Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Affordable Care Act: The Basics & How It Will Impact You

This is a compensated campaign from The Motherhood. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I hate to admit it, but I am pretty bad about keeping up with current events, politics, news. etc. When it comes to the health care reform laws, the amount of information overwhelms me. Which pretty much left me clueless about what types of changes I would expect to see in January 2014 and what it would all mean for me. Thankfully I had a chance to be a part of a presentation by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to help me better understand it all. It helped get a great deal of answers about the foundation of the reform and I want to pass some of that information onto you all.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes into effect January 2014, open enrollment starts in just a few days on October 1. And if you want your coverage to go into affect on January 1, you need to be signed up by December 14. So now is the time to find out how this will affect you and what steps you need to take to ensure you have the best health insurance for you set up. Hopefully I can cover some basic questions for you here.

Why do I need health insurance?
  • Health insurance is an important way to protect you and your family in the event of injury or illness.
  • Injury and illnesses can be costly without insurance. For example,  the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000 and without health insurance, a broken arm can cost $2,500 or more.

I couldn't even imagine not having health insurance for myself and my family. For kids there are yearly well care check ups, viruses, vaccinations and all of that adds up so quickly. Not to mention with four boys, you know we will be spending some time in the emergency room over the years. There is no way my family could afford to NOT have insurance.

What will be my health insurance options under the ACA?
  1. Continue purchasing insurance through your or your spouse’s employer
  2. Buy health insurance yourself - either through exchanges, direct for insurance companies or through traditional brokers 
  3. Enroll in government programs like Medicare or Medicaid plans - if you are eligible
  4. Go without insurance - but pay a tax penalty

What are the Health Insurance Exchanges?
Yeah so this is one of those areas that confused me. I had no idea what a Health Insurance Exchange was and obviously no clue how they worked. If you are going to be purchasing health insurance yourself and not through an employer or the government, you will want to check out the exchanges in order to help you get the best price.
Photo courtesy of
Oregon Insurance Division
  • A health insurance "exchange" is just another word for “marketplace."  It works similarly to Amazon and lets you compare health insurance options. Public and private health insurance exchanges will operate in a similar way.
  • Plans will be available for sale October 1, with coverage starting on January 1st of next year.  Each state will have its own exchange serving people who buy health insurance for just themselves and their families.
  •  There will be four levels or metallic tiers, depending on how much you want to spend.  The general rule is that your deductible will be lower, the more you spend on your monthly premium.  
    • Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premium, but will cover 60% of expected costs.
    • Platinum plans have the highest monthly premium, but will cover 90% of expected costs.
  • The vast majority of people who are currently covered by their employers will not see a change or have to use the public exchange
  • When can you use the exchanges? 
    • Enrollment begins: October 1, 2013
    • Enrollment ends: March 31, 2014
    • Coverage begins: January 1, 2014 (if you sign up prior to December 15th)

Essential health benefits that all plans will offer.
One of the biggest questions I had about the reform is how it would positively effect preventative care coverage. One of my biggest concerns for my own health is breast cancer. My paternal grandmother had breast cancer and since I inherited some of her other reproductive genes (higher elevations of hormones resulting in double ovulation, hence resulting in fraternal twins), it is quite frankly always in the back of my mind. About a year or so ago when I was at my annual OB/GYN visit, I asked about getting a mammogram done. I was 33 at the time and deemed to young by my insurance carrier for them to cover it. Even though there is a family history there. I found the whole thing absurd. I mean is it ever really to early to start screaning for cancer? Wouldn't paying for a mammorgram at potentially stopping the cancer before it starts be better for all parties? So I am glad to see that women's preventative care is specifically being addressed in this reform. You bet your behind I'll be out getting my first mammogram as soon as I can. Here is what else you can expect to see covered with the ACA:
  • Emergency services
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Preventive and wellness services
  • Chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care 
  • Women
    • Women won’t be charged more
    • Cannot be charged more or denied for a pre-existing condition 
    • You’ll get preventative care for mammograms, well woman visits, contraception and much more
    • You can choose your own primary care, OB-GYN or pediatrician without referrals

Who will be eligible to participate in the healthcare exchanges?
Practically everyone is eligible for marketplace coverage. Requirements are that individuals live in the U.S., must be a U.S. citizen or national and cannot be currently incarcerated.

