Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Understanding the Affordable Care Act and Navigating the Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act helps more people gain access to affordable health insurance, guarantees coverage for preexisting conditions and provides financial assistance to those who qualify.  The Marketplace is where individuals and families can shop and compare plans to find what fits their needs best.  Open enrollment began November 15th and closes February 15th.  The time to make your choice is now.

I know, I know, I have yet to post any pictures or the birth story of our newest little one.  I promise that this is in the works, but due to the Marketplace deadlines, I felt that this was of some urgency.

As I have talked a bit about over the last few years, our family has gone through many transitions that have made health insurance an issue for us.  Prior to April 2012, we participated in a wonderful plan that was offered through the company that my husband worked for.  When we made the decision for my husband to go back to school full time, making me the only one working, we lost that coverage and we became well aware of what healthcare can cost for a family.  Shortly after that we found out that we were pregnant with our third child and my pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition.  We were able to participate with CHIP for our children and then we paid full price for my husband and myself.  It was an astronomical amount of money.  

Since then, it seems like most companies are offering high deductible plans which may not be cost effective for some. It certainly wasn't for us The Marketplace is where you can find plans to compare and find what works best for you.

Since the open enrollment period ends in a matter of days, United Healthcare, our current Insurance provider, has asked me  to offer information and tips to make the best decision - to take the guess work out of the process for those still on the fence about what to do.

The more you know about the Affordable Care Act, the better prepared you'll be to make smart decisions about your coverage. First, learn about what has changed in health care. The ACA has raised the Medicaid limits in some states so more are eligible and is offering subsidies to eligible income levels above medicaid but still in the realm of struggling. See what open enrollment is all about and why it matters to you. Essentially, you need to use the time of open enrollment to get the proper health plan bought and set for your family. Find a plan by February 15th to have coverage from the marketplace in 2015. There are certain qualifying events that allow you to use a special enrollment period. The exchanges or the marketplace is a website that allows you to compare plans from a variety of providers much like Travelocity. This website will be either the government Healthcare.gov website or your state’s individual marketplace website. (The video clips have more details about each of those topics and once the website is live we will have even more tools to learn more from.)

Now you know a little more about health care and why reform matters…now you need to know what exactly you’re buying.

Insurance companies want you to be healthy, and health insurance is actually cheaper for you if you are. That is why preventative care and other measures are being covered by insurance more often now. Health plans are annual and there are only a few ways to switch, whether a major life event occurred or its open enrollment time. It’s important to look at deductibles, co­pays, premiums and maximum out­ of ­pocket as well as the what is covered when comparing health plans. Think about your family and what kinds of things you see doctors for, get prescriptions for, or have operations for. Your health insurance costs can be affected by how much coverage, deductibles, and co­pays you take.

So, you are discovering all of this new information about health care and what’s involved in the shopping process, but it’s only fair that you should know how to get the most out of your health care plan. Costs within health care can be daunting. Check your deductible and out-of-pockets on a regular basis to stay ahead. When deciding on a plan, look for value ads provided by the company such as nurse lines, apps, and health club discounts too! Also, make sure to ask you Doctor how much medical tests will cost and if there are less costly alternatives. Take a few minutes to watch these short videos to find out more.

Visit United Healthcare and UHC TV for more information and videos.

Health insurance is such a huge thing-so important for you as an individual or your family.  I hope that you found this post informative and helpful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It Works! Greens

Now that I am facing my induction date I am reflecting back on this pregnancy and I think that despite a few issues, this has been my healthiest pregnancy and there are only a few things that I have done differently.  The main thing that I maintained was using my  all time favorite product that It Works! distributes, Greens.  It's a powdered drink mix contains 8 servings of fruits and vegetables plus a probiotic!  Two scoups (or one On The Go packet) in the morning and you are "in the black" for your produce consumption for the day.  

I take mine first thing in the morning either in my smoothie, juice or in a glass of water.  I prefer the berry flavored which is sweetened with Stevia, but there is also an orange flavor that is unsweetened and has just hint of citrus.  Put it in juice and you don't taste a thing.  I haven't tried it yet, but I hear mixing a scoup of each is delicious!

The next product is also in the Greens family.  These are the Greens Chews.  While they still contain the plant power that the original Greens contains, the purpose is different, so the formula is as well.

Where Greens focus on detox and alkalization, Greens chews boost your defenses against free radicals with the antioxidant power of 20 cartons of blue berries and supports digestion with prebiotic fiber.

The two products can act alone but are formulated to complimnet one another perfectly.

