Saturday, September 12, 2015

Hospital Billing Practices, My letter to the Hospital. Don't stand for this!

Red Bud Regional Hospital
Business Office
PO Box 503891
St. Louis, MO 63150
Cc: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Red Bud Chief Executive Officer Shane Watson, Chief Financial Officer Ben Wells

September 12, 2015

Dear Business Administrators of Red Bud Regional Hospital,

I am writing to you asking for consideration to modify your billing practices so that your rates reflect your actual costs are not such a financial blow to the average household. I understand that these billing practices have been in place for many years and those insurance companies have in large part set the rates, holding us all hostages to their policies. Whatever the case, the reality is inflated charges which bury the average patient with impossible charges.
I went to the ER at Red Bud July 5th with abdominal and leg pain, worried it could be a clot, appendicitis or kidney infection. I spent 4 hours which included a CT scan, blood draw, urinalysis and antibiotic IV drip. The bill I received was for $12,421. I’ve researched the hospital’s probable REAL cost and came up with approximately $2000 MAXIMUM.  The hospital has been paid $6,828 by my insurance (which is in itself a mortgage payment at $900+/month for our family of 6 to have catastrophic insurance). 
Now Red Bud Regional Hospital wants me to pay IN FULL $5,567 MORE. Now.  Really? Who can do this? Can you? How is this inflated billing even legal? How can any of you, in good conscience, send out bills like this which could mean financial ruin to most people, knowing the bill does not even come close to representing your true cost? At this rate NO ONE will be able to use our excellent emergency room system. I know I’ll have to feel like I’m dying if I ever go again, which will most likely mean I COULD. No wonder people panic when they think about going to the ER. That is unless they are on Medicaid and it’s all paid for by the government (ie us).
I have a family, a mortgage, kids in school and financial obligations, like 99% of my fellow citizens. There is no way I can pay $5,567 IN FULL now. How can anyone? How can you even ask me to after you’ve already received $6,828 for $2000 worth of services?
How has our honest American Healthcare come to this sordid practice? How many households have gone bankrupt because of these kinds of billing practices? Thank God I’m not chronically ill and Lord have mercy on those who are. No wonder people lose their houses to pay for their chronically ill family members.
Please reconsider my bill and the bills of all those others who have been overcharged so egregiously.

Thank you,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Cost of Your Healthcare (Smacks of Mafia-like Price Fixing)

Emergency Room Charges - The Fleecing of Americans

I felt bad enough to go to the emergency room. I had a fever then horrible abdominal, leg and back pain. Thinking it was a bladder infection I called my trusted gyno and got on antibiotics. 3 days later I was still suffering and then started to bleed like I was menstruating but nothing about the bleed was "normal." It was 4th of July weekend and the only place to go was the ER. I needed to rule out kidney infection, blood clot from a recent knee injury and appendicitis. I spent 4 hours in our local hospital emergency room. I love our local small hospital and their 0 minutes wait time. I saw the doctors, got a CT scan, blood draw and urinalysis and then was diagnosed with a bladder infection (which later proved to be incorrect) that wasn't responding to my antibiotics. They gave me an IV drip of another antibiotic and sent me home with 3 prescriptions.

I wasn't worried about the cost because I have insurance. I carry BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. It's a $6,000 individual deductible, $12,000 for the family. For our family of 6 I pay $900+ per month which includes dental for our children only.  Frankly, that's a mortgage payment.

Let's think about that $900+ per month cost. How many people do you know that can afford that kind of payment for CATASTROPHIC insurance? What about all these families whose income can never support that but don't qualify for Medicaid?

Now let's look at what the hospital charged me for 4 hours, 1 CT scan, 1 IV drip, 1 blood draw and 1 urinalysis. $12,237.72  There is no reality in which those charges are justified. $8,316.00 for the CT scan alone. Actual cost is somewhere around $250.  Forbes article about why CT scans cost so much

I told you my deductible is $6,000.00. My portion of the his bill is $5,592.00 payable IMMEDIATELY. The hospital has been paid $6000.00, which is WAY too much for services rendered and is also billing me $5,592.00 payable immediately. Really? Do you know of anyone (of average income) who can (or should) pay that kind of bill immediately? In what reality are these charges justified. I believe they are in fact CRIMINAL. There is no other explanation. I absolutely pity the chronically ill whose financial lives are absolutely ruined by such criminally price fixed charges. Who's benefiting here? How is it they are able to get away with this?

