Wednesday, 26 September 2012
A Big Problem
By Johna Ferguson
Is it yours or is it mine? Occasionally this question pokes its evil head into my thoughts. First because this is my second marriage and second because my husband and I are from different countries with different customs.
I didn’t think much about it when we were just married. I knew I had my family in the states and he had his in China. I therefore assumed that my things in the states were mine and his things in China were his. That comprised not only families but all our possessions which included our homes, furniture and investments.
For the first five years we lived in his country, and nothing ever came up to rock the boat. He owned a couple condos and we spent time living in both of those places.
If we needed anything he bought it including all our food plus paying the heat, electricity and water bills. After all, he had his Chinese retirement and it was more than enough for all of our daily needs plus lots of extra money. He even paid my medical bills but he got cut-rate on them, being a doctor.
Then we moved to the States and things changed. I didn’t have any retirement benefits or annual income but I did have investments I was planning on using for my daily life. These now had to include two of us when we lived in the States.
Like him, I owned my condo so I didn’t have to worry about monthly bank payments, just dues. I also had telephone and electricity bills but I had planned on paying for these items even if I was a single woman, so no problem.
My husband would continue to do the cooking, and buying of most foods, my money of course, but he was a very simple cook and therefore the grocery bill was also no problem for me to cover.
But medical insurance was the big problem facing him and that meant it was also facing me. It costs so much in the States to even see a doctor for a few minutes, I wondered how we could ever manage if he got sick or had a big medical problem. It might just put me in the poorhouse.
I had insurance and Medicare to cover my own costs but at his age, no insurance company wanted to cover him except with him paying huge rates with lots of deductibles and he didn’t have that kind of money here. Chinese money was not convertible into other countries' money then.
But after living a year in the States with no medical catastrophes, he took a year’s job in China and that job covered him medically plus paid him well.
After completing that job, we stayed in China for another year. Before returning to the states, he had a complete medical and dental check-up and took care of any necessary problems. But on returning we again faced the health problem.
He got a free prostate exam through a study on that problem and found he needed to take medication and have follow-up exams, certainly not paid for. So now was the time to bite the bullet: either move back to China and live there full time or find some sort of health care here.
My husband had been an interpreter for Chinese patients at various hospitals in Seattle part-time for two years. He had met many doctors and found one doctor he really liked. One day he asked her if he could become a member of her clinic. She said yes, but he had to qualify with a low income status.
That wasn’t difficult as he hardly earned any money in the States and I had no income other than my investments we were living off plus my Social Security check, all of $219 a month. But in my will, he gets none of my money when I die but can continue live in my co-op until he dies as long as he can pay the dues.
Now, life is less stressful living here but we know as we age, new medical problems will crop up but hopefully we can face them with a smile knowing we both have adequate health coverage and each other to help out when needed. I feel, indeed, lucky.
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