Saturday, October 11, 2014

Expat Discussions: Health Insurance

Over the summer, when things started really moving with Jon's visa and we were finally confident that he'd be in the States sooner rather than later, we had a long Skype about finances.  We'd talked through the abstracts before - what might get put into and taken out of joint accounts, why we should keep individual accounts, which sort of long-term savings plans might be useful, and the like - but, with the deadline for open enrollment with the health insurance that my employer offers approaching, we needed to discuss specifics.

It quickly became clear, though, that Jon and I were speaking in two different languages.  Jon's vocabulary comes from the dictionary of the NHS, whereas mine was firmly rooted in the American system; we realized only a few minutes into the conversation that we needed to start with the basics if we were both to play an educated role in the decision-making process.  Over the course of that call, I explained co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network versus in-network providers - concepts Jon had never needed to consider before.  It was all so foreign to Jon that he asked tons of questions that I'd never thought about before, and I had to do research myself to answer him!  It was, needless to say, quite an education for both of us.

To be honest, I had half-expected Jon to be blasé about choosing health insurance since he wasn't used to putting much thought or energy into obtaining it, but, luckily, he was totally invested in the process.  We researched our benefit options thoroughly (a 2013 Aflac survey found that nearly half of millennials spent 30 minutes or less preparing for and selecting benefits, but we came back to the topic over and over again until we were both comfortable) and added Jon to my plan starting August 1st even though we knew he wouldn't arrive until sometime in early autumn.  It was that or wait until until next August, and that's a risk we just weren't willing to take!

We're still, along with the majority of our peers, in a delicate position when it comes to budgeting for our health, especially given that Jon doesn't yet have a full-time job in the States.  Millennial workers' finances are precarious; 46% are not at all or not very prepared to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with a serious illness or injury, and 72% at least somewhat agree that they regularly underestimate the total cost of an injury or illness.  Like many respondents in the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report, Jon and I are optimistic that we'll never have major health concerns, but we both know that, realistically, something could happen to either of us at anytime and an investment in our healthcare is an investment in our future together.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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  1. I'm kind of surprised Jon didn't just say "forget this. I'm staying on this side of the pond." Because for real. American insurance in insane. I can't even talk about it or I start ranting. Don't get me started.

  2. I've (obviously) lived in the US my entire life and I STILL don't fully understand insurance. I agree with Amanda, it's such a ridiculous system. But again, don't get me started :) haha!

  3. I'm with Jon on this one - I have no idea about health insurance. Yep, I have it but when I go to the doctor they could tell me I owe thousands and I'd believe them! A co-pay? No idea! Give me the NHS any day! Ha! X


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