We make a great income. But we still have living expenses such as school fees, property taxes, income taxes and other necessary expenses which completely negate any possibility of being able to immediately pay such a bill. So what 's it like for those without a great income? Devastating.

I've notified our Congressman. I'm speaking out. I think you should too. Raise your voice. Demand accountability and help stop the fleecing. Flood the internet. Share on Social Media. Call your law makers and news outlets.

Are You Getting That "Walked All Over" Feeling?

Do you suspect that you are being undermined in the work place?

Your gut feeling is a red flag.

Dive into the plentiful information regarding abusive and controlling people. Often times by the time you suspect what's going on the damage has already been done and it's time to take action for recovery. Follow the links below for more information.

What Emotional Abuse Looks Like

The Face of Your Aggressor

Traits of the Abuser

How to Deal with Controlling People, 1st article

How to Recognize and Deal with Controlling People

How to Recover

And yes, I'm an activist about this because this has profoundly affected my family. Thank God, truly, that we got away from the perpetrator and we have been richly blessed with peace and love since.
It's so common that there are shelters in every city, victims advocates in every court house and countless books about how to deal with the psychopath.

Recognize it in your professional relationships as well. They are undermining you and you need to know what tools to use to protect your career and future.

I'll say it again, please read In Sheep's Clothing or check out his website at

Monday, August 4, 2014

My New Gift Business


After years of contemplating the perfect business I have finally pulled the trigger and established a company all about the artisan and meaningful gifts. I have natural skin care products, hand thrown pottery, vintage ceramic DIY kids sets, hand knitted items (such as baby blankets, face beards, body cloths and baby hats), aromatherapy, hand sewn tote bags and journals just to name a few of the items. Every "manufacturer" is an artisan, author or mom and pop. Every manufacturer creates their products with an eye not only for quality but with a great deal of love. More time goes into each product than would ever be considered wise to become a "profitable" enterprise.

Want to send something meaningful to a friend? Want to love your body by feeding it nourishing ingredients? Check us out! We have a facebook page titled Body and Mind Gifts as well as the above mentioned web page:  

The Truth About Natural Cures: Calendula, Chickweed, Comfrey, & Honey – Body and Mind Gifts

The Truth About Natural Cures: Calendula, Chickweed, Comfrey, & Honey – Body and Mind Gifts

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dealing with the Wolf

Dealing with the Wolf

Have you found yourself surrounded by drama you didn’t create? Immersed in someone’s judgmental condemnation of your actions? The victim of implication subtly suggested which undermines your success? Have you thought “I hate myself”? These are red flags that you are being controlled.

I’ve had a long journey learning how to cope with controllers or “covert aggressives” and I want to give you the insight and tools I’ve gained on how to take back control over your own happiness and how to cope with these people. A Covert Aggressive is defined by Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep’s Clothing, as someone who exemplifies this sort of behavior: “Slickly trying to get at someone, trying to get the better of them or trying to dominate or control them while keeping your aggressive intentions concealed or intentionally misrepresented is almost always self-advancing and generally at the other person’s expense. Make no mistake, as I insist in all my writings, covert-aggression is very active (as opposed to passive) albeit concealed or disguised aggression, which is just one reason why erroneously labeling it passive-aggression distorts the reality of things. And the person on the receiving end of covert-aggression has usually been directly targeted as well.” (“Covert-aggression is at the heart of most interpersonal manipulation. What the artful, subtle fighter knows is that if they can get you to doubt yourself, feel like you have to explain yourself, and question your perceptions and judgment, there’s a good chance they can get you to back down, back-off, or better still, cave-in. Covert fighters count on the fact that you won’t trust your gut instincts or pass simple judgment on their character or the true character of their actions. They count on you being far too conscientious for that. And they know that if they don’t come across as openly out to defy the generally accepted rules for civil behavior, exploit your good nature, and get the better of you, you’ll ignore that feeling in your gut that tells you you’re simply being played.” (

I will be using Dr. Simon’s book and website as my foundation for explaining covert aggressives , their tactics and how to “survive” them.

