"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Entries in Health (44)


When I'm 64

The Republican repeal and replace is now available. Read it if you want, I won't bother, but I will give an overview. Naturally I will begin with how it will impact older Americans who are too young for Medicare. As I am 62 that is me. The New York Times tells us:

If the law is repealed, the groups say, people in their 50s and 60s could see premiums rise by $2,000 to $3,000 a year or more: increases of 20 percent to 25 percent or higher.

Under current rules, insurers cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge young adults for the same coverage. House Republican leaders would allow a ratio of five to one — or more, if states choose.

A 20% increase! I really like the "or higher" part. For me this means a quite different health insurance plan for 2018. I have no choice. Later in the article there is one estimate that rates will double for someone my age. Where do they expect people to get this money?

There is also a reasonable chance that another change will lead to many more insurance companies to abandon the business. There will no longer be a penalty if someone does not buy insurance. Then if they get ill they can then buy insurance and only pay 30% in additional costs for that year.  People are going to game the system and this will result in a lot higher costs for insurance companies, which will be passed on. 

The first is more of a personal issue, one that I share with anyone over 55 or so. But the second undermines the whole concept of insurance and the whole financial stability of insurance companies. The proposed bill will make things worse. 

There will be no reform of the basic health care problems we have. This pseudo-reform will makes things worse. 


Health Vacations and Immigration

It used to be that international "snow birds" would return home for healthcare. This response is less and less prevalent. From an expatriate living in Mexico:

When I came here a decade ago, people would disappear and the story would be that they went back to the US, because of health problems, to avail themselves of Medicaid/Medicare. However, now Americans are showing up here to get healthcare, especially dental, plastic surgery, and outpatient procedures. They can pay cash and still come out well ahead of paying deductibles in the US. 

Billing for example is simplified.

One of the major differences I’ve observed is the amount of paperwork here is much lower. I had bypass surgery in the US and got a 42 page bill in the mail. It was just for the blood work over 6 days. When I had hip surgery in a private Mexican hospital, the bill was 2 pages. One listed the 6 doctors that saw me and the other page listed the hospital charges. Neither one was a full page.

Read the whole article

I am considering immigration myself for these very reasons. I figure I can buy health insurance in Russia, for example, and live quite well on the money I would save. I pay that much here. Personally what I pay here for health care is a huge portion of my income. A few years ago it was actually greater than my income for that year. A personal example is that my wife recently got a MRI. The co-pay was $800. I have no idea what the insurance company was charged. She had a similar procedure in Russia a few years ago. She had no Russian insurance as she is not a resident. It cost less than $100. 

To be frank, I doubt Trump will do what needs to be done. "Hope and Change" is why both Obama and Trump were elected. Obama failed to deliver. Trump will too. For one suggestion of what needs to be done, click here. 

So what happens in 2017 will determine where I live in 2018. 


Food in Russia

I thought this little clip might be of interest. Food in Russia is of far superior quality, except for the beef, than the normal American fare. Most food there is organic because that is just the way things are done. You do note that fact that the fruit is not as artificially pristine as most US food, but it tastes better. It might be interesting if in the future the only way to get good food is to import it from Russia, or live there. 


Week 13: How Much of This Are you Doing? 

While I do not agree with all of this video that I embed below, I think it is a good starting place to begin again my blog series on health after my vacation. (If you are curious, I already am back to my pre-vacation weight.)

My disagreements focus on two areas.

First, I am more open to supplementation, especially in the short term as one experiments on oneself to decide what works best for you. I do agree that it is important to actually measure vitamin D levels in your blood if you are going to supplement. How else would you know if it is needed or if it is working? In addition I would recommend that one also take magnesium and K-2 if you are taking vitamin D... well, even if you are not. Our modern foods are very low on these items, and they work together with vitamin D. I do not recommend calcium for men. I discussed this in week 5.

Second, the mania for increased grain consumption is not good for a substantial subset of the population. Actually, the difference between whole grain and processed grain is not large in one important area. Both are converted to sugar by the body rather rapidly. We talked about the Glycemic Index in week 9.  Some people think they have had their vegetables if they had French fries for lunch and rice for dinner. No, no you have not. Ketchup is not a vegetable either! I suggest you limit all starches to a large degree. If you are going to eat them, and I do, include them in the grain category. I will be talking about starches and grains next week.

Since the video is a general video I thought it might be time to review what we have talked about. In week 1 I encouraged you to write down everything you eat. With modern iDevices this is actually not as difficult as one would think. It is extremely helpful to actually know, not just think you know, what you eat. 

While I do occasionally drink a diet soda when I am traveling, I have mostly eliminated them from my diet. It is helpful for everyone to do so. Fat people drink diet drinks. 

In week six I point out that one must reduce calories. This is not good news, but it is obviously true. 

Yes, moving your body is necessary. I gave some fun ways to do exactly that in week 7.

Are you eating your vegetables? In week 8 I suggest a very modest 1 cup of cooked vegetables, and an occasional salad, one that you make yourself to control what is in the salad dressing. Not at all difficult, yet many of us don't do it.  

In week 10 we talked about sugar and the dangers it gives to those that eat it. I am not talking about an occasional slice of birthday cake. I am talking about those daily donuts on the way to work. We are just sabotaging our health when we eat too much sugar, especially fructose. 

If we are cnstantly bombarded by food ads, it makes it difficult to avoid eating these foods, usually without even thinking about it. in week 11 we explored advertising and ways to avoid it. 

Restuarants, as much as you can, should be avoided. In week 12 I offer some suggests about how to reduce your eating out.  

We are overweight for a multitude of reasons. I will continue to explore these reasons and suggest ways for gradual improvement.

But in any event this presentation is quite good and helpful and is your "homework" for this week.


Who Do You Think You Are? 

I have decided to start up the health series I started before my blog's hiatus. Here is the first blog post in that series. I will repost these every week until I get to where I left off. 

As I begin to blog weekly on health related matters, I thought I would answer this rather obvious question. 

I have no letters after my name–well, technically I supposed I could add B.A. But no, this does not mean that I am going to disparage those that do have these letters. I have seen way too much of that in the religious circles I travel in. I am just a fat person (that is actually more polite than the word I should use, obese) who spent decades trying various methods to lose weight that did not work. I will share some of my failures over the next year that I plan to blog about health, hopefully every Friday. 

Who am I then? 

I am just an average person who has finally gotten a better handle on his weight problem. Am I now ready to be a Men's Fitness model? Er, no. I am still in the overweight category. I actually do not particularly care that I am overweight, as we will see there is evidence that being slightly overweight means you will live longer. What I do care about will be evident over the next year. I want to eat a healthy diet and have a healthy lifestyle, and "let the chips fall where they may"—hopefully they will fall in the trash where they belong.  I am confident that eating a healthy diet will mean a lower weight, but even if it doesn't, I know I am on the right track. 

Since my failures have taught me that sudden radical change does not work (at least for me), I will, after a few introductory posts, give each of you 52 steps over 52 weeks that you can take to improve your health and life. 

I invite you to take one step a week with me as we walk together toward better health.