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Health Care Reform: What Matters and What It Means for You; How to Utilize Social Networking in Your Job Search; Chaos to Clarity in Today's Housing Market

Aired August 22, 2009 - 09:30   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: How about saving 500 bucks a month just like that. We're going to show you how. Plus standout from the crowd. How to best utilize social networking in your job search. And Jeff Lewis from Bravo TV's "Flipping Out" from chaos to clarity in today's housing market. YOUR BOTTOM LINE starts right now.

Trying to keep up with the debate over health care reform is a job in and of itself, all the facts, the figures, the different plans being thrown around. But, our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is here, of course, to break it all down for us and most importantly tell us why it matters and what it really means for you.

Elizabeth, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.


Poppy, the big news this week about health care reform was whether or not the public option, which is basically government sponsored health care as an option, has to be a part of health care reform. Obama proposed it and then there was some questions as to whether or not he was backing away. Here's what secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, had to say.


KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECY: Here's the bottom line, absolutely nothing has changed. We continue to support the public option that will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice, and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we'll look at those too, but the public option is a very good way to do this.


COHEN: So Poppy, what it sounds like she's saying is we like the public option here in the White House, but it's not a deal breaker.

HARLOW: All right, so Elizabeth, what, though, exactly is a public option? Because there is so much debate about what it is and what it isn't?

COHEN: Right, and I think sometimes people don't really know. So, let's take a look at what a public option is. It's insurance that's paid for by the government -- now people would also pay premiums, but it's mostly funded by the government. The government would also administer it and in many ways, it's similar to Medicare. And I think people know what Medicare is, that's for the elderly. This is sort of Medicare for the rest of us. You could think of it in some ways like that.

HARLOW: And finally, what would it mean, though, Elizabeth for everyone? That's still the question. There are a lot of uninsured people out there, millions in fact, and then there's other people that aren't happy with their health insurance insurance. So, what would it mean for the masses?

COHEN: Well, what we did is we made up two people to try to answer that question, Poppy, two people in very different situations. First, let's take look at John. John as you can see has a bad back, he looks bad, he's clutching his back in pain and he can't get health insurance.

This really happens. People with bad backs are often turned down by private insurers and John is self-employed, so he's not getting it through his employer. A public option would, indeed, help him because the public option can't say no to you because of a preexisting condition.

But now, let's take a look at Suzy. Suzy is employed by a big company, she's happy with her health insurance, as you can see by that big smile. The public option is not really going to do anything for her. Chances are her company can't even get it even if they wanted it because the way the bills are written, big companies can't partake in this program. So, for Suzy, the public option really isn't going to mean much.

HARLOW: That's a great explanation, Elizabeth. I love the animation, because it means different things for everyone. But you know what else is getting a lot of attention this week? It's health care cooperatives. Many people had never heard of them before recently. So what are those, exactly? Can you explain how a health care co-op would work?

COHEN: Right, people haven't heard of them because there are only a few across the country. So, let's take a look at what the characteristics of a co-op. first of all, what it is, it is not a private insurance company. It is a non-profit organization. The patients elect a governing board and there are tens of thousands of members, so that they don't have the need to turn a profit in the same way that big companies do.

But you know what, I called the two biggest co-ops in the country, there's one in Seattle and one in Minnesota, and I said, there's 46 million uninsured people, co-ops are getting a lot of attention, will co-ops help the uninsured and I got to tell you they, both of them said, no, not necessarily. We still charge premiums, we charge premiums that are about the average of what other insurance policies charge, and so you -- and we also will sometimes deny people for preexisting conditions.

So co-ops, some people would say, are really not the answer because they provide competition, they might lower the price of insurance in their geographical area, but they're certainly not charity, that's for sure.

HARLOW: Thank you for setting the record straight for us. A lot of questions answered there. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

All right, from health care to housing, now time for the breakdown. Did you know in some markets, foreclosed homes,, folks are actually selling in a day and in other places in a matter of hours. actually says some homes are in contracts, believe it or not, less than 90 minutes after they are listed.

The big driver of all this is, of course, the banks that own these homes. They're pricing them to move, they can get those homes off their books. Actually, banks have to pay property taxes, the maintenance fees, the energy bills, whenever they seize a home in foreclosure.