I grew up in an extrovert family, seventh child (read peon), went to a private high school (which had many issues and where I learned about bureaucracy ) followed by a Christian college which was layered with judgmental black and white views of everything and then had more experiences as an adult which led me to uncover what/ who  had just happened to us. I had a choice, be beaten down or fight back. My experiences as a teen taught me two things: 1)With God, I can make it. 2) Just “taking it” destroys a person’s will to thrive.

My experiences as an adult have given me a deeper appreciation of exactly how to understand and fight back according to Jesus’s admonition in Matthew 10: 16

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

Before my recent experiences I thought this verse was basically telling me to turn the other cheek, cover others’ sins and that eventually I would be persecuted for my religious beliefs. Wow, now that I have been in the trenches I can understand this verse so much deeper and I want to bring it to you like a beautiful comforting quilt made by your loving Big Brother Jesus, unfolded so that you can see and experience its comfort and wisdom.

Matthew 10:16-20 actually gives us a formula for dealing with the trouble makers in our lives. He tells us that we are going to be like sheep in a pack of wolves. Wolves will decimate a herd, not killing for food but just for the kill. THAT’S how dangerous it is – not only physically but more importantly SPIRITUALLY. How do we survive?

First, you have to identify “the wolves”? Wolves are beautiful and look very similar to loyal protecting loving dogs. However there is a difference in their predatory nature. Let’s follow Jesus’s journey and look at the attributes of the Pharisees and Saducees who were the wolves of His time here as a “sheep”.

The Pharisees:

· Were concerned more with social status and rank than with serving.

· Had to always be “right”.

· Had to be in control, have power over the situation.

· Were liars, if not by commission then by omission.

· Were covert agressives, or manipulators with the intention to undermine and advance their own agendas.

· Did not show evidence of having the fruits of the spirit, God’s Litmus test for telling if someone is righteous. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

· Were good at making you believe that they are interested in your success (or religious well-being.) Every psychology reference I have read says to listen to your gut instinct. Is what the person saying sound too good to be true? Probably is. These people are master liars and sales people. They are GOOD at what they do and that is to suck you in and make you believe in their fairy tale.

It is very possible that these wolves are your bosses, friends, religious leader, mother, father, brother, sister, coworker, child…. The key is to identify them, see how they work and take control of the situation. Here are some classic manipulation tactics used by covert aggressives :

• Shame and guilting

• Isolating you from family and friends

• Creating doubt in your own judgment and abilities

• Attempting to control or use your priorities for their guilting and shaming.

• Use your weakness to make you feel useless, insignificant and therefor “wrong”.

• Assert their own “righteousness” as their position of obviously being “right”.

• Bullying. They use your hatred of confrontation to beat you down so that you just give up.

Now that you have identified them, what do you do? My past understanding of what to do was to “turn the other cheek” and “cover their sins”. This is NOT how Jesus Christ tells us to handle manipulative people, the wolves. Here is what he says:

• Be “shrewd as snakes.” This means to perceive and avoid danger. Be patient, thoughtful and use your defenses. The Greek word pronimos that is here translated “wise” or “shrewd” refers to practical wisdom, prudence, cleverness, and discernment. One who is “wise,” in the sense of this term, is a person who shows presence of mind and has the understanding and sound judgment necessary to act prudently.

• The “serpent” was typical of wisdom and cunning in the ancient world. The wisdom of the serpent is that of keen perception and cleverness both in avoiding its enemies and catching its prey.

• Snakes are patient, camouflage themselves, position themselves for opportune moments and flee from prey (under detritus, rocks, bushes, water) They economize food and water consumption (desert snakes burrow during the day and come out in the cool of the night) and assess a situation before venturing out into it (taste the air, feel the vibrations). Their most common form of self-protection is avoidance. A snake’s first line of defense is to escape to safety among rocks or vegetation. Snakes have to be alert to dangers. Most snakes are not aggressive or want to attack humans. They bite humans only in self-defense and would rather not confront us at all.

• Proverbs 27:12 in the New International Version: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” ; “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways” (14:8, NIV).

• Be “innocent as a dove”. We are to conduct ourselves so that we are without blame, causing no hurt.

• The Greek word akeraioi translated “harmless” or “innocent” means, literally, “unmixed,” and was used to refer to such things as pure gold or unmixed wine. In the New Testament, it is employed figuratively of moral purity and integrity (Rom. 16:19; Phil. 2:15).

• In the ancient Near East, the dove was symbolic of purity, faithfulness, and guilelessness.

