the garden giveth…and the heatman taketh


simple beauty of tending the tiniest of seeds, what a reward!

What started as a weekend with high hopes…turned into just that!


like looking at clouds…what do you see?

Well, that  is not exactly how it started…it started as I was trying to catch up on a few things at work. The phone rang and it was my wife. I looked at the clock, 5:12pm on Friday the 13th, November 2015. I was ready to break free, so I answered it thinking that I was going to hear “Jerry, you coming home soon?”, or “Where are you?”, or “Jerry honey, I love you so much! Can you bring me wine and cheese?” The wine and cheese part comes in later!


lol…onion butt!


Instead what I hear is “Jerry, we have no heat. Can you fix it?” Everything I was envisioning for my night now changes. Now I get to go home and try to look like I know what I’m doing and try to get our furnace working again. And already knowing in the back of my head, I just knew we were going to be enjoying yet another unexpected bill coming our way! Yep, after the requisite amount of time I spent clanking and kicking the furnace, I advised that we do in fact need to call a professional. Laura, my wife in case you didn’t know, made the call and after quickly comparing the costs of fixing now versus in the morning, and being tough Wisconsinites who’ve braved over 80 combined Wisconsin winters, diverted to tomorrow the warming of our home.


onions are beautiful too!


I like to spend a good deal of time at my area park, with my best friend, Bella Rose. Bella Rose is the only one I know that no matter what, no matter what happened yesterday or 30 seconds ago, is always happy and excited to see me. Bella Rose is a mix, part boxer and part lab, and maybe more. I get a call from my wife while walking Bella…yes the call mentioned above about wine and cheese. It ended up being one of the best phone calls of my life…love you Laura!

20151114_115605THE IDEA…

Woke up this morning thinking…what can I do to warm up this house! I checked and luckily it never dropped below 52 degrees in the house, and saw that the sun is shining brightly! At that point I quickly got back into bed…it’s freeking 52 degrees outside of the covers! I have all of my fall tomatoes just waiting for a reason to be used…and I make chili all the time…so decided on a tomato sauce that I will make into a meat sauce for spaghetti.

20151114_115945THE SAUCE…

I was really lucky to have to use only a few things that my family garden did not provide, pretty much just the salt and pepper! I used the tomatoes as I said, but also grown by a combination of my and my family’s hands were the red onions, garlic, carrots, thyme, basil, oregano, and even the cayenne peppers. I guess it would be even better had I mined the salt from the sea myself, and harvested and dried the black peppercorns…I did however grind the peppercorn myself!

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The garden giveth…


I have no idea how this sauce will end up. I used a total of 37 tomatoes, and will just have to season it as the tomatoes develop.

I will post more pics as I have the time.

Thanks for letting me share this with you virtually, the smells are just starting to waft now…wish I could share those with you too!

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…and Jerry giveth back

And lastly, take some time to think about the people in Paris and what their lives have been forced to be scared and focused on and whose lives will never be the same again. I am very thankful that I am able to sit here in safety, getting up occasionally to check my sauce.

Peace be with ALL of you!

Jerry Gillis

P.S. The heatman did taketh, but it could have been worse, and it is now warm!

The condition of your oral health can impact the state of your overall health


Your smile is one of the most valuable assets, impacting relationships, career potential, and most importantly your health!

Take the myDentalScore online assessment and see how your smile scores.

Learn about your oral health and your personal oral health risks.

Then print off your report to discuss with your dentist.

Please note: none of your protected health information (PHI) is ever shared, and the survey can be taken anonymously.

Interested in dental insurance coverage to help manage and ensure your teeth are all smiles? Let me know and I can show you how Delta Dental of Wisconsin can help!


How Much Does It Cost To Have A Baby?

Which Hospital Provides the Best Care for My Condition?


Momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’

This is made obvious to me whenever the topic of the Affordable Care Act is brought up. Thank you Forrest!

Although there is not a whole lot ‘Affordable’ about today’s healthcare landscape, we are at least beginning to see Continue reading

Carriers Waive Charges for Crisis Text Line


On March 25, 2015, I wrote about the importance of mental health awareness. (click to read)

The article included contact information for free resources that individuals and their families, friends, coworkers and employers can access to get the help that is needed, including several crisis resources for those experiencing an immediate need or where an emergency situation is unfolding.

It was a great day today when in my news feed I saw an article from with news that the major U.S. telephone carriers have agreed to waive the charges associated with sending text messages to a crisis hotline.

Carriers have agreed to the following

Continue reading

Subsidies are Here to Stay!


The Affordable Care Act survived yet another challenge today when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 (King v. Burwell) against four petitioners from Virginia who challenged that their State’s prior decision precluded them from being eligible for premium subsidies (tax credits).

