Welcome

Hi and welcome, I’m Lance D. Reedy, CSA, an independent agent and owner of Northwest Senior Insurance. I specialize in working with Medicare beneficiaries.

The time has come for you to select a Medicare supplement, Medicare advantage plan, and/or Part D prescription plan. The most important decision you will make is selecting a knowledgeable agent who holds your best interests above all else. As an independent insurance specialist, I welcome the opportunity to help you understand your options, find the best value for your situation, and provide you with the kind of service that you can count on.

Maybe you are past 65 and your Medicare supplement premiums have gone up. I’ll do my best to find lower cost options for you. Remember, you can change your Medicare supplement any month of the year.

I specialize with the following Medicare related products:

In addition, I also carry other lines of insurance that are important in the senior market:

  • Life insurance
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  • Short term care insurance
  • Long term care insurance
  • Traditional fixed annuities

Your Shopping Type

Identifying your shopping type is most helpful when shopping for a Medicare supplement. Understanding your shopping type helps you to avoid the Ten Medicare Supplement Shopping Mistakes. Most importantly, doing so also helps you to get the best buys without paying more than you need to. Click on the blue eagle below to learn more…

Avoiding the Three Major Mistakes and having the correct mindset when shopping for a Medicare supplement will give you the peace of mind that you made the right choice.

Dr. Sten Ekberg’s Thoughts on Defending Against Covid

The following is a transcription from a Youtube video by Dr. Sten Ekberg titled, Coronavirus: Your #1 Absolute Best Defense Against COVID-19 – Holistic Doctor Explains.”  

Transcribed by Elizabeth Reedy

0:40
We have learned that most of the victims of the coronavirus are elderly. It’s always tragic when a young person dies.

(Dr. Eckberg shows a CNN news clip announcing Jonathan Coelho, a cancer victim, who died at age 32.)

1:04
But the question is about these young people who are being called normal and healthy and without underlying conditions. Are they truly healthy? Is a person who recently had cancer truly healthy? These are some of the questions we’re going to explore. Before we’re done, you’re going to have a totally clear picture.

Have you ever really, really asked yourself what is the difference if two people get infected and one will live and the other one will die? What is the difference if it was the same pathogen? The difference is that one person’s body had the ability to defend itself and the other one didn’t. That’s called an immune system. Some people get infected, and they don’t even notice. That’s what we’re finding now with this coronavirus, that as many as 20-30% of certain populations already have developed immunity and they didn’t even know it.

When a lot of people talk about an immune system, they’re talking about a cell-based immune system with the white blood cells and the things that support the cell-based immune system. For example, the white blood cells have to have Vitamins A, C & D, Zinc and Calcium to support, to activate, to make possible the activity of the white blood cells.

If we don’t have enough of these, then the white blood cells don’t work the way they’re supposed to. But again, these are nutrients. It doesn’t mean that if you take a thousand times as much of these that you’re going to have a thousand times more white blood cells. It doesn’t work like that.

We also have something called specific immunity. If we’ve been exposed to a specific pathogen, then we can develop antibodies, which is the body’s memory. It remembers what that pathogen looked like and it developed an antibody that fits specifically to that pathogen. This immunity could last for many months, or many years, or even a lifetime. That’s what we’re not quite sure about with the coronavirus. Is it just going to last the season or is it going to give us lasting immunity?

More than just the cell-based immune system, we want to talk about the whole-body defenses. The way they talk about the immune system, it’s not really a system, it’s just certain body parts. Your whole body is the immune system. You are the immune system.

You have 40 trillion cells. If those 40 trillion cells are healthy, then the better it will be for their nutritional status, ability to make energy, to do what they’re supposed to do. The healthier you are, the stronger your defenses will be. Ed: Our emphasis.

Some of these cells provide physical barriers. Your skin is a physical barrier. You can get the virus on your skin and not be infected. You can wash it away and you’ll be okay because you had a barrier. You also have a physical barrier in your intestinal lining and your lung lining, and many other types of physical barriers.

You have cell membranes. A virus can only replicate inside a cell, so it has to penetrate a cell membrane. The healthier, stronger, and better working your cell membranes are, the more difficult it is for a virus to make entry. You have mucus membranes that secrete mucus to trap and move pathogens away. You have chemical defenses.

You have cells that spew out free radicals, toxic substances, and hydrogen peroxide that act as poison on these microbes. You have a detoxification system too. These microbes produce toxins and then you need a liver and a kidney and so forth, to filter out and neutralize those toxins.

You have a spleen that can filter out cellular debris and residue. All of these cells and organs are part of your immune system. You are the immune system. And of course your white blood cells, the cell-based immune system is also super important, but they’re only part of the total defense.

(Dr. Ekberg talks briefly about Fauci and the CDC, their jobs and what they do.)

8:06
What about you? Your job is to listen to the good advice of the authorities on how to stop the spread. Other than that, your job is to get healthy. Your job is to optimize your chances to have a positive outcome to beat the virus if you get infected. Ed: Our emphasis.

What is so astounding to me is that there is no talk of getting healthy. There have been millions of hours and millions of miles of writing on the topic of the coronavirus. Yet I haven’t heard anyone talk about health, about how to strengthen your body to increase your chances.

I think the reason for that is that we have a passive medical model. We are told to just do whatever you do. Eat the standard American diet, eat your processed food, eat your sugar. I haven’t heard anyone say to reduce your sugar consumption, for example. And then we’re told to take pills to compensate for the symptoms and the problems created by our deficient food and our toxic food. Ed: Our emphasis. And we are told to get the flu shot and wait for the vaccine.

That’s a passive model. There is nothing about health in the passive model. Why is it that no one talks about health? I believe that it is because as a culture the entire modern world doesn’t know what health is. We have completely equated health with the absence of symptoms. Ed: Our emphasis.

Once we have a symptom, we think we’re sick. With the medical model, the system is to treat the symptom, not to get you healthy. As a matter of fact, we don’t even have a healthcare system in the modern world. What we have is a sick-care system.

At least where I’m from in Sweden it is called “Sjukvård” rather than healthcare. I don’t think it’s because they’re nobler or anything. It just happens that they call it sick care in Sweden. It’s not called healthcare because it isn’t health. It’s about treating sickness.

That’s not a bad thing, but there are different questions being asked in a healthcare model or a sick-care model. In a sick care model, they’re asking how do we treat this symptom? What sort of chemical or pill or medication do we give to suppress this symptom in this crisis situation. That’s not a bad thing. It can be very useful in a crisis, but it has nothing to do with health.

We’ve all heard that there are certain risk factors associated with the coronavirus or Covid-19. One is obesity. If you have a body mass index over 40, your risk of dying increases dramatically. If you have diabetes or one or more of the things associated with metabolic syndrome, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic lung, liver or kidney disease. Most of these are associated with insulin resistance, some of them directly and others more indirectly. Ed: Our emphasis.

We also have people who are vulnerable. We’ve all been told to shelter the vulnerable. These are people who in addition to those other conditions, they might have had chemotherapy, or been weakened from smoking or chronic corticosteroids or any other chronic disease or neurodegenerative disease.

The greatest risk factor of all is to be old, being over 70 years old. Why is that? Because by the time you get to that age, you tend to have a little bit of the above conditions. You have more cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis. You have accumulated a lot more of these. In short, you are less healthy.

12:26
Most of the risk factors of Covid-19 are associated with insulin resistance. What else does insulin resistance do? Every year around the world it claims 17 million lives from heart attacks, seven and a half million from hypertension, 5 million deaths from stroke, 1.6 million from diabetes, and the list goes on. Ed: Our emphasis.

If insulin resistance already kills this many people, is it really so surprising that it would also have a tendency to kill off more people with coronavirus infection? If we want to put it in the simplest possible terms, then I would say that these people die, and the people from the coronavirus die because they are less healthy, and their bodies have less ability to defend themselves.

13:22
Then the question is, what is health? Who is perfectly healthy? Health is like a continuum. How much cellular capacity do you have to defend yourself? On the one end you would have optimal health when everything is working perfectly, and on the other end nothing would be working, and we have death.

