Google Offers $100,000 Worth of Free Tech Training to Every U.S. Business

Google Offers $100K of Free Tech Training to US Businesses | PCMag

Source: Carrier Management, by Paresh Dave

Alphabet Inc.’s Google will provide any U.S. business over $100,000 worth of online courses in data analytics, design and other tech skills for their workers free of charge, the search company said on Monday.

The offer marks a big expansion of Google’s Career Certificates, a program the company launched in 2018 to help people globally boost their resumes by learning new tools at their own pace.

Over 70,000 people in the United States and 205,000 globally have earned at least one certificate, and 75 percent receive a benefit such as a new job or higher pay within six months, according to Google.

The courses, designed by Google and sold through online education service Coursera Inc., each typically cost students about $39 a month and take three to six months to finish. Google will now cover costs for up to 500 workers at any U.S. business, and it valued the grants at $100,000 because people usually take up to six months to finish.

Lisa Gevelber, founder of Grow with Google, the company unit overseeing certificates, said course completion rates are higher when people pay out of pocket but that the new offer was still worthwhile if it could help some businesses gain digital savvy.

Certificates also are available in IT support, project management, e-commerce and digital marketing. They cover popular software in each of the fields, including Google advertising services.

Blue Shield Offers City of Hope Providers

The City of Hope has announced an agreement with Blue Shield of California to participate in the insurer’s individual and family plan products. Combined with an existing agreement with Anthem Blue Cross, the new agreement ensures that a majority of the health exchange’s eligible participants will have access to City of Hope’s cancer care. Patients who are enrolled in a Blue Shield of California individual and family plan through Covered California or directly through Blue Shield were eligible as of November 1 to access City of Hope or its doctors, as an in-network provider. Future Covered California enrollees will be eligible for coverage, which includes access to City of Hope, as follows:

  • Enrolling in a Blue Shield or Anthem Blue Cross plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2016.
  • Enrolling from Dec. 16, 2015 to January 15, 2016, for coverage beginning February 1, 2016.
  • Enrolling from January 16, 2016 to January 31, 2016, for coverage beginning March 1, 2016.

City of Hope also recently renewed agreements for commercial patients who purchase Blue Shield insurance directly through the insurer for five years. An Anthem Blue Cross agreement to provide services at the institution’s medical center to its commercial patients also was renewed.

For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org.

The ACA Offers New Options for Pre-Retirees

The ACA offers new health insurance options to people who are interested in retiring, but continue to work just to keep their medical benefits, according to a white paper by Prudential. More than 50% of Americans do not have enough money to maintain their pre-retirement lifestyle in retirement, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Traditional defined benefit plans have become less common, so fewer and fewer people are retiring at 65. With 401(k) plans now the principal retirement savings vehicle, people can be flexible in drawing down their savings, but often don’t have access to employer-provided retiree health insurance. There’s no need to worry any longer over having dangerous gaps in coverage or being turned down for coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Early retirees can also benefit from provisions that limit the amount older people can be charged and prohibit insurers from charging women more than men.

The ACA also provides subsidies and tax credits for lower income people. This could prove particularly valuable for early retirees who have less taxable income than when they were employed in  full-time. They  can often control the amount of taxable income they take during the years just before turning 65 and becoming Medicare eligible.

California’s Exchange Offers A Competitive Marketplace

The California exchange market is shaping up to be more competitive than its 2012 individual market, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. All three indicators point to increased competition (the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index, market share of largest insurer, and number of insurers with more than 5% of market share).

California’s individual market was highly concentrated in 2012, but the exchange market has only moderate concentration. Eleven insurers are participating in California’s exchange throughout the state, including eight plans that previously made up 90% of the 2012 individual market.  Four new plans (L.A. Care Health Plan, Molina Healthcare, Western Health Advantage, and Valley Health Plan) are also being offered, but together only make up 5% of the exchange’s market.

Not all plans are available in all areas of the state. WellPoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross of California and the state’s largest individual market insurer, has significantly less market share in the exchange than it did in the 2012 individual market (30% versus 47%).  Blue Shield of California picked up substantial market share, most likely because it was able to offer the lowest premiums in several parts of the state.

Over time, the availability of premium tax credits, which are only available inside exchanges, should greatly increase the number of participants.  If these new avenues for enrollment are more or less competitive, the markets are likely to be as well, according to researchers. For more information, visit .http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/sizing-up-exchange-market-competition.

Covered California Offers Plan Quality Ratings

California consumers can now get performance ratings on the vast majority of health insurance plans offered through Covered California. The state health insurance exchange recently added a quality rating system to its website to help consumers chose plans. The ratings are based on reported experiences of members.

The quality-rating system gives an easy-to-understand rating of one to four stars. The system is in place well ahead of the 2016 federal mandate and will be improved over the next two years as the exchange gets more comprehensive performance ratings for plans. “Covered California is now among the first exchanges in the nation to offer its consumers a quality rating system. Many states, along with the federal exchange, are awaiting federal guidelines for establishing a rating system, but Covered California wanted to give existing scoring information beginning in 2014,” said Covered California executive director Peter V. Lee. For more information, visit https://www.CoveredCA.com/hbex/insurance-companies/qrs.html.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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