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On finance and practice

Domestic funds log a strong second quarter

Eleven percent of households headed by people 55 or older have yet to start saving for retirement, says Fidelity Investments. And the number rises to 16 percent for households of workers age 25 and older. Overall, the majority of workers appears to have a long way to go to feather a comfortable retirement nest: Those 55 or older typically sock away $229 a month, and have saved $60,000; adults 41 to 54 contribute $187 each month and have $30,000; and those 25 to 40 put away $92 a month, with a mere $9,000 stockpiled.

Don't let movers take you for a ride

Looking for a reputable moving company? Check out a new Web site hosted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at http://www.protectyourmove.gov to find registered and insured movers, brokers, and freight forwarders. The site also offers information about regulations governing professional moving companies, how to file a complaint, and how to spot potential trouble. Using the site's tips could help you avoid rogue movers who lowball estimates then hold your possessions hostage until you pay more money than you agreed to.

Checked your checking account balance lately?

More than 80 percent of the nation's largest banks charge customers overdraft fees averaging $29-without their permission, says the Consumer Federation of America. "Courtesy overdraft" loans that kick in when customers overdraw their accounts are usually spelled out in the fine print of account agreements, but few consumers know about these loans. That's on top of the fact that customers often don't even realize they're overdrawing their accounts. For instance, all of the banks in the CFA survey with courtesy overdraft provisions for debit cards allow depositors to overdraw their accounts at ATMs, and 79 percent let customers using debit cards spend beyond their balances.

Are chiropractors manipulating Medicare?

Medicare payments for chiropractic services have grown from $255 million in 1994 to $683 million last year, according to a new report from the HHS Office of Inspector General. That spurred the OIG to look into the legitimacy of some of those claims. Chiropractors hired by Medicare reviewed a random sampling of claims paid in 2001. They found that 57 percent of those for spinal manipulation (the only treatment for which chiropractors may be reimbursed) failed to meet coverage criteria, even though they were billed with an allowable code. In addition, 16 percent were miscoded or billed at the wrong level of spinal manipulation, 12 percent had multiple errors, and 6 percent were undocumented.

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