Everything in between is a spectrum, a continuum. The large portion in the middle is probably where the majority of the world’s people are, is called functional illness. These people in the middle are not super healthy and they don’t have a disease. They’re just sort of on their way there.

Perfect health would be over on this end. I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who has perfect health, because there are heavy metals, chemicals, depleted foods, hormones and so forth. There is enough interference already that we probably don’t really have perfect health. But the people who do their best to take care of themselves and who are examples of health, I think we are going to be somewhere in this range between optimal health and functional illness.

Over on the other end we have people with a diagnosis. These are the underlying conditions, the cardiovascular, high blood pressure, etc. These are people who have made it far down enough that they have been diagnosed with something. [Note: Dr. Eckberg points to a visual showing the health continuum.]

Then what about the people who don’t have a diagnosis right now but who are being called perfectly healthy. In that news clip about Jonathan Coelho, the news anchor said he was a cancer survivor but otherwise healthy.

If you have had cancer, then you’re already way over on this side [Eckberg points to the right] of the spectrum. Cancer is not something that happens overnight to perfectly healthy people, so even if Coelho was a cancer survivor, then he might have made it across the line and gotten a little bit better. But most of the factors that caused the cancer will probably still be there. He was probably not on the upper end of the health spectrum.

That’s what we have to understand. I’m not saying that anyone is perfectly immune. I would never be arrogant enough to think that I was way over here because there are so many things we don’t know. We do know that there are certain things we can do to improve our chances. In my opinion, I believe that a lot of the people who are called perfectly healthy actually are probably over here in the lower end of the continuum. You can be here even if you are 20, 25, or 30 years old. [He points to the less healthy side of his chart.]

16:16
In our current sick care system, the question they ask is how can we treat the symptom? What kind of chemical can we give and what kind of body part can we remove? Those are good questions in a symptom care system or a sick care system.

Now let’s switch around and start asking health questions. Let’s start asking what is required for health. If we had a five-year-old and we asked what does a plant need to be healthy? What are the requirements of a plant? I think the five-year-old could get it right. I think he would say that the plant needs water. If the water isn’t making it healthy, then it also probably needs some sunshine. If we’re giving it water and sunshine and it still doesn’t thrive, then it probably needs some good soil.

I think the five-year-old could also tell us that it has to have all three of these at the same time. We can’t deprive it of one of these three for any length of time and have a healthy plant. We have to have all the things that are required.

That brings us to the next question. What are the requirements for human health? We have chemical, structural, and emotional aspects to our bodies. There are some of those aspects that will increase life, that will provide more life, that will enhance optimum health. There are some that will subtract or interfere.

When it comes to chemical or nutritional aspects, we need fuel. In addition to fuel we also need essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. This is called nutrition. Whole food provides it, whereas processed food does not.

On the downside of the chemical aspects, we have sugar and frequent processed carbohydrates that cause insulin resistance. This will clog up the body and has a congestive and toxifying effect. We have pure toxins that are chemicals and pesticides and so forth.

And then drugs are another form of toxins. They are chemicals designed to interfere. It doesn’t mean that drugs are always bad. They can save a life in a crisis, but it means that they can never make you healthier and never create a long-term solution. They can never raise you from a lower health state to a higher one in the long run.

The body is structural. You have a mechanical aspect. Your body moves. Movements are a requirement. Movements provide the majority of the signals to keep your brain alive. There is virtually no physiological mechanism, no system in the body, that doesn’t work better with movement and that works less with a lack of movement. Movement is required for every system in the body.

Good posture is a requirement for proper signals. Good posture facilitates and normalizes movement. If you have poor posture or if your posture is stuck, then you’re not going to get the proper movement or the proper signaling. If you have poor posture, if you have areas of your body that aren’t moving, then chiropractic is a great way to jumpstart that movement. Chiropractic is not a total movement solution. It’s just getting you to the place where you can move and then you take it from there.

The opposite of good movement is a sedentary lifestyle where you don’t move. If you’re trying to move but you have poor posture, or if you’ve had a lot of trauma that restricts the motion, then you also cannot get proper movement.

Humans are also emotional. When we have peace and joy and purpose, everything that feels good makes your body work better. A little bit of short-term stress is fine, but for the most part, we have to have some good emotions. We cannot have only bad emotions because then the body prioritizes to defend itself instead of healing itself.

The opposite would be anything that feels bad like stress, anger, fear, frustration and feeling overwhelmed.

The absolute best way to defend yourself against the coronavirus or any other pathogen is to make your body stronger so it can defend itself. Take an active role in rebuilding your health, in restoring your body and giving your body all the things that it needs, all the things that contribute to more life. Avoid as much as possible the things that interfere with the building of health.

It looks like the coronavirus might be with us for some time. If it goes away, then who knows what will come next in the long run. Your best defense is always going to be strong health. So why not use the current epidemic as a really, really good reason to start doing something about it. End

Sugar Blues–Chapter 3, How We Got Here from There

Note: We have republished this book review and digest with updated comments. You might enjoy reading Sugar Blues in its entirety. To order, please click here.

…Here was something more intoxicating than beer or wine and more potent than many drugs and potions then known to man.  No wonder Arab and Jewish physicians used refined sugar carefully in minuscule amounts, adding it to their prescription with great care…

Dufty explains that our brain is the most sensitive organ in our bodies and the difference between up or down, calm or freaked out, sane or insane, depends to a large extent on what we put into our mouths. The amount of glucose in the body must balance with the blood oxygen.

Ingesting sugar into one’s body drastically increases the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, which then “destroys” the balance of glucose and blood oxygen. Now the body is in crisis.

Hormones pour from the adrenal casings and marshal every chemical resource for dealing with sugar: insulin from the endocrine “islets” of the pancreas works specifically to hold down the glucose level in the blood in complementary antagonism to the adrenal hormones concerned with keeping the glucose level up.

Dufty explains that the process goes too fast and too far. The bottom drops out of the blood glucose level and a second crisis comes out of the first. 

 Pancreatic islets have to shut down; so do some departments of the adrenal casings. Other adrenal hormones must be produced to regulate the reversing of the chemical direction and bring the blood glucose up again.

He continues by saying that we immediately feel “up”, which will soon be replaced be feeling listless and tired. The blood glucose level must be brought up again. Our brain is now vulnerable to suspicion and hallucinations. 

After years of doing this, one’s adrenals our now worn out.  When stress comes our way, we go to pieces because we no longer have a healthy endocrine system to cope with it…we’re always tired, never seem to get anything done. We’ve really got the sugar blues.

Dufty notes that…the cells of the brain are those that depend on the moment-by-moment blood sugar level for nourishment; they are perhaps the most susceptible to damage. The disturbingly large and ever-increasing number of neurotics in our population makes this clearly evident.

My comments: Sugar Blues is 40 years old. I think that most everyone would agree that things in our society have worsened in the last four decades. Just witness the increase in divorce, the rise of gangs, school shootings, and other whacked out things we hear on the news. 

What’s also interesting to note is that Japanese scientists developed high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] in the early 70’s. The latter is now used almost everywhere in conventional, processed foods.

Is the increased sugar and now HFCS consumption causal to much of the deterioration of our social fabric? I believe the answer is, “Yes.”  While there are multiple causes to this societal decline, the increased consumption of these potent and refined carbohydrates certainly hasn’t helped. 

A real eye opener is to note the correlation between obesity rates and the increased portion sizes of soft drinks sold both in containers and those served at the fountain.  Back in the fifty’s, Coke used to come in 6½ ounce bottles. That was followed by 8 ounce bottles and then 12 ounce cans.  That’s all been replaced by the 20-ounce plastic bottles in the coolers seen everywhere including the check-out aisles at box stores. That’s a triple shot compared to the old 6½ ounce serving!  For some visuals of these increased portion sizes, please click here, here, and here. The second two links have visualizations that you will need to scroll down to see.

