Don't believe that insulin is cheap

And more of the week's best financial insight

Insulin syringes.
(Image credit: Binnerstam/iStock)

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

Navigating need-based college aid

Your family may be eligible for more college financial aid than you think, said Ron Lieber at The New York Times. The financial aid forms that families are asked to file — "the dreaded FAFSA" — can appear inscrutable. But they are worth working through even for many families at the upper end of the income ladder. "Over a four-year span, families with annual household income of $200,000 can get a third or more of the cost knocked off an education with a $300,000 list price." I ran the numbers for a family with that income, $50,000 in college savings, and $200,000 in home equity through price simulators at three private schools: Rice, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt. I wound up with total costs of $39,000 to $45,000 a year after need-based aid, a dramatic savings from list prices of $69,000 to $79,000.

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Don't believe that insulin is cheap

Take it from me, insulin is not "cheap as water," said David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times. That was President Trump's claim at the first presidential debate last week. He said "a series of executive orders have forced pharmaceutical companies to slash prices," including on the cost of insulin. "But as someone with type 1 diabetes who relies on daily insulin doses to stay alive, I found Trump's remarks particularly offensive." Insulin prices have actually tripled in recent years to "as much as $300 per vial, which in many cases is less than a month's supply." What Trump was apparently referring to is an announcement in May that "some (but not all) Medicare plans would cap monthly insulin co-payments by seniors at $35." That's still more than $400 a year, and only goes into effect next year.

An ETF for the blank-check frenzy

"The first exchange-traded fund to track blank-check companies" made its trading debut last week, said Katherine Greifeld at Bloomberg. Such companies — formally known as special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs — were the hot investment fad of the summer. Through a SPAC, the public buys shares in a "blank-check company" with the expectation that it will purchase a private company within two years. The Defiance NextGen SPAC IPO ETF is designed to let investors purchase a bucket of shares in companies that went public through SPACs. One caveat: Only 20 percent of the fund tracks "pre-acquisition SPACs," which hold the greatest potential for outsize returns, but are illiquid and hard to trade.

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