Category Archives: Health Insurance

Only Child looks at the macro of our horrid world

01910012You have had enough of my rants on personal reasons why this world is so bad, so except for my opinion on it, today I’m going to go into the macro area – why our 21st century world is doing worse than going to hell in a handbasket.

First, for those who didn’t read the comments from my last post, here’s a brief update. I’m not going blind yet and have expensive eye drops for life for my left eye. My son Martin is helping to pay for them. The left eye has glaucoma and is badly damaged. The right eye is fine. So, not getting an eye patch yet for the left eye. No Pirate Sharon for now.

So what is wrong with the world we live in? Here are a few things I’ve either seen (in person or online or TV), read about or people I know have experienced. FYI I believe the world just went really bad when we entered the 21st. century. Think 9/11 in 2011. Before we left the 20th century, the world was still livable, not perfect, but not way out of whack.

Here we go with my dirty dozen on what’s globally wrong.

  1. Terrorism escalating. Enough said here.
  2. Recessions, high unemployment, high debt (some people have no choice but to go into debt because income doesn’t meet expenses even if they do budget. I’m not talking about buying too expensive houses and taking on mortgages that can’t be paid if someone loses a job).
  3. Pollution.
  4. Extreme weather being the norm everywhere. I do blame global warming for a lot of it and we (the collective “we”) screwed up. I still believe that God controls the weather and could put a halt to all this or at least get it back to normal. But I also believe that because he gave us free will and he doesn’t like what we have done/are doing with it, he’s not helping us. Can you really blame him?
  5. The world is overpopulated. And you can use your own take on the whys and the wherefores here.
  6. Religious fundamentalism  of any kind and its results.
  7. Bad leaders and potential leaders in some countries. You can also use your own take here.
  8. People are getting ruder and nastier and more violent.
  9. The over-technological world we live in. Is all this necessary when we see what it does and can do to people? Yes, basic cell phones are probably necessary (text and phone functions) for emergencies and the like. But all the “bells and whistles,” the apps, etc.? And full digital kitchens? Come on, where’s the fun in cooking?
  10. Too many people getting too many cancers.
  11. Medical – both the primary caregivers – some are so inept and also how the practices and medical clinics are run. Here’s what’s happening with one cardiologist being disciplined.  And the cost to people for medical services, including drugs and supplements – what isn’t covered by government medical insurance and the high cost of private insurance.
  12. Too many people living below the poverty level and too many living high on the hog with too high salaries. The middle class? What’s that? It’s shrinking.

What am I doing about it? Trying to combine what is necessary for me in technology and becoming more self-sustainable (if there is such a word) in my life. I’ll go into that more in a future post.

So, what are you doing about this world we live in? One of my blog post followers has a slogan at the top of her blog

“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

Check out her blog posts. It is people like Laurie who give us hope for the future.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, God, Health, Health Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Only child, Problems, Rude Rage, Technology overload, Weather

Only Child in financial crunch thanks to health issues

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Looks like what I do for my health will not only depend on my time, but my finances. Surprise! Surprise! I say that sarcastically as I am one of many seniors who live below the poverty level and have to make choices what we can really afford to pay for. And I have known that for years.

Food, utilities and property taxes, family, property, insurance and book promo are at the top of the list for monthly payments, although not necessarily in that order.

So where is health? Yes, it should be on the list, and maybe it is – somewhere. (I haven’t listed all the categories for my monthly expenses.)  But in the last nine months or so health has stolen from my finances and my time – the bad health issues. I don’t mean buying healthy food and eating healthy food. I seem to be able to keep within food grocery budget (so far), but whatever I budget for health each month is never enough. And that is just the basics I spend on health each month. Basics for me is a lot of vitamins, minerals and other supplements. Necessary for me. A few quick examples. I have to take mega-doses of Vitamin D from November to end of April becaue of our you-know-what weather in Canada (the word begins with “f”), there is little winter sun. The body doesn’t keep Vitamin D so it needs constant replenishing. I have a digestive disorder so have to take probiotics and digestive supplements. And then there are the various supplements, etc. for my allergies and re-occurring sinisitus from the allergies. But those are basic monthlies and don’t take into account all the extras such as dentist, serum for allergies, and all the health emergencies that come up.