Now, we're seeing this happen especially in bubble markets where there are a lot of foreclosures like California and Florida, but the drop in home prices, it's not just for foreclosures. Actually homes in general are really being priced to move these days, as I'm sure you've seen in your neighborhood.

One real estate tracker says 25 percent of homes on the market today, have experienced at least one price cut. But the deals can be even better with foreclosures. For more on that, check out our continuing coverage only on

Well, time's up, more than six million Americans, they are living, unfortunately, on unemployment, but many are facing the harsh reality that their benefits are running out.


HARLOW: Well, more than 650,000 Americans will lose their unemployment benefits next month and millions more will see their benefits expire by the end of this year. We spent the day with two people experiencing this reality firsthand.

Take a look.


HARLOW (voice-over): Rachel Gold and Anthony Barberio don't have much in common. Rachel is 28 and worked in recruiting after graduating from college. Anthony is 46, he worked on Wall Street for 20 years, but he never went to college. The thing they do have in common, a $430 weekly check from the government. Like six million other Americans, it's life on unemployment after losing a job.

RACHEL GOLD, RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: I definitely didn't think that I would be sitting here, you know, nine months later, you know, without employment.

HARLOW: Rachel lost her job in November. For Anthony it's been more than a year.

ANTHONY BARBERIO, RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: When I first was let go, I figured maybe a month, two months, you know, and I didn't think it would last this long.

HARLOW: But it has, and each day brings more work to find work.

GOLD: This afternoon at 2:30, I have a recruiting meeting with somebody that I was networking with.

HARLOW: But the responses are few and far between.

(on camera): So you've applied for more than 650 jobs?

GOLD: Correct.

HARLOW: How many interviews have you had out of that?

GOLD: Maybe 10.

HARLOW (voice-over): Anthony has applied for hundreds of jobs, too. If it were up to him, he would extend unemployment benefits.

BARBERIO: I think they should just keep continuing it until the job picture gets better.

HARLOW: Unemployment benefits have already been extended, but the Labor Department forecast 4.4 million Americans may lose their benefits before finding jobs. For Anthony, that will happen by the end of this year. And Rachel expects to lose her benefits in January.

GOLD: I would go out and get a waitressing job. I would have to.

BARBERIO: Well, I'm going to put it like a dead line as to when I'm, you know, going to have to really seriously, you know, look for something, you know, whether it be a department store or something like that.

HARLOW: So, why don't Rachel and Anthony find temporary, low- paying jobs now? Here's why. The $1,700 a month they receive through unemployment is more than they would make at most entry-level jobs.

GOLD: These are people that I've e-mailed.

HARLOW: So, for now, unemployment is their best bet.

GOLD: It's not that I don't want to work, but it's like I could not survive, you know, like working at a store making minimum wage like I wouldn't be able to pay my rent.

BARBERIO: I'm anxious to get back to work, you know. Almost a year in the house could drive somebody crazy.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: Well, just because they're unemployed doesn't mean that Anthony and Rachel aren't busy. In fact, Rachel has started her blog called where she sets goals for herself and also tells people about free things they can do in New York if they've got some time on their hands.

Well, on we've got a weekly series called HIRED where we profile people who have been successful in their job hunt and well tell you how they did it. Jessica Dickler is the writer of that series, she joins us now.

Jess, a lot of positive feedback on "HIRED." Talk to us about it. What are some of the examples of folks you've talked to, real people getting real jobs in this tough economy?

JESSICA DICKLER, CNNMONEY.COM: Hi, Poppy. Yeah, I've talked to job seekers across the country that have found jobs by moving, switching careers, networking through FaceBook, even Tweeting.

Roy is one example, he's a recent college grad and like a lot of people in his situation, he was worried about finding a job. So, he picked up some odd jobs to make ends meet and then he took his time crafting a resume and cover letter for each job application. When he did get an interview, he was hired on the spot.

HARLOW: And I know you profiled someone else who is a bit older, retirement age, really.

DICKLER: That's right. Boyd. He had to come out of retirement, like a lot of other people, to find a job in this economy. So, he had to get up to speed with his computer skills. He used a lot of tools on-line and he networked with his air force buddies and one lead led to a job.

