Archives for February 2009

Alabama Gets Healthcare Reform Right

Alabama understands that there is one way to healthcare reform: get people healthier. No other option will work.

Their plan involves charging people 25 dollars a month for their insurance if they do not participate in annual health screenings. Those who do not work to get healthier after the screenings will also have to pay the 25 dollar a month fee. Alabama also charges extra for smokers.

The FoxNews article has a whole host of people complaining about this measure and I want to address them. My first instinct to say “boo hoo hoo” and cry a few crocodile tears. After all, paying a whopping 25 dollars a month as a penalty?? Most people would love to pay such a low amount for health insurance. Also, Alabama regards a 35 BMI as obese. These are generous terms really.

Here are the quotes I want to address:

“This is a dreadful, dreadful policy,” said Judith S. Stern, an obesity expert and nutrition professor at University of California at Davis. “Overweight and obese people, especially women, feel that their weight is private, and being weighed at work is like having a prostate exam in the hall. It’s not appropriate.”

My guess is that the weighing will be done in private. But, no man or woman is an island. A person’s lack of health in the modern insurance scheme is not a private matter since it can negatively impact everyone. I think the Alabama system is fair. It’s kind of like pay to play: you want to smoke and be unhealthy, fine. But, you have to pay more because your risk is more. I’m sure Jeff Gordon’s insurance is more than the little old lady who drives on Sundays.

Medical and social considerations aside, other critics say it’s just not going to work. “There’s the thought that obese people are weak-willed, and if we charge them more they won’t be as fat,” Stern said. “This assumes they have control over what’s involved, and often they don’t.”

This is the aspect of healthcare and our country really that drives me nuts. People are victims and have no control over their lives. I’m sure there are some people who are overweight due to medical conditions. This is not true of the vast majority of people and Ms. Stern does no one (including obese people) any favors by sugarcoating the truth.

Kudos to Alabama for meaningful healthcare reform. I hope Obama is paying attention.

Puritan’s Pride Quietly Ditches Life’s Rewards

Last year, Puritan’s Pride implemented a program called “Life’s Rewards” which gave a percentage of every purchase back to the consumer in the form of rewards. They were pretty generous with their rewards actually! However, when the last catalog came out, Puritan’s Pride also raised their prices on every item, around 5% or more! I don’t know if this was done to offset the cost of the Life’s Rewards rebates or not, but the timing is suspicious.

Well, recently, there is no mention of Life’s Rewards on the Puritan’s Pride site, and they are now advertising their new, lower prices (which seem to be the lower, original, prices in most cases).

Puritan’s Pride told me they are re-evaluating the Life’s Rewards program. I can’t imagine a price increase during this economy was a good idea, even if it was to be returned as a reward rebate later.

This explains the mystery of what happened to the Life’s Rewards program! Puritan’s Pride is an excellent company, and I think that keeping the base prices lower, and re-tooling the Life’s Rewards program is probably a good idea.

Obama Stimulus May Harm Your Health

Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg has outlined a provision inserted into the stimulus bill that could have dramatic ramifications for health. The bill sets up electronic tracking of your health records by the federal government and a government organization to monitor how your doctors treat you. The goal is to reduce costs associated with new and experimental care. Former HHS nominee Tom Daschle promoted this language and it comes straight from his book, which could have scary implications for the future, especially for the elderly. Read the entire article on Bloomberg to find out more.

Sadly, the current model for healthcare “reform” seems to be more government, less care. I would like to see less government, more preventative measures, and better care. The whole system needs scrapped. Tomorrow, I will blog about what one state is doing to trim costs.

Don’t Throw that Container Away Just Yet…

coin containers

I have a problem: I like to save everything, especially the plastic and glass containers that peanut butter, jelly, salsa, etc, come in. “Hey I *paid * for those! There has to be another use! Surely I can *make* something from this…” are thoughts that race through my head as I start to throw something out. I also think it might be genetic, but we won’t get into that here… Don’t worry. If you visit our house, you won’t see myriad peanut butter jars lining the halls or anything. I do keep my habit in check, though not as much as David might like. I have a bin, once it is full, I have to either use them, or lose them. Cleaning is pretty easy, as I let them soak for a day or 2, rinse, remove the labels and then toss them in the dishwasher (top rack of course).


But why do I save them? Well, besides the fact you pay for packaging, it is a great way to recycle, and they satisfy quick and simple storage needs. I currently use old peanut butter jars to store various grains (like bulk quinoa, etc). I have my knitting notions in a small honey jar. But my favorite use is for coins.

David hates having loose change in his pockets, and there is only so much one girl can carry in her purse, so the coins seem to always end up lying around the house. And in our house, only paper seems to pile up faster than the coins! Something had to be done. I know many people have coin jars. As a matter of fact, when I was young, I remember my parents’ closet being lined with bottles of pennies. Having worked in a bank, I know it is faster to have your coins separated by type when you cash them in. I have 4 glass bottles, all left over from kitchen staples, that I place excess coins in once a month. It works like a charm and provides a nice bonus when you cash them in. I have friends who pay for vacations just using the money they have in change!

Below are a few other ways I use previously-used containers:

1. Fruit fly trap
2. Compost storage (until you can carry it out to the heap)
3. Storage for homemade bath products
4. Storage for homemade cleaners
5. Storing leftovers, or as to-go containers for guests
6. To prevent rust rings in the shower (using plastic lids as coasters)

What are your favorite uses for old containers?

Your Kids Lack Vitamin D?

Well, if so, they may be short and fat.

According to a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, young women with low blood levels of Vitamin D were, on average, one inch shorter, and 16 pounds heavier, than women that had normal levels of Vitamin D. Thus, according to the researchers, “vitamin D insufficiency is associated with increased [bodyfat] and with decreased height but not with changes in peak bone mass.”

Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately, and this is yet one more instance where a lack of vitamin D (obtained mainly from sunshine or supplements, since good food sources are uncommon) is shown to have serious health consequences.

Well, Duh! Healthy Food Helps Students

A recent study has verified what other studies have shown, which is that when kids eat healthily, their tests scores go up, and days absent go down. The study implemented changes in multiple UK schools, as recommended by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Based on his recommendations, students got more vegetables and less sugar and saturated fat. The resulting meals had more nutrients than the old meals. I am not sure if they added more non-fried fish to the menu, but fish oil has been shown to improve concentration in students, even in those with ADHD.

Sadly, the article mentions that some parents whose students attended these schools with the new menus were sneaking burgers and fries to the students! Ahh, the horror of it all! Students being denied their right to greasy food! Apparently instant gratification of the basic desire for burgers and fries outweighs discipline, increased concetration, and higher test scores. Either way, I think our school lunch program needs a massive overhaul. If the U.S. government is going to provide reduced prices on foods for school lunches, there should at least be an emphasis on produce, non-fried fish, and whole grains, and while they’re at it, why  not also try to reward shopping as locally as possible? And why not re-train school cooks to cook these healthy foods in a way that is appealing? I believe it can be done, and needs to be done, if we are going to confront the newer generations of children in which ADD, ADHD, and diabetes are more and more common.