Monday, September 30, 2013

Urgent ObamaCare Warning for Lower Income Folks 55 and Over

Attention lower-income adults 55+ in the USA - you may be forced onto Medicaid under ObamaCare! That’s right - if you're uninsured and your income qualifies you for Medicaid, you don’t have a choice.

Health care at no cost to you – what’s not to like? Well, it’s called estate recovery. And if you end up a member of a managed care organization it’s even worse. And where I live, everyone on Medicaid is managed by Partnership HealthPlan, which is a managed care organization that administers California’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, in some counties.

Well, here’s a little tidbit from Partnership HealthPlan’s Member Handbook, page 18, “The State of California must seek repayment of Medi-Cal benefits from the estate of a deceased Medi-Cal beneficiary for services received on or after the beneficiary’s 55th birthday. For Medi-Cal beneficiaries enrolled (either voluntarily or mandatorily) in a managed care organization, the State must seek recovery of the total premium/capitation payments for the period of time they were enrolled in the managed care organization. Additionally, any other payments made for services provided by non-managed care providers will also be recovered from the estate.”

If you’re going to die with nothing, I guess this doesn’t affect you. If you’ve worked and saved to amass a few assets to leave to your kids despite the fact that your income happens to be under 138% of the federal poverty level, you’re screwed. Well, I guess technically it’s your kids that are screwed.

But don’t take my word for it. I’m no expert and it would be nice if someone could prove all my research has been in error. Just do a Google search for ‘Medicaid estate recovery’ and see what you find. But be sure to dig deep and also find what the rules are in your state – some just recover for long-term care as required by the feds while others (like California) recover for everything. And be sure not to confuse Medicaid with Medicare, which currently isn’t part of the estate recovery scene.

Bottom line is that if you are 55 or over and get signed up for Medicaid, whether voluntarily or not, you are agreeing to your state recovering anything spent on your behalf through the program. Even if you NEVER use Medicaid one time, if you're a member of a managed care organization, you will be accruing indebtedness to the state each month (through capitation payments for your managed care) that may be recovered from your estate. So before you apply for your mandatory ObamaCare, you’d best be figuring out whether you’re going to be forced onto Medicaid and what your long-term consequences are.

So...what's your plan for dealing with ObamaCare?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Will You Keep Going?

"It may take little time to get where you want to be, but if you pause and think for a moment, you will notice that you are no longer where you were. Do not stop – keep going."
~ Rodolfo Costa

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Almost Ready for Christmas!

Well, it's September - nearly the end of September, to be exact. I prepared for Christmas yet? My goal was to have everything Christmas-related done by the end of Oct. With just one month left, am I on schedule? Hmm...

I have been ahead of the game on birthdays all year and do have several Christmas gifts in reserve - my buying frenzy last winter has really paid off! Plus, not only have I decreased my stress level this fall, I also saved a ton of money. Buying things online that were super on sale is definitely the way to go! But with some items, I still have to figure out exactly who gets what. I've got lots of kids on my list and bought a dozen or so games and just need to allocate them by age/interest, but that won't be too hard.

I also need to decide whether I'm making fudge for Christmas gifts this year, and if so, I need to do it soon. I discovered years ago that I can make it ahead of time and then freeze it with great results, which saves all the last-minute stress of giving a homemade treat. I just cut it to size, double wrap it in plastic food wrap and pop it in the freezer where it won't get buried or dinged up. When it comes time to wrap it, I pull out what I need and pop it in the appropriate box and voila! Instant gift!

So...are YOU almost ready for Christmas?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

WhoKnew Cookie Review

I recently had a $5 CVS extra bucks coupon that I had to spend before it expired and went into the store planning to buy Oreos. Well, Oreos were not on sale but right next to them was a similar looking cookie that was! WhoKnew is supposed to be a healthy Oreo alternative, I guess. So...two packs of WhoKnew for $5 or one pack of Oreos for $5.79...not too hard to decide!

But how do WhoKnew cookies taste? Well, they're definitely NOT Oreos. But they are a decent substitute. The cookie part is fine but the filling is...gritty. My sweetie said it was like eating chalk but I think it may be more like crushed up calcium pills. Never having eaten either, I can't say for sure.

What I like best about WhoKnew cookies is that you CAN have just a few. A serving size is three cookies and that's plenty. It took us a couple days to go through the one pack that sat open on the counter within easy reach of four snackers, so what does that tell you?

I've often wondered what kind of addictive ingredient is in Oreos. I mean, is it just the high fructose corn syrup that makes you crave more and more and more...or do they put something more sinister in there, too? Seriously, can you eat just one? Can you eat just one package?

Substituting WhoKnew cookies for Oreos will save us calories (we'll eat less) and maybe even give us a little nutritional boost. Who knew?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Grammarly Pro Review

Grammarly offered a free 48-hour Grammarly Pro sneak peek that just happened to coincide with the completion of my edits on Impossible Beyond This Point. I've come to realize over the years that it's impossible to catch every error, especially when you've read the same text over and over and I was pleased to have the opportunity to check my work and test-drive Grammarly.