HARLOW: Now, Jess, joining us now from D.C. is someone that you profiled, it's Juan Velazquez.

Juan, you're with us. Now, talk to us about your experience. You used skillful networking in a very, very effective way to find a good-paying job.

JUAN VELAZQUEZ, FOUND JOB THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKING: Absolutely, Poppy. I actually was working for a recruiting company right before I landed with Cintas (ph) and I used a lot of these sites, your FaceBook, LinkedIn, Tweeter, and to my advantage.

As soon as I knew I was going to be laid off, I went there, updated my status. It was definitely humbling to let everyone know that I was back on the job market, but I mean, it's a thousand points of contact I couldn't have done individually that I was able to do collectively. So, it really worked out.

HARLOW: That's a great point, a thousand points of contact. That's great. Good for you, Juan. Jess, Juan, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. Well, of course whether it's on-line or in person, networking is key to getting hired in this economy. To talk to us about that is Liz Lynch, she's the founder of the Center for Networking Excellence.

Liz, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

LIZ LYNCH, CTR FOR NETWORKING EXCELLENCE: Thanks, Poppy. It's great to be here.

HARLOW: Well, let's get right to it. You say the first step is really establishing connections with people you already know, getting back in touch, right?

LYNCH: Exactly. You know, because opportunities come from people, they don't fall out of the sky, and the fastest opportunities are going to come for people who already know you. It makes sense to start there.

HARLOW: And when you use social networking whether it's FaceBook or MySpace or Twitter or LinkedIn, a number of sites out there that you can use, you say folks don't always take advantage of diving into the key features that probably going to help them the most, right?

LYNCH: Exactly, here's one great example. LinkedIn has a feature called the company's page where a job seeker can type in the name of any company they're interested in, and not just the fortune 500, there are small companies there too, and LinkedIn will tell them who in their network works there, used to work there, knows someone who works there, who got promoted, who just got hired and when candidates talk to these people they can really get a sense of what opportunities might be there before they're even widely advertised.

HARLOW: You know, it's interesting, we spent a day with some people that were unemployed and they're really utilizing these social networks more and more and more.

LYNCH: Good for them.

HARLOW: You can also join on-line groups that can be as usual as social networking, right?

LYNCH: Absolutely, LinkedIn groups are the on-line equivalent of industry associations where you would go and meet people in person and network, but you can do this now totally on-line. You can look through member profiles, participate in discussions and even find job postings there that other members post.

HARLOW: All right, Liz, what about blogging? Because that, you know, it's surprising for me to hear that can really help you find work, but it can.

LYNCH: It can. And the reason it is because if you start a business blog where you share insights about news and trends in your industry, that really shows the knowledge and passion you have for your work, that really doesn't come through on your resume or your cover letter and plus it shows employers that you've taken an initiative to stay immersed in the industry rather than just sitting on the couch with a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

HARLOW: Liz Lynch, thank you. I really appreciate it.

LYNCH: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, our promise to you, stick around for our next segment. We'll show you how to spend $500 less every month.


HARLOW: Well, who wouldn't like to have some extra cash in their wallet these days? Our next guest is here to tell us how you can spend up to $500 less each month. We're not kidding. Donna Rosato is a senior writer with "Money" she's here, joining us now.

Your piece on -- in the magazine is fantastic. And let's start off with phone bills, because especially when you've got kids and they're texting left and right, you can really save. How can you do that?

DONNA ROSATO, SR. WRITER, MONEY: Well, the average teen who lives at home, brace yourselves, sends an average of 1,700 texts a month. So, if you're paying per text that's crazy. You want to get on to unlimited texting that'll save you a bundle.

HARLOW: And do you even need a home phone line? For example, you can save by getting rid of that, right?

ROSATO: It's hard to believe, but only 20 percent of homes right now are cell phone only. You can get rid of them unless you live in a very rural area, it makes sense, you can save like $30 a month doing that.

HARLOW: And maybe add mom and dad to your plan?

ROSATO: Yeah, if your mom and dad have a cell phone just for an emergency they're probably paying $30 a month, put them on your plan, only cost you $10 a month.

HARLOW: All right, let's talk about trips to the grocery store, because you see all of those delicious things that you don't need. What's the trick to shopping in a savvy way?

