Consumers are often faced with issues such as illness, long-term care, and death and dying choices, but often times they are unsure what their options are. I recently became employed as an In-Home Care Aid with a company and actually found our states website to be very informative towards my career, and I could easily see it as a valuable resource for consumers looking for information on care resources. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services is a valuable resource for the uninformed consumers of Washington state. Immediately going into the site, it lists links on home and community sources, residential services, long-term care options, the office for the deaf, and provides a link to report instances of adult abuse. The easy to navigate layout of the site is a plus as well as consumers of this site may be older or not as skilled with computers. While the site does have its advantageous parts, there are also gaps in the information provided. Price is the biggest thing missing from the site. There are possible services listed but there are no details on how much those services may cost the individual. This could potentially be problematic for consumers concerned over the monetary aspects of care. Another aspect on the site that is lacking is the exact details of what it takes to qualify for services such as the length of stay required for some of the programs, the visitation during the care, and how good the care actually is. One way to solve this issue is to look up reviews that other consumers have left about the service provider. I would suggest people to consider programs offered by community centers as well. Many local community centers offer area specific programs that lend assistance to those in need of all types of care.
- Moral Licensing
Every consumer is facing the same problems when it comes to food. Hot topics such as nutrition, healthy eating, and the newest celebrity fad diets are popular among consumers of todays society. The question is how much do consumers truly understand about healthy choices when it comes to food. Many consumers do not have a healthy relationship when it comes to food. Terms such as moderation and superfoods are thrown around with abandon. Consumers also face issues with moral licensing, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
Many consumers think of moderation as not overeating, but it goes further than that. Moderation is technically an avoidance of extremes, this means too little and too much. Consumers have to understand that moderation is not eating healthy at certain meal and having donuts for breakfast, and a pizza for dinner a few days later because you have been ‘good’. Moderation practices such as this can lead consumers to engage in moral licensing. Many consumers have an unhealthy mental relationship with food, they categorize foods as good or bad when there really is no such thing in food. Consumers who engage in moral licensing will tell themselves, “I can have this pizza because I was good and ate that salad earlier”. This type of thinking becomes a destructive habit, consumers are more likely to eat junk food if they think this way. Consumers should not base their moral well-being on food as it ruins any chance of a healthy relationship with food.
Consumers should also be aware of market terms such as superfoods. Superfoods are not real, there are no new food that act as a nutritional superhero. Claimed superfood like blueberries, kale, spinach, salmon, etc. have always been around, but only recently have they been marketed as superfoods. Consumers should not take the label of superfoods at face value, instead they should be looking at the actual nutritional value of the food item and consider if it is actually what they need.
- Misclassification of Employees (contractor jobs)
- Student Aid Bill of Rights
Finances are an integral part of everyday life, and everyone is a consumer when it comes to finances. Finances are not always easy to understand and consumers should be aware of certain terms and policies to better be able to protect themselves from debt and fraud. Terms such as the Misclassification of Employees (contract work), Poverty, and the Student Aid Bill of Rights are all important matters that consumers should be aware of in finances. Consumers should also know that financial health is not limited to just how much money an individual has, it also expands into subjects like employment, student debt, and poverty.
Did you know that over $14 million Americans are unemployed? Job hunting is often a daunting and expensive task for both individuals pursuing a job and employers offering employment. Consumers are vulnerable during job hunting, as time passes they slowly dig away at their savings. This could threaten to throw a consumer into a drastic financial situation if they go without a job for too long. No one wants to be out of a job for long, but consumers should be wary of offers that are too good to be true. Consumers seeking employment should be closely before accepting contract work. Some companies are illegally dubbing employees as contact workers rather than full-time employees to save on costs. By listing employees as contract workers the companies are saving revenue while depriving employees of important benefits. This practice is known as misclassification, an illegal and slow to fix exploitation of employees. Consumers should always thoroughly investigate a potential employer and any offered job before taking on employment.
What happens when you cannot find a job, and the savings are gone? This situation is a common one for many consumers. Poverty, actual poverty, is unfortunately a real problem in today’s society. Poverty is generally thought of as an inability to provide for oneself basic necessities such as food, water, or shelter. Say a consumer cannot find a job, the savings are gone, the kids are hungry, and the electricity has been cut off because they cannot pay the bill. This is a harsh struggle that many people have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Poverty is not something that can or should be ignored, and it is definitely not something that will go away on its own. Consumers need to be aware that they are not immune to poverty, and that they should be putting forth efforts to combat poverty.
Financial difficulties are not only affecting those in the workforce, these days it is common for college students to accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in debt in the pursuit of higher education. Student debt can become overwhelming, consumers need to keep track how much they owe, make payments early (if possible), and to know the grace period once out of school. Consumers with student debt should also be aware of the Student Aid Bill of Rights. The Student Aid Bill of Rights is a bill that provides consumers with protection as borrowers, and establishes the consumers right to a fair, affordable, quality loan to utilize for education. This bill is important to consumers because it affords consumers the flexibility to base payments upon income and to have the loan forgiven after a set number of years (generally around 25 years). The is a huge benefit to consumers as it means that the payment amounts can be adjusted to the consumers income, and it also allows for a responsive student feedback system to help shape the system more effectively and to hold lenders accountable for the services they are supposed to provide.
The article, “Why “Everything in Moderation” Doesn’t Work” by Jonathan Ross, is a very thought-provoking article. It details the flaws behind the oversimplification of moderation, how that issue affects our relationship with food, and the false nature of the term superfood. This article hit rather close to home for me, my fiancé was recently diagnosed with diabetes during a recent hospital stay and we have been attending diabetes courses to understand what exactly this means for him. The two instructors are a dietician and a nutritionist, and the one thing that they repeat to everyone, multiple times, is that they can eat anything they want as long as it is in moderation. I had never thought too much on this term, just went with the general idea of not eating an excess of anything. I am guilty of thinking of food in terms of good or bad choices, many consumers are these days, but that thinking is flawed. Categorizing food as good or bad can cultivate an unhealthy relationship with food that does us more harm than good as consumers. Since my fiancé was diagnosed we have been watching our nutritional intake very carefully and trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle. The proposed diet is something that I could not see myself doing. I like to eat healthy foods, I have gotten used to it and whenever I eat unhealthy or heavy greasy food I end up feeling sick. I would say that my definition of moderation does need some work though, I do not think I am at risk of chronic disease, but it is very easy to head in that direction. Consumers are constantly bombarded with ads centered around junk food and it is very easy to rationalize moderation to oneself as the article demonstrates. I plan to pursue this aspect of consumer health further as it could be beneficial for not only myself, but also for my fiancé. I believe the best place to start would be to keep a food journal for myself and see exactly what I am eating everyday as this will allow me to monitor if I am actually practicing moderation in a healthy form or not.
When I was a child I was very outgoing and loved to socialize. Everywhere I went I just meshed in really well with other people. My mom even joked that I could just made friends with anyone. Of course as I grew older that behavior changed, as an adult I do not go out of my way to socialize with people I do not know and even find myself feeling a little shy in social situations. It is really interesting how much a person can change over the course of their lives. I chose to undertake this challenge because I wanted to put myself out of my comfort zone and try something new. So for three consecutive days I interacted with strangers, I gave them small compliments and pushed myself out of my comfort zone to try to brighten their day.
On the first day of this challenge I was pretty nervous. I felt uncomfortable and awkward so I decided to start small. I received a notice that I had a package in my apartment complex’s office and figured I would try starting this challenge there. I walked in, requested the package, and started up a conversation. I told the woman helping me that I loved her sweater and it ended up becoming a twenty-minute conversation. I was surprised that I actually had a lot of fun chatting with her. Her initial reaction was to smile and thank me. I think that our small chat made her day a little brighter, and I am unsure if she would tell her friends or not. I enjoyed this experience and was definitely less apprehensive of the next days attempt. I would not mind popping back into the office and chatting again with her if I get the chance.
On the second day I was still nervous to be trying this again, but not to the degree of the previous day. I was in Starbucks sitting at a table after meeting with a wedding photographer, and this older gentleman was sitting at the table next to me asked me what my nationality was. I told him that I was Irish and Norwegian and he said that he thought I was Italian with how I talk with my hands so much. I laughed and told him thank you and we chatted for a while about travel. I complimented him on his travel savvy knowledge and we talked about sightseeing and such. It was overall a very interesting and enjoyable experience. The gentleman looked to enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and I think I made his day a little better. I am unsure if he would share about his experience with a friend or not. I think this challenge is something I will continue in my everyday life as a normal trend.
On day three I almost did not complete the challenge as I was home for most of the day. Thankfully we went to the grocery store that afternoon and I was able to fulfill the final day of the challenge while there. I was in the check out line and the cashier looked like it had been a rough day so I decided to try complimenting her to see if it made any difference. I made general small talk and asked her if it was a busy day in the store, etcetera. I complimented her hard work and told her thank you and to have a great day. She smiled and looked a bit less stressed. It made me feel really good that just a small interaction like that could make someone who looked so stressed smile for a bit. I will definitely be repeating that and I think that I made a small difference in her day. I found this attempt a lot easier as I did not feel nervous about engaging in conversation with her, and afterwards I felt good to have made her smile.
