Ramblings, Uncategorized

Health Insurance Costs

I’m not posting this as a comment on the politics of the election nor my opinion of political leaders. I’m posting this because, regardless of your political standing, those of us with chronic conditions need to know what is happening to Health Care and why. 

This is an article, written by an analyst for the Center for Data Analysis. It explains why health insurance premiums are going higher each year . It is good to remember that The Affordable Care Act premium increases were written into the law when it was originally passed, everyone had ample warning of what would happen.

Article edited for length and to remove any political statements. 

ARTICLE By : Drew Gonshorowski – 2014

(Drew Gonshorowski focuses his research and writing on the nation’s new health care law, including the repercussions for Medicare and Medicaid. He also studies economic mobility at the Austrian school of economics).

The main reason many insurers are raising premiums this year is because they are experiencing higher than expected costs.

This increase implies that the people currently signed up in the plans are less healthy than what was anticipated by the company when calculating what to charge for premiums.

This also shows, as pointed out by senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center Brian Blase, that the government mandate is not having the expected effect on enrollment. 

Additionally, some government plans are utilizing a narrow network model, which is less flexible on doctors and providers, to keep premium increases low.

While this year’s experience with the Affordable Care Act exchanges has been worse than expected, it is important to remember that the Affordable Care Act had already drastically increased premiums for individual health insurance.

As an example : For 2014, in the state of Tennessee, premiums for a 27-year-old on the exchanges cost 70 percent more than what that person would have paid previously. In 2015, premiums would increase another 18 percent for that individual, in a year that was billed as one including “modest” increases.

For a 50-year-old, premiums increased by 31.6 percent in 2014 and 9.8 percent in 2015. In 2016, the premium increases for younger adults is similarly larger than the rest of the population. While many will point to the subsidies as a reason premiums are not rising quickly for many individuals in the exchanges, it is important to note the effect higher costs have on discouraging enrollment from people that have higher incomes.

These people won’t get a subsidy, and subsequently, shopping in the exchanges isn’t nearly as appealing. The fact remains that these subsidies still have to be funded, and at an increasing rate.

This behavior in the markets is not some glitch or temporary effect. Heavily regulating insurance plans in these markets has led to large increases in premiums. There are several examples, but three factors contribute greatly to increasing premiums.

The Affordable Care Act restricts age-specific pricing to a ratio of 3 to 1. This means that Obamacare doesn’t allow prices to vary between someone who is 18 and someone who is 64 by more than three times the medical cost. The natural variation in medical costs across the ages is, however, at least five times. This restricts the amount a person can be charged directly for his expected costs.

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans to cover a set of “essential health benefits,” as well as a list of “preventive services” for which plans are prohibited from charging enrollees any copayments.

This leads to increased costs by making many plans pay for benefits that individuals do not need or utilize. Finally, the Affordable Care Act’s minimum actuarial requirement establishes a floor for what plans must pay toward the cost of covered services. The law standardizes this into metal tiers. Plans under 60 percent no longer exist.

The Affordable Care Act was sold as something that would lower the cost of health care for millions of Americans. The only thing another year of premium increases proves, now once again accelerating,  is that the promise becomes harder and harder to believe.


Fields of Fire Album

Hello, my Friends.

I want to get the message out there about my 1980’s album “Fields of Fire”. I was living in Scotland at the time when I was contacted by a Portland based filk music company. They wanted me to write, produce & record an album of music based on Mercedes Lackey’s book of the same name.

I wish I had had the chance to talk to Mercedes at the time to see how she felt about such a project but, being out of the country a lot, I never managed to connect with her (sadly to say). 

I went ahead with the writing : music, lyrics, arrangements, and the went out to Portland where, with the help of some lovely people in the Fantasy Music scene out there, we managed to get the album recorded.

Over time, it seems my name has disappeared from the credits for this album and I’d really like you all to help me set the record straight on the matter. For example,  I came across some very nice YouTube videos made back around 2009 by a fellow going as ARP7777. He says the album is by Ms Lackey and doesn’t know who the singer is but I couldn’t find a way to contact him to fix the credits for my songs. I wrote all the songs (lyrics, music, guitar work etc) for the album “Fields of Fire” but, since it was written and performed at the behest of a music company, I did not retain publishing rights and I think that’s why my name has been left off the credits.

Since my first album of music was produced for Philo records in 1979 you have all gone out of your way to let musicians know that I was the songwriter of so many popular songs adopted by the Filk community. I am eternally grateful for everyone’s efforts around the planet as I have recieved appropriate royalties that would otherwise have been lost. So, if you come across YouTube videos or performances and the music credits aren’t right please help me out and correct them. My MS keeps me offline…. A lot .. and that’s why I’m so behind on all this stuff.

