Vision and Dental Plans: No Way Out, by Will Saunders

 

Vision and Dental

Every year during Open Season for health care, I get a heap of emails and junk snail mail solicitations from health care insurers trying to get me to choose their companies, including selecting separate plans for vision or dental coverage. Over the past several years, I have noticed an increase in these solicitations. Their zealousness is almost as fierce as the aggressive nature of politicians around election time. There is even a health fair at work at which multiple insurers come to showcase their companies and what they have to offer. Friends and colleagues at other federal, state, and private-sector agencies/organizations tell me they have such a health fair too. The insurers usually come with a variety of free tokens like totes, magnets, stress balls, or other trinkets of intrinsic value trying to entice employees to stop at their booths. I’ll be honest. I only attend this health fair to see what freebies might interest me. I don’t plan to change my health plan, and I have not yet signed up for a separate plan for either vision or dental.

First, let me state for the record how much of a racket I think insurance is. No, I’m not saying it’s a scam; insurance can provide a great benefit to millions of people who are able to receive medical services they might otherwise not be able to afford; however, it’s an industry in which the key players have us all by the throat, and we’re basically stuck. I could talk all day about that issue alone, but I’ll save that for another occasion. Second, the cost of insurance is painstakingly high. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had minimal need for it. I have not had any major, catastrophic incidents. That’s a good thing. Some people I know have endured a plethora of health maladies, injuries, or other circumstances requiring multiple uses of their health benefits.

Then there are those hypochondriacs who seek medical attention for perceived problems that just don’t exist — or doctors or patients who bill insurers for things fraudulently. Okay, maybe fraudulently might be too harsh. Perhaps mistakenly is better, though there are many who do commit fraud. Just couple of days ago, 24 defendants were indicted in a scheme involving $1 billion in fraudulent claims for billing for unnecessary medical equipment—mainly back, shoulder, wrist, and knee braces.  But from the insurance company’s point of view, whether a claim is legitimate or not, these acts still impact their profits, and companies pass the costs on to the rest of us in the higher premiums they charge.

  Anyhow, back to the point of the topic at hand. As high as health benefits can be, I think a separate vision or dental plan is ludicrous. I expect for my health insurer to offer a single plan with provisions to address all of my medical needs. Vision and dental are essential aspects of one’s health screenings. They are medically necessary. Many serious, life-threatening maladies are often identified by visits to orthodontists or ophthalmologists. Problems with vision and dental may even be risk factors for other, serious conditions. Most specifically, (1) Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of heart disease; (2) Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can induce cardiovascular problems; and (3) There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the eye doctor may even spot conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol problems even before your primary care doctor diagnosis it. I recall hearing or reading a report that the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s brain tumor was identified first by his ophthalmologist. Consequently, vision and dental care are crucial, and their screenings and treatment ought not to be treated as optional. Requiring customers to have separate plans in order for the costs of vision and dental to be covered implies such exams are far less important than they truly are.

I called the customer care number of my insurer and inquired about this. The rep did a lot of double talk in her reply. The gist of her reply is that insurers are not required to provide such coverage in their standard health care plans. That’s a bunch of bunk. That lack of a mandate is a pretty lame reason, if you ask me.

I am dismayed that sufficient care isn’t included in the primary plans that are offered. This is fairly consistent across the spectrum of health benefits plans. Health care reform is one thing we badly need.

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What Is This, by Will Saunders

I order so much stuff so frequently, I sometimes forget what I have ordered. That picture isn’t really mine, but it’s not uncommon for me to come home at the end of a day and find a few packages sitting there waiting on me. I received an email this morning alerting me that an order had shipped and should arrive in a few days. I couldn’t remember what it was, until I scrolled down the email to see a picture and the order details of the shipment. Sometimes I’ll receive a package and won’t remember what it is until I open the box. That happened about a week ago. I wrote about it here (I Received A Package Today), but the only problem was, the package was misdelivered. It wasn’t meant for me. I was disappointed. Even though the contents were things I could have used and enjoyed, I returned the package to the sender. I’m still a great big kid. I love getting packages, even if I have to send them to myself.

