Keeping Hope Alive – Behind the White Noise and Shiny Objects

recessionAs you probably already know my recession started in late 2006 following a (in retrospect) bad decision on my part to accept a new position in another division of my company. I was let go and then I had to learn how to let go:

  • Of resentment
  •  Of anger
  • Of fear
  •  Of material things (like my house and my car)
  •  Of the past


Four years later, even though I have worked several decent paying gigs:

·         my bank account is light

·          if you ask a financial adviser they’ll tell you that my retirement plan is looking a lot like a job as greeter at Walmart

·          I don’t remember what an annual physical or mammogram is like because I belong to one of those (insert number in thousands or millions depending on your party affiliation here)  people with no health insurance

·         I do not possess a credit card or a high credit score

And you know what? I’m fine with all of that. Every day is a beautiful day, a blessing to be cherished. I appreciate what I have and what I can actually afford to buy [I bought my son a laptop and paid cash, I was so proud when I realized what I had done]


So, Where are YOUR Bootstraps?


And I’m telling you this because….

  1. I want you to know that no one is going to come and “fix” your personal economy. Once you get far enough away from a steady income and deep enough into debt, it’s a long road back
  2. I want you to realize that you can’t blame the government for your situation, then say the government is too big, and then blame the same government for your situation – yes I repeated myself, reading it makes as much sense as doing it does.
  3. I am slightly angered by corporate sponsored candidates who will tell you that if government stepped out of the way, companies would step in and take care of the “community”. Bullshit, is what I say. Why aren’t they doing that already? There is no legislation stopping these companies from taking care of the community now!  So why would you believe for even one moment that the people with the real power (jobs) to turn the economy around, who have not exercised that power, are going to make things better if they gain political power. Yeah they’ll make things better – for them.
  4. I tripled my yearly earnings under Clinton, lost everything under Bush, and gained some of it back under Obama. But I’m not assigning credit or blame to any of them, because this is my life and my responsibility, and it’s my hard work, foresight, intuition that causes me to gain or lose. I want you to stop blaming the wrong people for where you are. As a matter of fact, I want you to stop blaming altogether, that’s a lot of your spiritual power that you’re giving away there.
  5. I’ve learned that if you turn off the external noise – friends, family, media – and turn inward to the place in you where God is – he really will make a way where there is no way. I have never considered murder–suicide – not mine, not the President, not my family – as an alternative. You see I know that in 10 years, the past 4 years or so  will be just that – the past, and life and the world will have moved on and the angry people will find someone/something else to be angry about, and I’ll be living and crocheting in Europe (which is a dream of mine and honestly nothing personal against y’all).


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Four Major Benefits of a Discount Benefits Plan

discount dental plans

My family and I have been using the Ameriplan Discount Plans since my COBRA ran out in 2007. Sure I have a job and could get my benefits through them, it’s only $350 per month for medical , a small additional for dental, with a 40% copay. I thought long and hard two years in a row and both times decided not to opt in. This year I chose to add an HSA to complement my Ameriplan Discount Benefits Plan – now I can got to a plan provider, pay a discounted rate, and get reimbursed via pre-tax dollars.

Here are just a few of the ways in which my family has benefited from a discount plan

  1. Our plan covers anyone and everyone.  My grown kids have been able to use it during periods of unemployment or underemployment when they didn’t have a plan of their own. There are no restrictions on who is covered – grandkids, friends, uncles, aunts, cousins, daughter’s fiance – they can all use the plan.
  2. We don’t have to pay a lot in order to get a lot. Let’s do the math -there are 4 of us, we pay $30 per month($360), a doctor or dentist visit runs about $40 per person($320), so in a normal year we spend about $700. Contrast that with $4200 per year which is what my company health insurance costs without dental or copays!
  3. We have a hospital advocacy group. One of the greatest fears that people have is the fear of being hospitalized and being bankrupted by the high costs. And trust me, regardless of what you have heard recently, the costs are extremely high. When my husband was hospitalized, his overnight stay ran well over $20,000. Once I recovered from the shock of it all I faxed my bills over to our advocacy group and they handled everything from there. Our final cost was somewhere around $9500 (with monthly payments!). Who advocates for you when your insurance company denies a claim?
  4. There are some tax benefits to having a discount plan also (because it isn’t employer sponsored). I don’t want to lead you astray so be sure to ask your tax advisor.

