to help you.

Money Moves to Make in Your 40’s:

Revisit Your College Savings Goal

As your kids get older and prepare to enter their own journey into adulthood, paying for college is likely a major goal on your list. Consider opening a 529 plan (if you haven’t already) to save for their education. 529 plans offer tax advantages when it comes to saving for college. There are lots of online resources that can help you understand and pick the right plan for you. Visit https://www.savingforcollege.com. This is also a great time to make sure you’re talking to your kids about money. Give them the benefit of a financial education that you may not have had.

Get Aggressive with Retirement Planning

Your 40’s likely mark peak earning years. You’ll want to take advantage of your higher earnings to maximize your retirement savings especially if you weren’t able to save as much in your 20’s and 30’s. Revisit your retirement plan to crunch the numbers so you’ll be clear on what you need to save to reach your goal.

Build More Wealth

You’ve arrived at mid-life probably feeling younger than you are and wondering how the heck that big 4-0 got on your birthday cake. We typically associate being 20 with being free, but I think we’ve got it wrong. There is something incredibly freeing about the wisdom and self-assurance that comes with getting older. You’ve proved yourself. People see you as an adult. Your kids are getting older and your finances are more settled. Now’s the time to kick it up to the next level. Look for ways to build additional wealth. This may mean tapping into your entrepreneurial side to launch the business you’ve dreamed of or buying real estate to increase passive income. Now’s also a great time to find a trusted financial advisor who can help guide your next steps and help you plan the best ways to build your wealth.

Revisit Your Insurance Coverage

Insurance was crucial before, but it’s time to revisit your coverage and make sure you’re protected especially if you decide to launch a business or buy additional real estate. This is also where a financial advisor can help you analyze your coverage needs and find the policies that will work for you.

Consider Estate Planning

Estate planning (think wills, trusts, power of attorney) isn’t the most fun / exciting topic. It involves imagining your gone and creating a plan for the loved ones you leave behind. It is also often overlooked by adults in their younger years. It’s easy to assume estate planning is something the wealthy need to do. It really comes down to whether you want to decide how your life savings will be managed or if you want a court to decide. It’s also crucial for parents with children who are minors to select a guardian and have those uncomfortable conversations with their family members about who would care for the children if the worst were to happen. It’s also a good time to visit this topic with your own aging parents and make sure they have the proper documents and plans in place.

 

Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s, it can be easy to put off planning your finances especially in the middle of a pandemic. Most of us are busy, and it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll have time to work on a goal in the future. Commit to setting aside one hour each week or even each month to have a money date and review your finances. Don’t let yourself reach a milestone birthday (30, 40) and regret not being farther ahead. Follow these money moves now to seize control of your financial future.

The post Money Moves to Make in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Original Source: blog.mint.com

In India, COVID-19 efforts can be combined with tuberculosis prevention help defeat both illnesses. Photo: Shubhangee Vyas
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Undefined

With COVID-19, our lives are no longer the same. The pandemic has overshadowed other health issues and reversed the progress made over decades in our fight against other diseases, including tuberculosis (TB). In India, despite sustained and aggressive nation-wide interventions, this deadly disease continues to haunt the population with one of the world’s highest TB infection rates. 

Under the National TB Elimination Program, the country has successfully treated over 20 million patients since 1997. Efforts have been afoot to further reduce the TB burden, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created serious obstacles.

However, rather than being an obstacle, the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to simultaneously combat COVID-19 and TB, in order to avert millions of deaths.

The respiratory route is the primary mode of transmission for both infections. Interrupting it will stop the spread of both.  In addition, global strategies to control COVID-19 and TB have common key elements: early detection, diagnosis, contact tracing, and case management. Both ailments also require a whole-of-society approach and active community engagement for implementing simple, doable, evidence-based and affordable non-pharmaceutical interventions.  

The National TB Elimination Program is a good place to start this process in India. It has demonstrated the strong involvement of civil society and community leadership in prevention and management of TB. This can be used to curb the spread of COVID-19 through community outreach that seeks to reduce close contact and promote use of non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g. respiratory hygiene) in communities, public transport and overcrowded houses.

The program has also been instrumental in finding active TB cases. This can be expanded to include COVID-19 by strengthening the surveillance for influenza-like illness. The unification of surveillance activity for communicable diseases with similar modes of transmission is prudent, efficient, productive, and cost-effective.

