Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stick This

It seems fitting to write about this now with what is happening in the states. And while it is not specifically Argentina related, it does have a shit-ton to do with living outside the US and being a first world white girl wandering the world. Beware people: this is a healthcare rant.

I am preparing for my summer in the North, which is likely to include some time in the US, Europe and even a dash of Canada for a dear friend’s wedding. The bottom line is that I need to make sure I have health insurance to take care of me everywhere. I mean, one never knows what can happen and as a US citizen, I am sadly all too aware of the financial cost of just one little incident.

I have asked around, I have searched the internet. I have been on the phone with people in the UK, in the US, even here in Argentina. And this is the sad fact – if I want any coverage in the United States at all for any real period of time, I basically have to pay more than double the premiums. Double!

This problem is unique to those of us from the U.S (my other English speaking first world friends don’t have this problem) where health care costs FOUR TIMES more than anywhere else in the world.

This whole thing reminds me about something that is always on my mind when non-Americans talk about life in the U.S. , which is that there is truly a price for a first-world life, isn’t there? It cost four times more to save your life in an emergency.

Anyway, it is stressing me out beyond belief. And pissing me off. The rest of the fricking world doesn’t put up with this shit. Now for all you fascists who want to rave and bitch about health care that is government run (and I know you are out there), c’mon. The reality is that we will never have a fully government implemented system in the US – there’s just too much money to be made. But what can work is some kind of public-private effort, like you see in most places in the world. Here in Argentina, I have private insurance that is modestly priced by my distorted U.S. standards. The funny part is that all of my friends from other parts of the world complain about how expensive it is!

Here in the Paris of the South, where the health care system seems ok (note, this is based on what I have heard and I can only speak about Buenos Aires, as I imagine it is different outside of the capital) there are two systems – a public one and a private one. While the private one is pretty glam (private rooms in the hospital for example) and the public one less so (old buildings, lots of waiting), there is basic care available for everyone. And if you do have something terrible happen, you are not likely to lose your home, all of your savings and be pushed into bankruptcy.

Anyway, I have no idea if what Congress is plotting and planning will solve the problem. After living and working in DC for over a decade, I am certainly skeptical of a politician’s grip on the real life of most people. And while my life is far from an average one, I am now burdened by what has unfortunately become an entirely average problem in the United States– the obscene cost of health care.


Tina said...

I love living in a country (Italy) where my ability to go to the doctor doesn't depend on my having a job.

I love Argentina's system (at least in Buenos Aires) and I've heard stories from close friends on private vs. public care there - if it weren't for the public care, some very important lives could have been lost.

Unknown said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, as I'm hoping to move to B.A. for a year. I'd love it if you could share the specifics of your health plan, and the results of your research about coverage while you travel. Which companies did you contact? What is the cost per month for you in Argentina?

Unknown said...

Shanna, it is a bit complicated and depends on your age (at least here in Argentina). To have insurance that works here is relative cheap (to a person from the US) but it is if you need coverage to be in the US where you see a huge price difference. If you just want coverage here (and very short term US coverage) - you can look at OSDE, Swiss Medical, etc. But the global stuff is a whole other ballgame.
Good luck!