Right now Ameriplan is offering all of their plans for 50% off to join and 50% off for your entire first year. That means that for $19.98 per month you can get medical, dental, prescription, vision and chiropractic for your entire family. Check it out, make sure that there are providers in your area and sign up before this deal goes away!

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Why Don’t We Need Health Care Reform?


Lately there has been a very loud and unhealthy discussion about health insurance in this country. I say unhealthy because the discussion very rarely focuses on the facts and no one walks away from the fight feeling good about it. In my discussion on the subject I would like to remove the political component:

  1. Forget about what side of the aisle the people that you voted for sit – chances are they don’t have any of your interests at heart anyway
  2. Forget about the color of our President and whether or not he has all the qualities of the antichrist as stated in the Bible – that’s just the arrogance of every generation thinking that we are so important that the world will end on our watch and in our lifetime
  3. Forget about what you have heard on TV the radio or from newspaper articles and editorials – it’s all spin since everyone has an angle on this thing and anyway for the most part those guys have good insurance that they can afford

Instead let’s talk about you and me and our experience with the health care system. If you currently:

  • pay less than $100 per month for insurance or have in the past
  • and have never paid more than $10-$40 out of pocket for medical, dental, vision, prescription or a visit to the chiropractor
  • and this is not Medicare or Medicaid

I would understand if you  drop out of the discussion at this point as it is probably difficult, if not impossible for you to understand what all the fuss is about.  But I suggest you stick around so that you can understand what others have experienced or are experiencing.

If you are on Medicaid or Medicare, or have a child enrolled in a federal or state run health plan,  then I definitely want you to stay and give us some insight on what a “government run” health care system is like. For example:

  1. What does it cost you monthly?
  2. How much do you pay for prescriptions?
  3. Have you ever been denied care because you are on “the dole” so to speak?
  4. Do you feel that you receive inferior care because you are on Medicaid or Medicare?

For those of us who fit into none of the above . Those of us who pay anywhere from $200 to $600 plus per month for health insurance. Those of us who have paid additional  health care bills of  anywhere from  $300 to $300K  over and above what we paid for health insurance. I have to ask, what are we doing? Why are we fighting each other? What are we seriously fighting for ?

Last year I wrote an article about consumer driven health care and I told the story of a woman who paid over $300 per month to insure herself and her teenaged child. She required dental surgery that would take several iterations, but was not able to finish the process because she could not pay the $3000.00 bill.  So the world turned and a year later she finds herself working for this very same insurance company, and guess what? She only pays $20 a month for her coverage.  There is a saying that came to mind when I heard about that “somebody is buying you wholesale and selling you retail”.  I mean seriously people, if the insurance company employees can pay only $20 per month for coverage, why are you and I paying upwards of $300.00? What the heck are we paying for exactly?

I’ve had a discount plan for almost three years now (read why here), even though I work full time and my job offers benefits I declined them – do you want to know why? Because my discount plan costs $360 per year, I pay a discounted fee at the doctor, the dentist, the drug store, and even when I get glasses – and I am still spending less than the $10,000 plus  per year that I invested back when I had employer sponsored health care.

When I had insurance I had to get an HSA to cover those extras that my insurance did not cover. I breezed through a $2000 HSA easily. Why is that? Why do we pay so much for something that does not do the job? And why are we letting the insurance companies spend our money on lobbyists and bad advertising? Why aren’t we mad about this? Talk to me, I’m listening…

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When quitting is the only option

Are You A Quitter? I know I am. When the going gets tough the tough may get going but the niseylee usually gives up and moves on. From academics to relationships, I always assumed that I just was not cut out for the hard stuff.