I often send out little packages like this to people who want to try the Greens and see if they like it before ordering them.  I would be happy to do the same for you!  Email me at JensHealthyFuture [at] gmail[dot]com and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have and/or send out some samples for you to try! (Plus a coupon for the Ultimate Boday Applicator)

If you are looking for a way to get in some extra nutriton or detox, Greens are definitely an easy and great tasting way to do this.  Also, my kids love it and it totally makes me happy to see them enjoy something so good for them, especially when we go through fazes where all the want to do is graze. At least I know they are getting solid nutrition.

Please contact me or visit my website http:.//JensHealthyFuture.com

Saturday, January 17, 2015

37 Weeks Pregnant with No. 4

I can't believe that I haven't posted in 5 weeks!  I mean, I sorta can, because it has been crazy around here.  But 5 weeks flew by and now I am sweating these last 3 weeks like crazy.  It could be any day now that this little mister makes his debut.  Or it could be 3 weeks...

I feel like it's just around the corner.  Contractions have picked up and I have installed the contraction counter app on my phone.  It has been used to track my evening contractions that seem to creep up around 7pm.  I can't tell you why.  They aren't the only ones that I have, though.  I hope that they are doing something at this point.  I don't feel like these are Braxton Hicks - they are much too painfully sharp.

According to my dr at the last appointment, I am dilated to about 1cm, which is totally normal at 37 weeks and somewhat disappointing for someone expecting her 4th.  I'd love to find out I am about 3 cm at my next appointment.  Probably wishful thinking, but I can dream!

Friday, December 5, 2014

32 Weeks

32 Weeks, so that means 8 weeks until my due date.

I have really had it good up until this point.  This pregnancy (other than the morning sickness that I was able to thwart using this remedy), things have been very good.  I don't know if it has actually been easier or if I have been effectively distracted by my other children and life in general, but there haven't been many compliants.

Well, yesterday, things seemed to take a turn.  One I was completely expecting earlier on and then things were just fine. So I thought that maybe this would be a relatively uneventful pregnancy.

The Good:
I had an ultrasound yesterday and I was thrilled to find out that baby is finally head down and in position!  That is great news because he has been breech since I have been having ultrasounds and I was getting really worried about having a C-section.  He is doing great! Had a non-stress test and he was perfect, he's growing like crazy (over 5 Ibs already!) and fluid levels were good.  We could even see that he has some hair :)

The Bad:
Then I went to a regular OB appointment and discovered that my blood pressure was really high.  Not higher than it has ever been, but higher than it's been since before I was put on medication (standard for me during pregnancy).  I was nearly sent to Labor and Delivery for monitoring, but thank goodness they decided to settle for home monitoring and returning in a few days.  We talked about a plan moving forward and it sounds like higher doses of medication and possible bedrest.  I will likely be induced early if I don't naturally go into labor by 38 weeks, so that really leaves me with only maybe 6 weeks.  (If this sounds sever for one high BP reading, it's not for me.  All of my pregnancies have resulted in dangerously high BP that needs to be monitored and usually has me in line for inductiuon unless I can bring labor on myself, which I have done rather successfully).

My concerns going into my appointment were the constant dizziness and weak muscles/shakiness that I have been experiencing for the last 2 weeks.  Being on my feet has become very problematic.  I can hardly hold my son and my energy level has decreased dramatically.  I have also been having panic attacks at night - a sure sign that my anxiety/depression/hormone combo is getting to the point of needing intervention.  I knew these symptoms were probably something bigger, but I operate in a wied limbo of "do I or don't I call the doctor?" becuase I am usually told it's normal for me and to rest more. Yeah.

The new doctor at my practice was so awesome and understanding it was almost shocking.  I usually have to ask questions about everything as they are running out the door, but I was really impressed by how he took his time and talked with me so thouroughly about what was happening.  Things could be so much worse than they are, but I am definitely feeling a little defeated, where I was feeling pretty triumfant just yesterday.

No picture this week.  The days have been so hectic that the idea of a picture doesn't even enter my brain until I'm makeupless and in less than flattering PJ's so forgive me if I don't want to show you that loveliness ;)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Truth in The Tinsel and Fun FREE Supplemental Activities and Ideas

Truth in the Tinsel book cover.png

Every year for the last 3, my family has used the Truth in the Tinsel curriculum during Advent.  I prefer to guide my family’s focus toward the true reason for the season (as cliche as that sounds…) instead of Santa and Snowmen and Reindeer.  We do plenty of all that, too, but I want the kids to grow up seeing past the consumerism and see what we are truly celebrating.  

