Saturday, October 18, 2014

I Told You So!


The New York Times Explains the Problems with High Deductible Insurance Plans


I really hate to say it, but if you go back a few months and read my post about High Deductible insurance plans you shouldn't be surprised.  You can read my original post here

You really need to read this article from the New York Times!  High deductible insurance plans are the newest fad and are increasingly becoming the norm.  The latest news from the New York Times explains exactly what I had been talking about.  Many people have been choosing high deductible plans on the Bronze and Silver levels from the new Obamacare health exchanges in order to keep their monthly premiums low.  As they are discovering, the premiums may be lower than a traditional plan, but they are not saving enough money to make up the difference in order to pay for services until they meet the large out of pocket deductibles.

This is problematic in several ways:

1. Some people are choosing not to seek medical care because they don't feel like they can afford it, and they likely will not end up paying out $6000 over the year, or whatever very high amount  is in their plan before some insurance kicks in.  And remember -- once you meet your deductible it is not just a free ride after that!  Usually there is still a 10-20% co-insurance that you have to pay.

2. I thought that one of the main purposes behind the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obamacare) was to get everyone on insurance so as to increase the insurance pool and provide people with medical care outside of the emergency room and promote preventive care??  It sure sounds like this is failing.  Although some people are getting preventive care, they are not following up on problems because they simply do not have the out of pocket money to pay for treatment.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Music and the Magic Show Theory

Photo Credit: Thevacationgals.com

There is a new theory about autism and what may cause the stereotypic behaviors and desires for routine and sameness.  The Los Angeles Times has the full story here
 
Basically, the researchers are suggesting that people with autism experience the world as if they are in a constant state of wonder and high expectation like most people in the middle of a magic show.  If you think about this, it makes a lot of sense.  The authors of the article even admit that it is a "common sense" explanation for some of the attributes commonly ascribed or observed in people with autism spectrum disorder.
 
The new theory suggests that people with autism are in a constant state of wonder without being able to establish a connection with previous events and what might come next.  In other words, where did the bunny go? - how did it disappear? - and where/when will it pop out??
 
If a person is constantly put into a constant state of "wonder" it stands to reason that he or she might develop some coping mechanisms to compensate.  It is enjoyable for most to watch a magic show and do other exciting things like riding a roller coaster (okay! - not everyone likes this!), but likely completely overwhelming to maintain that level of excitement for too long.  
 
Is it possible that people with autism try to establish order by developing repetitive behaviors in the form of "stimming" (e.g., hand flapping, rocking, etc.) or compulsively trying to establish order on the environment in the form of routines or visual patterns?  Is this a form of compensation for the brain's inability to make connections between events and provide context for social interaction and communication?  
 
If so, it would explain a lot about music and why so many people with autism are not only drawn to music, but seem to enjoy and respond positively to music interaction.  Music naturally imposes structure to time and Western music especially, provides harmonic, rhythmic and melodic predictability.  
 
If the researchers are on the right track with their theory, it will be interesting to investigate the brain functions related to the specific cognitive tasks for antecedent details and prediction of future events.  And can music be a vehicle for developing the appropriate brain pathways that lead to the acquisition of these skills?
 
Interesting stuff!  
 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Drum Circle Technique: Get Your Groove On!

*note:  A presentation/workshop to students at James Madison University, March 28, 2014.  Much of this Prezi is in outline form and was presented simultaneously with in-depth discussion and experiential drumming.  The material is adapted from the writings of many of the group drumming pioneers and experts in the field, and further developed by my own training from these individuals as well as my music therapy clinical experiences.  Many thanks to Arthur Hull, Christine Stevens, Kalani,  and Bill Matney, to name a few.

 

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