I think it’s the commitment that sticking with it requires. For example, if you yourself have been hurt in a relationship or you’ve watched your parents engage in a combative and painful relationship- it would make you gun shy wouldn’t it? Definitely not apt to stay in a relationship long enough to get to the part where someone could actually hurt you.

In business, the chronic quitter does not stick around long enough to be placed in a position of authority and responsibility. Guess they are afraid they will “let someone down” or actually have to “show some results”.

So what’s a commitment phobic under achiever who craves success to do anyway? I’m glad you asked:

  1. Define what success means to you (lose weight, earn more, have happy healthy kids etc)
  2. Based on this definition, set some short term ( 1 -12 months) and long term (1-5 years) goals
  3. Accept responsibility for your past actions and their present consequences
  4. Live your life on purpose, nothing is accidental

Let’s face it quitters never win because they just don’t ever finish what they start. So are you a quitter?

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My Thoughts on Universal Health Care and Michael Moore’s “Sicko”

Blood testing in a medical facility in Ethiopia.
Image via Wikipedia

The election cycle of the past two years saw health care plans being proposed by both the  Democrats and the Republicans, but now that politicians actually (once again) have a chance to vote on changes that could benefit all Americans we find the bill being used in a dodge ball fight between the have, the have not, and the don’t have a clue crowds.

I watched Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko” this week and I was moved to do something that I usually try to avoid – weigh in on an issue that is highly political. You see , sometimes even  those of us who stand on the sidelines and keep our own counsel, may find that we have to stand for something if it will keep just one person from falling for whatever the talking heads throw at them.

I was not surprised by the fact that 9/11 heroes cannot get help right here , nor was I surprised that there are people who lose everything due to the high cost of being sick. Heck, I wasn’t even surprised that the insurance companies have entire departments devoted to denying claims (c’mon didn’t you guys see “The Incredibles”? ) or that doctors are rewarded for doing the same.

I am surprised that the American people keep falling for the (as my son puts it) oski woski. Namely, that universal health care would raise taxes and make us nothing more than a communist country, that we would have sub par facilities, that the care given to us by our doctors would be dictated by the government and therefore ” less than”, that our doctors would be underpaid and we would therefore lose some of our doctors (after all who wants to study medicine for 12 years if they aren’t guaranteed a country club membership and million dollar income?), and blah blah blah.

As I was reviewing some tax documents for the IRS, it occurred to me that maybe one small  part of  the problem is that the rhetoric is targeted towards people who don’t actually make enough money to pay a lot of taxes. I pay a lot of taxes,  and then at the end of the year I get to pay a little more, and  I therefore  wonder where my money goes.  However, for many years I was a single parent of two, was able to file “head of household” and looked forward to tax time because it meant a nice fat check to be used for something I probably should have saved up for.

Never in a million years would it have occurred to me to forego the refund so that I wouldn’t have to pay $200 a month for health insurance, $500 for a root canal, and be able to get the hearing aid that I never got because no insurance that I’ve ever had fully covered hearing aids (so yeah I go around saying “huh?” and “eh?”  quite a bit).

Since I’ve come into all of this money that the IRS feels entitled to, it occurs to me that it sure would be nice to pay what I owe and still be able to get sick in peace.  I think so highly of our current health care system that I declined the health insurance coverage offered to me by my employer . Why?  Because I did the math and found that I could buy a new car at the end of the year if I banked the money instead and used my discount benefits plan for my health care needs.Not to mention that my plan provides discounts on things that help to prevent illness like stop smoking programs, diet and nutrition programs, diagnostic tests and yes even hearing aids.

I am not done with the subject of our broken health insurance system but don’t want to keep you too long Dear Reader. Next up : “Dear overpaid politicians, stop debating the pros and cons and start doing something about health care reform ” or maybe I’ll tell you why the US ranks behind many third world countries when it comes to our health care.