What is the penalty tax if you don’t buy insurance?
The penalty will either be 1% of taxable income or $95 per individual / $285 per family, depending on which one is greater. This will increase over the years with annual adjustments that will continue to 2017. The reality is that health insurance doesn’t work well if the only individuals that purchase it are people that have determined that they need it at a point in time. The idea of insurance is to have a balanced risk pool that is made up of both individuals who require care and individuals who do not require care. The mandate was put in place to make sure that the health insurance marketplace works as effectively as possible.

Where can I go for more information and to find the best healthcare for my family according to my state?
  • We have launched a website for potential new members to educate on reform laws, what the law means to you, timelines for enrollment etc. 
  • We have launched a section of dedicated to ACA information for current members and are in the process of enhancing our online shopping experience and mobile capabilities to clearly discern between on exchange and off exchange options, as well as offer shopping guides and checklists to help people better understand what they need and when. Our goal is to help consumers and employers select a benefit plan that best fits their needs.

Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the information on the health care reform. There is so  much more than I can fit into one post, so I strongly urge you to check out the websites listed above for any additional questions you may have. And don't be afraid to reach out to your current insurance carrier or employer to find out if anything will be changing for you specifically. I wanted to just lay some of the basics out for you here to help you get a good foundation and hopefully this post helped a little bit with that. I know I still find it all somewhat overwhelming, but I also think I have a better grip on it now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

HP ElitePad #Giveaway

So I had no idea that HP had ventured into the world of tablets, I guess I'm a little behind in my gadget news. My husband and I were just discussing tablets vs. PCs last night and thinking that with all the available tablets on the market, does anyone really buy desktops anymore? With something like the HP ElitePad that runs a light version of Windows, I don't see why anyone would want a big bulky desktop PC. At some point we are going to have to get some type of family computer for our kids to use for school work, and I defintely think a Windows based tablet will be the way we go.

Want a chance to win an HP ElitePad for yourself? Click on the image below to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

This giveaway is brought to you by, Bepoz, a provider of high quality POS systems for boutiques, hotels and take out restaurants in the U.S. Go to their website to enter for your chance to win the ElitePad!

Sponsored: Headfirst! Expert Advice on Lice – A New Head Lice Resource for Parents

The below content is sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur’s Headfirst! Expert Advice on Lice campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Did you know that at any point, one to three percent of children in elementary school may have head lice? During an outbreak, that number may be as high as 25 percent. As the school year begins, turn to for tools and tips on finding, treating, and talking about lice. The Headfirst! Expert panel has the information to arm all parents should they have to battle head lice!

VTech InnoTab 3 Review & #Giveaway

So I am a bit of a gadget enthusiast, to put it mildly. And as a result, my boys are turning into little gadget lovers themselves. I don't mind them playing handheld video games or with my iPhone as long as it is done with moderation. Plus, sometimes mom needs a little help getting some peace and quiet! Last year we got the chance to review the VTech InnoTab 2 tablet and they instantly loved it. Now Vtech has the InnoTab 3 and we were anxious to get our hands on it to give it a test run.

Product Details
  • The InnoTab 3 combines educational games, creative activities and reading skills in a child-friendly, multi-function, touch screen tablet to make learning fun.
  • Compact and lightweight design with 4.3” color touch screen, new directional pad and tilt sensor
  • 2.0 megapixel, 180° rotating camera with more than 55 photo features and special effects
  • Your child can even embark on fun, educational adventures with their favorite characters such as Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First and Jake & the Never Land Pirates. 
  • Interactive eReader
  • 4 game styles: touch screen, motion, D-pad and sound-activated.
  • Kids can import their own music to create MP3 playlists.
  • The Art Studio allows kids to color, draw, paint and decorate with stickers, stemps and more.
  • In the My Magic Beanstalk interactive game, kids take care of their beanstalk by watering it to make it grow. They'll also harvest and collect beans, learn parts of plants and collect trophies along the way.
  • The InnoTab 3 makes learning fun for children, while giving them a cool electronic device made just for them!