The petitioners from Virginia do not want to purchase health insurance. In their view, because Virginia does not have their own “…Exchange established by the State…”, they argued that they also should not be eligible to receive Affordable Care Act premium subsidies, which would have brought the cost of insurance below 8% of their income, and which would have also resulted in the removal of their exemption from the ‘individual mandate’.

While this might not be the interpretation of the Affordable Care Act that some were hoping for, it is great news for many individuals in those States, including Wisconsin, that opted not to create their own State run Exchanges.

I will admit…without the premium subsidies for individual health insurance, there is not much about the Affordable Care Act that has resulted in increased affordability. Here in Wisconsin, where our State did not expand Medicaid, I serve many individuals that would not otherwise be able to afford their own insurance coverage, due to the rising cost of health insurance post Affordable Care Act implementation.

The main factor here in Wisconsin is that BadgerCare eligibility for adults between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level has basically been eliminated by our State Governor. This leaves the people in that range of income with few viable options for affordable health insurance coverage, save the help that cost-sharing and premium subsidies provide through the Exchange. Had the Supreme Court ruled opposite…those same adults would be both without access to BadgerCare and without cost-sharing and subsidies offered through the Exchange, leaving them without any real means to be insured.

Just last week I was introduced to a very cool and intelligent young man. He is in-between jobs, raising his daughter, and did the unthinkable…he turned 26 and no longer qualifies to remain on his parents health insurance plan.

We were able to sit down together and enroll in a plan through the Exchange that offered him both cost-sharing and premium subsidies. He and his family can now look to the future confidently knowing that his health care needs and medical care expense risks will be affordable for him in the best case scenario if he stays healthy…but that even if the worst case scenario were to occur, where he experiences costly medical services, his insurance out-of-pocket expenses are controlled and are financially manageable. He is now able to focus on finding that next job, focusing on his education and his financial future, and able to focus on raising his child with a little less stress.

Without the premium subsidies, my guess is that this young man would have gone without insurance coverage. He’s a young healthy guy, and may never have a need for insurance coverage anyways…but we all know the other side of the story…and none of us would wish that on our own son or daughter.

So we now know that the subsidies are here to stay, and they are helping our country reduce the rate of the uninsured which is a great thing. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect by any perspective, but it is something that is working at least for those individuals that need financial assistance due to personal income situations or due to State Medicaid expansion policy. My hope is that our leaders will work together to build on the law’s strengths and continue to make it better.

—- Jerry Gillis is a licensed insurance agent in the State of Wisconsin with over 9 years experience matching individuals and businesses with the insurance coverage options that fit each unique need.



Whether you are a young single guy, a family of four, or you manage the employee benefits for your organization, now might be the time to consider how an HDHP medical insurance plan, together with an HSA (or health savings account) can help reduce monthly premium and medical expenses.

The savings in medical insurance premiums along with the tax advantages of being able to use pre-tax contributions to HSA’s for qualified medical expenses may justify taking on the risks of higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expense limits that an HDHP medical insurance plan requires.

If you are an employer that has been able to keep your pre-ACA health insurance plan through the Transitional Assistance rulings, you may truly find that transitioning to an HDHP is even more attractive today than ever before. Continue reading

Mental Health Awareness, Your Support Can Make A Difference


We’ve all worked with or known someone that for whatever reason, seems to be having difficulty dealing with the day-to-day issues that make up this wonderful thing called life. Heck…I’m sure this someone has been each of us at one point or another.

Reassure anyone you know that treatment is not a sign of weakness, instead quite the opposite. Explain that you view it as a positive action towards personal understanding; taking the first steps toward learning and implementing new approaches in order to live the healthiest, most meaningful and happiest life possible!

Treatment has many forms, but most often is as simple as just speaking to a health professional that can offer straightforward suggestions. Having someone to talk to that is outside of their personal circle of acquaintances allows for more freedom in expression, and more quickly gets to the core issues and available solutions.

The Affordable Care Act mandated that mental health and substance use disorder (MH/SUD) services as part of the ten Essential Health Benefits that must be provided in most health insurance plans. Each plan is different, check with your insurance agent or insurance carrier to verify how MH/SUD benefit services are covered.

There are many free resources available as well:

  • Wisconsin Community Program, Social Service, and Human Service Agencies

Wisconsin’s 72 counties are responsible for delivering services and providing for the well-being, treatment, and care of individuals with mental illness. The Department of Health Services maintains a list of contacts for county services.

  • 9-1-1 should be called immediately for any emergency situation. or where loss of life or injury may occur
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

  • HOPELINE Text Crisis Line

Text “HOPELINE” to 839863


Text “START” to 741-741

Employers, if you suspect that an employee may benefit from speaking to a mental health professional, please extend a helping hand. Having healthy employees is healthy for your business and all those associated with it. Take a look at this article from the Kaiser Family Foundation on the impact of mental health in the workplace, Depression, Related Ailments Take Their Toll On The Workplace.