Money Minute: Busiest U.S. Airport Finally Gets Free Wi-Fi

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The busiest airport in the country finally offers free Wi-Fi connections.

The new network at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport can handle up to 15,000 users at a time. More than 94 million travelers pass through the airport each year, and officials say the lack of free Wi-Fi was one of their biggest complaints. Up until now, the airport charged $4.95 to connect.

Of course, you can fly from Atlanta to London, and now your plane can land at Heathrow's new terminal. The $4 billion facility is designed to handle 20 million passengers a year. Queen Elizabeth will be there for an official opening ceremony next week. The terminal is named in her honor.

And one more note for air travelers: airlines are doing a much better job of handling our bags. A new report shows the number of lost bags has been cut in half since 2007. Delta (DAL) and USAirways (AAL) have made the biggest gains.

One of the most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act is the financial penalty imposed on people who don't sign up. Well, we now know 4 million people will be hit with that penalty. The Congressional Budget Office says that's actually about 2 million lower than its earlier estimate, mostly because many people with very low incomes are exempt from the fines.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) both rose to a record high Thursday. For the S&P, it's the seventh record in the past nine trading days. The Dow gained 98 points, the S&P rose 12, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rallied 44 points.

Do you feel richer? Many people might so no, but overall, Americans are wealthier than ever before. New figures from the Federal Reserve show the net worth of U.S. households rose by 2 percent in the first quarter to an all time high. Most of the gain was due to rising stock and home prices. That could be good news for the overall economy, if people feel more confident to borrow and to spend.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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teaparty2implode

The latest Republican attack on Obamacare has just been debunked.

A high percentage of enrollees in the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health-care-reform law, have paid their bills on time, health-insurance companies say. That adds legitimacy to the administration's claim that more than 8 million people have signed up for Obamacare, debunking a recent GOP survey -- meant to shoot holes in the administration's numbers -- which suggested that a large percentage of that 8 million still hadn't paid for insurance.

WellPoint, one of the largest U.S. insurers, said that, of the people who signed up for plans through Obamacare's exchanges during the first enrollment period, up to 90 percent have paid their bills on time. The company released this data in testimony prepared for a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

"We are seeing strong membership growth and large percentages of our newly enrolled customers are successfully paying their premiums by the due date," Dennis Matheis, who is responsible for WellPoint’s exchange strategy, wrote in the testimony. WellPoint sells insurance under several brands, including its own, Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia.

An Aetna executive will testify that a little more than 80 percent of that company's Obamacare customers have paid their bills by their due date.

Paul Wingle, Aetna's executive director of individual business and public exchange operations and strategy, explained that some enrollees -- for instance, those whose plans have an effective date of June 1 -- haven't paid their bills because they aren't due yet.

Insurers also warn that some of the more than 8 million people the administration claims have enrolled in Obamacare might be duplicates. Still, these numbers directly contradict a survey the GOP used last week to advance its claim that people who had signed up for insurance under the ACE weren't paying for it. That survey, which found that only 67 percent of enrollees had paid their first premiums, ignored that payment deadlines hadn't yet passed for all new enrollees.

"The survey was so incredibly rigged to produce this result, it was a joke," an unnamed person who works for a company surveyed by the GOP told Talking Points Memo last week. Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, also called the survey "rigged."

When asked to comment on the GOP survey, Matt Wiggin, a spokesperson from Aetna, said the company's testimony speaks for itself. A representative from WellPoint did not immediately respond to the Huffington Post's request for comment.

June 06 2014 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kent

If only Chicago-O'Hare had free Wi-Fi. But, the City of Chicago is so deparate for revenue that they would rather force smartphone users to use their cellular connection for data transmission than offer free Wi-Fi.

June 06 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
usapaydirt

Well let's see, one airport get's more connected while another get's larger. Obama care is a huge, I told you so, fail , while Wall Street proves yet again " What goes up, certainly crashes back down... This story is like a Congressional bill scattered with earmarks...

June 06 2014 at 9:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Tony

New figures from the Federal Reserve show the net worth of U.S. households rose by 2 percent in the first quarter to an all time high.

And what IS this all time high number? Poor reporting here folks !!!

June 06 2014 at 9:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tony's comment
usapaydirt

The all time high is meaningless, once you factor in the Dollar's all time low in purchasing power....

June 06 2014 at 10:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kent

Well, why don't you go into the Fed's website and look for it?

June 06 2014 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply