Microblog: what’s your percentage?

This is how we can have a rational conversation about health insurance. Ask yourself and everyone you know three questions:

1. What percentage of your annual income do you spend on health care costs?*
2. How many people does that cover?
3. What do you think is a reasonable percentage?

My husband and I (both self-employed) spend about 20% of our income on health insurance and medical costs. How about you?


One more question: Should all Americans have access to affordable health care like we have access to water, electricity, & education?

Here is what I think.

There was a time in America when education was totally private: people who wanted their children to go to school paid for it. Eventually, Americans decided that public education was such an incredible public good, i.e., something everyone benefits from, that we moved to a taxpayer-funded system of education, open to all. And, of course, there are still private schools for families who want to make that choice.

There was a time in America when clean water and electricity were available only to the wealthy. The poor pulled up water from wells or dipped buckets into dirty rivers, and lit their homes with candles and lanterns because they had no choice. (My father-in-law, who died in July, did not have electricity on his street until he was 10 years old.)

Our fellow citizens argued and grumbled, but eventually decided that it was a benefit to the entire nation if all Americans had access to water and electricity. So programs were put in place, funded in part by taxpayers and in part by consumers, to make that happen.

Now the debate has turned to health insurance. My grandparents did not have it when they were young. In the middle of the last century, it became a widespread job benefit, and programs were put in place to insure the vulnerable; elderly, poor and disabled people. (The other place you are guaranteed health care is in prison.)

In the past three generations, insurance has moved from the privilege of the rich to something that most Americans consider a basic part of life, like education, electricity, and water.

I am all about capitalism. I love capitalism. I am a small business owner and so is my husband and it’s working for us. Almost.

One of our three adult kids doesn’t have insurance. Another one will lose her coverage in three months. My friends who are out of work have no insurance. People who might take the plunge into small business ownership don’t because they are afraid to leave their job and give up their health insurance. Americans die and suffer needlessly every day because health care in this country has become a trip to the roulette wheel.

The time has come for us to agree that all Americans deserve basic health care coverage – the same for all people in all states. If you want a fancier program with bells and whistles, you can pay extra. The insurance companies have to buck up. When your service is considered a public good – a public necessity – you have to trade in outrageous short-term profits for long-term secure cash flow.

*Health care costs = insurance premiums, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses

PS – Check out this comparison of our system to Japan’s.

PPS – Are you sure that what you pay for will be enough? According to a 2007 article in the New York Times, "an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured."

PPPS – Yes, this stills counts as a microblog because much of this is taken from a blog entry from several months ago.

Microblog: paperback news, Aussie love & librarian contest

Happy bookday!

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and pick up your copy of WINTERGIRLS in paperback!! If it is icy in your neighborhood, or you don’t feel like going outside, order your copy from an independent bookseller via Indiebound.

Do you want to order a copy that will arrived already personalized and signed by me? Call my local independent bookseller, Bill at the river’s end bookstore, and he will make it happen. (You can do this for any of my books at any time, btw.)

The Australian version of WINTERGIRLS goes on sale March 1st, which is very exciting!!!

Congratulations to everyone, but especially my friends Deb Heiligman and Elizabeth Partridge for being named finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize!! Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Are you a school librarian? Make a video and change the world! The AASL is sponsoring a video contest  "in conjunction with School Library Month (SLM) for members and their students to share how their school library program helps their community thrive." Details here!

My self-imposed limited-blogging month is almost at an end. Am looking forward to hearing what, if anything, you got out of this month. While we’re waiting for March 1st, check out a new interview with me over at Birth of a Novel.

CYBILS!! Breaking into macromode to celebrate!!!

I have been holed up in the writing cottage
, writing, but so many people came knocking on that I crawled out, blinking, into the bewildering sunshine of February.

And found several nice honors waiting for me.

  CHAINS is the winner of the 2009 Cybil for Middle Grade Fiction!!!!!!

::reaches for inhaler::

Really? I had to check and double-check and yep, there it is. I am very honored that the kidlitosphere appreciated this story so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

But wait! There’s more!

  WINTERGIRLS was a Cybils Young Adult Fiction Finalist!!! 

AND….. WINTERGIRLS is a finalist for the Audie Award, given for the outstanding audiobook of the year. (They have 28 categories, I think! Here is the whole list of nominations for the Teen list:

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, Narrated by Erik Davies, Listening Library
In the Belly of the Bloodhound, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live
Mississippi Jack, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live Audio
Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson, Narrated by Dion Graham, Brilliance Audio
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Narrated by Jeannie Stith, Brilliance Audio

We do love, love, love Brillance Audio here in the Forest.


::uses inhaler again::

Maybe I should hide from the Internet more often!

Naw. I miss you guys too much! February is almost over and I know we’ll have lots to catch up on.

(Yes, I know I am breaking my own suggestions for a sort-of Blog Free February by posting all of this. But can you blame me? And in my defense, Ive been logging 18-hour writing days, which means if I apply my 20 minutes of writing time = 1 minute of blogging time…. ::fumbles for the F12 button to access calculator::, it means I have to go back to the cottage and write.)

::straps on snowshoes::


I have to interrupt today’s wonderful writing to drive to the city for a mammogram. This is just like stopping in the middle of a delicious bowl of macaroni and cheese to brush my teeth with cow dung. And yes, I know it is good for me. (The mammogram, not the cow dung.) That’s why I am doing it, even though I am whining about it.