In previous posts I mentioned that I am dealing with one big health issue a  month – even if the related health practitioners don’t like it. The focus had been on my time. I love my late mom, but don’t want to spend my senior years like her – a long litany of various medical appointments that didn’t improve her health and didn’t save her life. For example, medication for her arthritis didn’t make it better. She lost her job because of her arthritis. And thanks to the arthritis, she had a fall, which led to an undetected brain aneurysm, which wasn’t found by any of the litany of medical experts she saw – until it was too late and it sent her into a five-day coma, which killed her – despite surgery.

I rest my case with that aspect.

But the financial. This month was earmarked by me (in conjunction with my dentist – at least I was following his direction here) that I needed my (hopefully – experience has trusted me not to trust anything where health is concerned) last dental appointment to fix the residue of the dental emergency in early December had to be in February.
Well, I made an appointment for Feb. 17, but have since moved it to Feb. 29. That’s a time thing. For those who read my author blog you will know I’m in a big crunch to finish my third Beyond mystery book to get it to the publisher by Feb. 28. Of course, if accepted, there will be more changes and rewrites. But I moved the dental appointment to after the publisher’s deadline – I cannot afford taking time from my writing day this month to do medical appointments for medical practitioners who don’t have evening and/or weekend hours.

But now I can’t afford to pay the dentist this month. He is very understanding about lowering the fee, but I’m hoping he will accept post-dated cheques for over the next few months. Starting with March, the property taxes return. I have a horrendous hydro bill coming later this month (horrendous because hydro’s credit which provided dollars off ended January 1). I have applied for the new electrical bill help which could give me $30 a month off or $60 a month for each bill which is bi-monthly.

Won’t be this current bill. My application has been received. I got notice of that last week, although it was a month since I sent it in. I was told when I phoned in last week that it would take two to four more weeks before being approved because the consent form takes the time.

Well excuse me. I filled out and signed the consent form and there is only me involved for consent for them to get a copy of my income tax notice of assessment for 2014 – the latest available. Oh pardon my ignorance – that is two different governments.

So, to return to health issues. A business colleague just published a book called “My Business Ate My Life” – a self-help (with some humour) guideline for small businesses who spend 24/7 with their business. If I wrote a similar book, the title would be “My Health Ate my Life.”

Being old is not fun – with health and finances. And, for those who are wondering – I can’t afford to pay for one of those extended health care plans. I have looked into a bunch of them – monthly payment all too high for limited coverage a la carte.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Hydro Rates, Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Old Age, Older Women living alone and health, Poverty

Only Child on federal election and poverty levels

Only child ponders upcoming Canadian Federal election

Only child ponders upcoming Canadian Federal election

With the Canadian federal election coming up October 19, one issue that keeps coming up is the middle class versus the rich. Yes, the middle class seems to be disappearing, but disappearing to where? Much of it has fallen into the poverty level of living, if you can call that living.

The worst of poverty “living” is social welfare or as it is called in Ontario – Ontario Works. A study done by Poverty Free Ontario shows 2011 (latest year statistics available apparently) statistics for those living on Ontario Works compared to those not on Ontario Works who live at the poverty level. For example, a single adult living alone in Ontario on Ontario Works gets $7,452 a year, compared to a single adult not on OW but who is in the poverty level of $19,930.

Although Ontario Works clients received a small increase last November there is still a big gap between the two figures. Much of that blame goes to a former Conservative premier Mike Harris who reduced Ontario Works payments in half in the 1990s.

The title of a report on children living in poverty in Toronto, Ontario, Canada  says it all.  “Toronto holds onto its shameful title: Child poverty capital of Canada”  The study states that 28.6 per cent of children in Toronto live below the poverty level, with that percentage changing with specific areas of Toronto.

Today, Toronto is releasing its 20-year busting poverty plan. City councillor in charge is Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell. There is a long list of what is to be implemented during the 20 years. And a list of low income categories appears at the end.

Here are links to the above stories:

http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/10/13/toronto-holds-onto-its-shameful-title-child-poverty-capital-of-canada.html

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/06/23/toronto-releases-20-year-poverty-busting-plan.html

All very well. But seniors aren’t listed.

