Cheaper drugs, fairer airfare, DIY iPhone repairs? What Biden’s decree could mean for your health, your work and your money

Help with baggage fees? Cheaper prescription drugs? The right to repair your iPhone yourself? President Biden presented an executive order on Friday that reads like a consumer wish list. It aims to give people more choice, lower prices and higher wages by seeking change on a variety of fronts, from jobs and healthcare to travel and technology.

The announcement is unlikely to change much for consumers anytime soon – the order itself doesn’t place new demands on businesses. Instead, it encourages government agencies to adopt policies and draft regulations that oppose corporate consolidation and business practices that can stifle competition, drive higher prices, and reduce labor costs. choice of products.

Here’s a guide to what ordering could mean for your money, work, and health.

Baggage fees

The order directs the transportation department to review the rules requiring reimbursement of charges when your baggage is delayed, and for charges to be clearly disclosed.

The issue of reimbursement of baggage fees has been pending before the ministry for years. The Obama administration passed a rule that airlines had to reimburse baggage fees if baggage was lost by the airline in transit, but refused to require reimbursement for late baggage. In 2016, Congress asked DOT to adopt the idea, but that was never done. Congress also said airlines should be required to reimburse other costs, such as Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment, if those services are not working.

Some airlines offer refunds for services not provided, or other compensation such as frequent flyer miles. Many airlines claim that refunds are not guaranteed for baggage that arrives late because airlines do not guarantee that the bag will travel with you on the flight – the promise is simply to get it to your destination, someday.

The order directs the transportation department to review the rules requiring reimbursement of charges when your baggage is delayed.


Photo:

Shutterstock

The “right to repair” your iPhone and other devices

Computers were once designed for DIY enthusiasts: you were supposed to replace hard drives and add modems, ports, and more. But as PCs evolved into tablets and smartphones, they became harder and harder to open. And anyone who’s ever smashed an iPhone screen knows that the repair can cost $ 200 or more, in part because of Apple’s tightly controlled repair infrastructure. Unauthorized repairs to Apple devices often mean obtaining substandard parts, and may result in Apple refusing to help you if you come to the company later.

The ordinance encourages the Federal Trade Commission to enact rules against restrictions on the use of independent repair shops, or even on do-it-yourself repairs to your own devices. If such rules take effect, we could see better access to better parts, diagnostics, guides and repair tools, and even potentially improved coverage for DIY repair issues.

A technician works on an Apple iPhone.


Photo:

stephen lam / Reuters

Hearing aids

The executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration, to propose rules in the coming months to allow the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.

According to the Hearing Industries Association, it takes an average of five to seven years for people to seek help after experiencing hearing loss for the first time. And according to a 2017 survey by the nonprofit Hearing Health Foundation, only about 14% of Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids. Part of the reason: In the United States, purchasing hearing aids requires a visit to a specialist. Another reason: the devices themselves often cost thousands of dollars.

A 2017 law of Congress ordered the FDA to classify certain hearing aids as over-the-counter, provided they meet certain requirements for safety and effectiveness, but progress in this area has stalled in the past. in recent years.

Allowing the sale of hearing aids over the counter could lead to better accessibility and lower prices as competition intensifies, especially for products aimed at people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

The decree orders the Department of Health and Human Services to propose rules in the coming months to allow the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.


Photo:

Getty Images / iStockphoto

Prescription drugs

The ordinance calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to release a 45-day plan to tackle high prescription drug prices. He also orders the FDA to help speed up imports of prescription drugs from Canada.

Jobs

The ordinance aims to make it easier for workers to change jobs and increase their wages by encouraging the FTC to prohibit or limit non-compete agreements and to ban “unnecessary” professional licensing requirements.

Non-competition clauses that limit the freedom of workers to change jobs have multiplied in recent years. Once a tool selectively used to protect trade secrets, employers applied such agreements to jobs such as cafe baristas and housekeeping, prompting a backlash from many state legislatures and local.

Professional licensing requirements can hamper the geographic mobility of workers and make it difficult to access certain careers. This has been an area of ​​bipartisan concern, as licensing requirements can be inconsistent from state to state. Military spouses, among others, often cannot find work when they move with their partner to new positions because they do not have their new state’s license for everything from nursing to law.

The Biden administration is also asking the FTC and the Justice Department to prevent employers from sharing information on wages and benefits, which it says gives companies unequal bargaining power while removing the market value of workers’ skills.

President Biden signed an executive order on Friday that he says will promote competitive markets by limiting corporate concentration that hurts consumers, workers and small businesses. Photo: Evan Vucci / Associated press

Banking

White House directive to make it easier and cheaper for consumers to trade their bank for a bank they prefer focuses on an obscure provision of the Dodd-Frank Act that is the subject of regulatory interest stop-and-start for over a decade. .

Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act established that banks and other financial companies should make available to their customers in electronic form data on their transactions, fees and other account details. This type of data had long been siled in individual banks, but by making it more shareable, consumers could have the ability to better track their spending and compare the costs of credit cards and other financial products.

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