Unaffordable Care Act

Unaffordable Care Act

For the past 20 years, I have had about 40 skin cancers or precancerous lesions removed by either surgery or by liquid nitrogen.  Now that I am retired and my insurance coverage has drastically changed due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I may have to limit my skin cancer treatments.  Maybe it should be referred to as the Unaffordable Care Act as it was called in a July 5, 2015 Forbes article.  In this article author Richard Eisenberg stated, “…people are finding themselves facing enormous out-of-pocket health expenses — sometimes leading them to deplete their savings and rack up serious medical debt.”

I had an in-network office visit in December.  The dermatologist biopsied four lesions and treated four precancerous lesions with liquid nitrogen.  I just received the doctor and lab bills.  The copay to the doctor was $80 on the day of the visit.  I now owe him an additional $314.02 for his services.  The lab charged $544.12 for pathology of the biopsies.  That one visit cost $938.14.  The really sad part of this story is that I have health insurance and I am scheduled to return to the doctor in February for complete removal of three of the basal cell cancerous lesions and I have several more on my legs which we have not even biopsied yet.  How can I afford this medical care without taking money out of my emergency savings account?  Isn’t that why we pay for insurance?

I currently pay $210 a month or $2,520 annually for health insurance and my individual in-network deductible is $6,000.  My pension check is only $2,055.87 per month.  My health insurance coverage (if you can call it that) takes 10.2 percent from my check.  I can afford that as long as I don’t go to the doctor.

My mom, age 84, doesn’t go to the doctor to get needed care due to high costs.  My late father gave up cancer treatments due to costs and quality of life issues; he chose to die instead at age 80.  Am I and others headed toward that same predicament?

I do not want to spend my savings and retirement account on medical bills.  That is not why I put money in my 401(k) for 25 years.  I invested at least 10 percent of my income so I could travel and enjoy my retirement.  With my history of basal cell skin cancer, I can see those life-long dreams disappearing in favor of paying high medical expenses and insurance payments.

Is this situation what the federal government wanted when they passed the socialized medical legislation, Affordable Care Act, and Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010?  America used to have the best medical care in the world at a reasonable cost and many people traveled here for treatment.  Now, many American citizens, especially retirees, cannot afford much-needed healthcare.  Maybe it should be called the Unaffordable Care Act or the No Care Act.

What has been your experience?

Christmas card fronts

My Facebook friends and some of my neighbors have lamented about having to put away their Christmas decorations.  They loved putting them up and having them up, but they dreaded putting them away.  I can relate.

Christmas card fronts
Box of letters and cards, Photo by slc

Right after putting away my decorations, I took down my Christmas card display and started to put them in the storage box of cards from Christmases past I keep in the basement.  This time though, I thought it was time to do something with all of those cards and letters.  I started saving them because about a million years ago, ok maybe 30 plus years ago, I read that if you cut off the front of the card you can donate them to a charity or a nursing home who reuses them.  So, I brought the storage box of cards and letters up to my study and started to go through them, one by one.

At first, it was interesting to see who the cards and letters were from and to see the wide variety of cards I had received.  The most beautiful cards were from my long time friend and former colleague, Dena.  My sister Sally sent the most special religious themed Christmas cards and another long time special friend Ruth Kay sent the most cards.  I was also blessed by many warm sentiments from people who are no longer around, either because I have lost touch with them or they have passed on.  I have many special notes from a great-grandmother to her precious great-granddaughter, my daughter, when she was younger which I will pass on to her.  Also, little notes like this one I received years ago from my Dad who passed in 2013:

Christmas card fronts
Note From My Dad, Photo by slc

After about four days of reading through cards and letters and cutting off the Christmas card fronts with no writing on them, I had enough.  The joy had turned into dread.  Why did I start this tedious sorting job?  Have I even thrown anything into the recycling bin?  I had, but it didn’t feel like it.  Why is it that when you try to clean out of box of stuff, valuable or not, you make an even bigger mess?

