Archive for May, 2011
Today I planned on having a nice, productive day working on things at home, such as my No Plan Meal Plan, among other things. But I’m finding myself rather distracted by the news, which I saw in an editorial in today’s Plain Dealer, about the UnitedHealth CEO making serious bank. More money than any other CEO in the US – $101MM to be exact, although not including stock, of course. That would make it a whole lot more. Even so, Stephen Hemsley from UnitedHealth beat out CEOs from big oil, tech firms, and even the CEO at Walt Disney.
That’s right, Stephen Hemsley tops the list of America’s highest paid CEOs of 2011 .
Meanwhile the cost of your and your family’s health care plan has more than doubled since 2001. An individual plan now costs nearly $10,000. And pretty soon, your employer is going to get sick (pun intended) of paying for it. If they haven’t already, they’re going to start transferring those costs to you – the Reuter’s report (linked above) cites a shift of 12% next year.
Who is to blame for the rising costs might just be the biggest blame game around right now. Insurance companies blame rising health care costs and a sicker population. Doctors blame law suits. Some blame health care reform (which, btw, is estimated to account for a relatively small 2-3% of the 15% rise in premium rates this year). And so on.
Almost everyone has a legitimate point to be made. But it’s VERY hard for me to feel that sorry for health insurance companies when they’re booking record profits and paying their CEOs such enormous wages.
At the same time, I really shouldn’t be that surprised. UnitedHealth is a for-profit company. It exists to make money, therefore leadership is paid to figure out how to make the most money possible. How to insurance companies make money? By maximizing revenue – charging as much as possible for their services (insurance in this case) - and minimizing their costs (i.e. paying claims). It’s built into their incentive structure to raise rates, and skimp on coverage. I have an economics degree, but it doesn’t take an economist to understand that individuals, and companies, act in line with their incentives. The more profit Stephen makes his company and his shareholders, the bigger his yacht.
I could go on, discussing my thoughts on the economics at hand here, and what I think are viable solutions. But I don’t want to. I really just wanted to throw the above facts out there. It’s maddening, and as a society we need to decide how to fix it.
In the mean time, it’s in your best interest to “avoid” the need for health care. Preventative medicine, so to speak. Eat well (and by “well” I DO NOT mean low-fat, low-carb, lean meats only, or any of that nonsense) and move your body. 80% of what people are experiencing these days in terms of illness and health care costs are completely preventable. We’re in a really sad state in the US at the moment – we’re so sick that we think being sick is normal. It’s not. You can be healthy and vibrant and running marathons into your 80s and above.
The picture of a barn raising, a community effort to collectively help out a neighbor seems quaint and out of reach for those of us of a more urban persuasion.
Well, the local food community is a community too and one of our own suffered a calamity this weekend in the form of a assault and robbery.
Michael & Marika Feigenbaum were robbed again this Memorial Day weekend at their bakery, “Lucy’s Sweet Surrender“ on Buckeye Rd. Fortunately, nobody was shot this time, but Michael got roughed up more than a little bit. I saw him Saturday morning about 4 hours after the assault and he was gamely trying to keep up with the orders but was visibly hurting. They lost several days worth of store receipts and the cash box for the day’s farmers markets. While he didn’t mention a figure I’m sure his loss was more than several thousand in cash alone. Money that will take months of effort to recoup. Theirs is not a business with large profit margins.
Michael is a stubborn cuss, from Russian Jewish stock and will, I expect soldier on. Marika is still shaking and I think still not really yet recovered from being shot last year. But this kind of calamity is not only a serious financial hit, but more so an emotional blow. Two violent robberies in 18 months is a bit much, even by Cleveland standards.
“What’s political is also personal. If you believe in something, you should be willing to make sacrifices to support it, even if it’s expensive or inconvenient.” (Russ Parsons, L.A. Times food writer)
What can you do? Well, if you need a loaf of bread, food for a graduation party, office event, family get-together or just because you like quality baked goods consider making a purchase from them at the store on Buckeye or at one of the farmers markets (Shaker Sq. or Crocker Park on Saturdays). If you are already a customer, buy something extra. There is little downside for you because “Lucy’s Sweet Surrender” makes quality stuff (I’m a fool for his poppy seed goodies) . And your support now can make a big difference in gritting them back on track.
You won’t get any splinters in your fingers and you’ll help rebuild their business too.
If you like this blog and have a growing interest in food and natural health, perhaps you should consider taking the next step in your learning. I got my nutrition training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and this week only they’re offering $500 scholarships for friends and family of current alums.
IIN’s curriculum is more than just nutrition training. During my year, we had exclusive lectures from the likes of world class researchers (i.e. Walter Willett of Harvard, Dr. Colin Campbell of the China Study), cutting-edge doctors (Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Oz, Dr. Mark Hyman), and food policy experts like Mariam Nestle. Email me at email@example.com if you’re interested. You won’t be sorry!
In honor of Cinqo de Mayo, why not whip up a little guacamole for the weekend? (Who cares if it’s not the 5th anymore, it’ll be just as delicious.) Guacamole is easy, even better when you make it at home vs. restaurants, and really quite fantastic for you.
Avocado (did you know it’s colloquially known as the alligator pear?) can increase your absorption of carotenoid antioxidants by 200-400%, is high in anti-inflammatory fats, and is a great source of vitamin K, folate, potassium, B6, vit C, and potassium. So eat up. Don’t worry about the fat. Do find a high-quality organic corn chip to eat it with (organic = no atrazine or GMO corn).
Ripe avocados (they should be a little soft if lighly pressed with your thumb)
Limes – about 1/2 lime per avocado
Salt, pepper, dash of hot sauce
Optional: minced onion, garlic, cilantro or parsley
Wash the avocados, then remove seed by slicing length-wise around the seed, gripping with both hands, twisting the halves apart, then inserting a knife into the seed and twisting the knife to pop out the seed. If you’re confused, watch this. Scoop the flesh out with a spoon, and mash in a bowl with the other ingredients, to taste. Super delicious with organic corn chips, veggies, on a taco, etc etc.