March 5th, 2009
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports its latest unemployment figures as of January 2009 as 7.6% of the workforce, compared to 7.2% in December of 2008. We all know that jobs are being lost by the hundreds of thousands across the nation. We also know that these statistics account only for those workers who file and are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Which makes the real unemployment figures at least twice as high, now more than 15%. That’s definitely edging into ‘Depression’ territory, and there will be no let-up any time soon.
Whether or not you qualify for unemployment benefits – which aren’t enough to pay the mortgage for most people – if you are out of work you and your family probably qualify for food stamps, or what is now termed by USDA as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]. The Social Security Online website also has good information about eligibility for food stamps, and we most certainly hope that readers of this weblog aren’t too proud to make good use of this program if they find themselves in need. You may hope that another good job will soon be offered, but don’t let your family go hungry in the meantime. DO something!Conscious Living, Health Maintenance, Joblessness, Nutrition, Shopping, Staple Foods, Surviving | Comment (0)
August 15th, 2008
More than 40 million Americans – including children – have no health insurance. As the economy continues to weaken and good jobs are outsourced to countries where universal care exempts businesses from having to carry the health care burden, millions more are being thrown into the ranks of the uninsured. Then there are those who have changed jobs, and encountered insurers who simply will not cover them due to pre-existing conditions. These days if you’ve ever had treatment for things like acne, high cholesterol or carpel tunnel you can find yourself on the growing list of the “Uninsurable.”
Now, if you don’t mind jumping serious hoops and get an early start in the fiscal year, states do have sliding scale plans and Medicaid allotments. If you are covered by one of these, you do NOT count among the officially uninsured. In my officially “economically depressed” region, approximately two thirds of the citizens qualify for food stamps and medical care, but there’s only enough money to cover less than half of them. The rest simply do without, at least until they simply can’t do without anymore. The cost of indigent care at our few public hospitals is yet another perpetually unpaid bill.Alternatives, Health Care, Health Maintenance, Nutrition, Prescription Drugs, Surviving | Comment (0)
July 24th, 2008
Awhile back this blog featured a three-part series on Necessary Household Basics for keeping a clean house by concocting your own soaps, scouring powders, metal polishes, starches, fabric fresheners, bug repellants, etc. The list of ingredients were all common, inexpensive substances like salt, vinegar, borax, baking soda and corn starch. Saving serious money on soaps begins with saving the last of the bar soaps (and motel bar-lets) and turning them liquid by dissolving them in water.
Part 2 of that series offered some easy recipes for making the useful products. Like making an excellent metal polish by mixing vinegar and salt into a paste, or a fine scouring powder by mixing borax and soda. And of course, if you haven’t enough liquid soap to produce the laundry detergent or diswashing soap, you can always go ahead and purchase a jug of good ol’ Dr. Bronner’s organic liquid soap for making your mixtures. It’s not the cheapest of ingredients, but it’ll certainly go a long way! The money savings are significant all around.Alternatives, Clothing, Conscious Living, Environmentalism, Health Maintenance, Surviving | Comment (0)
April 23rd, 2008
Primary and Emergency Care
In response to increasing unaffordability of health insurance in America and justifying his repeated vetos of State Children’s Health Insurance Program [SCHIP] expansions, President George W. Bush declared during an appearance in Cleveland last July that:
“The immediate goal is to make sure there are more people on private insurance plans. I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
As if that weren’t clueless enough, the New York Times reports today (April 23) that one of the nation’s largest health insurers, UnitedHealth, announced disappointing first-quarter earnings (profits), saying the weakening Economy Has Dented Its Prospects. In short, as premiums rise, employers are dropping insurance plans for their employees, more employees are opting out, and rising unemployment is reflected in increasing numbers of uninsured.
The for-profit industry has also shot itself in the foot by increasing premiums to protect its profits over the quickly rising cost of care, not covering people who may have health problems, and simply refusing to pay for health care for the insured. Medical bills now account for a full half of all bankruptcies in the US, and ER treatment is NOT “free.”Alternatives, Economic Recession, Education, Health Care, Health Maintenance, Prescription Drugs, Surviving | Comment (1)
April 15th, 2008
The New York Times reported on Monday, April 14 that Co-Payments Soar for Drugs With High Prices as the nation’s largest health insurers struggle to keep their profits high and their payments for health care low. The new pricing system forces patients taking name-brand medications to pay a percentage of the cost rather than a fixed co-payment of $10 to $30 a month for each medication they take.