Now that I have read, cut, sorted and kept my precious Christmas sentiments, I have not located anyone yet to take my meticulously cut Christmas card fronts.  St. Jude’s Ranch no longer takes them.  I haven’t given up yet.  Maybe my grandson’s preschool or my church’s preschool will take them next year, or maybe I will donate them to a nursing home.  Either way I will pass them on to be used again.

It was a great exercise in clearing out the old, keeping the precious, and certainly reminiscing about wonderful old friends and family.  Thanks to all of you who have sent me cards and letters over the past 30 plus years.  I have kept them all, just not the Christmas card fronts.

Do you keep your Christmas cards and letters or have you donated the Christmas card fronts?  If so, please comment below.

Change your retirement life in 2018

As 2017 ends and 2018 begins, it is a time of personal reflection.  I began 2017 feeling quite bored in my retirement life, even though I was writing this blog and learning about search engine optimization, as well as substituting part-time.  Then, I read Ernie J. Zelinski’s book, The Joy of Not Working.

change your retirement lifeI especially enjoyed the chapter titled Somebody is Boring Me; I Think It Is Me.  I got to work on “abolishing my boredom.”  Zelinski wrote, “By undertaking difficult and uncomfortable activities, we experience satisfaction and accomplishment in our lives.  This means being truly alive, with little or no room for boredom.”  That chapter changed my retirement life.

In March of 2017, the homeowners’ association (HOA) where I live held its annual meeting.  I attended and volunteered to serve on the board of directors for three years, a “difficult and uncomfortable activity.”  At our first board meeting in April, I was elected president of the HOA, another “difficult and uncomfortable activity.”  After basically “righting the ship,” the new HOA board is now preparing for the 2018 annual meeting.

In July, I read in the local newspaper that the school district was looking to add new members to its master planning committee.  It was a three-year commitment.  As a long time education advocate, I filled out the online application and sent it.  I was accepted as a member despite the fact I told them I was a fiscal conservative.   We meet the first Monday of every month during the school year and discuss topics such as boundary changes, school closures, etc.  The politics are “difficult and uncomfortable activities” but I feel I bring a new perspective to the table since I voted against the last bond election which was defeated.

In August, I saw a real estate posting on realtor.com for a 1938 cabin on .78 acres for sale in Glen Haven, a small town about 15 minutes outside Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.  I had looked for a fixer upper project or a cabin get-away for several years.  This cabin needed a bunch of work and was listed for $98,900.  I offered $85,000 and got it.  My son-in-law, Dave, and I took on the “difficult and uncomfortable activity” of demolishing the mold- and rodent-infested cabin addition by hand this fall.  Now, the original cabin is buttoned up for the winter and it is, more importantly, dry and rodent free.  We plan to begin rebuilding next summer.

Zelinski said, “Only by doing the difficult and uncomfortable can you make your life more interesting and fulfilling.”  I have taken on “difficult and uncomfortable activities” this past year and in doing so I have felt more alive and less bored.  I am more happy and content than I have in a long time.

I am glad I read Zelinski’s book and followed his advice.  I am also glad you follow this blog and I hope you consider taking on “difficult and uncomfortable activities” in 2018 and change your retirement life.


A Christmas Find

Christmas find
Cover Art by D.T. Workman
Christmas find
The Nativity by Regina Swedenborg

One of my hobbies is perusing antique stores and flea markets.  Last month while visiting one of my favorites, I came across this beautiful linen and paperback book from 1950,, a great Christmas find.

The title is Christmas: An American Annual of Christmas Literature and Art, Volume Twenty.  I loved it and bought it for $5.  I thought I would share a couple of the beautiful illustrations with you this lovely Christmas morning.

Enjoy this special time of year.  Call your family members or friends who live alone.  Have a very Merry Christmas!

