The continent of Europe is expected today to observe a minute silence at 11:00 a.m. GMT as a mark of solidarity with the government and people of France, following terrorist attacks against innocent civilians on Friday night in Paris, the nation’s capital. The barbaric attacks, which killed at least 129 persons, injured more than 350 others with 99 on critical list, occurred on the night of Friday, November 13, in Paris.According to French security, eight gunmen carried out the attacks in a series of suicide bomb explosions and shootings at six locations around Paris. The Bataclan Theatre, the venue of a concert that evening, had the most casualties – nearly 90 – among the locations attacked. The terrorist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility the following morning for the attacks, as retaliation for air strikes carried in IS strongholds in Syria by French forces. However, French President François Hollande has vowed to “ruthlessly deal with” those responsible. The French Embassy in Liberia is flying its national flag at half mast. In a message to her French counterpart on behalf of Liberia, President Sirleaf extended deepest condolences to Mr. Hollande, and through him, to the government and people of France, particularly the bereaved families, for the irreparable loss sustained as a result of the tragic attacks. “During this difficult period, I wish to, on behalf of the government and people of Liberia and in my own name, convey deepest condolences to you personally, the people of France, particularly, families of the victims,” she said.The President noted that the people of Liberia are very saddened by the outrageously gruesome events leading to the deaths of dozens of peaceful French residents and other nationals.She further assured her French counterpart of her fullest support and solidarity as he and the people of France go through this period of national mourning.President Sirleaf then prayed that the Almighty God will grant President Hollande strength and courage as he leads the French people through this difficult period of national tragedy. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Saint Etienne are set to snub a permanent deal for Norwich striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel.Van Wolfswinkel, who signed for Norwich in a club-record £8.5m deal in 2013, was shipped out on loan to the French side after enduring a miserable first season in the Premier League.It had started well for the forward, who scored on his debut, but he failed to register another goal all season and the Canaries were relegated to the Championship.After being moving on season-long loan to Saint Etienne last summer, it has been an up-and-down campaign for the Dutchman, who has scored five in 25 Ligue appearances.There were suggestions that the Ligue 1 side would look to sign him permanently but, according to sources in France, they are now preparing a move for Toulouse hotshot Wissam Ben Yedder instead and will send The Wolf back to Norfolk.Ben Yedder has scored 11 in 30 this term despite playing for struggling Toulouse and Saint Etienne will reportedly move for him if his current side are relegated. 1 Ricky van Wolfswinkel
Consumer-directed health savings accounts, whose lower premiums and higher deductibles appeal to employers and the young and healthy, are expected to grow rapidly over the next two years after a slow start. But critics of the accounts – designed as a cost-effective alternative to traditional health insurance under the Medicare Modernization Act – say they are harmful to many low-income and middle-class patients. Nineteen- to 29-year-olds who sign up for a health savings plan can anticipate a monthly premium of just $77 with a deductible that ranges anywhere from $2,400 to $3,500, according to James A. Swick, founder and president of California Health Insurance Plans in Woodland Hills. While that’s a big monthly savings over traditional health plans, critics say the plans could wind up costing patients dearly if they fail to put enough money away for future medical costs. Because of the higher deductibles, the savings plans also can encourage many lower-income and middle-class patients to put off health care at the beginning of an illness, which can lead to more costly care later on. They (HSAs) are sold as Band-Aids, but in essence they put salt in wounds, said Jerry Flanagan, consumer advocate at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica. That’s why I look at HSAs as a cost-management issue that keeps people from using care. Despite a modest beginning since being introduced three years ago, the number of health savings accounts is expected to increase more than fifteenfold between 2005 and 2008, according to Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Last year, there were approximately 391,000 accounts (held by individuals and families), with Forrester predicting more than 6.3 million accounts in 2008. Functioning similar to a 401(k) retirement account, health savings accounts can move with an employee from company to company. Maximum annual contributions to HSAs range from $2,700 for single coverage and $5,450 for a family. However, annual contributions cannot exceed the deductible corresponding to your HSA. Both employers and individuals can make contributions, but most plans are being funded by individuals. At the same time, money saved in an HSA can only be used for health care costs including deductibles, diagnostic services covered by your plan, long-term care insurance premiums, LASIK surgery and some nursing services. While the federal government and some states allow individuals to make after-tax contributions to the savings plans, California does not. Regardless, Katy Henrickson, a senior analyst with Forrester, said the federal income tax benefits alone make it worthwhile to switch from a traditional health plan to an HSA. High-deductible health plans have been a fairly good option for small businesses because they act as a tax shelter,” Henrickson said. And considering the premium on a high-deductible health plan is significantly less, employers will not have to spend as much on health insurance policies. But some small-business owners may not even know about them. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 70 percent of 1,203 adults surveyed had not heard the term health savings account as of early February. Dr. Vincent Riccardi, president of American Medical Consumers in La Crescenta, thinks that ignorance is a good thing. Basically, medical costs are rising so fast that a health savings account simply will not be able to keep up. To think you can match the cost is rather naive, said Riccardi, citing the double-digit increases in the cost of health care in recent years. Riccardi also claims that consumers who are enduring a medical procedure are in no position to make decisions about money. In some cases, HSAs require the individual to pay medical bills. That means if a patient with an HSA goes to a radiologist, the patient will receive billing from the radiologist, the X-ray lab and so on. You can’t expect someone who is crippled or who has had a stroke to make decisions about their HSA, Riccardi said. Health plans are attempting to streamline HSAs by providing debit cards tied directly to the account. Health Net of California recently partnered with Wells Fargo to offer debit cards for their high-deductible/HSA plans. The cards are slated to reach consumers in July, enabling patients to pay their medical bills at the doctor’s office with the swipe of plastic. So far, enrollment at Health Net is lukewarm. I wouldn’t say we are exploding, but there is a growth curve, said Mark Morgan, product and marketing officer at the Woodland Hills-based health insurer. Dr. Jack Lewin, chief executive officer of the California Medical Association, is in the process of signing up for an HSA. The family practitioner admits it is not for everyone, but he likes the idea of having more discretion over his health care dollars. Ideally, Lewin believes high-deductible health plans should focus more on prevention services, scientifically proven interventions, to avoid the onus of medical bills later in life. But I worry about the day middle- and low-income families won’t spend money in their HSAs to treat their chronic diseases simply because they want to save money, Lewin said. Evan Pondel, (818) 713-3662 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!