The situation, and plans for a public demonstration in San Francisco during the AHIP annual meeting on June 19th are outlined in Insurers target the sickest: Say bye bye to $20 prescription co-pays.
This means that the burden of increasingly expensive health care now affects the insured, who may now have to pay thousands of dollars a month for medications in addition to their high monthly premiums and treatment co-pays and deductibles. America’s sickest citizens are once again being abandoned by a system that was originally designed to spread the costs of their care across a large pool that includes healthier people. Insurers say the new system will keep everyone’s premiums down, just at the time of year that Americans are discovering that they must pay double or more for the same health insurance they had last year. That’s not a very impressive system, considering that all other developed nations on the planet have universal health care.
Thus this installment of the series of inexpensive health care tips will offer some alternatives for obtaining drugs that may be beyond your ability to afford.Alternatives, Discount Outlets, Health Care, Health Maintenance, Prescription Drugs, Surviving | Comments (2)
April 8th, 2008
A few months after moving to our mountain retreat I got bit by a tiny deer tick while working to clear the neglected garden for planting. Soon I had fever and swollen glands, seriously painful joints and a nasty rash surrounding the bite site. After a few weeks of this we finally got a little ahead on basics, so I went to the local doctor. He has a little clinic next to the grocery store, comes to town twice a week.
First thing was to check in and lay $60 on the counter up front before the doctor would see me, given that I had no insurance. If I’d had insurance, it would have been $10. Then the assistant took my vitals and I was asked to wait in an overcrowded room with a lot of obese locals and their obese children. I guessed immediately that the primary cause of illness in this rural area had to do with America’s basic poor-person bad diet. But that wasn’t my problem…
$150 worth of in-office blood tests and a ‘scrip for a week’s worth of antibiotic later (plus the original $60 just to see him), I found out I’d contracted Lyme disease. He made another appointment for his next in-town day, said he’d give me another week’s worth of antibiotics every week until I was cured. Ha!Alternatives, Economic Recession, Health Care, Health Maintenance, Surviving | Comments (9)
January 15th, 2008
As the recession kicks in – and looks to be a long, deep one extending well beyond this fall’s elections and possibly through 2009 as well – the health and wellbeing of all our families are going to be something at the top of the list of “important” considerations. Worse, there are strong hints of a coming Worldwide Food Shortage caused by expanding droughts in grain growing regions as well as diversion of cropland and crops for the production of ethanol.
So in this post I want to talk about bread. That generally most ignored of foods in the modern world, turned into nutrient-sapping paper maché paste by giant food processing conglomerates. Yet bread is traditionally known as “The Staff of Life,” the most important staple food for human beings since ancient prehistory.
My father was a big fan of “meal bread,” what he called breads that form the belly-filling ‘meat’ of a day’s diet to supplement any vegetables or cheeses that are available. Breads that sop up the “pot likker” liquids left from boiling greens or stewing meats, breads that offer complementary proteins to spreads like nut butters or flavored oils and butters, breads a person can live on if need be while not causing drastic shortages of necessary nutrients.Conscious Living, Economic Recession, Health Maintenance, Nutrition, Staple Foods | Comment (1)
November 26th, 2007
In Part I of this series we looked at the actual current situation with health care in America, the impossibility of purchasing usable health insurance by increasing millions of citizens barely getting by, and what regular people can do to help themselves. Now that increasing inflation is fully evident – mostly due to $100+ a barrel oil – more and more people whose incomes are not increasing as fast as the costs of living will find themselves beneath the floor after “falling through the cracks.”
Thus it is increasingly important for people living on a shoestring budget to take care of themselves – to do what they can to prevent disease from striking, which translates directly into less need for expensive treatment after the disease has them in dire straits. And the best way to do this is to make the healthiest affordable choices for the food you and your family consumes on a daily basis.Conscious Living, Health Care, Health Maintenance, Nutrition, Recipes, Staple Foods | Comment (0)