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Decluttering pantry – the spice of life

decluttering pantry
Pantry, Photo by slc

This weekend I went to my pantry to fetch cooking spray.  I was baking scones.  For some reason this time when I opened the pantry door, I picked up the Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin and it had sat neatly on the pantry shelf for over 25 years!

decluttering pantry
Expired Fruit Pectin and Gelatin, Photo by slc

I never considered my pantry and other cupboards needed decluttering until that day and time.  I have not made jelly or jam for many years but I the fruit pectin expiration dates were May 8, 1993 and March 5, 1994!

According to some people on the internet, the pectin may actually still work if I ever make jam again, but what about spices?  Some of the spices I have in the spice draw I acquired in the 80’s judging from their prices.  How long do they last?  According to Home Storage Solutions 101:

“Typically, with some exceptions (such as mold or mildew on items, or something similar), spices don’t go bad. However, they do lose their strength and flavor with time.

decluttering pantry
65 Cent Mustard Seed, Photo by slc

That’s why many (but not all) spice bottles have expiration dates, or ‘best by’ dates on them, so you can know whether the spice you want to add to your food will actually taste good, or not.”

They also suggested, “Take a small pinch of the spice and crush it between your fingers and smell it. If it has no scent, or only a very faint scent, it needs to be tossed. It will not have much taste, so it is pretty worthless at this point.”

So, if you are baking this holiday season, check out your pantry.  How old are the expiration dates on the items in your cupboard?  Can you beat 1993 fruit pectin or 65 cent mustard seed?  If so, I’d love to hear your decluttering pantry story and whether you are throwing anything out?

Downsizing – Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

This summer my daughter and her husband were clearing out their basement and having a gigantic garage sale. I went over to help.

During the sale an older gentleman approached us and asked if we had any silver pieces or coins to sell. We told him no but then I remembered my daughter had inherited two or three sets of silver flatware that she did not have out at the sale. She said I could retrieve them from the basement for his examination.

He looked at each set with a jeweler’s magnifier you hold up to your eye. He said only one of the sets was silver. The other two were silver plated and not as old as the other. The oldest one had belonged to my daughter’s great-grandmother. He was not interested in purchasing them and my daughter wasn’t sure she wanted to part with them just yet either.

Later, during a break in the action, we got to talking about old record albums. I was telling them I had gone through my old record collection and tried selling some of them on Craigslist with no luck. That’s when my son-in-law went in the house and then came back with a huge box of record albums.

70-Year-Old Vinyl Albums, Photo by slc

Years ago, my daughter and her husband were present when her dad’s mom was downsizing before going into assisted living. They returned home with many treasures but they weren’t sure what to do with over 100 record albums. We started to go through them there in the garage. It was fun as we found albums from artists like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Billy Vaughn, the Statler Brothers, Herb Albert, Hank Williams, and Lawrence Welk. While selecting albums one by one from the box I came across a couple of albums that didn’t have the customary cardboard-like jacket. In fact, they didn’t have a jacket at all. There was handwriting on them. We wondered what could be recorded on them.

Since I have a record player at my home, my son-in-law piled the box of albums into the trunk of my car for me to take home and listen to. I did just that.

Read moreDownsizing – Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Jeep ride and guardian angels

This video shows the beautiful serene drive I took in my 1995 Jeep Cherokee Sport on the way to my cabin in Glen Haven yesterday.  The water sloshing sound is from the container of water I transport on every trip, as I don’t have running water on the property.

Jeep ride
Cabin floor, Photo by slc

It was a balmy 65 degrees in Glen Haven and a beautiful day to work outside.  While at the property I raked up pine needles and cones to help with fire mitigation.  I also continued cleaning and oiling the 1938 wooden cabin floor.  All the while my small dog, Goldi, watched.

We left the property at about 3:15 p.m. so I could watch the second half of the Denver Bronco game.  The Jeep started fine and I drove the 15 minutes to Drake where I met up with the pilot car which takes everyone in line through the canyon construction zone.  The pilot car was not there yet so I turned off the Jeep’s engine.

When the pilot car came to lead us down the canyon, I turned the key in the ignition.  It started but then quit.  I tried again.  Same thing.  The Jeep would not stay running.

Read moreJeep ride and guardian angels

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