15 May, 2007

changing addresses, Arranging Finances, Health Care Issues

So far today, I've changed our address at the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, Washington Health Care Authority (more on them in a bit), IRS, our local bank (yes, we're keeping our account open here), and at our financial investment institution.

I tried to change it at Social Security, but their Website said unless you're getting benefits from them, use IRS to change your address, so that's covered.

I set up a bill-pay type of thing to automatically transfer rent money to our landlord's Oregon account. Before doing all this, I would have thought all this was impossible to do. Even changing our address to Belize at the local bank in Olympia didn't even raise an eyebrow other than the teller and all the other bank employees saying how jealous they all were.

Quickie on the Washington Health Care (our retired state employee health insurance). This runs us $857.51US per month. I guess this is about average for current retirement costs.

Once we get back to Belize, we're looking into international health insurance. There's a couple of different ways to go on it. One, covers you anywhere except in the US. The other, covers you anywhere, including the US. Cost for the latter, if I remember correctly, is around $250 per month. They are sticklers for pre-existing conditions, etc.

Taking that into account, with some careful shopping, and good pre-planning, we can lop about $600US off our expenses in short order. This assumes that you've probably got a healthy deductible, and that, in addition to using the Belize medical facilities, you go to Mexico for major stuff. We're close enough to Chetumal, Mexico, so that shouldn't pose a problem.

Of course, there's also the other way to look at it. Several expats (should that be capitalized?) save an additional $250US each month. That is, they have no health insurance. They rely instead on the local Belizean health care entirely. If they need something major, they plan to go to Mexico, and pay cash for whatever comes up. Is that risky? Hard to say. Each person's situation is going to be different. I don't think I'd be comfortable doing without any insurance.

As we root through the health insurance issue, I'll post more information here, so you can get a better grasp of how health care works down here. Suffice to say, my impression is, that the US health care system is seriously broken, overpriced and taking everyone to the cleaners, from prescription drug prices, on up. Once you start checking things down here, it just becomes evident that something is way wrong with the US system. So, enough of a rant. I'll let you know more facts, figures, etc., so you can make an informed judgment as well.

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