Sunday, August 31, 2014

The American Dream…It Must Live On


"You don't have to see the first staircase, just take the first step."
            -Martin Luther King, Jr.


Currently we live in a culture where the “American Dream is dying”. It’s literally becoming something completely out of reach for the majority of the American population. Yet, this is the entire notion our country was founded on, an ideal:"If you work hard enough you, you and your family will have a live a good and comfortable life". It used to be that if you worked hard and saved your money you could work your way into the middle class.  Yet, the middle class is slowly disappearing.  Costs are rising, food and healthcare costs are too high, minimum wage still does not match the cost of living, housing prices are still depreciating, taxes continue to rise. And, while the job market is gradually improving, the recovery process is still too slow.  

Americans continue to grind it out each and every day with the hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Yet, these hard working American families are struggling everyday to make ends meet with no end in site. The bills and debt are never-ending. 

As a country, we need to look to our future. We need to take a stand to build a better future for each other. And most importantly for our youth and the generations to come.  We can do this by refocusing our priorities and our goals.

We need to stop glorifying celebrities, fame, and million dollar salaries for professional athletes and movie stars. Yes, these people provide a wonderful service of entertainment and distraction. But what about our teachers, school janitors, firefighters, police officers, postal workers, EMT’s, therapists, nurses, non profit workers, and everyone else that goes to work every day to make our world a better place without any thanks and barely making ends meet? Why is our society so backwards? Why does television, Twitter, and social media glorify these people? Why does NBC Nightly News only cover one “feel good story” at the end of the segment, after all of the devastation from world recapped from the day? At least it's a start. When people watch these segments on television and social media, we always want more. Let's make these stories and our focus, be on the positive changes that we need to start making in our country. 

WE NEED TO REPRIORITIZE AS A COUNTRY.  WE CAN ONLY DO THIS IF WE DO IT TOGETHER…LET’S MAKE A STAND! Let's #REPRIORITIZE our country's needs and goals.

If we focus on education, we can focus on educating our children to have the knowledge to create, compete, and be successful in a global market. They can design better infrastructures for our roads and bridges. Improve healthcare, expand scientific research, fight & cure diseases, and even improve our technology and national security systems. As well, as focus on our environment, farming, and global policy.  Our children are our future. If we focus on education we can change not only our nation, but our international global position. As well, we can decrease our massively over populated criminal population by motivating children at a younger age by starting preschool age children in school and motivating them early. 
There is extensive research to support the benefits of this idea.

"We can't always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."
           -Franklin D. Roosevelt

Besides education, we live in a country where there is no excuse for anyone to be without food, clothes, or shelter.  There is extreme poverty, within the United States and throughout the world.  This should not be acceptable to us, and we NEED to take a stand. We can repurpose, recycle, and redistribute our resources. We can set-up community involvement and advocate that we ALL get involved for the benefit everyone.  If we do this it will benefit the whole world. Look at the benefits of Global Citizen # and the excellent tactics they are using to get people involved. http://www.globalcitizen.org

Current Statistics (Only a few average household expenses to consider):
·      Currently since 2009, the federal minimum wage has been $7.25.  In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two year period.[13] The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House.[14][15][16] (Per Wikipedia).
·      Rent in the “10 Most Busy/Expensive Metropolitan Areas” average $769 for 240-450 square feet (BUT the benefit was great public transportation and easy walking).
·      Healthcare insurance premiums average $325/person for each plan (this is a very conservative estimate) and this does not account for doctor visits, medications, dental/vision costs, or an incidents.
·      Cost to feed a family of 4: According to the US States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition and Policy and Promotion- The Average Monthly Cost for a family of 4 with two parents between the ages of 19-50 and two children, one between the age of 6-8 and one between the age of 9-11 is about $965/month.
·      According to USA Today, the cost to raise a child born in the year 2013 is estimated to be $245, 340. This cost is meant to include food, shelter, and other expenses until the age of 18. 
·      Costs not included: Owning a home, car expenses (gas, insurance), television, cable, internet, college tuition, utilities, emergency expenses, leisure activities, fun outings, vacations.

****As you can see a family that has a family member out of work or that is trying to get by on minimum wage or a wage very close to it, is NOT getting by. NOT even close.  They are struggling and only surviving by assistance programs if available.  WE MUST DO SOMETHING.  

This is no way to live, and people are losing hope which is even worse.  You must always have hope and be able to feel like you can have a dream and a way out. Unfortunately right now this does not seem to be the sentiment. 

There are elections.  We can vote. We can write our representatives, congressman and women, senators, and become politically active in the causes we believe in. Please help me have a voice to make a change. I truly believe we can make a difference. It’s time we make fresh start and focus on what truly matters in our country. 

This is our future.  We can no longer afford the bickering about political parties.  We need to come together, to work together, for each other.  That’s it.