Continuing: Dufty quotes the late endocrinologist John W. Tintera,

It’s quite possible to improve your disposition, increase your efficiency, and change your personality for the better. The way to do it is to avoid cane and beet sugar in all its forms and guises.”

Dufty spends several pages describing how both the church and the state persecuted natural healers or sorcerers. He tells us that this started with the return of the Crusaders. He describes how some clever beer makers “sophisticated” their beer by adding some foreign substance such as sugar compared to the natural malt and hops. Such offenders were subject to be paraded around the village in a merde* wagon. People knew that the human body and brains could not handle the sweetness of sugar. *French for the vulgar form of excrement or the stuff from the cleaning of privies.

He described shipwrecked sailors that ate their ship’s cargo of sugar and rum with the result that they went bonkers and often died. Soldiers and sailors that were involved in the handling of sugar began to have more trouble with their teeth.

Comments: In the first half of the 20th Century Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist, studied various native cultures, ones that were free from processed Western foods.  He described many of them as having perfect teeth. He also noted that when such people moved into a Westernized culture and were exposed to sugar, refined foods, and canned goods, they started developing the usual dental problems.

Sad to say, I had my share of cavities. Neither my parents, myself, my dentist, or anyone else in my life seemed to understand that the root cause was sugar and refined foods. Weston Price visited with and wrote about people that had perfect teeth.  I can’t think of a better cause and effect relationship of the problems caused by sugar consumption. Not only does sugar consumption play havoc with one’s blood sugar balance, it also rots teeth. 

My dental hygienist once told me about the “Pepsi” kids. Their teeth were rotted more than the kids that drank other brands of pop.

For more information about Dr. Weston A Price and the Dr. Weston A Price Foundation, please click here.

Continuing: Dufty describes ancient civilizations that believed the disorders of the mind and body

“[p]roceed from what we eat. As the Oriental sages phrased it, the mind and the body are not two. The sorceress…wise woman…natural healer believed this too.  However, by the time sugar was introduced widely in Europe, the natural healers were uncovered—practically overnight—as a declared enemy of the church and state. Ailing people consulted them at very real peril.  One literally risked his life and limb having any truck with them. In turn, they risked life and limb to aid you.

He tells us that for centuries uninformed physicians would relegate symptoms of sugar blues to bewitchment. Near the end of the chapter Dufty tells the account of a modern French natural healer, Maurice Mességué. He was hauled into the courts on forty occasions for practicing medicine without a medical license. He was fined one or two francs, and then some of the judges sought him out for his professional services for their ailing wife or mistress. 

Mességué wrote three bestselling books about natural healing where he repeats his prescription: Whole natural food, naturally grown.

Dufty describes his involvement in translating books from a Japanese natural healer, Sakurazawa, You Are All Sanpaku. In Chapter One of Sugar Blues, Dufty mentioned the catalyst for his epiphany. I’m thinking that the “little book” that he referenced must have been from Sakurazawa. 

If you’re sick, it’s your own damn fault. Pain is the final warning.  You know better than anyone else how you’ve been abusing your body. So stop it.  Sugar is poison…more lethal than opium and more dangerous than atomic fallout. Ed: My emphasis

To check it out on Amazon, please click here.

Dufty concludes the chapter by quoting from Sakurazawa again.

…I am confident that one day Western Medicine will admit what has been known in the Orient for years: sugar is without question the number one murderer in the history of humanity.

My comments: What more can you say for an encore? Rereading this book forces me to reminisce about my upbringing. I, too, ran afoul of the problems that Dufty describes of our sugar drenched culture. I so wish that my parents would not have had sugar in the house, would not have made Christmas candy, would not have brought home stale doughnuts from work, would not have had that !@#$%  Betty Crocker cookbook in our house, and would have taught me about the dangers of refined sugar…in all of its guises and disguises. I would have been spared from thousands of dollars in dental work, being overweight, and having ups and downs of my energy level during my adolescence.

What I find to be so ironic in this age of “enlightenment” is this. I meet people that are taking multiple drugs including diabetic prescriptions. I ask them if their doctor ever asked them what they eat or drink.  The answer is invariably negative. Of course, that is exactly what Dufty recounted in Chapter One.

During all that rigamarole, I cannot recall a single doctor [out of the dozens that treated me] whoever displayed the slightest curiosity about what I ate or drank.

I attend an agent-training seminar sponsored by a health insurance company.  Guess what they serve for refreshments?  A fruit and vegetable tray…..are you kidding?  I wish. It’s soda pop and sometimes canned or bottled juice, breakfast rolls, bagels, brownies, and muffins. All SORF.*  They don’t get it!

* An acronym for sugar, oil [the wrong, inflammatory kind], and refined flours

Lastly, Dufty referenced the persecution of the natural healers of old by the “church and state” including the burning of “witches” at the stake. We can look back and think how stupid and backwards society must have been back then.  But then, have things really changed all that much? True, we don’t burn people at the stake anymore, but the power of the state can be used to persecute people and put them out of business. In the last 100 years, what are some of the modern-day equivalents to what’s happened in centuries past?

What about today? What’s happened to doctors, nurses, and others that have opposed masking and Covid shots? Countries like Australia have turned into virtual police states. Aren‘t we witnessing the modern form of “burning people at the stake?” End

 

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 5 – A Weapon of Mass Destruction

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Book by Dr. Druce Fife
Digest by Lance Reedy

Recap of Chapter 4, Part 4: Fructose and Galactose

Fructose has been hailed as the preferred sugar for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as does sucrose or regular table sugar. Fife attributes this misinformation due to clever marketing tactics from the sugar industry.

Fructose has a much greater overall damaging effect on the body than glucose. We normally think of glucose when we talk about glycation, but fructose undergoes glycation about 10 times the rate of glucose and intensifies AGE [advanced glycation end-products] generation and tissue degeneration.

Fructose is metabolized in the liver, which can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fife points out that the detrimental effects are very similar to liver disease caused by alcohol consumption. It gets worse:

Fructose is far more fattening that other sugars or fat. Eating foods containing high fructose corn syrup [HFCS] does not satisfy hunger but encourages overeating, which is another reason why food manufacturers prefer to use it in place of other sweeteners. Fructose tricks you into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn, does not suppress ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, and not activate leptin, the hormone that suppresses hunger. This leads to overeating and weight gain.

Chapter 5 Begins: Part 1: A Weapon of Mass Destruction

Sugar’s Effect on Health

Dr. Fife opens the chapter by quoting the grim statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that chronic, non-communicable diseases kill 41 million people on an annual basis. 80-90 % of these deaths are diet related, and these conditions are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. The biggest change in diets over the past 100 years is the added sugar in processed foods including sugary drinks.

He points out that sugar kills but does so slowly. It kills by accelerating the rate of aging and degeneration leading to chronic disease that cause disability and death. The high intake of sugar increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, senility, mental illness, liver disease, kidney disease, cancer, gallstones, arthritis, and dental cavities.

My comment: It’s worthy to note that in addition to the link between sugar consumption and physical maladies, Dr. Fife also mentions mental deterioration. Additionally, he speaks of organ failure, and he also addresses another issue that affects so many seniors, arthritis.

Continuing: Dr. Fife discusses the addictiveness of sugar, and that leads to an overconsumption which only worsens the physiological problems caused by the sugar consumption.

Dr. Fife mentions that many groups and even governmental entities will speak of the connection of an unhealthy diet and health issues. The problem is that “unhealthy” is not clearly defined. To placate the sugar industry, these groups avoid saying a “high sugar diet.”

Sugar Addiction

Dr. Fife references how sugar stimulates the pleasure center in our brains much like narcotics. Stopping the sugar habit cold turkey can cause withdrawal symptoms. These can include intense carbohydrate cravings, headache, lightheadedness, irritability, irrational behavior, fuzzy thinking, and an overall feeling of tension or stress.

…[R]searchers found that there is a cross-tolerance and a cross-dependence between sugar and addictive drugs. As an example, animals with a long history of sugar consumption, actually became tolerant (desensitized) to the analgesic [pain killing] effects of morphine.

