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Making The Most Of Medicare

October 7, 2016 2 Comments

Medicare Vitamins

Medicare Vitamins

I received my giant booklet from the insurance company this week, along with the almost as thick booklet from Medicare itself. I discovered last year when I enrolled that consulting a professional insurance agent is the only way to make an informed decision on this issue without loosing your mind.  To my great delight I was able to clear up a couple of questions I had about the updates on the phone with my agent.  Since I am pleased with my current coverage I don’t need to do anything during open enrollment season.  My agent, Karyn, will check and confirm that my dermatologist will remain in the coverage network.  We can then agree simply over the phone and she will remain my agent. She makes sure the plan works for my best financial interest.  She also acts on my behalf if I ever have conflict with an insurance provider.  Since the data is overwhelming, and the circumstances change each year only a professional can keep current with the latest nuances.  I am in a good mood not only because I have finished the task for the year, but my benefits almost all improved in 2017 for the same low price.  Should I need to use them I will be rewarded with more bang for my buck.

I am happily surprised at the ways Medicare has made me happy during my first year.  The Silver Sneakers benefit was created with me in mind.  I need an excellent gym with a clean locker room at the least, to meet my minimum lifestyle requirements.  I have been happy at the Tucson Racquet Club for years, but now I get both the Racquet Club and the Tucson Jewish Community Center member ships for free.  The JCC is a wonderment of well run health and fitness programs.  The beautiful gym with fast wi-fi and filtered water for your bottle gives me a thrill every time I enter.  I was not miserable at the Racquet Club, but it is a real blast to have the gift of a better designed facility courtesy of Medicare.  For me it is like a won the spa for life sweepstakes.  There are all kinds of Silver Sneakers offers, but you must make sure that your insurance provider is on board with the program.  For my own purposes, this is the most important feature.  Since my company will continue to participate in the program my fabulous free membership will continue uninterrupted.

My over the counter pharmacy benefits will be slightly reduced from $25 a month to $50 each quarter.  If you place no order you will not use your benefits.  I make a game of trying to come out to exactly $25 each month. I use it for vitamins, bandaids, dental floss, and the like.  This also is one of my favorite benefits because they deliver your products by mail, the ultimate convenience.  I keep myself stocked up on these daily use items at no cost.  I may never run out of chapstick and cotton swabs.  The company I use is Humana, but this is not a plug.  It is important to match your own consumer needs with the company’s offer.  Your state may have different features, and they are all subject to change next year.

Good luck to all the Medicare consumers and their families in this wild season.  My best advice is hire a great insurance agent to represent you.  If you live in Tucson I highly recommend the services of Karyn Damshen.  She will remove the mystery from this stressful process.  Once you have a clear understanding of the options she will guide you to the best fit for you.  Her services are paid by the provider, so there is no extra cost to you as her client.  She works for you as an independent agent. This is a big boon to those trying to understand this complicated market.  I hope you all end up happy and well covered for whatever transpires next year.

Tucson JCC

Tucson JCC

Find Your Bossiness

May 3, 2016 4 Comments

The Judge

The Judge

I was born with ample bossiness, and raised to rebel.  I entered professions in which people paid me to tell them what to do.  In travel (in the old days) clients planned trips with the advise of agents.  I was an outside sales travel agent, meaning I worked for and found my own clients outside the agency.  It was a perfect job for me because I have travelled extensively and don’t mind at all sharing my opinions.  Agencies were full of very well-travelled agents because the suppliers used to treat us like royalty.  If I had not been to a destination I had only to ask around the office to find someone who knew the place. It was a very cosmopolitan place to work.   Everyone was very jolly until the airlines cut commission, signaling the end of supplier/agency relationships.  It was very good while it lasted, and I am glad I was there for the gravy train.

I taught fitness and swimming in fancy spa settings.  This required a different kind of bossiness, which required very little encouragement to bloom. The guests relinquish entirely too much power and responsibility in the spa atmosphere.  The real key is not making them mind you in your presence (which they are paying big bucks to do).  Success can only be measured after the student has returned to home/work/family and all the habitual triggers that exist there.  When they try to integrate what they learned at the spa into real life, if they whip out the hand out you provided and do something (anything) they learned, you have succeeded in the mission.  If they mind you back at home, then you are a boss.

