The following interview was done to help bring to focus the difficulties facing the underinsured in the State of Iowa.
Even with a health plan, most people in the United States are struggling to pay for their care. According to a study done by Families USA, nearly 50 Americans are underinsured, with most unable to afford the co-payments for doctor visits, lab work or prescription drugs.
Doris Travolta, 65, of Iowa, suffers from chronic pain, diabetes, high-blood pressure and severe stomach complications. Her only income is about $1,000 a month from Social Security. A significant part helps pay for her medical expenses and co-payments.
“Sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed when I look at the stack of medical bills piling up on top of one another on the kitchen table,” she says.
Humana, which is similar to Medicare, is a public health care benefits program. It offers consumer plans for people who are 65 years or older. And like Medicare, the premium for supplemental insurance often is too expensive for many, while others may not even qualify under its terms.
Relatively new to the system, Travolta has only been on Humana for several months, and already she is feeling the burden of the system.
“I’m on a fixed income and I just can’t afford the fees the insurance companies are asking me to pay for full coverage,” said Travolta, who must pay 20 percent of medical costs not covered under her existing plan.
She currently spends over $150 each month in co-payments for medical bills. She says the amount can vary from month to month depending on whether she notices any changes with her body and if any lab results come back abnormally.
Still, Travolta sometimes ignores some physical symptoms. Recently, that has included chest pains, electrocuting sensations running down her arm and numbness in her fingers.
“I don’t know what else to do. I’m a widow and too old to go back to work, so I just endure the pain and pray that the good Lord will continue to look after me.”
Travolta explained that by not seeing the doctor, she will have more money to buy food, gas, make needed car repairs and most importantly, help her two grandchildren--who lost their mother a couple of years ago.
While Travolta has enough worries in her life, she also continues to care for her ailing nephew, who has lived with her for the past four years. He is disabled and suffers from numerous health problems as well.
To help alleviate her financial woes, Travolta says she forgoes regular lab work if she can help it, and hasn’t been to the eye doctor as frequently as one should, even though regular eye exams are critical for someone with diabetes. She also complained of her outdated eyeglasses, and discussed her visits to the local food pantry on a monthly basis.
In recent months, Travolta has become aware of some physical changes that she fears is related to her diabetes: Her feet have turned dark colors, and knows she should see a doctor more often. But with her 20 percent co-payments, Travolta thinks she is forced to choose between seeing the doctor regularly or paying for groceries.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, is working to limit the amount anyone has to spend out-of-pocket for medical expenses. He said it makes no sense for someone to lose her life savings because of illness, nor should seniors be forced to choose between shopping for groceries or buying their prescription medication.
“We need comprehensive health care reform, not a band-aid,” the congressman said.
“I want to encourage anyone having problems similar to Ms. Travolta to contact my office for help, our toll-free number is 866.914.IOWA. Often times my caseworkers can help people navigate the Medicare system and provide them with greater information on where to seek help if you can’t afford your medications, doctor’s bills, housing, and food.”
While Travolta faces many uncertainties in her life, some things remain constant: her trust in God and her willingness to help out family and friends in times of need.
The following Personal Wellness Plan will bring more than beautiful skin but a balance to life, work and family.
Stress is such a damaging part to our bodies and will not bring life balance. Many times that we become ill it is immediately after or during a stressful event. Stress can also cause our skin to breakout creating acne. Balance in the body cannot be found if the body is carrying large amounts of stress.
There are many ways to relieve stress. One is through daily exercise. It could be yoga, Pilates, a quick jog through a park, or even a kickboxing class. Often times we just need to find a way to get built up aggression out. Another way is through massage. A great masseuse will be able to use their hands to manipulate the body to release stress that has been built up. Massage helps slow the body down and put it in a relaxing state. Our body heals when it is relaxed.
Both exercise and massage will benefit the skin by increasing blood flow and restoring the body to a healthy zone.
How can spending time with some close friends bring about beautiful skin? Many times as women we do not take the time out to get together with good friends for a night out alone. With many responsibilities with work, family, and community activities, a night out seems impossible to fit in. But by getting away, many times we choose healthy activities. Either a day at the spa or window shopping through downtown all have benefits to our bodies. But more than anything, being able to share a fun time with a friend and relieve any tension that is carried inside will bring the best stress relief.
Sleep is essential to health. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep is the minimum amount anyone should have. Losing sleep is one of the most harmful things we do to our bodies. Lost sleep also impacts our appearance and it is not just because of dark circles and bags under the eyes. During sleep, all of our muscles relax – including facial muscles. This will help smooth out skin and release tension that was put on the face during the day.
The personal wellness plan will bring balance to life and family. Many of the changes that are needed are common sense but ones we still ignore. Maybe once we see the affects staring back at us in the mirror we will learn to take care of ourselves like our bodies need us too.
Try studying herbal medicine, and it’s likely an array of odd-sounding plants and strange diseases will offer confusion rather than enlightenment. Some herbal remedies are so old they’re almost useless, and some herbs so obscure they’re more trouble than time-savers. But there are many everyday, fairly common herbs which offer some medicinal properties that create easy, at-home remedies.
Look in the backyard. Believe it or not, the common plants found in many backyards might actually be a treasure trove of at-home remedies. Dandelions, for example, help rid the kidneys and urinary tract of infection when the greens and leaves are made into a tea.
Look it up. Want to know what a particular plant does? Look it up in a reference volume or check Web sites online. If the name of the plant isn’t known, surf around for sites which offer pictures and definitions of botanicals. Chances are, the mystery will be solved fairly quickly. Never, ever use a plant if there is some question about what it does. Healing herbs are highly common, but poisonous plants are as well.
Use fresh materials. Many types of healing herbs can be purchased in dry form at local supermarkets, but it’s not a good idea to use dried plants in at-home remedies. Dried plants lose their potency and can be very hard to work with when making teas and other herbal treatments.
It’s very, very common to turn herbs into teas to create medicinal cures. But, no one wants to drink a beverage filled with plant matter. That’s why it’s a good idea to always strain herbal teas with a very fine piece of cloth to ensure a smoother drink. Some herbs are used for spice and flavor, but not all herbs are tempting to the palate. If the herbal remedy isn’t going down very smoothly, add a little peppermint. This common herb is delicious to the taste and yet mild enough even for small children and pregnant mothers.
Mash up whatever parts of the plant are being put to use gently - there’s no need to turn everything into a pulp before working with it. To keep fresh herbs handy, store them (clearly labeled, of course) in the fridge. When properly sealed, fresh herbs can last for several weeks and still keep most of their potency.
A Single At-Home Remedyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l5O25M2vzE
Want to keep a single at-home natural remedy on hand at all times? Choose garlic, an herb that’s often used in cooking so it’s easy to keep close by (and easy to find in stores). Mixed with water, raw garlic juice works well to clean minor wounds when applied to the skin, making it perfect to have in the kitchen where many small cuts occur.