Low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners don’t help with sugar addiction as these artificial sweeteners are also addictive.

My Comment: Included among these artificial sweeteners are aspartame and sucralose (a.k.a. Equal and Splenda).

Continuing: Dr. Fife points out that just as the narcotic addict ups his dose, so does the sugar addict. Natural foods without the added sugar become less and less appealing. Kids don’t like vegetables because their taste buds are desensitized from eating too much sugar. Adults are the same way. In animal studies, sugar-addicted rats prefer sugar water instead of normal food.

Sub-clinical Malnutrition

Studies have shown that around 60% of the foods eaten in America are ultra-processed convenience foods. The ultra-processed foods are those that have multiple ingredients and additives. These include flavorings, colorings, sweeteners, emulsifiers, preservatives, and many others. The problem with these ultra-processed foods is that around 30% of the calories come from sugar.

The problem with these ultra-processed foods is that nutritious foods get pushed out. Instead of cooked hot cereal made from cracked grains we have sugary boxed cereal. Instead of a homemade vinegar and olive oil-based salad dressing we have concoctions made from soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Instead of an apple or orange, we have sugary fruit juices and juice blends sweetened with HFCS. Instead of real cream for your coffee, we have coffee “creamers” primarily made from sugar and hydrogenated soybean oil, and so on it goes.

Some people erroneously believe that taking vitamins makes up for consuming a highly processed diet. Sugar is actually an anti-nutrient in that it causes the body to use up its supplies of calcium, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and chromium in the process of metabolizing the sugar.

Overconsumption of sugar can cause a vitamin C deficiency, leading to sub-clinical scurvy…Glucose and vitamin C compete with each other for entry into our cells. But the competition is not equal. Our bodies favor glucose over vitamin C. When blood glucose levels become elevated, vitamin C absorption into the cells is severely restricted.

Dr. Fife stresses that many people are suffering from sub-clinical signs of scurvy. These symptoms include anemia, depression, frequent infections, bleeding gums, loosened teeth, muscle degeneration and pain, joint pain, slow healing of wounds and injuries, and the development of heart artery blockage. The latter leads to heart attack and strokes. He makes this key point:

It is far more likely for you to suffer a heart attack or stroke from eating a vitamin C robbing, high sugar diet than by eating a high-fat diet. Ed: My emphasis

My comment: How many medical doctors, when dealing with patients with the above-listed sub-clinical symptoms of scurvy, explain to their patients the connection that overconsumption of sugar may be the root cause of their problems?

William Dufty in his book, Sugar Blues, recounted how many sailors in the days of the sugar trade on the high seas became ravaged with illness when they subsisted off sugar and rum. If you have experienced any of the sub-clinical symptoms of scurvy as outlined by Dr. Fife, ask yourself how much sugar, HFCS, and white flour products are your consuming.

Continuing: Dr. Fife points out that Vitamin C is just one of the many essential nutrients that is deficient in a diet overloaded with sugar-laden processed foods. He again references the concept of sub-clinical malnutrition, a condition that can remain unnoticed indefinitely.

We eat and even overeat to the point of becoming overweight, yet still malnourished. As a result, the immune system is chronically depressed, the body cannot fight off infections well, and tissues and cells starving for nutrients slowly degenerate and all manner of chronic disease creeps in. Ed: My emphasis.

My Comments: If you want to stay healthy and to minimize your chances of getting sick or to minimize the symptoms of an illness, it is imperative that you maintain your immune system.

I find it rather ironic that very, very little has been said by “health” experts in this regard when it comes to dealing with the flu or Covid-19. There is a dearth of information in this regard. There are likely several reasons for this, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this report.

The very best defense against illness is loving and caring for your immune system. That means you are being proactive and not relying on the medical system and medical “experts” to bail you out.

You are engaged in mental folly if you “eat, drink, or be merry—meaning habitually indulging in ultra-processed ‘foods’” and trash your immune system while at the same time believing that a drug or a shot is going to save your bacon.

A companion article in this issue of Northwest Senior News is a transciption from Dr. Sten Eckberg’s YouTube video, Coronavirus: Your #1 Absolute Best Defense Against COVID-19 – Holistic Doctor Explains.

Continuing: Homocysteine

Dr. Fife discusses the connection between elevated blood levels of homocysteine and heart disease.

Studies indicate that elevated blood homocysteine levels are more accurate in predicting heart disease than high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or cigarette smoking….[P]ublished studies on homocysteine indicates that it is one of the most significant, independent risk factors for atherosclerosis [plugged up coronary arteries].

Please review page 81-82 for a detailed explanation of this problem. The upshot is this. A diet high in animal protein and high in sugar and starch, which is low in B vitamins, leads to elevated homocysteine levels and the development of atherosclerosis. Put another way, a diet that is high in animal protein is okay all by itself but coupling it with a high sugar intake creates the problem.

My Comment: Isn’t this interesting! The Ancel Keys’ dietary lipid hypothesis claimed that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. I’m sure you have heard for years the usual blather: “Reduce your intake of saturated-fat containing red meat, eat fish more often, drink low-fat or non-fat milk, cut the skin off your chicken, and opt for non-fat yogurt.”

These proponents of the dietary lipid hypothesis just couldn’t seem (or purposely didn’t want to) to get the connection that a high sugar intake was the real culprit. John Yudkin, a British researcher, was vilified by the sugar cartel over 50 years ago for his assertions that sugar was the cause of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and metabolic disorders.

To be continued…

Prescription Plans 2022: Facts and Figures

The Deductible

The maximum allowable deductible for Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) in 2022 is $480. That doesn’t mean that everyone pays the $480 before your plan’s benefits start to kick in.

Many plans wave the deductible for tiers 1 and 2 generics. There is one plan that waives the deductible for only tier 1 drugs.

That means that if you take a tier 3, 4, or 5 prescription, generally speaking you will have to meet the deductible before the plans kicks in with its benefits.

There are a few higher premium plans that have a reduced deductible, and lastly, there are just a few spendy plans that have no deductible. Premium wise, these plans can start hitting the $100 per month level. As mentioned, the preponderance of the plans that are the best buys for most members have the $480 deductible.

Because so many of what used to be brand name prescriptions have gone generic, most people’s prescriptions are all generics. Here are just a few examples. The generic name follows the brand name.

Lipitor: Atorvastatin

Crestor: Rosuvastatin

Diovan: Valsartan

Micardis: Telmisartan

Prozac: Fluoxetine

Zoloft: Sertraline

Proscar: Finasteride

Flomax: Tamsulosin

Singular: Montelukast

Plavix: Clopidogrel

Here are some drugs that went generic so long ago that most people don’t recognize the original brand name:

Glucophage: Metformin

Toprol XL: Metoprolol succinate ER

Norvasc: Amlodipine

New Brand Name Drugs

The pharmaceutical industry has produced new brand-name drugs. Unfortunately, these new drugs are expensive—even with the help of the PDP.

For A-fib and other heart rhythm disorders: Eliquis and Xarelto

For diabetics: Jardiance, Trulicity, Tresiba, Ozempic, and Rybelsus.

What Puts You into the Coverage Gap, aka the Donut Hole

Once the total retail cost of your prescriptions hits $4,430, you go into the coverage gap. Remember, this is the full retail cost, not what you have paid in copays.

Let’s says “Allice” a taking a few low-cost generics but also the name brand and tier 3 drug XYZ. XYZ has a full retail cost of $600 per month. Alice’s PDP has the $480 deductible and a $47 copay for tier 3 drugs after she has met her deductible.

She’s paying $47 per month copay for XYZ and very little for her generics. Everything is doable. In August, Alice is rudely shocked when her pharmacist informs her that she owes $150 for her fill of XYZ. WHAT HAPPENED? she asks in stark disbelief. Her pharmacist explains that she is now in the coverage gap.

Here’s the math that put Alice in the gap.

7 months of XYZ (7 x $600) is $4,200. Throw in a little over $200 for the full retail cost for her generics for 7 months. At the beginning of August, the retail cost of her meds has exceeded $4,430. Alice is now in the coverage gap.