I like the current fad to label things done with confidence “like a boss”.  I agree that taking charge and speaking one’s own mind can be the difference between success and failure, and even between happiness and depression.  Finding ones voice  as a boss is valuable and must be done with respect and caution.  Do not surprise unsuspecting members of your family or workforce with your newfound authority.  Practice safe bossiness with appropriate subservients.  Use your head.

  • Take control of all the political calls/posts/real life discussions
  • Evaluate your use of free time to find more for yourself/eliminate waste
  • Polish the rhetoric used to ask for services in daily life/be particular
  • Identify the areas in which you do not care to boss/make sure they are covered by a qualified and enthusiastic boss
  • Focus your attention and education on the areas you intend to rule
  • Explore new areas of conquest with respect to current sovereigns

Remember the fall of Rome when Caesar obviously just took on WAY too much dominance over the Romans.  Don’t let things get out of hand with your bossy self.  Use discretion as you boss your way around this world.



My Medicare Miracle

January 14, 2016 5 Comments

View from the exercise bike, JCC

View from the exercise bike, JCC

My life has changed dramatically in the last two weeks. I have been looking forward to Medicare because it saves me a significant chunk of cash each month. I shopped and researched wildly, reaching the conclusion that the new Iora Primary Care is right for me.  I am signed up with Humana on a Medicare Advantage plan that costs me nothing and offers benefits I can really use.  I went to my first appointment with Dr Julia Jernberg, my new primary care physician, on Monday.  She is the smartest, coolest doctor I have ever seen.  She gave me a simple practice I can do at home to relieve a chronic pain I have had in the front of my ankle.  She specialized in this orthopedic technique at University of Arizona School of Alternative Medicine. She nailed the diagnosis (always key to success), then taught me how to do my own simple hands on healing.  I find a position of comfort and gently coax my muscle out of trauma for about three minutes at a time, twice a day.  It is ridiculously easy to do, but she cautioned me not to be too zealous and overdo my remedy.  She nailed the zealous diagnosis too.  I have followed her instructions for three days and believe I can feel improvement.  Dr. Julie is truly my dream doctor, a teacher of self care.  She is assisted by the best staff in the most well designed environment.  I could not be more pleased with this fantastic upgrade to my health care.

My Silver Sneakers card arrived in the mail this week too. This card provides free membership privileges to Medicare recipients at health clubs all over the country.  In Tucson many clubs participate in the program, but each one offers a different set of privileges.  I am already a very happy member at Tucson Racquet Club, and have arranged to pay a fee over and above my Silver Sneakers membership (covered by my insurance company). I think it is worth paying $22 a month to be able to attend all the classes at my club.  However, I took my Sneakers card to the newly remodeled Jewish Community Center and was given full membership privileges.  The JCC does not restrict me to Silver Sneakers classes with my special membership.  They offer a wide array of fitness options.  This thrills me, but not as much as the fabulous Zuckerman Family Wellness Center does.  The gym is the feature I use the most at a club.  This one is spacious, modern, well staffed and super clean.  The view from the equipment room is spectacular, and like the Racquet Club, it is situated right on the Rillito River walk.  They have new state of the art equipment and professional trainers.  There is free high-speed WiFi which I used to read some magazines on my iPad while I peddled the new age exercise bike. The bike even has arm rests.

I am highly impressed with the quality of the operation, but my favorite part of the JCC gym is the special needs population.  Some special needs individuals work out independently and some come to the J with care givers who encourage and help them.  I watched a young man who appeared to have Down Syndrome have such a great time on the TRX equipment that he inspires me to try it.  He was so comfortable and happy swinging on the rings and attempting super difficult moves that I decided I can do that too.  I think it is really fun to share the gym with the special population, and it is the first time I have experienced that cool thing.  You just go, JCC!!!