We may not achieve everything we dream, but we will not achieve anything unless we dream."
         -Author Unknown

We must find a way so that people feel like they can continue to dream.  We cannot let the American Dream die. If it does, our American culture and all it stands for will go along with it.  We are resilient, but something larger than life will be lost and future generations depend on us to regroup and #reprioritize what our nation is quickly losing.  


Throughout history there have been some inspirational speeches that have given people fortitude, hope, and yes, inspiration. Please read these words and find a way to envision your life as you would if there were no boundaries. Now LIVE IT!

Famous lines from speeches (My personal favorites), compliments of TIME and Wikipedia:
1.    Jim Valvano: On March 13, 1993, shortly before his death, Jim Valvano gave an acceptance speech for the Arthur Ash Courage and Humanitarian Award at the ESPY Awards, presented by ESPN. He said he was creating The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He then went on to say the foundation's motto would be "Don't Give Up . . . Don't Ever Give Up."
Even though he was told his time to speak was up, he kept speaking. And during this time, he said the following to a room full of people moved to emotions beyond this realm:
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.[14]
Mr. Valvano's ESPY acceptance speech is legendary, to this day. He closed by saying, "Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all." He received a standing ovation from the ESPY crowd.
2.   Patrick Henry, Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, 1775: Patrick Henry: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! — I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
3.    Fredrick Douglass, The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, 1852: "Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future."
4.    Abraham Lincoln, From the Podium at the Gettysburg Address, 1863: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
5.    Susan B. Anthony, Women's Rights to the Suffrage, 1873 From the Podium: “"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people — women as well as men."
6.    President John F. Kennedy’s, Inaugural Address, 1961 from the Podium: President Kennedy “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."
7.    President Lyndon B. Johnson, The American Promise, 1965 from the Podium: "There is no moral issue. It is wrong — deadly wrong — to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living
someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — 
which is living with the results of other people's
thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions
drown out your own inner voice. And most
important, have the courage to follow your heart
and intuition. They somehow already know what 
you truly want to become. Everything else is 
secondary." 
            -Steve Jobs


 ~"Let's Dream the American Dream"~Stephanie Puryear 2014



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Need Help with your Healthcare?

A Healthcare Advocate is Here!


Services Offered:


  • Understanding your Healthcare Plan and Benefits

  • Help Choosing an Insurance Plan that is right for you and your family

  • Understanding your specific medical condition(s) and best treatment options for YOU

  • Looking for the finest medical professionals to help you with your medical condition(s)

  • Understanding your Medical Explanation of Benefits (EOB), Claims, and Bills

  • Assistance with Appealing Denied Medical Claims

  • If you would like a Healthcare Advocate for General Advice and Inquiries

*Please note, I am not a Medical Doctor however I am a licensed allied health professional and worked in the medical field for over 15 years. I have done insurance billing for my own private practice. All information discussed is confidential and protected under the HIPAA act.

If you are interested in retaining my services, please contact me regarding setting up a free initial consult, at otpuryear@gmail.com

~Stephanie Puryear


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Healthcare and Your Rights


Affordable Care Act (ACA)…
http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/

What is does it really mean for us?
It was passed in October 2013 and supposed to put consumers back in charge of consumers of their healthcare.  Does it really?

Yesterday I met with a woman who tried to sign up for ACA.  When she attempted to sign up, the system did not recognize her and stated she didn’t exist.  She is a taxpaying citizen that owns her own home. She has a full-time job as a receptionist for a small business that helps children with special mental health needs.  After trying numerous times to get help, she finally reached someone that told her she could potentially get approval if she sent in a copy of her driver’s license to “prove her existence”.  She sent in her license and never heard back from anyone. In the meantime, she never received insurance through the ACA. As well, she had a terrible accident.  She fell and broke her ankle in five places needing surgery and a pin.  She ended up with an infection, needing wound therapy, and a long recovery. She’s still on crutches. All of which have been extremely costly and she needs to pay for everything out-of-pocket without any insurance.  When she tried to get physical therapy she was told she couldn’t get it because she didn’t have insurance.  THIS IS ABSURD!!  What are her taxes paying for? Here is a hard-working woman who has done her due diligence trying to get her coverage from the ACA, & told she “doesn’t exist”. Obviously she does since she works and pays taxes, and now EXCESSIVE medical bills.  How has ACA helped her?  It hasn’t at all; other than to waste her time navigating a broken system while she is now stuck in debt paying medical bills filled with fees that are marked up beyond what market value should be.

There still needs to be a great deal of work done to make sure people have insurance benefits they deserve and they are receiving the benefits they are paying for.

If you are being denied services you feel you are entitled to, you ABSOLUTELY have the RIGHT TO APPEAL.  You may APPEAL more than once. Do NOT GIVE UP!! 