She now pays 25% of the retail cost of her brand name drugs and generics while she is in the coverage gap for the remainder of the year. Please keep in mind that it makes no differences if her Part D plan is embedded inside of a Medicare advantage plan. It all works the same

What Gets You out of the Coverage Gap?

When your True-out-of-Pocket (TRooP) cost hits $7,050, then you exit the coverage gap phase and go into the final Catastrophic coverage phase. Does this mean that you have spent $7,050?

The answer is no. The good news is that the manufacturer’s discount counts towards your TRooP totals. Let’s see how it works with Alice’s $600 XYZ prescription. Once she is in the gap, here’s how the $600 is covered.

Alice pays 25% or $150

The manufacturer of XYZ discounts the drug by 70% or $420

The PDP pays 5% or $30

The $150 that Alice pays along with the manufacturer’s discount of $420 counts towards Alice’s TRooP costs.

Catastrophic coverage phase

According to Medicare.gov, once you hit the Catastrophic coverage phase, you will pay no more than 5% of the cost for covered drugs for the rest of the year

Your PDP pays 15% and Medicare pays 80%. We have seen a few cases where a member had such expensive drugs that he blasted through the coverage gap and into the Catastrophic phase within the first few months of the year. End

The Refund Scam

by Lance & Isaac Reedy

A client of mine, John S. from Moose City, Wyoming received a text on his cell phone with something to do with services for his computer. Since John received a text to his phone, he thought there might have been some sort of legitimacy to it. John’s story went something like this.

The scammer told John that he was eligible for a $500 refund for (fictious) “computer services” that he hadn’t used. This is the bait that the scammers use to get you to go along with their scheme. A promise of an unexpected windfall…which also doesn’t exist.

John then allowed iScam Computer Services (ICS…fictious of course) to install a program that allowed remote access to his computer. Remote access software allows someone else on the internet to control your computer. There are many programs that do this, but two common ones are Teamviewer and AnyDesk.

Once the scammers had remote access to John’s computer, they directed him to log into his bank account. Then the scammers edited the bank account page on John’s computer to make it look like they over-refunded the money they promised him.

Note: Despite how real it may look, the scammers never actually send any money. The webpage that they doctor to make it look like they sent you money, isn’t real. It only exists in the memory on your computer and nowhere else. Reloading the page on your web browser would overwrite the fake numbers and expose the truth.

Anyhow, back to the scam. The scammers pretended to send John money. However, instead of the $500 they promised him, it was actually $5000!

Sounding utterly distraught the scammer then told John about how he is going to lose his job.

Note: The scammer is not distraught at all. It’s just part of his script. Sometimes, they will further guilt trip you by telling you about how their family is going to starve because of this terrible “mistake.”

Then, the scammer had an “idea.” He directed John to go out and buy him $4500 worth of gift cards. This would allow the scammer to “refund” the money to his boss and so that he wouldn’t get fired.

The exact mechanisms vary, but this is the essence of the refund scam.

The scammers will pretend to send you money, only there will be a “screw up” and too much fake money will be sent to you. Then, the scammers will ask you to refund them the difference with your real money.

The scammers are manipulative and will do and say whatever they think will work to get you to do their bidding. The scammers may say they are from Apple, Microsoft, Google, BestBuy, The Geek Squad, or something else. Many of the scammers are from one of many corrupt call centers in India.

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. After the scammer directed John to go out and buy some Walmart gift cards for the “refund.” John started smelling a rat and he never followed through with the scam. Out of an abundance of caution, John also contacted his bank and closed his account.

Several of our clients have reported to us an account of them getting scammed, and that’s our motivation for alerting you. The scammers are very clever people, and they use crude psychology to scam their victims.

Last month, in our article Shady Advertising and Scams, I (Lance), mentioned how my daughter Hannah came within a hair’s breadth of becoming a victim of a refund scam herself. In her case, the fake money was in the form of a bogus money order. She fell for the scam. Her saving grace was that the scammers were too greedy. The check for real money that Hannah wrote bounced because she didn’t have enough money in her bank account because of the Scammer’s rubber check to cover the “refund” amount.

Any email that speaks of Amazon, Walmart, Target, or XYZ rewards is a tip off, but the scammers depend on your curiosity to open a suspicious email. “Let’s open it and see what’s inside.” DON’T DO IT!

The following is a list of emails and texts to immediately delete or phone calls to hang up on.

  • IRS problems. The IRS will contact you by mail if you owe them money.
  • Problems with you bank. Same thing: Your bank will contact you by mail.
  • Warning from your email provider that there is some looming problem which requires you submit your password information.
  • Computer services and ink jet cartridge deals.
  • Rewards for doing the billionth Google search.
  • Work at home deals or business opportunities.
  • A call from “Amazon” of a fraud alert on your account.
  • And dozens of others

The electronic and digital world we are now living in is like driving on a steep and twisty mountain road with no guard rails. Getting involved with something that’s dubious at best is like missing a turn and going off the cliff.

If you’re in any doubt about the legitimacy of any unsolicited email, text, phone call, or piece of junk mail, please contact a knowledgeable person to advise you accordingly before you open Pandora’s box. These trusted sources are your guard rails. End

PDP Helper Tips

This 2021 AEP is our sixth year of using PDPHelper.com. The following are some tips to help us do an accurate search on your behalf for your 2022 Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Our goal is to find the PDP that will be most suitable for you.

Step 1

Please enter your name, phone, email address, your zip code, and your county of residence. Some zip codes span multiple counties, and that’s why we request your county of residence. This means where your residence sits.

Next, please list your top pharmacy choices. We also ask you if you would be willing to use Walmart, Walgreens, or a mail order pharmacy if that will save you money.

Step 2

In this section, only enter your pills, capsules, or tablets. Liquids, gels, creams, insulin, eye drops, patches, etc. are in the next steps.

Enter the name of your prescription, the dose, and the quantity you buy. Important, is the quantity you buy per one month, per every two months, per every three months, or per every twelve months? If you take something as needed, estimate how many pills you buy and how often you buy it. Your estimate does need to be exact. Just get it as reasonably close as you can.

Example #1—Betty take two, 500mg metformin tablets every day. She buys 60 every month.

Name of Prescription: Metformin
Dosage: Enter 500mg
Quantity: Enter 60
Frequency: Enter month

Example #2—John take hydrocodone/apap, 325/10mg, as needed for back pain. Some days he takes none but other days he takes two or three. He estimates he takes around 45 per month

Name of Prescription: Hydrocodone/apap
Dosage: Enter 325/10mg
Quantity: Enter 45
Frequency: Enter month

Step 3

The section is for Insulin, Inhalers and Nebulizers

Example #3—Alice uses insulin. She checks “yes”. She enters her information as follows:

Name of insulin: Lantus Solostar pens
Size: 3 mL
Quantity: 5 pack or just 5
Frequency: per 2 months

Example #4—Shirley uses Advair. She checks “yes” for the category: “Do you use any inhalers or nebulizers?” She enters her information as follows:

Name of inhaler: Advair
Size: 250/50
Quantity: 1
Frequency: 1 month

Step 4

This final step is for Eye Drops. Gels, Creams, Lotions or Salves, and Other Prescriptions.

Example #5—Mary uses eye drops. She checks “yes” for this category and fills in her information. Please do NOT attempt to say “2 drops per eye each day.” We need to know the size of the bottle, usually 2.5 mL, 5 mL, or 10 mL and how often you fill your prescription.

Name of eye drops: Latanoprost SOL 0.005%
Size: 2.5 mL
Quantity: 1
Frequency: 1 month

When finished, please hit the submit button. Thank you in advance for using PDPhelper.com. End

Medical Savings Account (MSA) – a different type of Medicare Advantage Plan

What are MSA plans and how to do they work?

An MSA is a high deductible health insurance plan combined with a savings account that you can use to pay for your health care costs. Since this is a type of Medicare plan, Medicare provides the funding.

Medicare.gov has a handy 10 step breakdown of how MSAs work.