- Direct To Consumer advertisement (DTC)
- Cesarean Birth (C-section)
- Cord Blood
Parents, and soon to be parents, are vulnerable consumers. They are often bombarded with new fads in childbirth, some new product, etc. Many times these products or services being offered to them are unnecessary, fake, or not truly safe for their children. Terms such as fertility treatments, cesarean birth (C-section), and cord blood are thrown around often these days, but do these consumer truly understand what these terms mean?
Consumers who wish to be parents but are experiencing difficulties conceiving may often seek fertility treatments. Many fertility clinics post DTC advertisements on the web targeting those with difficulties in conceiving. “DTC ads are responsible for 12 percent ($2.6 billion) of the total growth in drug spending in 2000” (Walden 2017). These advertisements tend to overstate treatment benefits, misleading and manipulating consumers to believe that their specific treatment will guarantee results. “47 percent described their success rates as “superior” or “among the best”, without indicating what they were comparing themselves to” (Walden 2017). What vulnerable consumers do not hear about with these advertisements is the actual success of the advertised product. Many times the product has a very small success rate, but vulnerable consumers do not know those details they only see that the treatment is supposed to work. Many consumers end up spend exorbitant amounts of money with little to no results to show for their effort. Consumers should be aware of DTC ads and should look into the advertised products success rates before they buy into the product.
Consumers who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant should also know about the cesarean birth (C-Section) option. C-section births have become a very common method of delivery, though in many cases the procedure is not even necessary. Consumers should also know that in many cases if a woman has had a C-section in the past, then they are at risk to lose the option to deliver their next child in a different way. “in some parts of the country, women who have previously had a cesarean are denied the option to try for a vaginal birth because of hospital policy or because they can’t find a doctor who will agree to the option” (Roan 2017). Consumers should be aware of this term because by doing a cesarean birth option they could potentially lose their choice of birthing method for their next child.
Consumers should also be aware of terms such as cord blood. A consumer may be offered to save and freeze their newborns umbilical cord because the stem cells could prove to be useful in curing any complications later in their newborns life. This new fad is not all it seems though, there is no real guarantee that spending the money on saving the cord blood can actually help. If the newborn is born with a disease, then the cord blood is likely to have the same contaminates. The consumer is not informed of this issue though, they are led to believe that they have secured their child’s future in case of the worst.
Moninger, J. (2017). The Cord Blood Controversy. Parents. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/cord-blood-banking/the-cord-blood-controversy
Roan, S. (2017). Birth options: More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-0323-hosp-vbac-20100323-story.html
Walden, Rachel. 2017. “Direct-To-Consumer: Fertility Clinic Advertising On The Web – NWHN”. National Womens Health Network. https://www.nwhn.org/direct-to-consumer-fertility-clinic-advertising-on-the-web/.
I am a typical young adult, and like many other young adults these days I have college debts, bills to pay, and a job. I have always considered myself as okay with finances, but I have never considered myself a knowledgeable source. After reading the articles I have realized that I actually know very little about finances and I feel that there are some matters that are important to share with consumers. For example, consumers should know that for student debts it is better to pay off your bigger loans before your smaller loans and that it is better to pay on your loans while you are in school if possible. Student debt can be crippling, especially if you are not keeping track of your loans. It is important for consumers to keep track how much they owe, make payments early (if possible), and to know the grace period once out of school. Consumers should know if they are facing a difficult situation where they cannot make payments or cannot find a job that they can often contact lenders and place a deferment or forbearance to pause payments for a short while. This can help give the consumer time to sort out this situation, though they should know that interest will still be added to the loan amount during that time.
Also consumers should know that if they are seeking employment then they should be look closely before accepting contract work. Companies are dubbing employees as contact workers when they technically qualify as full-time employees. By labeling their employees as temporary or contract workers the companies are saving revenue while depriving employees of workers compensation, medical leave, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. Misclassification of employment is an illegal practice that is unfortunately common and is slow to fix. This will take effort from both consumers and policy makers alike. Consumers should look into the job before they accept it, and report the company if they believe the job to be misclassified. Policy makers should crack down harder on companies who participate in this illegal practice so that employees are not cheated out of their legal rights. With combined efforts of both consumers and policy makers in these matters, there can be change.
