New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that insurance providers in the state must cover transition-related care for transgender people, including gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy. 

State law requires that insurance covers the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders, which includes gender dysphoria experienced by trans people. New York is the ninth state (plus D.C.) to ensure transition-related care is covered by insurance. 

The group said that most insurance policies currently exclude coverage for transgender treatment, and at best include it as a more expensive rider to a standard plan.

“This is an absolute sea change in the way that insurance for transgender people will cover their health care needs,” Michael Silverman, executive director of the fund, said. “This essentially opens up an entire world of treatment for transgender people that was closed to them previously.”

HUGE. This is going to change lives. 


I love letters like this one. Genuinely wandering, quite sweet and wonderfully taking all the time in the world to get to an end. Brilliant.

When insurance companies deny the mentally ill the treatment their doctors prescribe, seriously ill people are often discharged, and can be a danger to themselves or others


If you are in the place, please read this. We need to be outraged by how little attention mental health gets from insurance companies. Reaching out for help when struggling with a mental illness takes a lot of courage and the last thing the sufferer needs is to feel invalidated. Mental health is just as important as physical health, we cannot deny humans their safety and health. 


Twin Peaks - Demons

Season 2 Episode 6


Audrey: I saw so much.

Ben Horne: We’II sort it out. Together.

Audrey: Yes, Daddy. You and I.

Ben Horne: That’s my girI


Ben Horne: Josie. WeII pIayed.


Harry Truman: Josie, I Iove you.


Cooper: What does Bob want?

One-Armed Man: He is Bob, eager for fun. When he wears a smile, everybody run!

Cooper: Where’s Bob now?

One-Armed Man: In a large building with many rooms alike. But occupied by different souls night after night.

Eat Right



The best insurance is taking care. Exercising and eating right can help prevent sickness. An active body and mind benefits the soul. Health care works when the person cares about being healthy. If someone keeps fit and diets well, then the person should feel energetic. 

Still, sometimes taking care is not enough. That’s why doctors and nurses make a difference. Health insurance makes finding a doctor easier. Make health a number one priority. Take care of life. After all, everyone has one life to live. Also, not everyone should go to the gym right away.

Too many gym memberships are wasted. Joining a fitness center requires proper timing. Don’t waste time. Don’t waste money. Health and timing go hand and hand. Next chance while on the treadmill, pay attention to the built-in clock. When cooking dinner you may set the timer on the stove. Oh yeah, add some vegetables to the recipe. No matter what, it is always a good time to get healthy.


Just be devoted and it will work. Having a positive attitude increases the likelihood of success. So, you have to get insurance; it is vital. As long as you have a pulse beat, you need insurance that you will have a heart beat. Have you ever heard that song it goes like… “Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah staying alive. Staying alive (x2). Staying Ali—-ve!” Listen to the lyrics. Live the lyrics. Stay alive.


I like the song because the beat and the words are joyful. Taking care means so much to insuring your health. “PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE.” In other words, your choice to live healthier is better than a prescription. Statistics show Americans as a group are overweight.


Many experts say do not focus on the negative that is LOSING WEIGHT. Instead, focus on what is positive- getting the right size for you. Check to see if your insurance pays for personal trainers. Be ready to be pushed by your trainer, but understand it is in your best interest.


Before joining get as much information as you can. I cannot stress it enough, we need to eat right. Whether you shop at Whole Foods or the local grocery store, keep in mind what you are buying and putting into your body. 


If you have to drink sugary drinks, because it is a habit, try to do it in moderation. Staying smart is the key. I have heard from the lips of health care officials; eating healthy matters more than exercising in terms of fitness and body weight. Everybody is different.


Some have a fast metabolism. Others have a slow metabolism. Know yourself- your body, mind, and soul. So, I say if it is said PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE, then PREPARATION IS THE BEST HEALTH INSURANCE. Take care.

I am Guru Jay launching off into orbit in 5-4-3-2-1!

Photo By: Wikimedia Commons 

The insurers are taking advantage of fierce competition for their business among states, which have passed special laws that allow the companies to pull cash away from reserves they are required to keep to pay claims. The insurers use the money to pay for bonuses, shareholder dividends, acquisitions and other projects, and because of complicated accounting maneuvers, the money escapes federal taxation.

The TransAmerica Life Insurance Company used a state law in Iowa last year to reap $1.8 billion from its reserves while also avoiding an estimated $640 million in federal taxes, according to company documents. The deal was unusually large but otherwise followed the general industry trend.

South Carolina, Arizona and Delaware are other states competing for these deals, hot on the heels of Vermont, which pioneered the idea many years ago. Hawaii is positioning itself as the venue of choice for fast-growing Pacific Rim insurers.

