Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Eliab

4 Years Later Homesickness Or Just Not Busy Enough

Recommended Posts

So back to the topic: We're in the US exactly 4 years now and if I was to reflect on the issue of "homesickness" at this juncture in our journey, I think for us personally it is more a matter of feeling alienated (financially speaking) from the "American dream" due to having two Special needs kids. If I must be honest, this is what drags me down most (besides the usual feelings of longing and missing of family that everyone else has)

 

I'm an Engineer (20+ years) and my wife is a Pharmacist. Together we have the income potential to live a pretty decent standard of living here in Texas. Due to the high frequency of Doctor visits and intensity of Therapy treatment that both children require though, my wife has no choice but to be a full time homemaker.

 

One third of our single income after tax earnings goes towards annual Health care costs. We reach our Out-of-Pocket maximums within the first 3 months of EACH & EVERY year, unlike healthy families that may hit once in a while only.

 

After serving the home loan and auto loan, there isn't much remaining, leaving us "house poor" for the most part. We have to turn over every dime before spending it; hardly ever going on holidays away from home; having to fix everything around the house oneself; buying new clothes only when there is absolutely no other way, etc. (not trying to stoke sympathies, but just trying to illustrate the significantly reduced lifestyle of two Professionals with special needs kids)

 

The problem is that our single income salary is deemed "too high" to qualify for any form of Government, State or Private assistance programs.

 

This past year my family (wife & kids) were on a Obamacare plan while I remained on my employer's Group plan (it worked out cheaper that way). This year (2016), in Texas anyway, ALL the reputable Health Insurances (i.e. BCBSTX, Aetna, United Healthcare, etc.) have withdrawn their PPO plans from Obamacare and all that remain are (very expensive) EPO and HMO plans which, for the first time since we arrived here, have most of our oldest son's Health Providers as out-of-network(!) (It took us a long time to set him up with these Providers which we have great confidence in...).

 

So that's it for us: Not so much homesickness, but more an ever present vulnerable feeling of being at the mercies of this country's (highly) "broken" Health Care system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reichette, I'm sorry to hear about your financial troubles as a result of this. Just a question though - which is completely blind because I don't know what needs your kids have, or enough to know about the difference between states - but I presume you have looked into possible state subsidies? We have friends here in CA with a severely autistic child (he will never be able to live on his own) and apart from the excellent support at his (mainstream public) school, they get subsidies from the state for various things, ranging from an expensive electronic device that allows him to communicate (he can't speak), to babysitting money to allow them some time on their own. They are not low income at all - the wife is also full time stay at home because of him, and I'm not sure of the father's income but it will definitely be well into six figures, they have a weekend property as well as their own home etc - but CA just does this for special needs. Again, I don't know exactly what your needs are, and how tied you are to location because of your type of work, but if Texas does not have similar types of schemes for special needs children, might it be worth your while to look at other states where you might have an easier time of it financially?

 

Hoping things get better for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Reichette. Very sorry to hear what you have been going through. This is something I too worry about a lot. Our 4 year old has epilepsy and as yet we don't know the cause. He is due for a MRI and lumbar puncture soon which will hopeully explain what's plotting. So both him and I see a neurologist (I have intercranial hypertention) and require daily medication. To add to this our son is speech delayed and sees a speech therapist. He starts nursery school in 2 weeks so hopefully that will help him a lot, but my feeling is it will be of limited help as it seems he has a disordered speech pattern. In the UK it's all free and over that side.... well... I haven't even the foggiest how the millions of healthcare plans over there work and the last time I had health care insurance was back in SA in 2003. So a lonnnng time ago.

 

Completely random thought and may not at all be what is right for your family, so take it for a pinch of salt, but if you can get into the UK your described troubles would improve greatly. As mentioned, the healthcare (which is world class) is free, schools are geared heavily towards inclusive education for kids of all abilities (the catholic school our son is due to start reception at in September has 2 mutes, 5 kids with no English, a cerebral palsy kid with intensive needs and a couple other kids with other complex issues.) There are grants available to the parents too when your kid has a need that is either statemented or is disabled.

 

These described 'perks' (so to speak) do weigh heavily on our own hearts as we face our DV winnings this year (our interview should be about April'ish), wondering if it really is the best thing to head into the unknown. But equally we look at the positives the States can give us, such as being able to afford a house there (we can't here; property is ridiculously high here) and a better outdoors quality of life.

