Healthcare Reform from an expat’s point of view

Posted on March 27, 2010 by yankeebean


Well, this week history was made (again!) by Barack Obama.  On 22nd March the Healthcare Reform Bill was passed in the Us of A…

I’ve seen it on the news again and again.  I’ve seen the ‘discussions’ (fights/soapbox speeches/propaganda) on Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve developed my own opinions and arguments about what I think is right.  But I’m not gong to talk about any of that now…

You’ve probably noticed by now that this isn’t a political blog :)

But I’ve just spent the past 2 hours up to my neck in White House reports, news articles and blogs about the Healthcare Reform Bill.  It was high-time I got myself an edu-ma-cation about this matter that’s happening thousands of miles away in a country that I don’t live in anymore – but where I still cast my vote.

Being in the UK means that friends and family in America often ask questions when things like this happen, and I feel like I should be much better informed.  Some people seem to think that the NHS causes more problems than it solves, others appear to believe that it means Brits to never worry about getting ill, or never having to spend hours looking at an income protection website in order to be sure they’ll cope if someone is unable to work. Those of us living here have probably found neither to be entirely true.

It’s straight-up weird to not live there when something big happens.  Or something big is happening.  It’s weird to not know how American people are experiencing these changes.  How they’re talking about it at coffee break… or fighting about it out back (depending on how they communicate) ;)

I’m experiencing it from a British point of view, but I’m not British (and I’m guessing a lot of you are in the same boat).  It effects me because my parents, my brother, his wife, and the rest of my family are going to live these changes.

It’s strange to be so close and so far from something at the same time.  Another part of the expat process?

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Misty December 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I really love this blog. I’m not in the same situation, although I did spend 4 years living in Saudi Arabia as a child…but I’m American and I live in the U.S. However I live with an Irishman and have for the past twelve years, so I still can relate to some of the things you talk about. My boyfriend says the same thing about the healthcare in this country. Everytime it is brought up he says, “How can you treat your own people this way?” And it’s the defense I always use when faced with someone who has gotten all wound up about healthcare reform being “Socialist” or “Communist.” Just like Michelle said in one of the other comments, “The strength of a society is demonstrated by how it treats its most vulnerable people.” So true.

  2. Glynis Charlton April 14, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Girls

    Loving your website! I came across it by completely by chance when searching on US Health Reform…

    Best wishes

  3. Emily April 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Well, I’m not in the UK yet, but I am living and working in Japan at the moment and I definitely know what you mean by “so close and so far.” It’s kind of like holding a little snow globe of your old home, dontcha think?

  4. Michelle April 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

    The strength of a society is demonstrated by how it treats its most vulnerable people.

    If I could be radical (just for the purposes of ‘food for thought’) what America has done in the past with healthcare is ‘healthcare by exclusion’. In other words, only a certain demographic could receive healthcare…excluding the other demographics and allowing them to suffer, go bankrupt and even die because they could not afford the high cost of American insurance and/or healthcare is a barely disguised form of Euthanasia of the Less Fortunate.

    Passively allowing people to suffer and die is a short step from actively choosing a group of people to suffer and die. Morally, even the passive action is indefensible. Shame on those who don’t wish to see this changed. And for those who claim ‘the US is becoming a Nanny State like the UK’, I redirect you to the opening line of this comment.

    When I heard Obama describe watching his ill mother on the phone begging with insurers to help her I knew he would do something about healthcare. I also knew there would be no overnight solution, but a *step in the right direction* is the first step of this journey that America is at last undertaking.

    What experience do I have with the two systems? I have been in the UK for 20 years and had the opportunity to use the NHS for routine GP appointments throughout those years as well as give birth to one baby and go through one major orthopaedic operation. I am married to a British Dr and understand the UK healthcare system from both patient’s and health care professional’s points of view–both NHS and private healthcare.

    I also have American friends who have chosen not to have more than one child because they simply couldn’t afford the healthcare costs (she is a teacher, he is a food scientist), or a relative who avoided the hospital when he broke his ankle because he doesn’t have insurance because he cannot afford it. And like Obama I too have listened to my mother beg insurance companies to help her with a healthcare issue, then get off the phone and rant to me with tears of frustration in her eyes. That’s enough experience to know that something needed to change.

  5. Expat Mum March 31, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    It’s also weird being a Brit here and wondering why on earth everyone is SO terrified of “socialized” anything and of universal health care. The NHS keeps being thrown up as a model of almost Communist proportions, and it’s very frustrating when you know that most Americans know nothing about it.

  6. yankeebean March 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Hi Jimbob, thanks for stopping by – you sound hot ;)

  7. Jimbob March 29, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    “America is joining the rest of the civilised world by offering universal healthcare to its citizens” is roughly how I heard it described on one BBC politics show.

    I think most non-US people are flabbergasted by the negative and ill-informed criticism the reform is attracting within the US. The NHS is far from perfect, but I think there are few here in Blighty who would swap it for the current US system.

    The proposed reforms are still far more free-market oriented than the UK system, so seeing protesters on TV with hastily drawn signs claiming the States is heading into a communist era certainly has me choking on my cornflakes.

    I say “well done Obama” for having the tenacity to push through this positive change.

  8. Lisa March 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Yes, I agree! I remember 911 had just happened 2 weeks after moving to Wiltshire UK and I was in shock! I immediately wanted to phone home, heck, I lived in LA and wanted to go home and be with my family. It was such an emotional time on so many levels.

    I have been here a while now I can honestly say it is a real reasurance not to have to worry about a health bill. If you need surgery, you get on the waiting list and you get one, none of this getting permission from your insurance company! When I first moved here I worried about getting a job straight away so that I would have health insurance and then I realised that it was free, wow. That allowed me to just focus on getting the right job. So different to LA.

    The UK really do a lot right when it comes down to it, you just have to live here a while to realise it!

  9. Michelle March 29, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I’m nearing my first year as an expat in the Netherlands, and I agree – it IS weird not to be in the States when something this big is happening. As one who is wholly in favor of healthcare reform, I find myself in a similar situation, researching the facts on my own, and I do find it refreshing to be able to do so without the American media spin. Re: the ‘facebook debates’ – I know more about my friends’ and former colleagues’ political views now than I ever thought possible!

  10. dyana March 29, 2010 at 7:43 am

    got to admit, when it comes to the vitriol i’m very glad i’m here in the uk. i get the opportunity to do my own research and make up my own mind without then political rhetoric, spin, and hate trying to vie for my intellect. the facebook debates are the only exposure i get to commentary talking points, but because i’m not primed though the rest of the media to respond to those points, i get the ability to think and research those points for myself.

    i’ve learned a lot about myself and the media in this whole pocess. not all of it good :(

  11. Patty March 29, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Just spoke to my Dad about the Healthcare Reform (he works in a hospital). He said he doesn’t think it’ll affect things at the hospital, but he now wants to claim 30 dependents because he feels that’s how many people he will be paying for in regards to healthcare.

    I tried to explain the NHS and how, even though it’s not perfect, I’m not worried about becoming ill anymore like I did when I lived in the States.

    He then changed his tune just a tiny tiny bit and said “Well, it’s still early here and we’ll see what happens.”

    Anyone else have any sort of response from their families and friends back in the States?

  12. Pingback: Tweets that mention Healthcare Reform from an expat’s point of view | She's Not From Yorkshire --

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