When I was searching for activities do with my kids initially, I was super overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort I was going to have to put forth while taking care of two toddlers and working full time (plus blogging and other side projects).  I didn’t want to screw it up and not get the point across and I definitely didn’t want them to be bored, but I didn’t think I had the time to devote to preparation, research, gathering materials AND doing the activities with the kids.

Truth in the Tinsel was literally and answer to my prayers.  Everything I needed to successfully relay the Christmas story to my kids with lessons and activities was all laid out step-by-step.  But the next best thing is the flexibility that the lessons offer!  You can follow the day by day Advent calendar with a lesson and craft for each day of December OR follow the abbreviated schedule that hits on all the major points (this is great for busy schedules!), OR leave out the crafts and work through the Printable Ornaments OR have you church Sunday School follow along together with the class curriculum!  There is something for every age and time commitment level.

Truth in the Tinsel Book image.png

I have also been following along with the author on social media and there is tons of collaboration among other bloggers so the ideas are endless.  I wanted to share some with you :)

Pink Paper Peppermints has created a Free Printable Ornament Album.  This is such an awesome idea, especially for those of us with some older kids or have done it for a few years.  We love to remake the ornaments and use them as our tree decorations, but this gives us one more option.






I highly recommend Truth in the Tinsel if you are looking for a fun way to celebrate Advent with your children!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dude Turns 5!

Last year, turning 4.

Taking the dress code at his sister's tea party very seriously.

Last night:

Me:  "Good Night, Buddy.  When you wake up, you will be 5!"
Dude:  "As soon as I wake up?"
Me:  "Well, technically it won't officially happen until later in the afternoon, but this is the last night you will go to bed 4."
Dude:  "Oh, ok." lol...

And this is how he went to bed, with his Wee Willie Winkie night cap that he made in preschool a couple of years ago.  He legit wears this thing to bed in the winter randomly.  Kills.me.

This morning:
Me:  "Good morning Birthday Boy!"
Dude:  "Good morning."
Me:  "Do you feel like a 5 year old?"
Dude:  "No, not really."  Do I look 5?"
Me:  "Yes, you have grown a lot this year."
Dude:  "No I don't"

I have never met a kid that is so calm about his birthday and resistant to turning the new age.  He is so introspective and intense!  Who doesn't believe that they are really 5?!

He was born at 5:50pm, so technically he's 5 right around dinner time, but come on!

Loves taking selfies.

His birthday always lands right near Thanksgiving.  Last year it was only a few days  before, this year we have a full week between, but it still make scheduling parties and things difficult.  We are taking him to dinner at the restuarant of his choice tonight, so we will be celebrating right when he officially turns 5.  And  when I tell him he is officially 5, he'll tell me I have been saying that all day.  I know it.

Posing with his new legos.

Me and him. "Don't Mom!"  Gues what?  I won't ever stop ;)

Happy 5th birthday to my first little boy and the biggest brother.  You are my sweet, sensative and thoughtful Little Man and I will not ever stop kissing you.  Foreget it.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Truth in The Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands

So, for the last 3 years (this year included) Truth in the Tinsel has been a staple at my house during the Christmas season.

In 2011, I went in search of an Advent curriculum for my then 3 and 4 year olds becuase I was seeing the signs of Santa taking over.  I had originally not wanted to have Santa be apart of our Christmas celebrations, but that's a different story...

I needed something that laid out the Christmas story for me in an easy to teach format with activities planned out.  I was a working mother of two young children with very little time to make up my own lessons and I didn't want that to be the excuse for just not doing anything.

Now I am a busy working mom of a 6,(4 days shy of) 5 and (very nearly) 2 year old with another on the way.  Life hasn't gotten less chaotic and my "free" time is non-existent.  Throw in first grader homework and preschool projects and the never ending volunteer opportunites in this season and I am truly, truly thankful that I purchased this ebook when I did.

The kids are already asking when the Advent calendar will make it's way out of storage and when we can start making our Christmas projects.  It doesn't matter that they have done the lessons before because every year they are at a new developmental stage.  Some lessons are easier for the older ones and sometimes it's perfect for all ages, but it works for all of them every year :)  I love that they love it!

Something that is also nice?  There are different lesson plans.  You can choose to do an activity each day of december or use the abbreviated version so that even busy, busy families can learn the story in it's entirety but not have to do a craft every day of the week.

We will most likely be using the abbriviated lesson plans and work on the weekends becuase getting through dinner, homeowork and bed time routines takes every second of our time after I get home from work.  And that is the beauty of it.

If you are intersted in finding an easy to use but highly effective tool in teaching your children about the true meaning of Christmas, I highly recommend Truth in the Tinsel, which also happens to be availalbe as a classroom curriculum   

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