What do you think about the current debate on health care reform?

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Happy Valentines Day!




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Why Are You Still Looking For Medical And Dental Insurance?

While I recover from Christmas, I thought I  would re-post this article on the high (and hidden) cost of health care. Until December 31st you can take our discount plan for a spin for only $20! Or you can try our prescription card for free.
banner_benefitbuttonI understand that you want some level of security for your family and believe that a standard insurance plan is the only way to achieve that. I am a mother to 3 and grandmother to 3, and I know how important it is to be covered. But let’s face it, the insurance companies have pulled the wool over our eyes big time.

I calculate that in my working life I have spent anywhere from $3000 to $9000 per year on medical and dental insurance. This does not include my co-pays, which is what you pay out of pocket when you go to the doctor or dentist; as well as the amount you pay for covered prescriptions. Additionally, eye exams and prescription glasses for myself and my son are not fully covered, so that’s a yearly out of pocket of anywhere from $200 to $600 depending on whether or not we indulged in some high end designer glasses.

Not all plans cover every drug so I have at times been surprised at the pharmacy with an unexpected bill for a prescription written by my doctor. Not all procedures are covered either. My gynecologist recommended an outpatient surgical procedure the cost of which put me in debt collection  because my insurance company would not cover it!  The birth of my 3rd child was a C-Section, and although I had both primary and secondary insurance I still ended up with a $3000 bill for anesthesia because the insurance companies only covered 50% of the total cost.

I have a business partner who had a plan through her company that cost $160.00 every two weeks. Her dental plan required a co-pay of $25 and had a deductible of $500. That means that she needed to pay $500.00 out of pocket every year before her insurance company would pay for anything. On top of that there was a limit on what the insurance company would pay for dental procedures. She did not discover all of this until her bridge and partial needed to be replaced and the insurance company said “No” after the work was partially done.

So an individual can pay anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 per year in insurance premiums and still have to come out of pocket when major events occur?

I challenge you to look back over the course of your working life and determine how much you have paid into your insurance versus how much you have gotten out of it. If you discover that you have paid in more than you’ve gotten back, then I have to ask again “Why are you still looking for medical and dental insurance?”

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6 Reasons To Purchase an Ameriplan Discount Benefits Plan Before 12/31

I don’t want this blog to become a huge advertisement for my business, but…recognizing that at least one-third of the American population is uninsured and a percentage of the rest are underinsured002

I did feel a need to at least let my readers know what we offer to alleviate these issues and about our special promotion in the month of December.

  1. Dental, Vision, and Prescription are often offered separately from medical at an additional cost to you. Ameriplan offers a plan which includes all of these as well as chiropractic (which is often not covered by insurance at all) for only $14.95 for an individual or $19.95 for a family of up to 20 people
  2. Discount Plans do not have any exclusions – you can be 1 or 100, healthy or sick, having your baby at home or in a hospital- no problem.
  3. If you are on maintenance medications or are spending more than $100 per month on prescriptions our prescription Advocacy Program allows you to spend only $82 per month and receive all of your meds for FREE!
  4. Our hospital advocacy program has helped many of our members to reduce or eliminate their medical.
  5. If you have insurance, many of our providers will use our plan to discount your bill first and then bill the insurance company the remainder. This means less out of pocket for you.
  6. And last but not least , you can purchase any one of our plans for only $20 until 12/31/2008

There you are short and sweet, so:

  • if you’ve been overdosing on aspirin because you can’t afford to go to the dentist
  • or haven’t had a mammogram or check-up in years
  • or are just tired of paying for insurance and then still having to come out of pocket for what your insurance does not cover
      Click here to learn more or sign up.

      P.S. Did I mention the 30 day money back guarantee? The $300 Gas Card? The Vacation for 2 with airfare? The Cash Back program for online purchases?

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