This success can also be attributed to the involvement/engagement of the private sector, including use of the TB notification and patient management system ‘NIKSHAY.’ This IT-based platform can be strengthened to integrating notifications and responses to COVID-19. The strategies for COVID-19 can be synchronized with TB’s four strategic pillars of “Detect – Treat – Prevent – Build.”

India has scaled up diagnostic facilities by making highly effective tests available throughout the country. This has helped to make sure more people are diagnosed, receive proper medical treatment and thus reduce transmission of infection.

One of these tests, the cartridge-based nucleic acid amplification test, is rapid, highly sensitive, specific, and also detects resistance against recommended antituberculosis drugs. This system has also been extensively used during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the possibility of cross-use and integration of this system for diagnosis of other infectious diseases. With minor modifications it has the potential to become an affordable and reliable diagnostic aid across the spectrum of infectious diseases.

The pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to simultaneously combat COVID-19 and TB, in order to avert millions of deaths.

The other, TrueNat®, is a chip-based, portable reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine that is the fastest available test for COVID-19. It also has the potential to become an important diagnostic tool for multiple infectious diseases.

These tests can be made more effective by strengthening diagnostic outreach in the community with well-defined referral mechanisms. 

Using the same facilities for testing TB and COVID-19, with possible expansion and strengthening, can help in successful reductions of both diseases.  India has, in a remarkably short period of 6 months, scaled testing capacity for COVID-19 from the initial 15 testing laboratories to more than 1750 labs across the country. TB detection services can benefit immensely from this feasible, affordable and quality service network-based delivery model.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Tuberculosis Free India Campaign (TB Mukt Bharat), presenting his vision to eliminate TB from India by 2025. Similar leadership has been shown in managing the pandemic. India even allocated about $10 million to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for fighting the pandemic in the neighboring countries in South Asia. The pandemic response can benefit from adopting best practices in India’s TB program, including telemedicine, doorstep delivery of drugs, insurance coverage, improved logistics, private sector partnerships and other benefits to community and frontline health workers.

The COVID-19 response has put the focus on public health interventions like social distancing, use of masks, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene. Continuing these steps will help in preventing new infections of TB as well. In the long term, strengthening efforts on providing properly ventilated houses to the poor contributes to the prevention of all respiratory infections. Initiatives such as the 30-second coronavirus mobile phone ring tone produced in India can be also be used to promote control of TB and other infectious diseases.

Managing the COVID-19 outbreak can help end tuberculosis in India in other ways as well. A major challenge in TB elimination continues to be “missing cases”. Sustained awareness amongst communities on various facets of TB – including the lethal consequences of late diagnosis and incomplete treatment of TB, will encourage people to seek health services more quickly. A strong network of diagnostic laboratories – on the pattern of COVID-19 labs, is needed to confirm the diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment.

Lessons learnt from pandemic should also include integrated training on related ailments. The disease dynamics and management of TB and COVID–19 can be communicated simultaneously to medical professionals and the public to ensure uniformity and better compliance. Other diseases can also be easily integrated into these training modules or platforms for broader upgrading of skills and efficient use of training resources.

Across the world, enormous technical and financial resources are being invested into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these are fortifying existing public health services and skills in managing cases and implementing effective measures for infection prevention and control. It will be prudent to sustain these achievements and use them to provide a swift response to future epidemics or pandemics as well as improved health services, especially those pertaining to respiratory infections.

covid, covid-19, coronavirus, novel coronavirus, corona virus, covid-19 response, communicable diseases, infectious diseases, emergency response, health response, outbreak, pandemic, covid-19 prevention, India, tuberculosis, TB, respiratory illnessSonalini KhetrapalSungsup RaPatrick L. OseweCountries: IndiaArticle

Original Source: blogs.adb.org

Language
English

Many of the workers on the front lines of the pandemic lack insurance and basic social protections. Photo: Olha Zaika

The “informal economy” is often seen as primarily daily-wage laborers, such as in the construction sector or housekeepers, but it also encompasses vast numbers of workers in short- term, usually contract jobs in the formal service sector such as hospitality, retail, and transport. It also includes those working in the new gig economy.

Their work is often characterized by uncertainty, instability and insecurity. As opposed to those in business or government employment, they bear the risks of their work and receive limited social benefits and entitlements.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for around 60% of the non-farm global workforce, higher than in Latin America and Eastern Europe, ranging from about 20% in Japan to over 80% in Myanmar and Cambodia. They are twice as likely as formal workers to belong to low-income households and often live hand-to-mouth. If they cannot work for extended periods, their family’s income is at risk.