Hugs and love to all. May this find you happy and enjoying a life to the fullest. I know I am.

😉 Meg



My Peagasus Award !!

Hiya, everybody ! Did you hear ?  I finally got a Pegasus Award for “Captain Jack and The Mermaid” as Best Classic Filk Song. 


I’m so pleased and grateful to the Filking community for acknowledging my sea chantey as a long lasting song in their music circles . Written in 1975, this year makes my ballad 40 years old. Now that’s staying power ! Huzzah !

Here we are, the week before Thanksgiving & I managed to get through some rough storms yesterday with rain like I’ve never seen before in Arkansas. All is fine and I’m just dealing with adrenal gland problems which is boring and fatiguing.

In the meantime, it’s what to serve up for Thanksgiving Feast next week. I have my own recipe for a chunky Cranberry Chutney that has apples & curry spices in it. I like a cranberry dish you can sink your teeth into ! I’ll post it here when I can make a manageable recipe for you..I tend to make things up as I go along. How about you ? Do you start with a working recipe and then make it your way ?

That wore me out just thinking about it. Hang in there, peeps, & remember to give Thanksgiving greetings to people you know who have no family or are on their own. These holiday activities can be very depressing for some.

Love to all, 😉 Meg




Healthy Carrot Cake

I just had to share this. I’m always hunting for truly healthy versions of favorite treats and this one is great for Carrot Cake.

There’s room to play with this recipe, trying honey sometimes, adding nuts and/or raisins etc. I’m still not excited about the sugary frosting, which would be fine to serve to others on special occasions, so I may just make a low fat cream cheese frosting using maple syrup instead of powdered sugar for me. Let’s eat cake !


Healthy Carrot Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 59 minutes
Yield: 16 slices
Serving Size: 1 slice
Recipe adapted from The Complete Light Kitchen


1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup raw honey, melted
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
For the icing:
1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
1-2 Tbsp low-fat milk or water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch Bundt pan with olive oil.
For the cake, whisk together the coconut oil, honey, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the carrots, pineapple, and yogurt. Stir until everything is combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the carrot mixture and stir until everything is combined.
Pour the cake mixture into your prepared Bundt pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. When the cake is no longer hot, invert cake onto a serving plate.
For the icing, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, and milk in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over top of the cake. Garnish with grated carrot or orange zest (optional).

Cal: 199 Fat: 7g Protein: 4g Carbs: 30g Fiber: 1g Sodium: 189mg

Weight Watchers Points+: 5


After 4 years I created something fun !

Hello ! I actually designed and completed a public art project in Little Rock. 18 artists painted storm drains to educate the public about storm drains leading to streams and rivers and how to that clean water. I was able to paint for 1 day and then I was in bed for 2 weeks but it got done, this is a huge accomplishment for me both physically & creatively.

Here’s my original design :

This is the first time that I attempted to paint on concrete and we were only given 4 primary colors plus black & white to work with. The paint is specially made for sidewalk use called “Armor Tread” but, if you ever want to use it, we found that it can be watered down enough to create a bit of a watercolor affect.

When I heard about this competition I thought, ” ok, I can do a design but there’s no way that I can paint it.” So, I got in touch with the organisers and they were only too happy to hook me up with two other great artists who volunteered to make my fishy come to life. I was able to be diwn there for a little bit mostly thanks to the early May weather which stayed cool and rainy. The lower temps gave me a maximum chance to fight through the chronic MS fatigue and, once I got the basic fish design down, I knew the other artists would follow my lead and give the piece a nice “60’s” vibe.

And so, today is for celebrating and even though a little bit of art knocks me off my feet for several weeks, it’s not so bad knowing that I accomplished something in between all the aches, pains and MS weirdness. I’d lost my creative muse since 2011 and it suddenly just now came back to life. I only managed to do this design and then the creative door closed but I will look forward to the day when that door opens again.

The public is allowed to vote for the artist that they like best and I could really use YOUR vote. BETWEEN JUNE 10 – 30th you can enter your votes for my fishy. I’m artist #6 (last on the page) on the drain-smart.org website under “Selected Artists” on “South Main”.

I hope everyone has as great a week as I’m having. ((Hugs))


First steps into Buddhist meditation

Here’s a very easy explanation and instruction for Buddhist Meditation. You don’t need special robes or anything, just a peaceful space. Learning this technique can bring you a center for your day, for your life and helps you understand how to really help others.

