$15 OFF A $75 WALMART PURCHASE: Amex has another nice Twitter Sync promotion, so have at it! The limit is one $15 credit per Amex card. Along similar lines, if you shop at Gap or Old Navy, you can get a $15 CVS gift card when you buy a $100 gift card to one of those stores.
EARN POINTS AND MILES BY PAYING TAXES: Frequent Miler has a good introduction to paying taxes with miles-earning debit cards.
THE GOLDMAN SACHS ELEVATOR: The NYT has an interview with the man behind the Goldman Sachs Elevator Twitter account, with which I was previously unfamiliar. Here’s a sampling of Goldman Sach’s elevator conversations:
- “If you love something, break its spirit so it never has the courage to leave you.”
- “If you can only be good at one thing, be good at lying… Because if you’re good at lying, you’re good at everything.”
- “Too many people are smart enough to be angry, but not smart enough to be successful.”
- “I don’t read fiction. Unless you count an Indonesian bond offering memorandum.”
- “Starbucks needs a separate line for people who have their shit together.”
- #1: “The Cheesecake Factory looks like a restaurant poor people think rich people might eat at.” #2: “Same with anything Trump.”
- “From my experience, most people really should have lower self-esteem.”
- “I already know I’m going to Hell. So, at this point, it’s go big or go home.”
CHEAP SURGERY: Remember the recent story about the hospital in Oklahoma with a transparent pricing policy? If domestic medical tourism still isn’t cheap enough for you then perhaps you’d like to consider India. Bloomberg reports:
Devi Shetty is obsessed with making heart surgery affordable for millions of Indians. On his office desk are photographs of two of his heroes: Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi.
Shetty is not a public health official motivated by charity. He’s a heart surgeon turned businessman who has started a chain of 21 medical centers around India. By trimming costs with such measures as buying cheaper scrubs and spurning air-conditioning, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
How do they get the prices so low?
One of the ways in which Shetty is able to keep his prices low is by cutting out unnecessary pre-op testing, he said.
Urine samples that were once routine before surgery were eliminated when it was found that only a handful of cases tested positive for harmful bacteria. The chain uses web-based computer software to run logistics, rather than licensing or building expensive new systems for each hospital.
When Shetty couldn’t convince a European manufacturer to bring down the price of its disposable surgical gowns and drapes to a level affordable for his hospitals, he convinced a group of young entrepreneurs in Bangalore to make them so he could buy them 60 percent cheaper.
In the future, Shetty sees costs coming down further as more Asian electronics companies enter the market for CT scanners, MRIs and catheterization labs — bringing down prices. As India trains more diploma holders in specialties such as anesthesiology, gynecology, ophthalmology and radiology, Narayana will be able to hire from a larger, less expensive talent pool.
One positive unforeseen outcome may be that many of the cost-saving approaches could be duplicated in developed economies, especially in the U.S. under health reform.
John Mauldin is fond of saying that anything that can’t continue, won’t. Ever-increasing medical expenses are the sort of thing this truism applies to. I have no idea how or when we’re going to reign in prices, but there certainly seems to be plenty of opportunity to do so.
“SIMPLE, BORING AND CHEAP”: That’s how Nate Tobik describes REO Plastics, his latest find over at Oddball Stocks:
What’s so great about REO Plastics?
- Trades at $15, although it hung around $12 for the past year.
- Earned $3.07 p/s last year, and $.79 p/s the prior year.
- NCAV is $15.39
- Book value $27.66, grew 12% from the previous year.
- EV/EBIT 2.12
- P/E 4.88
- ROE ex-excess cash 12.86%
There’s more about the stock here.