The informal economy is not a relic of the past or a sign of backwardness. It is also not a consequence of the failure of modernization strategies. Today’s informal economy is an essential feature of global production networks. It operates in an environment marked by complex formal and informal economic links, global economic cycles, and domestic economic concerns.

For many in the informal economy, savings are either nonexistent or extremely limited. Typically, they lack employment security, healthcare benefits, sick leave, pensions, and severance packages. Only some of these low-income households are beneficiaries of social transfer programs or other formal insurance arrangements. And here also coverage and adequacy of benefits remain an issue. In short, informal workers earn their living without a safety net.

Without these protections, informal economy workers, especially the poor, face a wide range of occupational, safety, and health risks. They are disproportionally affected by natural hazards and human-made disasters. When affected, the poor tend to lose a larger fraction of their wealth, given their lower ability to cope and recover from disaster impacts. 

Even those whose employment is technically on the books, such as Uber drivers, face a raft of disadvantages. Being classified as independent contractors, many struggle to win unemployment benefits because their employers fail to pay insurance premiums or report wage data to state agencies.

Today, many at-risk informal workers are classified as “essential” to keep the economy going during the pandemic even though they lack basic labor protections.

The private insurance sector should see this as an opportunity to contribute to societal development by designing and offering fit-for-purpose healthcare provision, pensions, and insurance solutions for the missing middle. 

The extension of social protection or insurance to workers in the informal economy often concerns households already relying on informal support and risk-sharing. Insurers should gain insights from the interactions between pre-existing informal risk-sharing networks, social protection schemes, and formal insurance markets while designing new solutions. The design elements must reinforce rather than undermine the positive aspects of informal support mechanisms in risk management. 

Often the potential to build on community-based insurance like cooperatives and mutuals is overlooked. A thorough understanding of these mechanisms can help create positive synergies to manage the idiosyncratic risks. For covariate risks, financing the extension of risk protection needs to be done via risk transfer. 

Microinsurance provides a credible option to balance equity and sustainability. Post-disaster, microinsurance products can cover the cost of health care, deaths, and burials, loss of livestock or crops, or business assets. They can also support the business or income-generating enterprises while the overall system recovers. 

However, limited access to a range of risk management mechanisms and data prevents insurers from offering access to affordable insurance. A case in point is the challenge of developing business interruption products post-pandemic due to a lack of legal documents, proof of inventory and income, and insurance providers’ misperceptions about the client group. 

Today, many at-risk informal workers are classified as “essential” to keep the economy going during the pandemic even though they lack basic labor protections.

The COVID-19 outbreak and accompanying disasters due to natural hazards have exposed the challenges in protecting informal workers and vulnerable households in Asia.

In the new normal:

Mutuals and community-based insurance need strengthening through regulatory and supervisory oversight as they play a critical role in insuring the missing middle. In doing so, the women’s position as the households’ risk manager can be reinforced further and recognized at the community level. 
Governments should consider linking social protection programs with insurance to provide a safety net response. The use of digital technologies to target social protection programs towards households most at risk and targeting the female heads of families would be necessary. 
Subsidies do not automatically lead to high take-up, although evidence suggests that they expand coverage in different contexts. The role of smart subsidies needs to be further explored. And the same goes for smart technology.
The viability of insurance is a direct function of an insurer’s solvency of following a large-scale catastrophe or sequential disaster events. Well capitalized and regulated insurers can diversify their portfolios via reinsurance and help in growing this nascent market.
The design elements of new insurance products need to address the informal sector’s risks and the gig economy workers. They must also consider access to existing risk-pooling arrangements to offer optimal protection.
There is little awareness or understanding of the merits of insurance for managing large-scale disasters. More awareness-building is needed to instill trust and to involve women as change agents. Home is the best school, and the mother is the best teacher. In this manner, one can instill the value of insurance in an entire generation. At the same time, stringent action should be taken against those who are mis selling. 

To address the future of work, a shift in thinking is needed about private partnerships and putting the elderly, women, and youth at the center of loss prevention and building resilience for the households. This will be the most effective way forward for developing future protection solutions.

covid, covid-19, coronavirus, novel coronavirus, corona virus, covid-19 response, communicable diseases, infectious diseases, emergency response, health response, outbreak, pandemic, covid-19 prevention, insurance, informal workers, informal labor, social protections, health insurance, vendors, day laborers, contract workersArup Kumar ChatterjeeArticle

Original Source: blogs.adb.org

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