The Week That Was: Business week in review

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Travel season in full effect

The good news for businesses that depend on vacation travelers is that, after a long, cold winter, consumers seem willing to dig deeper to pay for premium getaways even with air fares and hotel prices on the rise, according to AAA Travel. Local travel agents say luxury trips to Europe and Australia are actually outselling Caribbean and Mexico vacation packages.

Doctor bills cause ailing credit

Medical debt is causing tremendous problems for consumers when it ends up going to collections and shows up in their credit reports, according to a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many scoring models used by the major credit reporting agencies do not discern the difference between medical and non-medical debt in collections, although medical debt is very different from unpaid credit cards, telephone and utility bills.

New Highmark CEO staying busy

David Holmberg, the new pres­i­dent and CEO of High­mark Inc., has been crisscross­ing the state over the past two weeks meet­ing with lo­cal of­fi­cials as well as key leg­is­la­tors and state in­sur­ance de­part­ment of­fi­cials in Har­ris­burg. One meet­ing he hasn’t had yet is with Jef­frey Ro­moff, UPMC pres­i­dent and CEO. UPMC in­sists it will not ex­tend the con­tract that pro­vides in-net­work ac­cess for High­mark sub­scrib­ers to its doc­tors and fa­cil­i­ties past Dec. 31.

Families facing higher costs

The average income for families of all sorts decreased from 2012 to 2013 by $103 to $65,069 before taxes, but their expenses went up by $777 a year to $51,408, according to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lion’s share of increased expenses in the average household stemmed from transportation costs, which rose to an average $8,999 a year, or $494 more than last year, due to vehicle purchase prices going up.

A great poet, warrior dies

We said goodbye to celebrated poet and author Maya Angelou who passed away on Wednesday at age 86. She was the nation’s “wise woman” in her role as an activist and storyteller of black America. In her career spanning more than 50 years, Ms. Angelou received over 30 honorary doctoral degrees and published several books of poetry and seven autobiographies, the first and most famous being “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” 

Tim Grant: or 412-263-1591.

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