Fitbit Frenzy

September 13, 2014 6 Comments

I am so thrilled with my relationship with my new Fitbit. It arrived two days ago and changed my life. It is everything I hoped it would be and much more. It synchs with your computer (Phone/device) to give you a complete picture of your daily activities. It shows graphs that measure your steps ( and or exertion) in real time, and your calories burned. The food log is simple to use and includes all foods I have eaten so far on a menu with calories counted upon entering.  The activity log is available if you care to detail which you have done when .  Hiking, biking, running, walking and swimming are listed.  You can also create your own categories.  I have made a Floatli category because I can’t wear the Fitbit in the water (separation anxiety does occur), but I can record the time I have spent on my computer log.  It is brilliant!

This weekend we are planning a pizza party for ourselves and maybe others.  I will need to earn the pizza slices that will greatly effect my graph.  We decided to put it off until tomorrow, and I am pleased because I can burn baby burn today to be on my goal.  The Fitbit is making me think ahead to calculate a plan eat pizza rather than banning it forever and indulging impulsively by jumping off the prohibition of pizza wagon.   I love it.  It makes me feel the need to deposit calories burned before I eat them!!! I have tracked food on a list and divided into food groups before, but this data is so complete and visually compelling that it makes writing it down seem primitive.  The deal in fitness and health is that if you are not having a good time you will not act in your own best interests all the time.  Movement, exercise, whatever you choose to call it, is just using the body you have to enjoy life.  Measuring it gives you a powerful motivation to improve.  Some folks join groups, or compare their performance to the entire population using the Fitbit.  I don’t need that because I am most competitive with myself.  I have become inspired and enthused to keep all my graphs green and my steps increasing daily.

My Fitbit Flex model also measures my sleep.  Last night I had a particularly unsound sleep pattern.  The night before I had a few restless seconds and a three short times awake during the night. Last night I spent a long time awake, during 9 different sessions. I was aware of it at the time, and was thinking this will look bad on my sleep graph.  I think that in itself is pretty funny.  I am even concerned about how my Fitbit scores my performance when I am in bed at night.  I think most of my nights will read like my first one, since I do sleep well.  The other funny thing about night time is that upon awakening I saw that the gin and tonic I poured for watching television  which we do in bed) was almost full.  I instantly thought how sad, I wrote that down in my food log and didn’t even drink it.  All this concern could make a person crazy, but I believe this is a good crazy.  I recommend this kind of crazy to anyone.

Fitness, Feedback, Fitbit

September 9, 2014 2 Comments

In the 1970’s I went to the Elaine Powers Salon to exercise. The regime included a food list sheet divided in to food groups to be filled in daily and reviewed with a staff person once a week. The exercise was self serve, and included those fat rolling machines. Once and hour there was a ten minute session in the middle of the room that anyone could join. This was a primitive, but pretty good model for monitoring diet and encouraging exercise. The consultation with the food list included a bit of physiological counseling because every time the food list was used the emotion felt at the time, the place the food was eaten, and the time of day were also recorded. The chart was divided into food groups and meals, but I don’t think there was mention of calories or fat. The discussion with the counselor was intended to draw attention to habitual patterns and possible ways to improve. The system worked well, and I am not sure why the company folded, but I copied the food lists and used them for years after they were gone.

Today the feedback does not require a sheet of paper or a staff person to review and make suggestions.  Now there is Fitbit.  We can get real time feedback about our diet and exercise habits, as well as sleep patterns from these tiny devices.  I read an article by David Sedaris recently about how the Fitbit encouraged him to move more and be adventurous (and slightly mindless in pursuit of steps).  He also told how addicted he became after his step counting became part of his life.  When his device died he lasted 5 hours before ordering a new one with express delivery.  I love his style of writing and often the stories he tells come alive and go on living and being funny in my head.  This Fitbit story has been like that.  Today I decided to order my own and see what all the fuss is.  I believe that awareness is the best way to make meaningful changes in lifestyle habits.  I know I am less active now than I want to be, but am not sure how grave the issue really is.  I will soon know exactly what is happening with calories in and calories out.  Two days from now I will join the Fitbit generation. Do you use a fitness tracking device? How does it work for you?  I think it will be fun.

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