The Care of Feeding of Expats or Wannabees

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The more frequently someone commutes between two or more continents, the increasingly curious some become about what motivates people to choose this peripatetic life style. Not everyone is running away from his or her mother. Not everyone wants to accumulate frequent fliers points.  Yes, there are professional guns for hire, including those who work for the State Department, or other countries’ diplomatic missions.  And there are corporate types who work for multi-national companies and assume they’ll be transferred from one country’s headquarters to another, when a quick fix is needed, and/or when they’ve achieved their work goals. Many people thrive on such challenges and couldn’t stand working in the same office throughout  their entire careers.
 
Some transplants instantly integrate into the country’s way of life. Others, and often trailing spouses, find acclimating more difficult. They don’t have the office environment structure. They’re the ones who frequently are forced to deal with the nitty-gritty realities of life that are often compounded by a lack of language proficiency. It’s one thing if you’re in Paris, where so many people speak English and insist on doing so. It’s something else if you find yourself in a country where English is by no means the lingua Franca.
 
Many Americans are content to stay put and never wander far from where they were born. It’s estimated that fewer than 20% of US citizens even have passports and that includes members of the armed services. Some consider that family members and acquaintances who take to the road have a missing brick and why can’t they simply stay put?
 
As someone who sees a plane and wants to be on it (once getting through security and all the hassle it entails), my curiosity is piqued by people who prefer to pack up and move from one country to another. It’s such an interesting phenomena that provoked a very informal market study of a few friends, who have made living abroad a choice rather than a career.
 
Joyce Austin moved to Washington, DC from San Francisco. In the interim, she and her husband have lived in London, Paris and Rome.  The words engraved on the University of Colorado’s library impacted Joyce:  “He who knows only his generation remains always a child.” 

Joyce reiterates what many feel, who crave the sense of history, layers of architecture, art, omni-present music and the constant references to proceeding generations you find in Europe rather than in the US.  She claims one of the other appeals of living in Europe is that people don’t define themselves by their occupations but rather their interests as well as avocations.  See the REAL Europe with Rail Europe “It’s so different in the US where people are qualified and quantified by what they do, rather than who they are and what they think.”

Why did Joyce and her husband decide to return
to the US?  It doesnt take a genius to pinpoint the need for health care. Even though the two had paid more than their share, the US government refuses to extend Medicare benefits to people living outside of the US.  Skip the reality that getting sick in the EU costs a fraction of what it does in the US (and thats not even factoring in hospital stays), the US government is currently incapable of reimbursing Expats for what it would cost were they to become ill in Arizona rather than in the EU.

After the age of 65, private medical insurance premiums escalate in the EU compared to what people receive (gratis – if they’ve contributed throughout their professional careers) if they remain in the US.  Not everyone chooses to have Med Jet Assistance even though I would never be without it.

When push comes to shove (and most especially when the US presidential elections are more than gearing up), why am I less deserving of health care than every Tom, Dick and Harry who chooses to stay put?  I pay my Federal taxes, have failed to marry an EU resident and cry foul.  
 
It’s difficult to believe that after a certain age, (or even before considering the cost of health insurance), I’m penalized for not living where I want to live. 
 
I never write about politics. But, this is an issue, which impacts my future and my freedom of choice.  What does everyone else think?  I’m eager to hear.
 
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