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Retiring Care

After a year of wrangling, the United States finally passed the health care reform bill. With a majority vote of 219 to 212 in the House (where every Republican member voted against it), the U.S. is no longer the ONLY industrialized nation without national health care policy. There will be more political deal-making as changes get fine-tuned — it’s already the Senate reconciliation package and vastly different from when first introduced, however, at least the first historic step has been taken.

With millions of Americans with no or inadequate health insurance, no one is arguing that there is a health care crisis in the U.S. The over-administered, over-burdened system costs more per capita and provides lower-quality health care than many other industrialized nations. In many ways, health care in America is wealth care as only the wealthy or those who are employed can afford health insurance. For the latter category, while many companies provide insurance for their employees as a job benefit, the insurance comes with conditions and many end up being under-insured or dropped as soon as complications arise.

Expats from countries with nationalized health care are likely just as confused as Americans about the ongoing debate and rhetoric — public option v. single payer, socialized medicine, death panels — especially when hypocrisy reigns for one’s own health and welfare. It all boils down to money and who will be paying for this additional tax burden.

If they can afford it and haven’t been caught out in the financial crisis, the baby boom generation will be retiring in droves and will be the main pool of health care recipients. Whatever health care system is in place will need to provide for over 70 million baby boomers who will live longer and have expectations of care. Included in the pool are expats who previous to this vote may be planning to retire back home where health care is and always has been a national policy. Certainly there may have been other considerations — aging family members, quality of life in retirement, financial investments — however, health care is not a small issue or a minor expense. Canadian expats have always had the option of retiring back to their “socialist” country where if not perfect at least medical care is affordable. Now there may be another option as retiring care may become a reality for all.

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