 

No easy solution, but my thoughts are with you guys and thought I'd share other options if you ever needed one. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Reichette. Very sorry to hear what you have been going through. This is something I too worry about a lot. Our 4 year old has epilepsy and as yet we don't know the cause. He is due for a MRI and lumbar puncture soon which will hopeully explain what's plotting. So both him and I see a neurologist (I have intercranial hypertention) and require daily medication. To add to this our son is speech delayed and sees a speech therapist. He starts nursery school in 2 weeks so hopefully that will help him a lot, but my feeling is it will be of limited help as it seems he has a disordered speech pattern. In the UK it's all free and over that side.... well... I haven't even the foggiest how the millions of healthcare plans over there work and the last time I had health care insurance was back in SA in 2003. So a lonnnng time ago.

 

Completely random thought and may not at all be what is right for your family, so take it for a pinch of salt, but if you can get into the UK your described troubles would improve greatly. As mentioned, the healthcare (which is world class) is free, schools are geared heavily towards inclusive education for kids of all abilities (the catholic school our son is due to start reception at in September has 2 mutes, 5 kids with no English, a cerebral palsy kid with intensive needs and a couple other kids with other complex issues.) There are grants available to the parents too when your kid has a need that is either statemented or is disabled.

 

These described 'perks' (so to speak) do weigh heavily on our own hearts as we face our DV winnings this year (our interview should be about April'ish), wondering if it really is the best thing to head into the unknown. But equally we look at the positives the States can give us, such as being able to afford a house there (we can't here; property is ridiculously high here) and a better outdoors quality of life.

 

No easy solution, but my thoughts are with you guys and thought I'd share other options if you ever needed one. Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pickles, just so you are aware, US schools are inclusive as well. As with the U.K., what you get will depend what school you end up at, but my friends with the autistic son have the most incredible support for special needs kids at their local school and it is of course all absolutely free. There are also special school buses that do door-to-door drop off for special needs kids. There is a Down Syndrome girl in my daughter's year at our high school too who lives a few houses away from us. She gets the (special) bus to and from school.

 

I love that the systems are inclusive so everyone grows up seeing special needs kids as a normal part of life - not like in SA where even if it's a 'mild' special need (if I can use that term) like being deaf they want to put people in different schools.

Edited by SJ27

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Reichette,

Sorry to hear about your financial difficulties. Healthcare has become very expensive in the past two years. I'm not sure if companies are using Obamacare as an excuse to reduce benefits and implement such huge deductibles. I say this as there are still companies that offer the better health care plans or Rolls Royce plans as I call them.

With no deductible and a $20.00 co pay for doctors. I am sorry I left my previous company as they still have the same good plans available to their staff. and the premium increase for this year was very small.

 

I now have a huge deductible for the next few months and all medications will be astronomical for example Insulin for diabetes ( Lantus Solostar) costs $1000.00 for a three month supply once I have paid off the deductible the price goes down to $190.00 for three months supply and just recently the last supply I got from express scrips was $5.61

 

The mark up on medication is horrible, so I spent December repeating every script I could. I have managed to accumulate 9 months of insulin supplies and other Rx

 

I am actively looking for a job change soon, just to get better healthcare options.

 

For anyone looking for a job ask the company or recruiter for full details of the healthcare benefits available, in some instances the bigger paycheck is just an illusion as the company benefits may be really inferior to what you previously had.

 

There are better healthcare plans available you just have to find one.

 

Try to work for a company that has CIGNA healthcare coverage- CIGNA offers different levels of benefits.

Edited by oscar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Medicine prices are indeed ridiculous. My daughter's one asthma medication used to cost us about R100 in SA, the exact same brand name is nearly $250 here! Although the doctor was able to prescribe a much cheaper substitute.

 

I guess we are lucky with an excellent healthcare plan through my husbands work that ends up costing us less and giving us more benefits than Discovery (we had one of the top plans) in SA used to. For example the copay here for our pediatrician even in rand terms is less than what we would have as the gap in SA (between what we paid/claimed and got reimbursed) and the optical plan works out way better. And for some medical visits eg vaccinations and blood tests that we had there was no copay at all. (This is even before you take into account that most of what discovery pays day to day is just giving your own savings t back to you! And when they run out of your money they put you in a self payment gap....) But obviously the calculation coming from somewhere like the UK with free health is way different.