Parents or parents-to-be are vulnerable consumers, same as everyone else. There are many unnecessary or unsafe products being marketed towards them. I do not have kids at this point in my life so I had never really thought about this issue, but in reading the articles there is a surprising amount of unnecessary practices and products being marketed to parents. For example, in the medical field, childbirth is stereotyped as this painful, scary process, but it is not always like that. There is also a pressure on women to do a cesarean delivery rather than a vaginal delivery, and most hospitals do not give them an option if they have done a C-section on a previous birth. Most women do not know that, I certainly did not before reading the articles. I always thought a C-section was only if it was really necessary, but I was surprised to find how common a practice it is these days for something that is not needed in most cases. There are now people who post videos of their childbirth process to show that there are other options, and that it is a common thing that there is choice in.
Another example of parent consumer vulnerability was shown in the article The Cord Blood Controversy by Jeannette Moninger. The article details the new fad of parents having their baby’s stem cells frozen on the idea that if the worst happened then the stem cells could be used to help save their lives. The Dones family chose to do this for their newborn, and when the newborn was sick and needed the stem cells, the stem cells were found to have the same genetic defect the baby had and were thus unusable. The cord bank never mentioned to the Dones family that the cells could be diseased. They were taken advantage of through false advertising and fraud in this situation.
I believe parents and pre-parents should have information available to them and someone to talk to about their options. Those giving birth should know that C-sections are not generally necessary, and that doing one could prevent you from other birth options in the future. They should know that there is an option of home birth or that Washington allows consumers to choose the services of a certified midwife if they wish. Parents should also be aware of the dangers of products and services, nothing should be taken at face value. Parents should look into a product and see what they are actually getting before they commit to it.
MacGregor, H. (2017). The birth of a trend: Posting childbirth videos online. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-birth-movies-20120809-story.html
Moninger, J. (2017). The Cord Blood Controversy. Parents. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-baby/cord-blood-banking/the-cord-blood-controversy/
Roan, S. (2017). Birth options: More women should have choice of vaginal birth after C-section, panel says. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-0323-hosp-vbac-20100323-story.html
Walden, R. (2017). CDC and Consumer Reports Track Cesarean Birth Rates. Our Bodies Ourselves. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/2014/06/ddc-consumer-reports-track-cesarean-birth-rates/
How well do you believe you are protected as a consumer in that area? What do you know and not know? What agency or law would probably be most relevant to learn something about? What’s most important to share with other consumers about this issue area and the consumer protection it appears we have or don’t have?
Safety recalls are very important, and as a consumer I would hope that when there is a significant safety issue with a product that the solution would be put in place as soon as possible. After reading a few of the articles I both do and do not feel protected as a consumer. I feel protected in that the safety regulations are being put in place, but the length of time it takes to implement updated safety regulations or fixes to products is a bit concerning. There is also the issue that companies generally do the bare minimum when dealing with a safety recall. For example, in reading about the recall of Toyota cars, I like that the solution has been put forth, but its implementation is taking a long time to actually solve the issue. It seems like the idea of the fix is there, but it has not been executed in a timely manner. As a consumer I know that products can be recalled, nothing is perfect. I also know that companies are consistently working to make things safer for consumers. A relevant source for learner further about this matter would be the NHTSA as they issue motor vehicle safety laws to Congress. If I were to educate another consumer on this issue I would provide them details regarding safety regulations and recalls, refer them to look into the NHTSA and current updates to safety laws, and I would express to them how important it is to pay attention as a consumer as safety regulations are generally a bare minimum effort to keep a company from falling into legal trouble.
I have never really looked too closely into the health care issues before this point, I had a basic understanding of what is currently in place but no in depth knowledge. In reviewing a few of the provided articles on the ACA (Affordable Care Act) and health care reform possibilities I learned a lot of details that are very useful in understanding exactly what the ACA does for us and what reform could mean for health insurance. If I were to share this knowledge with a friend of mine then I would share with them the details of the ACA, how it currently effects us and how reform could affect medical insurance for the nation. For example I would tell them how the best aspect of ACA is that it prohibited annual and lifetime limits of coverage with insurance companies, and puts a cap on out of pocket costs for patients. This helps people with serious health conditions like cancer receive and keep their coverage without falling into unpayable medical debt. I would also tell my friend that the ACA could be improved by expanding Medicare more, so that more people can have access to more affordable coverage.
I believe the most important thing to share with my friend would be the possible reforms to the ACA that may happen in the future and how that may effect them. My friend would likely have difficulty understanding why women could possibly have to pay more then men for health insurance. If my friend was interested in further research then they could refer to reputable news sources, look up health insurance companies to see what they offer, and look over the ACA herself and see exactly what it covers.
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