But other states have refused to go along, and in New York, the state’s financial services superintendent is appealing to Washington to block the practice.

“There is no sound policy reason why the American taxpayer should continue to subsidize certain life insurance companies in this fashion,” Benjamin M. Lawsky, the New York State financial services superintendent, wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. Mr. Lawsky, who has declared a moratorium on the transactions in New York State, recommended that the Internal Revenue Service examine the deals. A Treasury Department representative said it had received the letter and was reviewing it.


Insurers Use Deals to Avoid as Much as $100 Billion in Taxes -

Even better for insurers, they already receive a federal tax incentive when it comes to reserves. Because they are an ordinary business expense, reserves are tax deductible — the higher the reserves, in general, the bigger the federal deduction. And from a savvy life insurer’s point of view, that is the beauty of these transactions: It can both avoid a tax and free up capital at the same time. So far, state regulators have no authority to enforce the federal tax laws. The I.R.S. does have that authority but cannot often see the tax maneuver because such deals are extremely complex and the details are often protected by state confidentiality laws.

If they’re not keeping the money in the reserves, they shouldn’t get any sort of tax incentive for it. It’s spun as the only way to get them to keep the money on hand, but they’re NOT keeping the money on hand.

Day 353 - Tracey (3rd person I approached) & Belinda

December 19, 2014 - There’s just twelve days left in The Stranger Project 2014. Yet, I still managed to find a way to break another of my self-imposed rules - sort of. This is the first time more than one person has been in the picture that I’ve posted with the story. All shall be revealed. 

I had been out doing some errands and spotted Tracey (blonde hair, on the right in the photo), reading what looked like a text book, and looking at her phone. It was her bright pink coat and scarf that caught my attention. About thirty minutes later, with my errands completed, I saw Tracey was still sitting in the same spot, by herself, reading the text book. I walked to where was sitting and asked if she would chat with me. I showed her my Facebook page, which she took a picture of for future reference. She smiled, and said she’d be happy to do anything, that would take her away from studying. I sat down and we chatted.

“I was born in Lincolnshire, England. I was three years old when we moved to Canada, so I don’t remember being there. My parents are English. I think they were just looking for a better life and that’s why we moved. My mother had relatives that lived in Canada, which was, I think how they choose to come here,” she said. Tracey is the youngest of three children. “My sister is the oldest. She’s four years and fifty-one weeks older than I am. And my brother is in the middle. We got along as young kids, and then not as much when we were teenagers. I was closer to my brother then, because he and I were closer in age,” said Tracey.

“We lived in Richmond when we first arrived in Canada. Then my parents bought a house in White Rock. I went to elementary school there. When I was ten we moved to Vancouver Island. First to Qualicum Beach and then Nanoose Bay. We built a house there. That first summer, everyone helped out, all the family, and we built the house. I took a bus to high-school, which was in Parksville. All the other kids who lived around where we did took the bus as well, so it didn’t seem odd. It’s just how we got to school,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t like school. Not high-school anyway,” Tracey said quietly, almost in a whisper. “I left when I was in Grade ten. I was definitely that rebel child. It was mutual between me and the school. It didn’t have anything to do with drugs or alcohol, or anything like that. Some of the people I was hanging out with weren’t the best influences. I was hanging out with the wrong crowd.” 

Her parents had separated when Tracey was thirteen. “I went to live with my father a little while after I left school. I only stayed with him for three months and then went back home to my mother. But I decided that I needed to finish school, but I wanted to do it my way. I also changed the people I was hanging around with. I finished school through Open Learning,” she said. The Open Learning courses consisted of English, Math and Sciences. It was the same curriculum that was taught in school, but without the school setting and environment. 

“My cousin was living here in Vancouver and she had just had a baby boy. I moved over to help her take care of him,” she said, pausing to finish her sentence. I could sense, and then see that Tracey was holding back her emotions. Her face was flushed and tears were welling in her eyes. “My father got sick and passed away. It was a difficult time. My cousin and I had some trouble between us with that,” she said, still visibly upset, yet holding back. 

I said that it wasn’t my intention to trigger upsetting emotions. I also let Tracey know that I was there for her. I waited. “Thank you,” she said. “We had a falling out because my cousin didn’t know how to handle my father’s death, or how to deal with me, during that time.” I could see Tracey working to maintain her composure. “We lost Dallas. He died in a plane crash. Her son, that I had moved to help her with, Dallas. He was like my own child. It’s hard because I think about him every single day, but when you don’t talk about it so often, it’s upsetting.”