• “To be “harmless as doves” expresses the need of Jesus’ disciples to be above reproach in both conduct and speech. They must be clever and shrewd in dealing with their cunning wolf-like adversaries, but they must never stoop to the ethics of their enemies. They must be free from guile and evil. Sin in the life and speech of the disciple gives his foes an easy opening to discredit and neutralize his witness. “

Let’s put all of the above into a practical response to finding yourself in this situation, the figurative sheep amongst wolves.

• Assess the situation. Listen to that gut instinct and start analyzing what just happened or is happening.

• Recognize the manipulation/control. Have you lost control over your own preferences, job direction, interests, time, friend selection, religious conviction?

• Name it. Believe it. Do something about it. Believing can be the hardest part. Our good nature doesn’t want to believe that some people would actually want to make us their puppet for their own convenience or superiority.

• Get away from the aggression, manipulation. You must distance yourself or aggressively control the manipulation by setting BOUNDARIES. Here are some examples of boundary setting phrases: “You will not disrespect me.” “I will continue my hobbies. They give me great satisfaction.” “I believe differently than you and that’s OK. God is my judge. He is who I need to be right with.” And here’s the best one “No.” And of course you must have consequences if those boundaries are crossed

• Create win/win situations. If you find yourself “stuck” in a relationship with a manipulator you must learn the art of coming up with solutions that are beneficial to you BOTH. This way the manipulator feels gratified and you maintain your privileges/ preferences as well.

• Don’t ENABLE. This can be confused with “turning the other cheek”. When we do not set boundaries, stand up for ourselves and sympathize too much we end up enabling the “wolf”. You think you are being a good Christian by doing nothing or “taking it” when in reality you are only feeding your aggressor with the satisfaction of having that power over your life. 2 Tim. 1:6-7 says

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does NOT make us timid, but gives us POWER, LOVE AND SELF-DISCIPLINE (SOUND MIND). “

How do we then find comfort and direction after dealing malevolent behavior? Our instincts cry out for retaliation and revenge. Mine do anyway.  There have been many days that my prayers focused on God’s promises of His wrath while at the same time begging Him for help with my hate and patience for His perfect timing. I find Romans 12:9-21 a guide for what I should be doing (instead of obsessing on my anger) and how God will take of me.

9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And finally Paul says to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ro. 13:11-14. “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

These final verses turn our attention back to self-improvement and living a righteous life rather than focusing on revenge or wallowing in misery over having been a victim. Jesus has empowered us with a sound mind and the boldness of the Holy Spirit. Ask God for courage and the peace that surpasses all understanding mentioned in Philippians 4:4-8.

It’s humiliating to realize you’ve been controlled, manipulated and demeaned. The effects can be detrimental if you don’t catch what’s happening. Be alert. Be cautious. Be without blame. And finally protect yourself by creating firm boundaries with consequences. Jesus very clearly tells us how to deal with these situations and it’s NOT to allow ourselves to be beaten down, humiliated and then come to believe that we are worthless. We are given a sound mind, a bold spirit and wisdom to overcome.

For more information please read In Sheep’s Clothing by Dr. George Simon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bad Homeschool Days

I've been homeschooling for 16 years, since my first child was born. We, as parents, begin teaching our children immediately and the journey is so very satisfying. Just as in every other job there are good days and bad days. The good days are when all is in sync, fairy dust seems to be sprinkled on everything you touch, look at or research. The kids all cooperate and are even turned on by what we're studying. I thought that was my daily goal. However, I've recently come to understand and see the profound wisdom in "no pain, no gain". There are some subjects the kids just do not want to struggle though the mental mire of understanding. For our house this is math. I struggle as a teacher with this because I personally like math. I think it's exciting. My kids on the other hand get all overworked and dramatic when they just can't understand and keep a new concept. I am pretty patient but when the unfettered drama flairs and there is screaming and gnashing of teeth I get pretty worn out, fast. I used to think those were days to avoid. However, I've since learned that those are in fact break-through days. Days when they are learning so much it's pushing their boundaries and forcing their brain to bend in ways they didn't know it could. Still takes mental steel on my part to face those days but I no longer see them as failures. Quite the opposite. Now, I'll dive into those days and the very next will be art or documentaries - to give us all a mental rest. I guess like with everything else in life the things most worth having are the things for which we have to work the hardest.