  1. Choose and join a high-deductible Medicare MSA Plan.
  2. You set up an MSA with a bank the plan selects.
  3. Medicare gives the plan an amount of money each year for your health care.
  4. The plan deposits some money into your account.
  5. You can use the money in your account to pay your health care costs, including health care costs that aren’t covered by Medicare. When you use account money for Medicare-covered Part A and Part B services, it counts towards your plan’s deductible.
  6. If you use all of the money in your account and you have additional health care costs, you’ll have to pay for your Medicare-covered services out-of-pocket until you reach your plan’s deductible.
  7. During the time you’re paying out-of-pocket for services before the deductible is met, doctors and other providers can’t charge you more than the Medicare-approved amount.
  8. After you reach your deductible, your plan will cover your Medicare-covered services. Read information from the plan for details about out-of-pocket costs.
  9. Money left in your account at the end of the year stays in the account and may be used for health care costs in future years.
  10. If you use funds from your account, you must include this special form [PDF, 89.4 KB] with information on how you used your account money when you file taxes.

The available states in the West are now MT, WY, UT, AZ, NV, NM, and OR. Unfortunately, MSA plans are currently not available in WA, ID, CA, and CO.

How MSA plans work

When you see your medical provider, you present your MSA ID card to your provider’s billing office. The provider bills the MSA plan. The bill comes back to you, and you pay you provider from your debit card account. Meanwhile, the MSA plan applies that amount to your deductible. Never pay your provider prior to them billing the MSA plan.

MSA plans do not provide prescription drug coverage. Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in an MSA plan and who also wish to have drug coverage, will need to enroll in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.

FAQ’s

Q: Where do MSA plans get the money to set up my debit card account?

A: Remember, Medicare advantage (MA) plans are privatized Medicare plans. Let’s say that an MA plan without Rx coverage receives around $800 per person per month from Medicare to provide your health coverage. Out of that, MSA plans can fund your debit card account.

Q: Let’s say I spend $500 on doctor bills for 2021, what happens to the $1,500 still remaining in my debit card account?

A: Your unused funds rollover and will be available for a future year. This is not a “use it or lose it” deal. If you don’t use it, it rolls over.

Q: What happens if I exhaust my debit card account and still have more medical bills?

A: Your responsibility is to cover your bills until you reach your deductible. Once you have met your deductible, your MSA plan pays 100% of your Medicare approved expenses for the remainder of the year.

Q: What about networks. Am I restricted to a doctor network?

A: There are no networks with MSA plans. Most any provider that works with Medicare should be willing to accept your MSA plan. That’s great news for snowbirds or those who travel to other states.

Q: What about preventative checkups? How are they covered?

A: Unlike other Medicare advantage plans, there are no, zero copay physicals or other preventative services. Your provider will bill the plan, and then you’ll pay your physician from your debit card account.

Q: Can I use my MSA funds to pay for vision or dental services?

A: Yes. In addition, you can also use your MSA account for hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, prescription copays, and long-term care expenses. Please note: Using money in your account to pay for health care costs that aren’t covered by Medicare will not count toward your MSA plan’s deductible.

Q: Who can enroll in an MSA plan?

A: Most people who are on Medicare Parts A and B and reside in a state where an MSA plan is offered are eligible to sign up. You will need to decide if the program is right for you. There are some people that are ineligible to enroll in the MSA program. These exceptions primarily are those receiving VA or Medicaid benefits.

The following are some of the reasons why Medicare beneficiaries have enrolled in an MSA program.

  • Those that like the idea of a no premium plan.
  • Those that live in a county where no other Medicare advantage (MA) plans are offered. Many of the sparsely populated counties of Montana, Wyoming, and Oregon have no other MA plans to choose from.
  • Those that do little or infrequent doctoring.
  • Those that like the idea of having funds available for dental or vision.
  • Those that prefer to have their own standalone Part D Prescription (PDP) plan.
  • Those who are looking for an alternative to their Medicare supplement plan and don’t want or can’t get a standard HMO or PPO Medicare Advantage plan.

Important Information for Existing MSA plan Members

If you are already a member of an MSA plan, your membership for 2022 will automatically renew. Be sure to read your annual notice of change to keep informed of any changes to your plan. The MSA company is also offering a second version of their plan with a larger debit deposit and a larger deductible. Please contact us for details.

Conclusion

Please contact us with questions about this MSA plan or your interest in any other Medicare advantage plan. There are some situations where a switch to the MSA plan may be a good fit for your situation. Here are some examples.

Case #1: Alice is in her 90s and is on an old Plan F with a premium of over $300 per month. She has a medical condition which makes it difficult for her to switch to another Medicare supplement plan. She lives in a sparsely populated county that has no other Medicare advantage plans. Her out-of-pocket will hundreds of dollars less than the annual $3,600 Medsupp premium.

Case #2: Martha has Medicare supplement Plan L. Since there is a fair amount of cost-sharing with Plan L, the maximum circuit breaker limit rises to $3,110 in 2021. By the time she adds in her annual premium for Plan L and her cost-sharing, she could be out hundreds more with Plan L compared to the MSA plan.

Case #3: Bill has Medicare supplement Plan K. In 2020 his circuit breaker limit is $6,220. That’s more than double of what him maximum out-of-pocket would be with the MSA plan.

Case # 4: Shirley’s Plan F has climbed to $200 monthly, and she would like to shop for a lower cost Medsupp. Unfortunately, she has a COPD diagnosis making it impossible for her to switch to a lower cost Medsupp. The MSA plan may be a good alternative for her. There is no medical underwriting.

Please contact us for complete details to see if the MSA plan is a good fit for you. End

Annual Election Period (AEP) News

The fall Annual Election Period (also know as Medicare open enrollment) is upon us. We have started discussing 2022 plans as of October 1st. We can start taking applications October 15th for the 2022 plan year. December 7 is the closing date of the AEP.

Ignore the Medicare-related TV Advertising the best you can.

Many of you have contacted us saying, “I heard on the TV that……”

Let’s take a quick look at the psychology of advertising. Most advertising is designed to create anxiety, apprehension and discontent. It’s purposely choreographed to upset your equilibrium and peace of mind. Please keep in mind that this is all done very subtly, and that’s the cleverness and deceptiveness of advertising.

Another element of advertising is to create fear. Misguided Medicare advantage advertising creates fear that you might be missing out on something really important. The bottom line is that the advertising by design is manipulative.

A more sinister aspect of advertising, especially television advertising, is to bombard your senses to the point where your ability to differentiate between truth and fiction is broken down. Your senses are dulled. The trickery is to push your feelings button rather than your intellect button. Please refer to our companion article, Scams, Scams, and More Scams.

Now the viewers’ defenses are worn down to the point where they are begging for relief from the anxiety caused by the TV ad. They end up being snookered after they’ve called the 800 number on the screen. They are no match for a slick-talking commission chaser in a boiler room.

If you do have questions after viewing a Medicare advantage TV ad, please call us first! In a future issue of Northwest Senior News, we’ll discuss some of the self-inflicted disasters people have caused for themselves as a result in dealing with the boiler-room sharks.

If you are happy with your plan and it’s working well for you, there is no need to change. Lastly, there are no pots of gold sitting at the end of the rainbow!

The types of changes you can make during the fall AEP

Abbreviations:

  1. Medicare advantage plan = MA
  2. Prescription Drug plan = PDP
  3. Medical Savings Account = MSA

For those where a change is appropriate, the following list are changes you can make.

  1. You can change from one PDP to another PDP.
  2. You can add a new PDP if you never had one but need one now.
  3. You can change from one MA plan to another MA plan. Most plans include prescription drugs but not all.
  4. You can drop your Medicare supplement plan and switch to a MA if one is available in your county of residence.
  5. You can drop your MA plan, go back to original Medicare and add a Medicare supplement plan. Medical underwriting applies in most situations.
  6. You can drop your Medicare supplement or current MA plan and switch to the MSA plan, which is a type of MA plan.