Most of the things I order are not all that fabulous; they are fabulous to me, though. But to anybody outside looking in, most things are every day, ordinary, mundane things. Like, this particular order was a tee shirt with a benign, silly little inscription sprawled across the front. A few days ago, I ordered some coffee pods for my work Keurig. I also ordered some paper straws recently, as many facilities in the area stopped providing the traditional plastic ones, so I take my own (when I can remember to carry them along with me); I also order the majority of my groceries online and many of my health and beauty aids too.

As an early birthday present last week, I ordered a Nikon digital camera and a bottle of Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac. I’ve begun using the camera and getting acquainted with all of its features. I can hardly wait to sip the Remy. April 24th can’t get here fast enough. I hadn’t consumed any alcohol since the beginning of Lent, which continues through April 17th – three days before Easter.

I have long been a big shopper. I’ve written about that here in a post titled, Shopping Fiends. I use to think my proclivity for shopping was an unhealthy addiction, but then I realized just how much mom loved to shop, though her love for shopping was on a whole other level. She shopped all around the world. She would even plan trips to certain places just for the opportunity to go shopping, be it Okinawa, Milan, Frankfurt, or some place domestic. But I will continue my shopping for now. I figure since I have no kids, no pets, my car is paid for, and I don’t have any parents or grandparents or anybody else dependent upon me for my money – no I’m not anybody’s sugar daddy – why not spend my money on me? So, that’s what I’ll continue to do.

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Age ‘Aint Nothing But A Number, by Will Saunders

One day I was talking to a group of people about incorporating more physical activity into their daily routine. Moving more is so key to optimal health. This can be of particular importance the older we get. So, as I was talking to this group of people, I provided some tips on different low-impact yet effective exercises they could do, like knee bends, yoga, leg lifts, just to name a few.

During this conversation, one lady asked about alternatives for someone older who can’t get down on the floor. I immediately was thinking how nice it was that the woman was looking for ideas for an aging parent. So, I offered up some good chair exercises. I even shared with her a website, Chair Exercises for Seniors. That’s when she, after clearly showing how offended she was, indicated she was asking for herself and not for a senior. I had to catch myself from judging her. She is 4 years younger than me, yet she was seemingly intimidated by a little physical activity. So, although I’m not officially a personal trainer, I gave her a little inspiration like a physical trainer might do. I told her my age and showed her my journal of the different exercises I do each week via the MyFitnessPal app. She seemed shocked.

What’s the point of it all? Don’t let age stop you. Only let the limitations of your abilities stop you. She made a presumption that because she had reached a certain age that she wasn’t able to be as agile or able to complete as many of the same exercises as younger folk can. I might have thought that too, except for the fact that I often see many seniors at the gym running circles around others half their age — by leaps and bounds. Age ‘aint nothing but a number.

Chair Exercises for Seniors

 

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Let’s Broaden Our Experiences, by Will Saunders

I was recently having a discussion with a work colleague about my summer vacation plans, and I mentioned my plans to visit the Prince mansion and his Paisley Park and his recording studios. Not only was this person unfamiliar with Paisley Park, but the person also had never heard of Prince. I get if you’re not a fan. But to say you’ve never heard of him seems odd, given Prince’s notoriety. Prince has made such a huge contribution, with hundreds of credits for music and acting for approximately 40 years.

I was about beginning to wonder whether my colleague was pulling my leg. But, my colleague assured me it was no joke. After a few more minutes of conversing, I found out my colleague also had never heard of August Wilson or Gordon Parks.

So, for a moment I donned my teacher hat and began talking about some of the highlights of Wilson and Parks. Incidentally, I hadn’t recognized the parallels between the two of them until I began talking about them together. Those parallels likely are one of the reasons why I have admired their work and career so much. Even though their craft and mediums were different, the underlying motivations were the same: racism, poverty, and the plight of working class people – particularly the oppression that keeps man down.