Always review every Explanation of Benefits (EOB) you receive. If you question anything be sure to call the appropriate source.  Whenever you call a doctor’s office or insurance company be sure to document the date, time representative’s name, and service in question you are inquiring about.  Also request a reference number for the call.  Then if appropriate, write an appeal letter and send a letter with the corresponding Explanation of Benefits and Claim via priority mail to your Insurance Company’s Claims’ Review Processing Board and allow 30 business days for processing.  Follow-up if you have not heard any correspondence in 30 days.  Keep copies of everything in a medical file.  

      ~Stephanie Puryear


Friday, August 22, 2014

What Should Be Done About Healthcare?


The most obvious answer is the excessive waste must be eliminated.  There is gushing misuse in both the public and private sectors.  It needs to be stopped on all fronts.

While the Affordable Care Act was passed on October 1, 2013, it has its benefits. It has helped people with pre-existing conditions keep there plans or acquire insurance. As well, it has helped some people that may not have otherwise afforded healthcare finally get healthcare plans. Yet, it did absolutely nothing to try and stop the obscene rising costs and egregious waste.

Currently too much money is at stake for big business to let go of it’s share and lobbyists at Capitol Hill have too much of a say on how our money is spent and how healthcare is run.  Our lawmakers are coerced into making decisions that are truly not right for the American people because BIG MONEY from the insurance companies bullies these decisions. That’s why our healthcare premiums continue to rise at unprecedented rates, insurance companies and their stakeholders line their pockets with wealth while small businesses and consumers can’t afford rising healthcare costs. Medical supplies and services are marked up at astronomical fees, just as previously noted in a recent “Time” article acetaminophen is marked up at a rate of 10,000%.

How do we do this?  A complete overhaul and revamping of our entire system-it will take a public outcry to say, “ENOUGH”!

The plan may seem borderline harebrained or preposterous, yet something completely drastic must be done.  As I see it we must completely wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

First, we need to relook at our model of practice.  As we currently practice medicine we focus on a model of disease instead of wellness and outcomes.  We should focus on prevention and outcomes.  Look at the mission of practice that Cleveland Clinic follows.  They reward their physicians on patient outcomes, team driven performance, and overall excellence versus number of medical procedures performed in a day.  It’s a wellness model versus disease model, and they are having huge success. 

Second, we need to focus on making healthcare affordable and equal for everyone.  People in the United States of America deserve to see the quality healthcare at the facility of their choice from the doctor of their choice, and not go into debt for the rest of their life because they were trying to save their life or the life of a loved one.  People deserve options when they are in a situation of life or death.  We owe it to ourselves, and our fellow citizens to do something about this crisis. 

As well, people in our country should not have to choose between their medication(s) to stay healthy or paying their rent or putting food on the table.  Yet, right now this is a choice that is made everyday by millions of Americans.  I have interviewed physicians that have stated they have battled with insurance companies to try and get oxygen approved for over a month with no avail for patients that are critical.  Another doctor, a urological oncologist, has to call every 6-months for a 36-year old patient who survived a 10.5 pound kidney cancer tumor to get pre-approval for a standard 6-month CT scan recheck that could be the difference of life or death in catching tumor regrowth.  This is completely absurd.  Who’s the doctor? Not the insurance company.  Why should the doctor or a patient have to battle with an insurance company over such a critical issue, especially a doctor? They have been to medical school, a rigorous process and there patient recommendations should be accepted.  As consumers we pay for insurance only to have to battle for our coverage and fight denials and still pay huge bills.  Something MUST BE DONE!

The system is broken, and therefore this is where my plan comes into play.  We need to DO AWAY with all of these overpriced healthcare plans and pharmaceutical costs that only line their pockets with our money, lobby the government against the public’s best interests, and continue to rob people of their hard earned money. 

Instead we need a one payer system and to do away with all private insurance plans. Everyone will pay into the system just like they pay taxes.  Everyone will pay an equal “flat tax” amount.  If someone is undocumented, they have to pay their way by working it off through community service.  If someone is too sick or too old, this will be worked into the cost figures of the system.

Costs can be brought down by having everyone pay their taxes on a regular schedule. Also, when focusing on wellness and prevention versus disease many issues can be prevented and diverted.  Doctors offices can be utilized instead of ambulance rides and emergency room visits.  There are businesses out there buying medical devices/products/supplies not being used or that are nearing shelf life and reselling at discounted prices or using as world relief.  We need to start thinking outside the box...we need to start thinking outside the bounds of traditional healthcare philosophy.  When it’s safe…let’s reduce and repurpose.  There’s so much opportunity out there.  For example…Check out this company HIT: Hospital Inventory Trader and their website: http://www.hospitalinventorytrader.com/

I am not na├»ve to think that this will all work in one clean swoop.  Is there a way we can work together and find a way to make a plan?

Let’s be optimistic…Let’s start working for a better future for ourselves, for our children, and the future generations ahead.   WE CAN DO THIS!

Otherwise, within 10 years we will not be able to have the resources we need to have healthcare we can afford. 

~Stephanie Puryear