Edited by SJ27

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the concerns and well wishes!

 

Our oldest (10yr old with Spina Bifida mielomeningocele, incl. mental and physical handicaps) attends a regular elementary school (in a special class though - 9 children with a teacher and two aides). Our ISD has issued him with a special electronic communication device as well and he gets picked up and dropped off from school by his bus right in front of our house every day. We're certainly very grateful for all of that! Back in SA we couldn't even dream of half of all these privileges! Our youngest (2yr old with a minor degree of Autism) is getting County sponsored ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) treatment at home twice a week until he reaches the age of 3. Again very grateful for that too.

 

Texas is one of the states that had rejected Fed funding of Obamacare and that may explain the disappearance of mainstream Insurer PPO plans from the Marketplace in TX this year. It remains however one of the best States to live and work in, especially in my line of work. As a Canadian colleague explained to me once: Here we pay extremely low taxes but high Health care whenever needed. By contrast, in Canada each family pays high taxes even if they don't have intense health care needs... So the US approach is good by keeping taxes low for healthy people, but if chronically ill or disabled one's "effective tax" can quickly become crippling expensive... (without any end in sight). And, as mentioned before, if one's income is not spectacularly great (i.e. not near six figures), but still above the threshold to qualify for assistance programs, that is when one gets the feeling sometimes of being between a rock and a hard place... :-)

 

We'll continue to look into some further options as SJ27 had suggested, though I'm sure its availability will differ from State to State. Thanks again everyone.

Edited by Reichette

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reichette;

 

Thanx for sharing with us your thoughts, and I personally appreciate them. When I was in SA, like some on this forum, I was on Discovery's LA Health. Looking at it from all angles, I discovered that the health care system in the US need a serious revamp and health costs are sky high if you juxtapose them with other countries including SA with its own dynamics. You may move from one State to another with better health coverage, but tomorrow that State may decide to review its health options. Health in the US is still a fluid space. That as it may, I don't want you to loose hope based on one aspect of the American society. There are a lot of good things about this country, not the American dream, which is anything to any person.But, different lifestyles, weather, security, etc. This a country where you can be financially struggling today, but tomorrow, you may wake up succeeding in your life, you can sleep a tenant and wake up a landlord. But, it is also a country where you can sleep a landlord and wake up a homeless man. This means, the decisions you take are always important. I pray that you make decisions that will not be detrimental to living a happy and better life with your family. I wish you and your family a happy new year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Shatale.

No, we're definitely NOT going anywhere; we're here for good. :-)

 

Haven't been back to SA even for a visit since we arrived here in 2011 - no plans, nor intentions either... (Visited Australia last year as that is where all my family live nowadays, incl. parents. Won't go and live there though; TX is just such a great place!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! It’s truly been ages since I was last in the forum. I hope life has been kind and fair to my fellow immigrants. Brace yourselves!! 

Well I moved back to SA, yes the worst happened ended up unemployed for almost two years and then started working then lost my job again. I know everything everyone said sort of came to pass. 

Now I am thinking of moving back to the states, but I think I will have better luck finding employment there! But my moving resources are not the same as before. I will be starting from scratch again, since home car etc are no longer there.

So I can say, I have had tough couple of years. But trying not to bore everyone with the hardships of life. 

Has anyone had to move back to the US, if yes/no I would like to hear how that panned out?

STARTED A NEW POST SINCE THIS IS AN OLD POST

Edited by Eliab

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Eliab
You will find this forum is not nearly as active as it used to be - I think many have moved on to social media platforms like Facebook pages for South Africans etc.  However, there are still a few posts now and again here.

Sorry to hear about the tough times you have been through.  The job market in the USA is pretty good right now - although it always depends on what you are looking for and where etc.  So, if you are not too picky, there are certainly abundant opportunities.

Most important is probably your ability/status to work - i.e. did you get citizenship before you left to go back to SA?  If you did, then you can pretty much move anywhere (and maybe try somewhere new this time - the States is a vast place full of great places to live).  If you didn't - be aware that you may likely have  lost your permanent residency if you moved permanently back to SA a couple of years back - and therefore moving back to the USA would indeed be starting from scratch with some sort of sponsorship visa etc.  Hopefully that is not the case.

All the best in what you decide - there isn't a 'right' decision, only what is 'right for you' decision. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...