As for Prince, I mentioned a few of his popular songs, namely some of my favorites (i.e., Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Controversy, and 1999). Once I did that, my colleague began to recall Prince. I think it was all an act. But I won’t judge – and no, I didn’t try to sing for my colleague. That might have made things worse.

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I Received A Package Today, by Will Saunders

Today, Saturday, I received a package in the mail. It was a small square box, approximately six by six by six. I’m a shop-a-holic. Someone once called me a Shoppingnista. So, there I was, racking my brain trying to think of what it might be. I thought I had already received everything I ordered, except for the couple of things I recently ordered that surely hadn’t had enough time to get here. I figured it must be an early birthday present from some sweet soul (my birthday is April 24th).

So, I ripped it opened to find a $25 Visa gift card and an extra large, supersized Dark Chocolate Hershey Bar. I was thinking whoever sent this to me is someone who knows me well, someone who remembered that I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate or white chocolate. It made me smile. I reached for the card to see who sent it, but I don’t know “Fran and Caron” – the names penned inside the card. I looked at the box to discover the package was addressed to someone else. Oops! I guess I had opened someone else’s package. The address was correct but the person to whom it was addressed doesn’t live here. I thought it was a little unorthodox for someone to send me a birthday present three weeks early. That’s the kind of peculiar thing that I might do.  (LMAO)  I don’t think anybody else would do that.

Here’s the really weird part: The surname of the person to whom the package was addressed is the same as mine. I have no idea who it is. If I knew who this mystery person is, I would have taken it to her. [As an aside, someone did that for me a few yeas ago – a woman brought a package to me that the mail carrier misdelivered to her home, though it was addressed correctly.] Anyhow, I tried to search for her online, but nothing. So, I repackaged the items and returned them to the sender with a note that the package was not addressed correctly. I suspect he will be a little confused when he sees my name. But at least he can confirm the correct address with his friend or family member and send it again.

Let this be a lesson to you boys and girls. Double check your letters and parcels prior to sending. A wrong or incomplete address is one reason why mail never gets delivered.

 

 

 

 

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Things ‘Aint What They Use To Be

Things ‘Aint What They Use To Be, by Will Saunders

 

Being a parent is sure expensive. The costs are enormous. No, I’m not a parent. But I see what’s happening. The cost of caring for a child requires a lot of money, and I’m not even talking about just the basics of food, clothing, and shelter.

What this is all about is the high price of toys. I went to make a purchase for a ‘Toys for Tots” charitable toy collection drive. I was appalled. Perhaps my shock was due in large measure because I’m not a regular purchaser of toys. As I strolled up and down the toy aisle, I kept saying to myself, in my Robin voice, “Holy Toledo, Batman.” Things are much different than when I was a kid. They weren’t as expensive as they are today. They were, by today’s standards rather basic and ordinary. Some of the ones that immediately come to mind that were popular when I was a kid are G.I. Joe

 

the Tonka dump truck,

 

or Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.

All of those gadgets were phenomenal. My most treasured toy was the handheld Mattel Electronic Football game.

 

The Nerf basketball

was up there too. All of those items were virtually inexpensive, and gave kids hours of fun and enjoyment. The funny thing is, whenever I talk to young people about the kinds of toys from my childhood, they often think those toys sound pretty darned boring. I’m sure 20 years from now, those kids will look back to today and might possibly think toys of today are boring.

Many of today’s toys are much different. A lot are computer-based, with embedded chips and downloadable software, and a lot of them can be connected to your Mac or PC (or your TV), which help to bump up their costs. There are a lot of tablet-based toys, even for little kids (toddler age), and I know it must really break the bank. I know many parents want to accommodate their kids’ desires, especially at Christmas. Many want to shower their kids with gifts even if the kids didn’t ask for such gifts. Of course, these advanced, electronic gadgets do have a plus side: they help prepare the young’uns for tomorrow; computers are everywhere and in everything we do. Learning at a young age gets them ready for real life. Toys of today are definitely different than they once were. Toys used to be just toys. Now, they can be so much more. Things ‘aint what they used to be. Makes me think of that old Marvin Gaye song.

