Consumer Confidential

Consumer Confidential With David Lazarus
Starbucks unveils a private health insurance exchange. Is that a good thing?

To hear Starbucks tell it, the company’s introduction this week of expanded insurance choices for workers represents a major advance in health coverage.

“Providing industry-leading benefits for eligible full- and part-time partners is a cornerstone of who we are as a company,” Ron Crawford, Starbucks’ vice president of global benefits, said in a statement.

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California Inc.: Bam! Pow! It's Comic-Con time!

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I'm Business columnist David Lazarus, and here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

One company hoping for a fresh start is Los Angeles’ Herbalife.

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Think twice before filling out Congressional Monitor survey

The official-looking letter from Congressional Monitor gets right to the point: “The United States Congress is currently debating the vital issues of immigration reform, veterans’ healthcare and government spending levels.”

It instructs recipients to fill out the accompanying survey so that “the Democratic and Republican leadership of both houses of Congress know your position on these important issues.”

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Britain's diabetic leader reflects differing healthcare systems

Britain has a new prime minister – Theresa May – and much of the coverage this week has focused on her being only the second woman in the country’s history to run the government.

An equally intriguing factoid is that, as far as anyone knows, May, 59, is the first contemporary world leader with Type 1 diabetes.

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Now on Starbucks' menu: Less health coverage

Starbucks announced Monday that it will give its U.S. workers a raise that will boost compensation by 5% to 15%. That’s very cool.

The coffee giant also said it will offer employees more affordable health insurance that will cut costs by being less comprehensive.

That’s not so cool.

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Big companies pad their bank accounts instead of passing the savings to consumers

JPMorgan Chase patted itself on the back earlier this year after announcing plans to close hundreds of branches and increasingly shift customer transactions to ATMs and online banking.

A deposit involving a human teller, the bank noted, costs it about 65 cents, whereas an ATM deposit costs just 8 cents and using a smartphone app lowers the transaction cost to a mere 3 cents.

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