In fact in all these reports, there is not much about seniors living below the poverty level. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m one of those. And this election doesn’t do much to address seniors financial and health issues, in my opinion. The Liberals’ Justin Trudeau keeps talking about the middle class versus the rich. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives already raised the eligible age for receiving the Old Age Pension to age 67. NDP leader Tom Mulhaire wants to raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

As a senior I am grateful for what I receive. But not grateful for what I have no choice to eliminate from my life because of limited finances. Unfortunately most of that is in the health area, a lot of which is not covered by OHIP, the Ontario provincial health plan. Outside the plan, I focus on eye care, although eye tests are covered by OHIP once you reach 65. But glasses aren’t. Neither is dental – it never was unless you had dental surgery in a hospital. I have a dentist but can’t afford him. I can’t afford audiologists (except if they offer free hearing testing). Physio-therapy, which might help my osteo-arthritis, has reduced coverage. Many medical tests are no longer covered by OHIP thanks to former Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuilty (as my friend calls him) – don’t excuse me here – McGuinty, kicking some of them off the covered list.

Case in point. Three years ago I had what appeared to be a severe Vitamin D deficiency. If I had gone for blood tests to determine this, I would have paid. So, I played guinea pig, taking mega-doses of Vitamin D from late fall to early spring. It seems to have worked. And getting extra health insurance coverage (read “private”) is out of the question – not when there is a cap on coverage in total dollar amount and percentage – now 80 per cent instead of the 95 to 98 per cent coverage you could get in the 1990s. Not when you choose your coverage a la carte and pay high monthly premiums.

The Toronto report on poverty being released today lists areas where improvements need to be made. I hope more dental coverage for low income residents is in the next few years. Some of us seniors may not be around for the next 20 years.

No wonder many people are finding it difficult to choose who to vote for next Monday. Many of us want to get Harper out. We may end up with a minority government of NDP or Liberal. Would they join in a coalition government? Would that be a good thing?

Only time will tell.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Goverment Legislation, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Progressive Conservatives, Seniors

Only Child’s thoughts on living below the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates living in poverty

Only Child contemplates living in poverty

A Google search on poverty levels in Toronto brought up this shocking information. The poverty level for a single person is $19,930 a year. That’s after taxes. Depending on your sources, that figure pertains to somewhere before 2014. See http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

Before or after 2014, that figure really hit home with me.

I just finished doing my 2014 income taxes in late April, so income before and after taxes was still in my mind. It turns out I am living around the poverty level for a single person – but before taxes, so I guess after taxes it is below the poverty level.

And that’s with having a boarder here most of last year – until late October – I kicked her out – with a few months leeway because according to her plan she could be here indefinitely until she found a job and was secure for six months in it. She is/was on social services (called Ontario Works here in Ontario). So the extra low monthly boarder rent income wasn’t making much difference to me as the poverty-line figure shows. My friends told me this boarder was just taking advantage of me anyway. But that’s a story for another post. At least my hydro and water bills are much less now.

I am also a senior and while I am grateful for the Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan, they aren’t high enough. Especially the latter, which varies with each person depending on how much you put into it when you worked. And being self-employed for the past 18 years, and before that, sporadic full employment from the late 1970s, doesn’t help increase the CPP. The Federal government does give you some extra CPP allowance (seven years I believe) to allow for raising a child from birth. There are tax credits that are doled out monthly and one in a lump sum – some are senior-specific. And I do get some alimony from my ex-husband.

My self-employment? Not as lucrative as even a couple of years ago.

The Feds also have something called the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which I signed up for when I signed up for the OAS. But I haven’t heard hide nor hare back about that – probably because your income has to be under $17,088 annually. See table at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/oas/payments/index.shtml

That’s  $2,842. less than the poverty level income for a single person. Something is wrong here.

All that isn’t enough for the rising costs of living. I have health issues and take natural supplements because drugs don’t agree with my body. Yes, there are drug plans for seniors and others but you are on your own with natural supplements. The basic Ontario medical coverage gets skimpier and skimpier in what it covers and purchasing extra health coverage from private companies is too expensive.

So I end up using my line of credit to cover the more monthly expenses than money coming in. And I don’t go on shopping sprees for anything and take only one holiday a year – visiting family. I forgo a lot of entertainment (like plays and movies and some concerts) I would like to go to because I can’t afford it. Free entertainment is what I look for. Street festivals and other free events and lectures outside home. I walk a lot, garden, read (mostly books from the library but I do buy a few from writing colleagues) and do readings and other presentations with other crime authors for my Beyond mystery series. I socialize with friends, an occasional meal out – sometimes they pay – and sometimes we go to garden events (free ones) together. I am fortunate in that I have a son who helps me with computer problems and takes me out to dinner for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He is even paying for a new chesterfield for my living room – his idea at Christmas – if I can find the time to finish looking around for one.

