18 March 2010
Do You Have A Fax Machine?
Health Insurance is a constant worry. Yes, I’m young and fit but what if something horrific happens and - because I don’t have coverage - I end up a million dollars in debt? To anyone from a place that has Universal Health Care, this probably sounds ridiculous. To an American, this is daily worry number 297.
One of the joys of living abroad is being a part of a functioning, quality, universal system. In the UK I hopped right on NHS and, in my four interactions with them, thought it was an excellent system, especially compared to my experiences in the USA (flashback to being told my hospitalization with Dengue fever wouldn’t be covered because I did not get pre-authorization, that I could only have surgery on one shoulder because having two working arms wasn’t “essential to life,” and paying nearly $44,000 for said surgery which took 45 minutes). But no, everything is totally fine. No need for reform!
Now I’m here in Australia and sadly, with my VISA status, I don’t qualify for public health care. But have no fear! There are at least a dozen private plans for foreigners and my goodness, the coverage is phenomenal!
Lets start with pre-existing conditions. They don’t exist. Check. How about deductibles? None. Copays? Not on your life. And the final monthly bill? Well, for $83 a month I can have full in-hospital care with no deductible and Medicare matching for all out-patient care. For $166 a month I get all of the above plus guaranteed full reimbursement on all outpatient care including physiotherapy, psychology, prescription drugs AND elective surgery (because I’ve always wanted to get something nipped and tucked). As a reference point, that’s what I paid in the good old US of A with a $5000 deductible, $40 doctor co-pay and limited prescription drug benefits. Somehow they’re able to do that here in Oz with just 20 million people and we’re unable to do it with 330 million, which should absolutely boost economies of scale.
The only catch? You need a fax machine to register. Because the online application is not mac compatible, I had to print it our and fill it out. Looking for a postal address, I rang up and inquired as to how I was supposed to turn my form in. “Oh, just fax it to us.” WHAT? Is this 1997? Who (besides my Dad, pictured above) still has a fax machine and how on earth can you be this progressive with coverage and yet still accept applications by fax only?
Looks like I’ll be headed to the local post office to pay $1 a page so that I can have my health care benefits package “faxed over” to the provider on roll-like carbon paper that resembles a super market receipt.