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30-Day Fitness Challenge

30-Day Challenge

30-Day Fitness Challenge, by Will Saunders

Saturday, December 1st is the day of my newest fitness challenge. I have done several challenges over the months and years. This one isn’t much different than the others I have done. The beginning stages seem very simple. Though, as it advances, it gets much more challenging.

But I can do it. It’s a 30-day challenge primarily intended to strengthen the core. Even though the first several days aren’t very challenging for me, I plan to still perform them as prescribed in the challenge. They get increasingly difficult. I’ve been advising people to do modified versions if they can’t do them as-is. For example, on day 10, the challenge includes 50 situps, 50 crunches, 30 leg raises, and a 38-second plank. If you can’t do all the situps and crunches at once, break them up. Do two sets each of 25 situps and crunches with a two-minute break in between. As the challenge increases in intensity, I’ll probably be doing lots of that.

As I get older, I find that I’m more interested in fitness and remaining healthy. Many older adult encounter problems, particularly with regard to balance and breaks fractures from a fall because they don’t usually maintain good levels of fitness as they age. Additionally, better levels of fitness can also impede the onset of type 2 diabetes and dementia. My former doctor (retired) Dr. Gabe Mirkin is 83 years old, but he’s still very active. He bikes, hikes, and does light strength training. When I look at his blog and see photos of he and his wife in various types of physical activities that he sometimes posts, it helps keep me motivated to remain physically active.

This challenge is part of my fitness regimen. I fell off the wagon over the past few weeks and failed to maintain the consistent workout routines as in the past, so this is the perfect thing to help get me back on track. If you need a boost, go on and give it a try too.

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Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Roasted Chestnuts

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, by Will Saunders

So, here’s what happened. The opening lyrics to that world famous Christmas song is what got me on this chestnut bandwagon. Today is the first time in my life I have eaten them. That surprises most people when I tell them this, because for some reason, people think I’m kind of pompous and hoity-toity. Bougie is a word some of them use, but I am not a big fan of that word.

Anyhow, I was a bit reluctant to try them. Long before I ever held one in my hand, probably ever since I was a kid, I thought chestnuts were just another name for acorns. You know acorns, right? Those naturally-growing nuts from the oak tree, a staple for squirrels and some birds. They look similarly. Silly me, though; I can plainly see they’re not an acorn. Additionally, a simple bit of research could have solved that confusion for me, had I bothered to look it up.

I’m surprised I never had them before, and knowing my mother (rest her soul), I’m doubly surprised she never brought them home. That’s where I get my bougieness from (lol). But I bought some and roasted them, and I’m sorry I didn’t buy them sooner. They are delicious. I think I’ll add them to my regular dietary regimen. It’s a nice change from the almonds and peanuts that I normally eat. Chestnuts have some benefits that I can’t get from eating other nuts.

To begin with, chestnuts are low in fat. In fact, they are only low-fat nut, with only 1 gram of fat per ounce. Second, they are low in calories. A serving is about 70 calories, approximately half the calories of most other nuts. They are low in sodium too. Additionally, did you know that chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C? I didn’t know till now. Just 3 ½ ounces of chestnuts supply about half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Chestnuts also are a great source of dietary fiber. Doc tells me fiber is a great remedy to manage cholesterol levels. Chestnuts also are a good source of potassium.

Yes, chestnuts definitely are a better choice than snacking on other nuts or are a better choice than chips or crackers, which tend to be high in calories, saturated fats, and sodium, and sugars. Lastly, (which is one of the best benefits to these nuts), they taste good too. If you have never had them — and there’s a pretty good chance that you haven’t — you ought to get yourselves some. You’ll thank me later.  Meanwhile, enjoy The Christmas Song.