Buddhism now

Sitting in meditationAwareness is the key . But what does the word mean to you? To most people, perhaps, it denotes an acknowledgement of that which is going on around them in a general sort of way. In the context of meditation, however, it means ‘waking up’, becoming acutely sensitive, knowing, feeling, living the moment in its pristine state, sensing colours and contours, sounds, textures, smells, recognising tendencies within oneself yet resisting the pull to be controlled by them — this is meditation, to begin with at least.

Life is a bit of a game really, isn’t it? We look forward to something and when it comes we criticise it, resent it, worry about it, want to change it, want to make it better.

Why do so many beings have to endure hunger and cold, heat, disease, cruelty, physical and mental abuse and deprivation, torture, injustice, and all the rest of it? Some have…

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Swallowing dangers

Swallowing problems can affect some patients with MS as it progresses. I have been dealing with MS since 1989 but changes in eating & swallowing only started to become a scary problem last year. My eye specialist also suspects that I have Sjogren’s Syndrome which means severly reduced saliva and this adds to the swallowing problem.

My MS specialist says that there are quite a few changes you need to make when this symptom occurs and it may help to leave yourself notes, using post-it notes, to remind yourself of what to do. For instance, after spending your whole life eating (without thinking about the process) you now have to think about not breathing while you swallow and being prepared to swallow twice as foods get stuck or are slow to start to go down. My most worrisome problems are caused by tiny bits of food going down my airway, coughing ensues along with up to 30 minutes of getting that food bit back up out of my windpipe.

Foods that I have to be very careful with now are : toast, bread, hamburger, certain soups, some fruits and anything that has a drying affect like Pink Lady apples Or crackers.

The dangers of getting food down your windpipe, aside from going red in the face and spluttering to the point where people wonder if they need to do the Heimlich on you, is the potential to develop pneumonia. 

There are therapy techniques and help available from speech therapists if ordered by your doctor. I haven’t had any therapy at this point because it’s hard for me to get transportation to the therapy center, but I’ll report back as this situation continues and what my MS dude has to say after my next visit in March.

if you have any tricks or tips to share with myself and others with swallowing problems please post it here !


Meg’s Lavender Garden – Central Arkansas Zone 7

Meg's Lavender Garden - Central Arkansas Zone 7

It’s already time to start planting in central Arkansas with new lavender plants going into raised bed. Lavender loves sandy drainage, hot & dry surroundings. I’m in gardening zone 7 & the Farmer’s Almanac has hot weather starting early and getting really vicious in July and August.
The lavenders that have done best for me here : Provence & Grosso. These are very large plants but give a huge harvest of lavender buds for home use and sharing.
I use my dried lavender in tea cozies, sleep pillows, drawer sachets and to repeal spiders & fleas.
If you want to use lavenders in food, choose those varieties that do not have a “camphor” element to their scent. English lavenders seem to be best for this.


It’s A New Year, Ya’ll

2014…. Ok, first thing tomorrow when you can think straight…. Grab your checkbook, you still have one right ?… Ok, sit down with a pen and fill in the year date for the first 5 or 10 checks as “2014”. Trust me, you’ll thank me a few days or weeks from now. Then you can start sippin’ on a fine Decaf Sumatra (lowest acid of the coffees and you need to drop the caffeine, especially if you’re female). Stay in your jim-jams, curl up on the couch with your favorite read and watch some football or just nap.

You’ve earned it !

(((hugs))) to you all,

🙂 M

oh and P.S…. i really am going to record a new album this year. Yep, uh-huh. What finally did it ? Hearing Susan Boyle sing “Auld Lang Syne” tonight. She’s Scottish for heaven’s sake and she didn’t even sing it in the language of Burns ( Lowland Scots). She didn’t roll an R or put any umph into it all. So, if that’s what’s passing as great singing these days then I can’t sit back anymore.

There’s room for me out there, don’t ya think ? 

Uncategorized, What Do You Think ?

Making Christmas

I was sick with a nasty cold all of November so I lost a lot of time that I would have spent making gifts. I’m not used to buying presents and my family is always disappointed if I don’t make at least one crazy gift. Now, I have to root around my studio and see what might be lurking somewhere…. An old knit project… Some weird spinning fiber… A dash of fabric and I’ll have a nutsy tea cozy in no time.

Anyone else making gifts ?
What would you like from St. Nicholas this year… Aside from World Peace ? I asked for a toy, a game and some marzipan. It’s just not Christmas for me without Marzipan.

😉 M