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Savings, Taxes, Quality Care


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Choose article section...Savings: Confused by all those college savings plans? Here's helpTaxes: Not all sunsets are beautiful Quality Care: Nursing shortage may trigger severe consequences

Savings: Confused by all those college savings plans? Here's help

A new guide on how to choose a "529" college savings plan is being offered by the National Association of Securities Dealers. Every state offers a "529" plan that allows you to put aside tax-advantaged dollars for college tuition and expenses. But sorting through the different investment options, restrictions, and fees can be confusing.

Plans charge up to $90 for enrollment fees, although most cost under $50. Annual maintenance fees usually range from $10 to $50. Plans may also carry sales charges, and administration and other fees. To read the guide, "Smart Saving for College-Better Buy Degrees," visit the NASD's Web site at www.nasdr.com. For links to each state plan, go to the National Association of State Treasurers' College Savings Plans Network Web site at www.collegesavings.org .

Taxes: Not all sunsets are beautiful

Your federal income tax bill could skyrocket by nearly 50 percent when last year's tax cuts expire in 2010, says a study by the Tax Foundation, a research and educational organization based in Washington, DC. If Congress does not pass further legislation, the provisions of the tax cut will take effect gradually over the next few years, and "sunset" at the beginning of 2011, bringing tax rates and deductions back to what they were before the bill passed in 2001.

A typical family of four earning the median family income of about $79,000 in 2010 can expect its tax bill to jump by $2,681 in 2011, a jump in tax rate from 6.9 to 10 percent. That will make effective rates even higher than the 8.6 percent levied in 2001.

Quality Care: Nursing shortage may trigger severe consequences

The nursing shortage in some communities is so grave that patients are suffering, according to a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

An examination of discharges and staffing at 799 hospitals in 11 states found that medical patients in hospitals with too few nurses suffered more complications than those in hospitals with adequate nursing staffs. For example, medical patients in hospitals short of nurses had higher rates of "preventable" death, and more often suffered bouts of urinary tract infection, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, pneumonia, shock, and cardiac arrest.

The data failed to show a similar impact on surgical outcomes. Researchers hypothesize that surgical patients may be healthier to begin with, and thus, at lower risk for complications. Smaller sample sizes may also have made associations more difficult, they say.


Yvonne Wollenberg. ONLINE News Briefs.

Medical Economics


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