Changing from one Medicare supplement plan to another

First, it’s important to note that you can change your Medicare supplement plan any month of the year. This change is not restricted to the fall October 15 through December 7 AEP, however, you must medically quality with the new company you are applying to. We usually seek a change in a quest for lower rates.

Part D Prescription Plan (PDP) News

We’re seeing mostly modest premium increases, although there are a couple of exceptions.

There’s a big shake-up with what we’ll call Company W. Company W bought three plans from Company A beginning the 2020 plan year. Medicare allowed Company W to run six PDPs for 2020-2021.

Starting in 2022, Company W is reducing their six plans down to three. If you currently have one of these plans, the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that you should have received in late September will inform you which of Company W’s three 2022 plans you will be moved to. They have Plan Low Premium, Plan High Premium, and Plan Xtra for those on Extra Help. Be sure to read you ANOC mailer to determine which of Company W’s three plans you will be moved to.

If it’s Plan Low, you likely will have a somewhat lower premium compared to 2021. If it’s Plan High, you will be shocked at how much higher your new premium will be. Call us, and we’ll shop a new plan on your behalf for 2022.

Lastly, we will be contacting as many of you with “Company W” as possible to determine the right plan for you for the 2022 year.

PDPHelper.com

A terrific way to submit a list of your prescriptions to us is to use our PDPHelper.com website.

Ways to contact us

Phone: 208-746-6283 or 888-746-6285
Fax: 888-819-0176
Email: lance@nwsimail.com
Website: nwseniorinsurance.com  Please click on the “Contact Us” tab.
PDPHelper.com: Submit a list of your prescriptions to us with this website.

Conclusion

As stated above, we strongly encourage you to use our PDPHelper.com website as a way of submitting of list of your current prescriptions to us. We thank you for your patronage and wish you the best for the upcoming 2022 season. End.

Shady Advertising and Scams: Avoid Becoming a Victim

by Lance D Reedy

In this article I will discuss two scams that Medicare beneficiaries are being hit with. The first is the advertising that is hitting your mailboxes. The second is email and text scams.

What is a scam? Some definitions are as follows:

  • A dishonest scheme: fraud
  • A fraudulent or deceptive act or operation
  • A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit, swindle
  • An illegal trick, usually with the purpose of getting money from people or avoiding paying a tax
  • An illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people

The objective of the scammer is to get money out of someone without a fair exchange of goods or services. Put another way, it’s taking money from someone that was not earned. It is done via artifice or trickery. Scammers are thieves.

I’m including “Bait and Switch” advertising in the scam box as such advertising is patently dishonest. The originators of such ads know what they are doing. They write the ad to bait people and then switch them to something else. It’s dishonest as the schemer does not reveal what is really being advertised.

Bait and Switch

Here is the language from a large post card that one of my clients received in the mail: I have added the numbers such as [1, 2, 3 and so on] in brackets.

Dear Jane Doe,

Our records indicate [1] that as a resident of [your] County, you may [2] quality for additional benefits that many on Medicare do not claim.

In addition to plans with more benefits, we will also check your eligibility for:

  • Adding up to $144 back into your monthly Social Security check (adding back to your Part B premium payments) [3]
  • Cost reduction savings from the Social Security Administration’s Extra Help program (worth $4,900 per year in extra savings) [4]

You may also quality for Medicare plans with benefits like $3,500 for routine dental work such as crowns, implants, and dentures. [5]

At SleazyHealth, we can check your eligibility to have up to $144 placed back into your monthly Social Security check. Please call (833) 555-xxxx (9TTY 7xx) today for your free, no obligation Medicare review. (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm CST)

[Disclosure at the bottom of the card in very fine print that you need a microscope to read:]

This is an advertisement for insurance. SleazyHealth is not connected or endorsed by any government entity. Eligibility for cost reduction savings is based on income verification. Not all benefits available in specific plans or regions. Visit ssa.gov and Medicare.gov for more information. [6]

*****

Let’s tear this piece of garbage apart.

[1] …..our records? They bought a list of names for people better than 65 in your county. In other words, they bought a mailing list! That’s their records.

[2] “May!” There is that pesky word “may. Maybe you do, but probably you don’t. If you are one of the 15% of Medicare beneficiaries already on Medicaid, then Medicare may not charge said person for his/her Medicare Part B premium. Those 15% are already on one form of Medicaid or another. It’s all based on income. Put another way, this only applies to 15% of the Medicare population. That 15% already has this Medicaid benefit. This will NOT apply to virtually 100% of the people receiving this card.

[3} “Adding up to $144 back…” The $144 is a 2020 number. The 2021 number is $148.50. This outfit couldn’t even bother to update their numbers. If they are sloppy here, where else do you suppose they are sloppy?

[4] “(worth $4,900…in savings)” People on Extra Help or Low Income Subsidy have reduced premiums or no premium for their Part D plan. Their copays are also reduced. They just grabbed this number out of the sky because it looked impressive. If you are not on Extra Health but think you may quality, call 1-800- Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to inquire.

[5} There’s that pesky word “may” again. SleazyHealth is referring to people on Medicaid that quality for more dental benefits. It is true that many Medicare advantage plans have a dental benefit. Usually, the benefit is capped at $1,000 per year, although I have seen one plan that brags a $2,000 cap. Implants are generally excluded from this benefit.

[6] This discloser is sort of okay. “This is an advertisement for insurance…” This is their mea culpa for running a bait and switch scheme. These guys are nothing more than commission chasers. I could write another article about how these boiler room idiots have deceived people over and over.

The bottom line: SleazyHealth’s goal is to get you to ring their call center. From there, you will be connected to any number of commission chasers who will do everything possible to drive a wedge between you and your current Medicare plan.

TV Advertising

Medicare related TV advertising isn’t much, if any, better. They throw out “learn about Medicare benefits you may be missing” of “get the dental benefits you deserve”, etc. They are baiting you to call their 800 number.

The Refund Scam

There are different iterations of this scam. The basic theme is that the scammer pretends to overpay the victim and then requests the victim to reimburse him for the excess payment. One of my daughters unwittingly got caught in one of these schemes.

My daughter while at college posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a roommate to share her apartment rent. A scammer answered her ad and strung her along with nonsense questions about room color and décor, and finally after much ado, sent my daughter an initial rent check.

Just after my daughter received the scammer’s check, the scammer contacted her and said that she wrote the check for too much and asked my daughter to please deposit it and then send her a refund for the difference. Of course, the scammer put on a big sob story about how this mistake is going to cause some sort of cataclysmic event in her life.

My daughter, being raised to be an honest person, promptly deposited the scammer’s check and cut her a refund check and mailed it off.

In these scams, the money the scammer sends is always fake. In this case, it was a phony check that bounced. Fortunately for my daughter, she kept a low balance in her checking account and the “refund” check she sent to the scammer also bounced.

In our next issue I will discuss over-the-internet refund scams involving gift cards.

Meanwhile, to help you better understand how these scammers work and to have some fun while you’re at it, I encourage you to check out professional scam baiter, Kitboga. Kitboga strings the scammers along for hours, getting them to think that they have a fish on the line. Here’s one of many YouTube videos titled “The Angriest Scammer I’ve Ever Called.” And yes, this is a “classic” refund scam. End

Fat Heals—Sugar Kills: Chapter 4 – Part 4, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet

Chapter 4, Part 4: Fructose and Galactose

Recap of Part 3: Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs)

Dr. Fife explains that sugar consumption accelerates the aging process. He explains that elevated blood glucose levels increase molecular entities known as advanced glycation end-products or AGEs for short. The sticky glucose in your bloodstream can stick to fats, but it’s especially attracted to proteins.

He points out that aging is the accumulation of damaged cells.

The more AGEs you have in your body, the “older” you become functionally regardless of how many years you’ve lived. AGEs adversely affect other molecules generating free radicals, oxidizing LDL cholesterol (thus creating the type of cholesterol that collects in arteries and promotes atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes), degrading collagen (the major supporting structure in our organs and skin), damaging nerve tissue (including the brain), and wreaking havoc on just about every organ in the body. AGEs are known to play an important role in the chronic complications of [type 2] diabetes and in the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. [Ed: My emphasis]

Part 4 Begins: Fructose

Fructose (erroneously pronounced fruit-ose) has primarily found its way into our modern processed diet through an industrial process that churns out what is called high fructose corn (HFCS) syrup. Obviously, fructose is derived from corn.