Before I get into specifics of my brief experience using Grammarly, I'd like to comment on the pricing structure. It's set up as a membership with a monthly cost (currently) of $29.95, but if you pay quarterly or annually, you get a price break. Submissions are limited to "300 documents or 150,000 words in any 30-day period, or 100 documents or 50,000 words in any 24-hour period." While this may be generous enough for most folks, my document was nearly 150,000 words spread over nearly 40 chapters, which may explain why I had some of the problems with slowness, hanging up, etc.

Theoretically, I should have been able to check my entire document during the 48-hour trial but Grammerly online bogged down. What I don't know is whether the 24-hour period is really 24 consecutive hours that start when you first access the service, or if it's by the day (midnight to midnight). You can also download a plug-in for Word to use without page/word limitations, which I didn't plan to do just for a trial but...

After realizing I was probably very close to (or maybe over?) the limit, I hit the cute little button that said I could download it to my computer. After that was done, I was able to check the rest of my document but still had to break it into smaller chunks. But that's ok - that's what chapters are for, right?

Is Grammerly Easy to Use?

Grammerly is easy to use. Online, you just paste in or upload your text and then wait a few minutes for the results. You can go through the suggestions right then (I recommend this) and/or download a report. The report is very detailed but much harder to read than when online. Don't get me wrong - the report is valuable, but it's not fun like the online results.

If you download Grammarly as a add-on to your Word program, it functions similar to the online version but is not organized by category of error so you have to go through them in order, just as they appear in the text. I got spoiled with the categorization online and really didn't like not having that feature. Oh well.

Does Grammarly Work?

Grammarly did catch quite a few things that I may or may not have seen during the final hard-copy proofing phase. Thanks to Grammarly, I will have way fewer corrections to make when I get the proof copies. Yay! In Impossible Beyond This Point, I'm not too concerned with run-on sentences and don't want to overpopulate the text with commas. I know - to be correct, you need a lot of commas. But I made a stylistic decision to go with the 'less is more' philosophy. Much of the book is dialogue and natural conversation doesn't include a lot of commas. Breathing, yes - commas, no. Additionally, I know you're supposed to have a comma after and or but or so or whatever you have separating your independent clauses. But here's the thing...

Although the sentence may have two parts that can stand alone (i.e. independent), if the second stand-alone sentence wouldn't exist (i.e. in real life, whatever it is wouldn't have happened) without the first, I'd rather tie them closely together instead of set them apart. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm wrong from a technical standpoint. But from a creative-writing/reader-friendly standpoint, I left them out. We'll see how I feel when I get the proof copy - I reserve the right to change my mind.

My Verdict on Grammarly

While Grammarly did a great job on some things and I'm really pleased with the actual errors it caught, it also flagged a ton of non-errors. For instance, it doesn't seem to understand dialogue and suggests commas in the oddest places. It also repeatedly made odd suggestions, such as:
  • drivingly for driving
  • ably for able
  • developed for followed
  • power for right
  • everything for things
  • carry for take
  • many for much or several
  • evening for afternoon and night for evening
  • must for needed
I also think I must have hit the wrong language choice when I started out because I had UK English spellings popping up, but I couldn't find anywhere to change the language preference so just ignored them.

I much preferred the online version to the Word add-on version because it was considerably less cumbersome. That being said, I did encounter problems online, which include:
  • Froze up and wouldn't let me navigate at all or forced me to navigate through sections I didn't want to check.
  • Stopped working repeatedly and may or may not fix on refresh.
  • Cumbersome to use with my browsers, but this is probably one my end (I had to have it open in both Internet Explorer and Firefox to fully use the features).
 So...would I use Grammarly again? YES! Am I going to rush out to subscribe? No. I wouldn't use it enough to warrant an ongoing subscription, but I do plan to buy myself a month's worth the next time I have a manuscript ready to publish. I'm certain it well worth the monthly subscription fee to catch those remaining elusive errors before a book goes to print.

Thanks for the sneak peek, Grammarly!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homemade Cooler - No Electricity or Ice Required!

In editing Impossible Beyond This Point, I came across mention of a 'swamp cooler' Virgil had built to keep perishable foods cool during the summer without any power, fuel or ice. Thinking there should be a little more detail than just that, I made my hubby sit down long enough to tell me briefly how Virgil built it and here's what we've got:

"The swamp cooler consisted of a box made from old wooden fruit crates covered with burlap and chicken wire with a door on the front side. A section of garden hose fed an aluminum trough with holes drilled in it to allow the water to drip down over the burlap. On legs made from wooden poles, the cooler sat about four feet off the ground in the shade where it could catch any available breeze and it kept their food cool but not cold."

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Impossible Beyond This Point Book Almost Done!

Joel Horn, Author
I've been working on editing and polishing Impossible Beyond This Point and it's nearly done! As I mentioned way back in April 2012 (where did the time go?), my sweetie is combining parts of his mom's book with his dad's unpublished manuscript and adding technical detail and his perspective to round out the remarkable story of how they moved to the wilderness back in the 1960s and created a self-sufficient life. My goal was to have proof copies by June and have it published in early fall but I'm a little behind. I'm hopeful it will be available in print and digitally by the end of this year, however. Wish me luck!

I have managed to get the start of a website, so that's pretty good, right? It's just got a little info on the authors and back-story at this point but will eventually include lots of pictures, some recipes and other info that doesn't make it into the book. So check out the Impossible Beyond This Point website and let me know what you think!

Yes, this really was their home when they first moved to the Flat.