Archive for May, 2006

Lumenos vs. Aetna PPO

Insurance, Personal finance

Since switching employers, my husband and I have also switched insurance providers. We chose a because it was the plan with the most flexibility, but I wanted to write a follow up to my original review of so that I can give some more concrete comparisons. Keep in mind that our situation (a healthy, relatively young couple, with no chronic health problems) may be different from yours. Still, overall, I still much prefer Lumenos, as you’ll see below. I plan on updating the table as things arise.

  Aetna Lumenos
Copay Requires a co-pay of about $10 for most medical visits. This is fine, not too big of a complaint. No co-pay. Also, all preventive care covered at 100% at no cost to you.
Website ease of use Only participant can register on website, not dependents.
Choosing your plan from a menu list of options is confusing when searching for a doctor.
Participant and all dependents have independent logins and privacy. Participant can’t view dependents’ records.
Simple list of doctors within network right from website’s front page
Vision N/A – covered separately by Covered exams for glasses and contacts as well as a year’s supply of contacts and glasses and lenses once per 12 months from any remaining HRA allocation. (This also compares favorably against the VSP plan that we have.)

Last updated: 05/31/2006

Is getting an MBA worthwhile?

MBA topics

I met an engineer at a party recently who was dissatisfied with his job. He mentioned he’d thought about getting an MBA, but as we talked, it seemed he had a lot of misconceptions about what an MBA involved, and what he could expect afterward. I’ve received similar questions in the past from engineers (probably because many of my friends fall into this category), so I thought I’d sum up my answers to some popular questions I’ve often received. Let me preface this by saying that I attended the , and while I think top MBA programs are largely the same, there are a few differences in methodology and, perhaps, prestige (see below).

1. Except in a few cases, an MBA is probably a more pragmatic degree than what you studied in your undergrad years. Unless you chose business or a specific trade as a major in undergrad, you’ll probably find that an MBA degree is more about getting a job and building a career than anything else. As such, almost everything in an MBA program, from clubs to classroom discussion, is more about getting results and less about wide-open what-ifs as in other types of graduate programs, or even a PhD in Business Administration. This can come as a shock to people (like me) who have been in academia more than they care to admit, but in the end it’s a useful and worthy skill to have, and one you’ll especially appreciate during the interminable business meetings you’ll have once you’re in your new job.

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Complimentary 1-year subscription to Barrons for E*Trade customers

Current events, Personal finance, Tips for saving money

Just a quick post as I get back into the groove of writing now that guests have departed and the long weekend is almost over. Via Fatwallet, . Nice deal!

No more starving artists?

Business & entrepreneurship, Personal finance

My final post this week focusing on alternative finance highlights , a unique company that’s providing defined contribution retirement plan to emerging and mid-career artists all over the world, and whose incomes typically ebb and flow erratically. To accomplish this, APT is applying , mutual fund management, and principles to a traditionally underserved population.

Artists apply to take part in the Trust, and if accepted, agree to submit 20 of their works over 20 years. APT creates “funds” of artists, and once 250 of them are reached, the fund is closed. APT decides when the time is ripe to sell the artists’ works, presumably under optimal market conditions, and the money received from the sale of the work is divided between the artist who receives 40% deposited into a his or her account, APT which receives 20% in management fees, and the remaining 249 artists in the artist’s cohort who divvy up the remaining 40% into their retirement accounts.

Like a VC firm, APT expects only 10% of the works to hit that golden mark and sell above $250K, but the beauty of the setup is that, as in microfinance, the peer group is comprised of different artists who all benefit in some part from the success of one of its members and, in theory, should all be in alignment about reaching the same goal.

APT has trusts set up in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the US. It’s received a lot of press recently, but it remains to be seen whether its concept will be a success in reality. Still, it’s always inspiring to see traditional finance principles being applied in a completely new way.

It’s eBay, advertising, and bartering rolled up in one

Business & entrepreneurship, Internet

Thought you needed something silly like money to buy a house? Maybe not. Kyle MacDonald at is his way there. He started with a paperclip and has traded his way up to the current one of one afternoon with Alice Cooper, and it appears he’s about to reveal what he’s traded that for, soon. The reason I say it’s advertising is that I think there’s a bit of trading-for-fame aspect to this; otherwise, people wouldn’t have traded up for a doorknob, or a fish pen. As the site gets more exposure, the incentive to trade more high-value items might be higher. I haven’t figured out how he selects his next trading item, but as he’s trained as a journalist, I’d guess it’d have to be fodder for a good story!