ROSATO: Go once a week. About two-thirds of our spending when we're shopping is impulse buying. You go once a week, you're less likely to do that.

HARLOW: All right, and when you're grocery shopping, you talk about produce and how you can buy produce, fresh fruit and vegetables, but in a smart way that saves you money.

ROSATO: That's right. I mean, think about what season you're in, its summer, blueberries are great. You're going to pay 20 percent to 50 percent more if you buy fruit out of season. So, stick with in- season stuff. HARLOW: All right, and your energy bills. I mean, my air conditioning bill it's through the roof and I live in a tiny apartment. For people that live in big homes, this is a big issue. How do you cut down on that energy bill?

ROSATO: Well, we call -- a lot of appliances are like energy vampires, they suck all the energy out. A really simple thing to do is, put all your appliances, your DVD, your TV, your computer, on to one power strip and then at night, even when they're plugged in and they're still drawing energy, turn them off at night. Even in the sleep mode they're going to take energy.

HARLOW: Of course, that's a great idea, put them all on one and turn it off all at once. And then finally, when you look at shopping and your habits, I mean, everyone likes to provide a treat from time to time, but what's your advice for folks that are kind of shopaholics?

ROSATO: There are some simple things that you can do. One, don't make it easy for yourself to shop. When you go to the grocery store, get a basket instead a carriage. Or if you're just popping into the convenience store, buy things, don't use a basket, just carry things in your hand. Never go shopping when depressed, because buying will make you feel better, and bring a list. If you have a list, you stick to it and you have cash, you're going to probably spend less.

HARLOW: And also, avoid taking walks around shopping malls. Maybe take a walk around the lake, instead?

ROSATO: Yeah, there's healthier things that you could do, you know? But like you said, treat yourself sometimes, too, because if you never indulge, well then you're probably going, like, get upset. And so, every once in a while, you can treat yourself to something, too, but you don't have to -- there's a lot of things you can do to save money and not make yourselves feel depressed.

HARLOW: Great tips, Donna Rosato. Thank you so much, helping us save $500 every month. Donna Rosato, appreciate it, thank you.

ROSATO: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right, well one of Denver's newest coffee shops is preaching a business model not taught to MBA's and hoping to change their community in the process. There is no catch, just a recommendation from the store's owners to pay it forward.

Adam Schrager of our affiliate KUSA has that story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, at Detours coffee!

ADAM SCHRAGER, KUSA REPORTER: It can be hard to get noticed on Denver's most colorful road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything to try and draw people's attention, really.

SCHRAGER: And why a tag-team effort...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some days the crowd's tougher than others.

SCHRAGER: needed to convince customers to take a detour from their day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard for her not to be graceful. You should play tennis with her sometimes. She looks like the girlfriend on the "Price is Right."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was looking tasty, so she was out there swinging.

SCHRAGER: Detours is one of Denver's newest coffee houses counting on a business model that's not talked about in the classes for an MBAs.

AMY CHESHIRE, DETOURS COFFEE SHOP: It doesn't cost anything -- it's free for everyone, any kind of coffee.

SCHRAGER: Amy Cheshire is one of 13 owners who all agreed once they made a profit off of their sandwiches, they'd cut the ultimate deal on their coffee.

CHESHIRE: Call it karma; call it the golden rule, whatever you want to believe. We just believe that it comes back around and we're willing to take the risk to give you something for free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just like the impact it has on our financial situation.

SCHRAGER: There's no catch to customers, only a simple request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You take the money you'll spend on coffee usually and do something nice for somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now that I add it up, it's like a couple hundred a year.

CHESHIRE: We all want to be super heroes when we're little, we always want to do these great things.

SCHRAGER: And if a free cup of coffee can lead to that...

CHESHIRE: So, hopefully then when you walk out the door, one of these sticks with you, and you kind of go above and beyond, you know, what you normally do for somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How's it going?

SCHRAGER:'s more memorable than a guy on stilts...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got your burgers.

SCHRAGER: ...a guy with a pig mask or a woman holding a fake burger on the corner.

CHESHIRE: That the world's not really isn't about the place, that there's good people.


HARLOW: All right, already the Detours Coffee Shop owners say customers have told stories of leaving books in airports for their fellow travelers. One customer even gave their neighbor a washer and dryer. How nice.

