Mortgage markets teeter without aid

The Week Staff

Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Some insurers eliminate cost sharing
Cigna and Humana joined Aetna this week in pledging to cover all out-of-pocket costs related to treatment for coronavirus, said Bertha Coombs at CNBC. That includes hospitalizations, ambulance services, in-network and out-of-network services, and medications prescribed to battle COVID-19. The waiver applies "to privately insured individual and group plans, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid members," as well as self-funded employers. However, employers who self-insure and contract with the insurance companies to manage their health-care benefits may still opt out of the cost-sharing ventures. Hospitalization costs for patients with pneumonia are typically more than $20,000, and out-of-pocket charges typically hit $1,300 for those with insurance.

No thanks to charity from Yelp
Small-business owners were blindsided by an initiative from Yelp and GoFundMe that automatically set up fundraisers without their consent, said Nick Statt at The Verge. Yelp had added Donate Now buttons to the pages of small businesses with fewer than five locations nationwide. They linked to an automatically generated GoFundMe page used to solicit donations "in response to the ­ongoing coronavirus pandemic." Business owners were outraged by the automatic call for ­charity — which came with a "recommended tip" of 15 percent for the GoFundMe platform. They also complained about the cumbersome requirement to "provide Yelp with a copy of a personal ID and an employer identification number" simply to opt out. After the outcry, Yelp made the program opt-in only.

Mortgage markets teeter without aid
"The coronavirus has exposed new weakness" in the mortgage market a decade after the housing crisis, said Renae Merle at The Washington Post. Industry officials estimate that non-bank lenders could need $40 billion in federal aid over the next three months to cover "an avalanche of distressed homeowners" and a spike in mortgage delinquencies stemming from the coronavirus shutdown. Non-bank lenders such as Quicken Loans now oversee payments for 1 in 3 outstanding mortgages and originate 60 percent of new mortgage loans. However, the coronavirus rescue package does not give them access to the $454 billion in loans and loan guarantees in the economic stimulus plan. Without that support, "some mortgage servicers say they could go out of business within a few months."

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