The InnoTab 3 comes with the tablet, 2 stylus pens, 1 stylus cord, 1 game cartridge, 1 USB cable, 1 Learning Lodge Installation CD-ROM and 4 AA batteries. Do you know what it is like when a new kids toy or technological device arrives in my house and 4 kids want to play with it at the same time? Well I'll tell you: utter and complete chaos! Which is just a testament to  how much the enjoy playing with it.

One of the great things about VTech products is the Learning Lodge Software. It allows you to connect your devices to track and monitor your child's progress and also gives you a plethera of download to purchase. The Learning Lodge features more than 350 educational games, e-books, music and videos developed specifically for each child’s unique stage of development and includes a broad library of subjects like reading, math, social studies, science, creativity, problem solving and so much more! Once you install Learning Lodge onto your computer and register your new device, you are given one free download. Your free download allows you to choose from a specific list of apps or eBooks. Apparently, I still had some free downloads left over from the last few VTech items I registered, so we were able to download a couple of educational apps onto our new InnoTab 3.

What Mom Liked
  • The stylus cord is a life saver. I cannot tell you how many times we misplaced both InnoTab 2 stylus. One end of the cord attaches to the stylus while the other attached to the tablet. Now that little pen will never fall between my couch cushions again!
  • The smaller design, compared to the InnoTab 2, makes it easier for tiny hands to hold. This means my 3 year old can get a good grip on it as he rips it out of the hands of one of his older brothers.
  • There is really a great selection of apps to choose from. I was able to look for titles in specific categories (u.e. math, problem solving, etc.) to make sure I had a little bit of everything covered. In addition, there are also character themed games and eBooks that kids will love. 
  • I love that all of the games and apps are educational so you don't have to feel bad about them having a little screen time with their InnoTab.
  • Great color on the screen.
  • The 4 AA batteries that were included in the package were a nice touch and let you get stared right away.

What My Kids Liked

  • The MP3 player. We love listening and singing along to the radio in the car and my boys love being able to have their favorite tunes accessible to them anytime. I must admit that I am staring to get a little tired of Justin Timberlake though. (OK, not really.)
  • The camera. They love taking silly pictures of themselves and each other, and occasionally sneaking one of me, and then editing them
  • The games, of course! Their favorite game happens to be the Switch & Go Dino one that I was able to download for free. They are definitely playing this the most.

What We Didn't Like
  • While the smaller design is nice, I was disappointed to see that the screen also got smaller too. I would have rather they kept the overall size of the tablet larger to keep the screen the same.
  • The battery life is short, especially when being used by multiple children. The InnoTab 3 takes 4 AA batteries and I find myself having to replace them pretty much every other day. If you are going to invest in this product, I also suggest you get the Rechargeable Power Pack which will save you a ton on batteries in the long run.
Overall, we are once again pleased with the latest VTech InnoTab learning tablet. I only wish I had more of them so I didn't have to listen to the constant bickering of who's turn it is to play.

Connect with VTech

The InnoTab 3 may be purchased at or at various national retailers like Target, Walmart and Amazon. ARV is $69.99 and it is suitable for children ages 3 to 9.

One (1) lucky winner will receive a VTech InnoTab 3. Open to US residents only, giveaway will end on September 26, 2013. Please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

I received a complimentary product in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The InnoTab 3, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by VTech.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Glass Dharma #Giveaway

straw giveaway

Glass Dharma Giveaway
Sponsor: Glass Dharma

Glass Dharma is a company that truly believes in helping the environment. Their glass straws are made right here in the USA and are warranted against breakage. This does not mean there will never be a flaw in their design. Read here what happened when Rachel from Living Frugal in Georgia received a glass straw from Glass Dharma that had a crack in it.