Well up next, Jeff Lewis from Bravo TV's hit series "Flipping Out."


JEFF LEWIS, FLIPPING OUT: Well, 2008, in the beginning of 2009, wow. It's been a rough, really rough.


HARLOW: How he's dealing with the down market and how you can, too.


HARLOW: Well, the downward spiral of America's housing market hasn't been easy on anyone and for Bravo TV's Jeff Lewis, frustration with his home flipping business means his assistant Jenni is bearing the brunt of his recession aggression.


LEWIS: I need an assistant that's prepared.

JENNI. ZOILA, FLIPPING HOUSES: And I'm not prepared?

LEWIS: No, you're not prepared. You don't have the numbers. You don't have the information.

ZOILA: Everyday I'm not prepared?

LEWIS: Today you're not prepared.

ZOILA: One day. One day. I made a mistake and I'm sorry.

LEWIS: You're not prepared today. You're not prepared.

ZOILA: And you need an assistant that's prepared.

LEWIS: Yes, I do. What is there hard -- what is so hard to understand about this? Every day, not -- every day I need you prepared, every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: All right. Well, that was a little clip from "Flipping Out", which is, by the way, every Tuesday night on Bravo. Jeff is here.

Jeff, thank you for being here.

LEWIS: Absolutely. Looks like I do suffer from recession aggression, but it doesn't happen as often as you think.

HARLOW: I'm sure. I mean, come on, that's what makes the clip, right?

LEWIS: I'm managing it well.

HARLOW: And we were just talking to Jenni and she's a big fan of yours, too. So, let's get to 2008, it was an unbelievable, housing market, for you a loss of personal wealth by about one-third in 2008 when you look at the houses. How you have adjusted your business?

LEWIS: I mean, honestly, it's more like 50 percent.

HARLOW: Really?

LEWIS: Yeah, it's been rough. It's been more than rough. It's been devastating and I think at the end of 2008 I stopped feeling sorry for myself, because I was depressed for like two or three months. And I thought, what am I going to do? I mean, how long is this going to take? When can I get back to doing what I love?

And I ended up just going back to the basics, was I started walking for other people. Guess what I'm doing now? I'm working for other people. So, I was my own boss for ten years, and now I am doing what I can to stay above water, and I think we're doing more than keeping my head above water. I think we're now prospering. The business is doing well, the design business.

HARLOW: What's interesting, what I've seen of the show so far, you're downsizing, you're not looking at some multimillion dollar McMansions anymore, but you're scaling back, looking at smaller homes, and it's very in line with what Americans are doing right now. Have you been surprised at how fulfilling it's been?

LEWIS: You certainly learn a lot. I mean, anytime I go through major, you know, journeys, you know, I'm a self-reflective person and I really -- I go to therapy a lot, and I really try to look at why things are happening what is the lesson and I think for me, it certainly has made me appreciate where I was, and what I had.

HARLOW: So, how can you help other Americans right now that have to move, they have to sell their home or have to buy a new home? What's the advice to them in a market like this one?

LEWIS: OK, first, I will tell you that a lot of people are paralyzed right now, they don't know what to do, they're holding on in their money. For me I can tell you that I am -- how I got through this emotionally, is I focused on what I have rather than what I don't have. And there are a lot of people have it way worse than I do. So, that's No. 1.

No. 2, I know that there's a situation now where there are people that need to either downsize or they might have baby, they need a house with another bedroom and they're afraid of taking that loss, because their homes were worth 30, 40 percent more two years ago.

What I can tell you is that I'm OK with you selling your home and taking that short-term loss as long as you reinvest in real estate. Because I believe the long-term appreciation in the new home will make up for the short-term loss in the home you're selling now.

HARLOW: So, the housing market will come back?

LEWIS: It will come back. And I think it's -- I'm not going to say we're at the bottom. OK? Because, I think that we probably have a little bit more of a correction, but I think we're close. I think most of the damage is done.

HARLOW: All right, most of the damage is done. We'll leave it there. Jeff Lewis, thank you so much, we'll watch you every Tuesday night on Bravo. Thanks for being with us.

And thank you for spending part of your weekend with us. Don't go anywhere. Your latest headlines are next. Have a great weekend, everyone.