Tracey moved out on her own after that. “I worked in a restaurant. But not as a server, because if people were going to upset me, I’d want to accidentally spill food on them. Then I worked in a bakery. I got a job at Safeway (a nation-wide grocery store) and did that for a few years,” she said. “My sister was moving to Victoria (Vancouver Island), and I wasn’t really happy at Safeway any more. She suggested I go live with her in Victoria, and stay there while I figured out what I wanted to do,” said Tracey. “I took a course at a college, for like a medical office assistant. And then I got a job in an insurance office. Nothing to do with anything medical, at all. But the course helped with my confidence and learning to work in an office and improve my typing skills.”

“My sister Belinda was working in insurance and I started working for the same company as she did. I didn’t get the job through her though. I started with selling insurance. Eventually I moved into underwriting, which I’m still doing, all these years later,” she said. “We got an opportunity to transfer to the Vancouver office, and so we moved here,” Tracey said, referring to her and Belinda. “We’ve lived together ever since Victoria. Actually we’ve lived together all of our lives, apart from the four years when I lived with my cousin and then on my own,” said Tracey.

“Ah, here’s my sister now,” she said, introducing me to Belinda. She had been at an appointment nearby. I explained to Tracey’s sister about The Stranger Project, and what we were chatting about. I asked if it would be okay if we continued chatting. Belinda offered to go for a walk, but both Tracey and I said it would be fine for her to stay with us. “I was just telling Colin about us moving over from Victoria,” said Tracey to Belinda. “I’m happy to talk with him so then I don’t have to continue studying,” she said, patting her text book and smiling. Tracey is studying for another certification for her insurance job. 

“Where were we?” asked Tracey. “Oh yeah, then I suggested to Belinda that we should buy our own place,” she said. “Thank god for that too,” added Belinda. They both laughed. “So we bought a place out in Coquitlam. That worked out for a while. Then Belinda was getting involved with PADS (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society). She was training a puppy to become an assistance dog. The condo we lived in was too small. We needed a place that had some green space, so we moved out to Pitt Meadows (40kms east of Vancouver),” she said. (*Fact Check - see link below.)

Tracey showed me a picture of the dog, on the screensaver of her phone. “He’s a black Lab named Percy. It takes fourteen months to train them. And then after about another fourteen months, he was retired from service,” she said. “He was just too stubborn,” said Belinda. “He didn’t want to work.” Tracey said that you could see him pull away and lower his head whenever his work apron came out. We talked about some of the specifics of assistance dogs. “The signal that his work day is over is when the work apron comes off. And then he was a completely different dog. You could see a difference in him immediately,” said Tracey. 

They were given an opportunity to adopt Percy and decided to keep him. “We take the West Coast Express into town every day to come to the office here in Vancouver. He’s the office dog. It is without a doubt, the absolute best thing to have him in the office. Everyone benefits. When he was training for work, our colleagues were mindful of the difference with n assistance dog. Being aware of not petting him and that. Although, I was the probably the worst, laying on the floor with him to cuddle,” said Tracey, smiling a huge dog-loving smile. Belinda isn’t planning on taking anymore puppies for training at this time. “It was an incredible experience though,” she said. Tracey and Belinda now puppy-sit for others who are fostering dogs in training. “If you’re fostering a working dog, you can’t put them in any doggie daycare or kennel. They can only stay with certified, trained handlers. That way the training and discipline is maintained,” said Tracey.

I asked the sisters why living together, all of their lives, worked for them. Belinda spoke first “Well, I know this isn’t about me. There was that four years we didn’t live together.” I was interested in hearing from both of them. Belinda continued. “We have the same dentist, the same doctor, the same hair stylist even. We know each other and have for our entire lives.” 

Tracey added, “We even have the same friends, for the most part. It just works for us. And because we know each other so well, if I’m not in a good mood and need my own space, Belinda knows to just leave me alone. Plus, my boyfriend is American, so that works really well,” she said. I asked if by ‘works really well,’ she meant because he’s not in town all the time. “Yes,” they both answered, laughing at each other.

I had been thinking about the picture that I wanted to take for this story, while we chatted about dogs and training. I decided I would let Tracey and Belinda say what they wanted to do. I’ve only ever taken a picture of the one person I was talking to. Even in the few situations where a wife, or boyfriend had later joined the conversation. I mentioned that as they had such a special friendship and were sisters, I would be delighted if they both wanted to be in the photo. I told Belinda that it would get posted on social media. As I was saying this, they were already rearranging the seats so they could get their picture taken. Together. Just as they’ve been all of their lives. Breaking the rules. #notastranger

*Fact Check -

Vermont Governor Abandons Single-Payer Healthcare

Vermont Governor Abandons Single-Payer Healthcare

Photo of Gov. Peter Shumlin

Residents of the Green Mountain State have just been spared the catastrophe of single-payer, government-run healthcare. At a press conference Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin surprised supporters and opponents alike by announcing that his state’s planned universal healthcare program would not become a reality, at least for the foreseeable future.

“In my judgment,…

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