Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Positive Attitude Changes One Mind at a Time - #WATWB

Seven months of positive news! This is the seventh installment of We are the World Blogfest which was begun to counter the negative news that pervades the internet nowadays.  Peace, love, compassion, thinking positively, we are trying to spread all of this as light in a dark world. And there is love and light in our world! Our wonderful co-hosts for this month's installment are Michelle Wallace , Shilpa GargAndrea MichaelsPeter NenaEmerald Barnes. 

For my contribution this month, I'd like to share the story of how the positive thinking of an African-American parole officer changed a White Supremacist's way of thinking about the world and himself.

"I don't want my kids to live the life I lived and live in hate."
That's a powerful statement from Michael Kent, a former Neo-Nazi who was a member of a violent white supremacist group. How did he get there?

Enter Tiffany Whittier, a parole officer who was assigned to Kent.

Tiffany Whittier
Her simple, direct, and positive approach had a profound effect on Kent. They became friends, not just parole officer and ex-con.

To read their full story, click here.  I love these types of stories in which one individual has the power to change the thinking of someone else. There are times when it's hard to believe this is possible, but this story (any many others out there) demonstrates that it is. We each, as individuals, have the power to affect other people and the world around us, either by how we live our lives, what we say, or what we do.

Help spread the word about We are the World Blogfest on social media by using the hashtag #WATWB. And if you'd like to read more positive news, check out the list of participating bloggers here. Visit their blogs and comment on their stories. Re-blog or tell your friends and family about the stories you've read. Visit the #WATWB Facebook page, too. Spread the light and love.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Simple Note on a Napkin #WATWB

How do you spread loving kindness throughout your day?

It's the sixth installment of the We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB), and this story shows how simple it is to spread loving kindness through empathy and taking a few minutes to share your own experience with someone. I especially love how the young man acted in a highly respectful way, too. He knew how to be light in darkness.

It's the ultimate tough thing - traveling to a funeral - and this woman was flying to bury her son. It's also a tough thing to know what to say and how to say it to comfort or reassure someone in that situation. Somehow the young man's heart knew, as I think is true for all of us. Our deepest hearts know.

Photo credit: Facebook/Tricia J Belstra
And there's more written on the napkin here.

As Ludwig van Beethoven wrote on the first page of the manuscript to his Missa Solemnis: "Von Herzen - Moege es wieder - zu Herzen gehn!" (From heart -- may it again -- to heart go!")

The full-of-light hosts for this month's We are the World Blogfest are: Simon Falk, Eric Lahti, Lynn Hallbrooks, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Inderpreet Uppal, and Mary J. Giese. For more stories that spread the love, check out their posts as well as the #WATWB participants listed here at the bottom of the page.

In Darkness, be Light.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Compassion of Strangers #WATWB

Five months! #WATWB, or We are the World Blogfest, has been moving right along for five months now, with bloggers sharing stories of positive action of people for people to counter the flood of negative news and energy in the world right now. This month's hosts are Simon Falk, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein, and Damyanti Biswas. Check out their blogs, as well as others listed on Damyanti's blog, to read something positive in your world! My contribution is below.

When I first read this blogpost, the writer's courage blew me away. Yes, it takes a LOT of courage to be open about physical and psychological trauma suffered at the hands of a friend. Most people would want to hide away and not talk about it. The blogger, Laura, shares her story not only to reveal her trauma, but also to describe the amazing compassion of strangers that she encountered.

Glastonbury Festival in the UK is a performing arts festival that occurs every year in June. Laura had made plans with friends to go, but one of those friends proved to not be a trustworthy and respectful friend (which is an understatement). As a result, Laura faced the possibility of not being able to go to Glastonbury. But she did a courageous thing: she wrote to the Festival and described her dilemma. The Glastonbury Festival responded with such amazing understanding and compassion, they showed that loving kindness and caring are truly out there in the world for all to see. They protected Laura when she could not count on her "friends" to do so.

Photo courtesy LifeonLauraLane Blog

Bravo, Laura, for standing tall and being a survivor! And bravo to the Glastonbury Festival who hire such compassionate, protective, and supportive people to take care of their audience. For the complete story, please read Laura's blog post: "An Open Letter to Glastonbury, from a victim." 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

#WATWB Random Acts of Kindness Work

Rockwall, Texas -- the name certainly doesn't sound like it'd be the kind of place where people would join together to help out a young man with a strong work ethic. But that's indeed where just such a group of people came together to buy a car so a young man, Justin Korva, could get to work everyday.

A man, Andy Mitchell, who'd given Justin a ride one day and talked with him about his walking 3 miles to work and back each day, decided that he was going to do something to help this hard-working young man.

"Inspired by Korva’s determination to work hard and make something of himself, Mitchell installed a donation box at a restaurant, which raised the $5,500 needed to buy the Camry in less than a week."

To read the full story and see the full 7-minute video when they presented Justin with his new car, go to Huffington Post here.

From this story, I tend to think Rockwall, Texas, needs to change its name to Heart, Texas.  I love this story!