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All Victims Are Not Treated Equally, by Will Saunders

 

There sure have been a lot of people coming forth about harassment incidents and acts of sexual misconduct; some of them took place over several decades. The unsettling thing is, many outsiders  have judged the validity of the incidents based on who the accused person is. That bothers me. A lot. I put myself in the shoes of the victim. It’s hard enough to come forth; but it’s doubly hurtful when there are people who step up in support of the accused, most of whom were not even present when the incident took place. People are supporting the accused based solely on reputation.

For each perpetrator — more or less —  there have been a handful of supporters standing behind them. I get that a person’s reputation and their standing in the community could be sufficient enough grounds to add to or take away from a person’s credibility; reputation can also create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury members if the case ends up in a criminal or civil court. That’s one reason why it can take such a long time to select the jury panel in some cases. It can take weeks or even months in some instances to get the “right” jury panel. The prosecutor wants jury members who can empathize with the victim. The defense wants jury members who can empathize with the accused. Depending on the particular case, you can have thousands of potential jurors in the pool. To date, the largest jury pool was for the trial of James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado in 2015. The jury pool was 9000 people. He was convicted of multiple counts of murder for killing guests at a movie theater. By comparison, the O.J. Simpson case brought in 1000 potential jurors. He was acquitted of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

The identity of the perpetrator can have a huge impact on the jury selection process, because people have strong feelings of love or hate for them. When their minds are already made up even before they see or hear any evidence, it can be challenging to get the right mix of 12 people (and juror alternates).

I have heard many people speak out for and against Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, and most surprisingly, R. Kelly, surprising because his alleged victims were minors. In contrast, I have yet to hear anybody speak out to support Steve Harvey Steve Harvey Accused of Sexual Harassment. Some have said his personae is that of someone who likely had done what he was accused of doing. Others have said his book on relationships and intimacy reveals things about the way in which he has treated women in the past, which adds weight to the accusations launched against him. I didn’t read the book myself, so I can’t speak to it. (Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Expanded Edition: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment). But regardless – whether good or bad – I don’t believe a person’s life and past should play a role in believability.

It seems unfair treatment when a victim accuses someone with a “dog” reputation and that victim is immediately believed, but if an alleged abuser/harasser is someone who has a straight-laced background, there is a lot of scrutiny, skepticism, and doubt that the incidents really occurred. Imagine how the victims feel. Even someone trusted and respected can deceive you. The same is true of the victim. You have a victim who is well-respected, will that person be more quickly believed than someone who is of ill repute? Unfortunately, that’s how society functions. Your character and reputation carry a lot of weight, much more than it should. Even a seemingly good guy can be a predator — I suppose they call such folks a sociopath.

What if you were the victim and people said things like, “Nah, I don’t believe it.” How would you feel if your associate Michael had abused you and people were saying, “No, the Michael I know wouldn’t have done anything like that.” I’ve learned that we don’t always know people as well as we may think we do, even the ones closest to us. Just look at Judas. He was one of the 12 disciples, one of Jesus’ closest friends and advisors; he wasn’t the man Jesus thought he was. Judas betrayed him.

As an aside, let me throw this in here. There are instances in which people get falsely accused of heinous acts. Therefore, I can understand people’s hesitance to always believe someone who presents themselves as a victim. Just look at the Tawana Brawley case. She falsely accused some men of assaulting her, raping her. If you don’t know about or can’t remember that case, do a search. Then there was the case of Susan Smith, a Caucasian woman who fabricated a story about a black man carjacking her and ultimately causing the deaths of her children when she in fact was the sole cause of her own children’s death. There are plenty other similar cases of people being falsely blamed for things.

The moral of my post here is, don’t be so quick to condemn someone – or to support someone – before you have all the facts. We talk about the concept of having blind justice, meaning embracing fairness and equity when it comes to vetting out accusations of those funneled through the criminal justice system. That’s the context of how that term surfaced. But it’s funny how we don’t embrace that notion in our day-to-day lives. What a hypocrisy. I’ve found that many people are superb liars. They’re great at it. They may try and twist the truth and have you question your own memory. But don’t get sucked in. Let the facts speak for themselves. Make Lady Justice keep her blindfold on.

 

 
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