Money Minute: Virginia Sees Big Rate Hikes for Obamacare

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A first look at how much health care premiums may go up in the second year of Obamacare.

Insurance companies in Virginia have filed rate proposals for 2015 that call for significant rate increases, but nothing near the dire predictions of Obamacare opponents. The Wall Street Journal reports the proposed increases easily top overall inflation, but that's been true of health care costs for years. One of the biggest plans, Wellpoint's (WLP) Anthem HealthKeepers, is asking for an average increase of 8.5 percent. Other plans call for rate hikes of 3.3 percent to nearly 15 percent.

But it may be a bit easier to pay for those increases. Economists polled by USA Today expect wage increases to be a bit higher than they've been in recent years. That's partly because the unemployment rate has dropped sharply to 6.3 percent.

Another important trend developing for next year has to with our TV viewing habits -- and the dramatic slide in the audience for music-based TV shows. The audience for "American Idol" and its imitators has declined to the point that many of those shows are in jeopardy of being canceled. Along with the slide in viewership, The New York Times reports the average age of the people watching has increased to above 50 for many shows, including "The Voice" -- and that's not the group that advertisers are going after.

Here on Wall Street last week, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 0.4 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was little changed and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 1.3 percent.

The Dow begins the week at a record high, but the Nasdaq has lost 6.5 percent since topping out 10 weeks ago. Many of the new technology stocks that had been high-flyers are now viewed as over-priced -- in some cases, way over-priced. The software company Splunk (SPLK) is good example. It has lost more than half of its value over the past year. It's taken a round trip from below $50 a share to nearly $100, and all the way back down again.

Splunk and other are known as momentum stocks. They can move up very quickly when investors are jumping on board, but they can decline just as quickly.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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