This is the fourth installment of the We Are the World Blogfest! Bloggers from all over the world come together the last Friday (or Saturday) of each month to share positive news about humanity to counter all the negative news that can feel so overwhelming at times. This month, #WATWB hosts are Belinda Witzenhausen, Lynn Hallbrooks, Michelle Wallace, Sylvia McGrath, and Sylvia Stein. Click on the name links to visit their blogs and read their positive news for June!

More next month!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What is the Role of Insurance in Healthcare?

With the U.S. Senate snarking over a so-called replacement for the Affordable Care Act this week, and with all the talk anyway about the Affordable Care Act's success or failure, and the Republicans in Congress determined to get rid of it, maybe it's time to ask the question: What is the role of insurance in healthcare?

What does "healthcare" mean in America nowadays? Here's my understanding, based on my personal experience. I'll use myself, in fact, as the example. I develop physical symptoms that will not go away on their own or respond to my diligent self-care treatments. So I call my primary physician and make an appointment. When I go in to see my doctor, I provide updated information on what medications I'm taking, and any changes that may have occurred in my medical history such as a recent surgery. My doctor and I meet in an exam room.  I describe to her my symptoms. She gives me a physical exam around the symptoms to try to determine a cause. Doctors try to figure out not only if they're dealing with a disease process but also what the cause might be in order to prescribe the best treatment. My doctor's really smart. She figures out not only the disease but the cause and prescribes a medication that clears up the problem in two weeks.  This is healthcare.

Before about 1973, at this point, most people paid the doctor's bill and the pharmacy bill themselves. The costs were affordable. Insurance was for catastrophic costs such as for hospitalizations, cancer treatment, and surgery. After Congress passed legislation in 1973 that allowed insurance companies to make a profit, as I understand it, the insurance industry began to go after more business and offering more coverage possibilities.

Now, it's gotten more and more difficult to pay out of pocket for a doctor visit, for a medication, or for an X-ray. It's the same with dentists, also. And so the insurance industry steps in and offers to pay...for a price. That price may have nothing to do with healthcare but with control of access to healthcare.

This morning, I spotted a full-page ad in a magazine from a very large medical insurance company that will remain unidentified at this point. The ad copy (I used to write ad copy, by the way) talks about "helping" with both the challenges and opportunities of health care. Let's take a look at the specific ways the insurance company plans to help:
  • This company offers to provide "employers with data and insights that can improve health outcomes." I wonder what employers they have in mind.  Doctors? Because to my mind, doctors are the people who'd be interested in data regarding health outcomes, not, say, a company like a book publisher or convenience store chain. So what exactly is the insurance company saying?  That they have control over health outcomes? They could if they had control over who they covered and what they allowed as treatment. I suppose if they are interested in being the insurance company that covers a book publisher's employees, the book publisher would want to keep health insurance costs down, right? So the insurance company would give them different options to do that, right? Then provide the "data and insights" about how that's working out for them. This ultimately means that the insurance company will get involved in decision-making regarding treatments in order to keep costs down. Control.
  • The company says in the ad that they'll ensure "seniors have stability and choice in their benefits." Hmmmm. Medicare? Well, nowadays, private insurers offer Medicare plans with the blessing of Medicare. This makes me wonder why insurance companies are so against single-payer insurance when they're already involved with it. Once single-payer insurance was established, private insurers could transition to be the administrators in their areas. But then there goes the possibility of profit! And control. So they are very interested in maintaining the status quo.
  • Finally, they say they'll work "with governments to expand access to care, lower health care costs and improve quality." The first thing that leaps out at me about this point is that the word government is plural. Which governments? In other countries besides the US? They will expand access to care. That's a laugh. Not if they want to keep costs down. What insurance companies have been doing lately to keep costs down is to restrict access to care with networks and formularies and prior authorizations required. I already have experience with their "expertise" in lowering health care costs. Their methods involve denying coverage of medications, doctors, hospitals, and procedures; and doing everything they can to attract healthy people in order not to have to pay out claims.
The last paragraph in this ad is addressed to all who have "a passion to improve health care."  Well, you'd think that'd mean doctors and other medical professionals, right? But I suspect insurers are not at all concerned about working with medical professionals to improve health care.  They haven't addressed this ad to medical professionals.  They've addressed the ad to employers, seniors, and governments. I find it astonishing that a medical insurance company would place such an ad in the first place.

Americans need to establish what they want regarding help with their health care costs. Do they want an insurance company whose priority is their bottom line to make health care decisions for them? Or do they want health care decisions to remain where they belong -- doctors and patients?  If insurance companies could help by negotiating for lower costs from pharmaceutical companies, that would be a huge step in the right direction.  As it stands now, private insurers just drop a drug they don't want to pay for from their drug formularies.

How did medical costs get so high? Actually how did the costs of everything get so high?  Should medicine be a for-profit business in any part? I suspect that if pharmaceuticals is for-profit, that drives the cost increases in other areas of medicine. The bottom line is that the issue is not the Affordable Care Act. The issue is a for-profit insurance industry.