Good Health Insurance Is a Must

With a number of friends and family in the hospital, visiting doctor specialists and getting high-cost medical tests at an alarming rate, my mind turns to the need for good health insurance. Luckily, most people I know have access to affordable health insurance, whether through their jobs, pension plans or the federal government.

One (unbelievably strong, sweet and brave person) I know just underwent major brain surgery. Another family friend has been fighting back from failed kidneys and a host of unfathomable maladies, and hopes to have a second transplant in the coming weeks. A close family member has needed numerous diagnostic tests and medications. Yet another friend gave birth prematurely and her son (who is home, healthy and happy) spent time in the NICU.

If they didn’t have adequate, affordable health insurance, their medical conditions and treatments would be an incredible financial burden for their families.

Unavailability of good AND affordable health insurance, that which can cover everything from an annual routine physical to a multiweek hospital stay, keeps many people in my father’s generation from retiring early. While most workers qualify for Social Security at 62, Medicare health insurance doesn’t kick in until age 65. That means most “early retirees” must scramble for health insurance coverage. For example, my father-in-law could get medical insurance through his union, but it’s cost-prohibitive thanks to sky-high premiums. Or he can wait until he’s 65 and get on Medicare, and possibly add on coverage at a smaller cost.

If and when I retire many years from now, there’s no guarantee Medicare, or Social Security for that matter, will still be around. I likely won’t have a pension because I’ve never been in a union, nor do I have a government job, and I don’t work for a company that offers one.

But for those people retiring now and others who are facing big medical challenges in their lives, the need for adequate health insurance is a priority.

 

Hallmarks of Good Health Insurance

1. Features reasonable premiums

2. Covers hospitalization

3. Has reasonable co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles

4. Provides easy access to primary doctors and specialists

 

Having health insurance is a no-brainer for most people, but having good health insurance is of paramount importance, especially if you find yourself facing a major medical issue. Just giving birth to a child (no C-section) could have cost us $30,000 — with health insurance, we paid $3,300. It was still a lot, but far from full price.

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Trying to Eat Healthier (Again)

Now that our little one is eating “real” food, I’ve started changing what I buy at the grocery store. She needs healthy, nourishing meals — foods without fillers (pink slime, anyone?) that are dense in nutrients. I don’t want her to grow up to be a vegetable-hater, like me.

It took until I was 21 to eat a salad without gagging. I still don’t enjoy them, unless it’s a salad full of things that aren’t good for me. Caesar salad is delicious for some reason that I can’t figure out — maybe it’s the anchovies in the dressing? I’m also the same person who doesn’t like tuna fish but will eat raw tuna sushi.

The biggest change has been an increase in the fruit and vegetables in the house right now. I like a combination of fresh and frozen veggies, as the frozen ones last longer and can be portioned out.

Right now, Little Frugalista is OBSESSED with meatballs and bread. It might be our Italian heritage, or it might be her mommy’s predisposition to loving anything that’s carb-filled or full of fat, but a toddler can’t live on meatballs forever… right? So I decided to make a healthier version of my mother-in-law’s delicious red-meat Italian meatballs.

I substituted turkey meat for the ground beef and add minced broccoli florets. I call them…. broccoli balls. I don’t put anything fancy in them, and I’m sure you can substitute other soft-cooked, minced vegetables. I’m going to try increasing the veggie content and reducing the bread crumbs in the near future. But for now, here’s the recipe I came up with on my own.

Broccoli Balls

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/3 cup chopped broccoli florets (I buy them frozen)

1 egg

1/2 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs

1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray or olive oil. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. Shape into balls. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Other Food Ideas

Some other toddler food recipes I’ve come across include “veggie patties” made using flour, eggs and vegetables. I’ve even gone so far as to smear pureed peas on a slice of bread, adding a piece of cheese and grilling it like a grilled-cheese sandwich. Everything still has to be cut up into little bite-size pieces. We also give Little Frugalista white-meat chicken bits, diced fruit, diced peas and carrots, and bananas, which may be her favorite food, ever. For fruit, I’m looking forward to introducing her to cantaloupes and honeydew melons next!

Any other ideas for getting more vegetables into our diets?

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