One winner will receive a $25 e-gift certificate by email to use at Ends October 4 at 11:59 EST Open to 50 US, D.C. and Canada 18+ Use the Giveaway Tool application below to enter.

This blog was not compensated to post this giveaway and is not responsible for prize delivery. The sponsor is responsible for prize delivery. This giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social network. This giveaway is open to residents of the 50 United States, D.C. and Canada. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted by email. They will then have 24 hours to respond. If the said winner does not respond in 24 hours another winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Entrants must only enter with either one email address, IP address and/or Facebook account, anyone found violating these rules will be disqualified. If you have any questions please contact Rachel at

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Diamond Candle Review & #Giveaway!

I received a Diamond Candle in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love a good smelling candle but it has been a while since I've actually had one in my house. I don't like burning candles that are made from petroleum based oil and have an overpowering fragrance. you know, like that store you walk by in the mall and get a headache from all of the artificial fragrances that are wafting out of it? Yeah, no thank you. 

Diamond Candles seem to be everywhere in my social media feeds lately so when I had the opportunity to try one out, I jumped on it. The candles are made with soy wax from U.S. grown soy beans. The wicks are made from cotton that is lead, tin and zinc free. But what makes these candles truly unique is the fact that inside everyone is a ring. Some rings are worth $10, $100, $1,000, or even $5,000! There are a variety of fragrances to choose from ranging from fruity or floral to yummy food.

Diamond Candles Orange Vanilla
I tend to use citrusy scents in my home and I absolutely love orange and vanilla which is why I chose the Orange Vanilla for myself. The first thing I noticed about my candle is the fragrance was not overpowering at all. When burning it filled the main level of our house with its pleasant scent. I burned my candle for quite a few hours over three days until it got to the point where I could dig the foil containing the ring out. And I was rewarded with a cute silver colored ring inside! Now how can you tell if your ring is worth $5,000? Well Diamond Candles tells us to look inside the band and if we see a "14K" or similar marking, then it should be taken to get appraised. If it is marked with "Thailand" than it is probably worth around $100 and unmarked or worth around $10. Mine is unmarked but hey that is fine with me. While it would have been nice to get a valuable ring, it was still a lot of fun waiting to see what surprise was waiting for me inside my candle.

Diamond Candles sell for $24.95 and for a limited time you can receive free standard shipping on orders of $45 or more by using coupon code SHIPDEAL-45.

One (1) winner will recive a large Diamond Candle in the scent of their choice containing a ring worth $10up to $5,000. Open to US residents only. Please use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 1, 2013

BagInc Designer Inspired Handbag #Giveaway

The kids are back in school moms, so now it is time to spoil and pamper ourselves a little bit. Relax in a hot bath with your favorite book, enjoy the peace and quiet of your empty home, or enter a giveaway to win a new handbag for yourself!

Welcome to the Designer Inspired Handbag Giveaway event, sponsored by BagInc and hosted by Happy Mothering! During this event, will be giving away a handbag of the winner’s choice from their Hottest Collection (valued at up to a $190)!


Remotely operating from Paris with an office and warehouse in Hong Kong, is comprised of a team of energetic fashion aficionados with a passion for celebrity-inspired, designer handbags. Their international coverage gives Baginc a unique edge, one that allows them to deliver the hottest bags to clients all over the globe.

They have a great selection of designer-inspired handbag styles at affordable prices. They don’t charge sales tax and provide free worldwide shipping for all orders over $100. They even offer a money-back guarantee for customers who are unsatisfied with their purchase.

Here are are some of the many bags you’ll be able to choose from if you win!

hottest-collection-img3 hottest-collection-img6 ht-the-so-soho-bags hottest-collection-img4 the-route-bag

Entering is easy. Just complete as many options as you’d like from the Rafflecopter form below. The more entries you complete, the more chances you’ll have to win – good luck!

This giveaway is open worldwide and runs through September 30, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Marianna was not compensated for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...