This all makes me wonder how others with less or even the basic poverty level income, can manage. I don’t have to pay rent as I’m a homeowner (and fortunately no mortgage), although with all my utility bills needing paying this month, plus other regular monthly bills to pay, the total here came to above what my May income is. And that’s before the cash items such as food and health.

So I grow some of my vegetables and fruit in the garden.

That is if I can get someone to take me to the garden centre to get some topsoil. Another long story here for another post perhaps.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot of the time. I think I have a right to be cranky.

Cheers.

 

Sharon

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Filed under Family, Gardening, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Income Taxes, Money, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Seniors

Only Child deciphers New Year’s resolutions

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

I learned a couple of startling things when compiling my New  Year’s resolutions on Sunday. Over the last few years I’ve developed an interest in weather forecasts and in the last month of 2011, in consumer advocacy and problem solving. The other revelation, which also occurred when emailing a friend, was the bond between money and health.

Oh! Oh! Does that mean I have to add these two interests into an already full plan? I can’t see me as a meteorologist (maybe in another incarnation) but the consumer advocacy one bears considering. So does the bond between money and health because this connection has followed me for more years than I care to remember…maybe even back to my growing-up days when my late mom who was such a super budget-financial caretaker, also had health concerns – first my dad’s several bouts with cancer (plus an ulcer and a minor heart attack), then, her own arthritis after Dad died. By that time, Mom had returned to work as a typist for an insurance company, then had to switch to proof-reader when her arthritic fingers got in her job’s way. She was off for a few weeks because the arthritis had spread to a foot and an ankle. I remember coming home from my business school class and finding two of her employers (former colleagues years before I came along) and the conversation was disturbing. As I write in my memoir:

She [Mom] is on a mini-leave of absence, when one day I walk into the house and find two strange men with her in the living room. They’re both sitting on the chesterfield, one on either side of its designed split. Mom is in the pink chair by the bookcase as if the World Books standing guard behind can lift her up beyond the swollen foot propped on a footstool. The conversation stops and the two men stare at me with blank smiles on their faces.

“This is Peter McLaren* and this is John Vardis* from Surety Insurance*.” My Mom points to each. “This is my daughter, Sharon.”

“Hello,” I say as I sit down in the chair under the window.

The men say, “Hello,” and nod, and then McLaren continues the conversation.

“Julia,” he says. “I know you are a valuable employee but we need to know if you are coming back to work.”

“I don’t like to say it, but I have to,” Vardis says. “It might be better if you retired now.” He addresses the mantle.

“Let’s not be hasty, John,” McLaren says, and then looks Mom right in the eye. “Julia, do you think you will be able to come back?”

“I don’t know.” Mom’s voice is wispy and little girlish.

I just sit, grinning and gripping the arms of the chair. I don’t even have the courage to wish one of the men would shuffle around in the chesterfield so it would move at the split. That might jolt them, although into what I don’t know.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

*Names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Perhaps the “jolt” today for me and everyone else is to consider what is most important in our life and what we can do about it this year. If I don’t want to continue the “family curse” on Mom’s side of the family, I need to consider my health. And like my Mom, money is so connected with my health. Without good health I cannot work; without money I cannot do all I need to do for my health. Anyone who thinks government health insurance will look after all health issues, think again. Anyone who signs up for private health insurance and thinks that will solve the issue, think again. Most of these private health insurance plans cover no more than 80 percent and have a payout cap. Options are a la carte, making monthly premiums high. Is it better to pay the piper in premiums or pay the piper up front for each health treatment, supplement, etc.? If you have a partner with a health plan from his or her employment (usually partially funded by the employer), you might be better off with the private health plan…for now. If you are an only person like me, especially self-employed, maybe not.

You decide.

For the money end, I’m looking into several options, once considered controversial, but becoming more common as we aging boomers near retirement and find out it’s not all Florida, Mexico, Arizona and easy-living. Depending on your age, you might want to consider applying for Canada Pension Plan payments before you turn 65 (in Canada. Starting this year, you can still work and apply and receive CPP, as well as continue to pay into the plan). You might also want to consider cashing in some of your RRSPs (if you have any), downsizing your residence, etc.

My point is, consider these issues (rather than the usual lose weight and exercise ones, although they are also worthy). We aren’t getting any younger and sometimes thinking outside the box can work.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Canada Pension Plan, Goals, Health, Health Insurance, Money, New year's resolutions, Only child memoir, RRSPs, Sharon Crawford