Fructose has been hailed as the preferred sugar for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as does sucrose or regular table sugar. Fife attributes this misinformation due to clever marketing tactics from the sugar industry.

He explains the invention of HFCS in 1957 and its subsequent development. A big myth is that fructose comes from fruit, due to the similarity in the spelling of their names.

He explains the HFCS has a higher content of fructose compared to regular table sugar and that fructose and glucose in HFCS is more rapidly absorbed.

Fructose has a much greater overall damaging effect on the body than glucose. We normally think of glucose when we talk about glycation, but fructose undergoes glycation about 10 times the rate of glucose and intensifies AGE generation and tissue degeneration.

Fife points out that vegetarians tend to eat more fruit and more honey which results in them having a higher intake of fructose. He explains another problem with the excessive consumption of fructose. In animal studies high fructose consumption coupled with a copper deficiency in growing animals interfered with collagen production. Collagen is what holds our tissues and organs together. People who eat a processed food diet are typically copper deficient.

Fructose is metabolized in the liver, which can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fife points out that the detrimental effects are very similar to liver disease caused by alcohol consumption. It gets worse:

Fructose is far more fattening that other sugars or fat. Eating foods containing HFCS does not satisfy hunger but encourages overeating, which is another reason why food manufacturers prefer to use it in place of other sweeteners. Fructose tricks you into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn, does not suppress ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, and not activate leptin, the hormone that suppresses hunger. This leads to overeating and weight gain.

My comments: Ouch! The bottom line is that the consumption of HFCS is even worse than sucrose or regular table sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, has written and spoken extensively how the consumption of HFCS quashes the production of the hormone leptin, which tells your body that you have eaten enough.

Continuing: The fat from the HFCS weight gain tends to land in the abdominal area causing a pot belly. This is visceral fat which is stored inside of the abdominal cavity. It gets worse:

Visceral fat is not just excess fatty tissue, but it’s a metabolically active tissue that releases hormones and promotes inflammation and increases your risk of a number of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, arthritis, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorders, and dementia.

Rat studies have borne out the rats fed HFCS at lower levels than in soda pop get fat. They don’t get fat when fed a high fat diet! Long term rat studies lasting over six months show these rats being fed HFCS develop metabolic syndrome. Again, this is obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and many other degenerative conditions. Male rats suffered even more from metabolic syndrome.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is found in hundreds of processed food and beverage products. Included are fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and dozens of others.

Fife slams the myth that fructose doesn’t have an immediate effect on blood sugar compared to regular table sugar. Fructose has a more detrimental effect on insulin resistance.  He continues by stating that researchers understand this phenomenon so well that they routinely use fructose when they want to cause insulin resistance in laboratory animal studies.

Some physicians are now claiming that the increased use of fructose in all our foods is largely responsible for the skyrocketing incidences of diabetes we are experiencing today.

Fife reminds his readers that all sources of fructose have the same effect on the body. It doesn’t matter if the fructose is from HFCS, sucrose or a natural source such as agave syrup (a popular sweetener used in the health food industry). The effects are all the same.

He unmasks the agave scam. Agave is marketed to diabetics as being superior to table sugar or HFCS because it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much as table sugar. Agave nectar is processed from starch from the agave root. It’s a process similar to the production of HFCS, and the fructose content ranges from 70 to 97% He concludes by stating:

Despite the misinformation from marketers, agave syrup or nectar is far worse for your health then any other form of sugar. ED: My emphasis

Galactose

Milk sugar or lactose consists of equal amounts of glucose and lactose, and lactose has similarities to fructose. Just like fructose, lactose is ten times more likely to form AGEs compared to glucose. Fife points out that when whole milk or cheese is consumed, there is not enough lactose to be concerned about. The problem occurs when the fat is removed as in non-fat milk, yogurt, and in other low-fat or non-fat iterations.

Dried non-fat milk is often added to low-fat or non-fat dairy products to add taste and texture. Fife explains that this is virtually doing the same things as adding HFCS.

All reduced-fat milk and milk powders are potential sources of excessive amounts of galactose…

My comments: I previously have not known what Dr. Fife just explained. I have used non-fat milk powder when camping as a way of having milk without refrigeration. Now I’ll have to rethink this.

Continuing: Fife explains that the galactose content of non-fat dry milk and skimmed milk powder is 49.5 to 52% galactose, which means that nonfat dry milk is predominantly sugar.

Like fructose, galactose is well known for promoting premature aging, inflammation, and excessive oxidative stress and vitamin deficiency due to the production of AGEs and free radicals. The consumption of high levels of galactose rapidly ages the body and the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Fife cites various studies concerning the consumption of diary products. Some people claim that the fat in whole milk is the culprit concerning heart disease. Fife makes it clear that the real issue is the high sugar content in low-fat or non-fat dairy products. The good news is that fermented milk and cheese have lower galactose levels, and they are not associated with oxidative stress or inflammation.

He references two groups of people that have thrived on whole milk. We can assume he is also referring to raw milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. One group is in Switzerland, and the other is the Masai in Kenya and northern Tanzania. Each Masai would consume several quarts of milk daily.

They were completely immune to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other degenerative diseases until more recent times, as they have adapted to agriculture and a diet much higher in carbohydrate-rich foods.

Fife reminds us that dairy consumption has always been considered to be healthy. The problem is with the increased galactose intake due to the consumption of non-fat milk and non-fat milk powders. The latter seems to wipe out the health benefits of high-fat, whole milk products.

Here are more examples of processed food products that contain these non-fat milk additives.

  • Most low-fat dairy products; Cottage cheese, cheese, cheese spread, yogurt, chocolate milk, and ice cream
  • Dessert and pudding mixes
  • Chocolate milk mixes
  • Gravy mixes
  • Cookie dough
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Used in many dry goods including pancake and biscuit mixes, cake mix, cookies, crackers, bread, and other confectionary products

Fife throws one more dagger into the idea of consuming non-fat milk powder. Undamaged cholesterol is beneficial, but the processing of this product causes the cholesterol to become oxidized. Now, it’s harmful cholesterol. This is true for both dried non-fat milk and dried whole milk.

My Comments: This concludes our review and digest of Chapter 4, Sugar Isn’t Always Sweet. If you think Dr. Fide’s exposé of the destructive effects of sugar on your health in this chapter wasn’t damning enough, wait for his next chapter.

The 30-page chapter 5 is titled A Weapon of Mass Destruction. It’s not about chemical or biological weapons used for warfare, but rather he digs into the various processes of how the consumption of sugar thoroughly trashes our health. It ends up being chemical and biological warfare in your body.

Intellect Verses Feelings-Based Desires

Mexican restaurants typically serve a bowl of corn chips with hot sauce as an appetizer prior to your meal being served. My wife and I have avoided them for years due to the fact that they are baked with unhealthy oils.

Recently I was taken to a Mexican restaurant by some friends, and the server did the customary placing of the bowl of corn chips on our table. I was hungry, relented, and ate some of the chips. They tasted good. Unfortunately, I am very bad at stopping with just a few. In the next 24 to 48 hours, I could tell what I had eaten. My skin was more oily. I regretted my capitulation to what I know is not good for me.

Even more recently, a friend “Joe” and I were out for a hike. He mentioned to me that his wife sent some pie with him, and he asked if I would like some. I asked, “Does it have sugar in it?” Joe answered affirmatively. I passed up his offer. Later, we ate at a Mexican restaurant after our outing. Sure enough, the server dutifully placed a bowl of corn chips on our table. I didn’t touch them.

If you believe that these sugary foods and unhealthy seed oils are deleterious to your health, then your intellect will say, “No, I will not consume these products, no matter how good they may taste or how much pleasure I derive by consuming them. You leave your intellect in charge.

End