I have never bought healthcare insurance. Ever. I was horribly spoiled and my parents kept me on their plan as long as they could. Then I moved to Sweden. As we all know, you don’t pay for healthcare in Sweden. Or something like that.
The difference is that instead of every month money being deducted from my paycheck in the US and going directly to pay for my healthcare, money is deducted from my paycheck in Sweden and goes indirectly to pay for my healthcare. That "in" makes all the difference.
Of course, since leaving Sweden, I find myself suddenly being forced into American adulthood. And that means healthcare. And it also means several different plans to choose from. It means a 97 page PDF file. It means a second PDF file of equal length.
It also means that instead of me living my life blissfully unaware of what my healthcare benefits are and just assuming someone will pick up the tab, I have to pay attention. It means that every month I will see a small deduction that goes straight to healthcare insurance.
I forgot just how little attention needed to be paid in Sweden. How unengaged I was. Suddenly I was thrust into the world of co-pays and deductibles. Poring over hundreds of pages of information. Asking colleagues. Exploring websites. Looking up words. It’s been exhausting. After several hours, I’m well on my way to being covered. And it feels good.
I’m not even going to pretend what the new healthcare plan set forth by the US government will mean. I haven’t been paying attention. That’s what happens after three years abroad. I lose interest and I lose touch. There’s no better way to get that back than to be filling out healthcare forms less than two months after landing in the country.
Strangely enough, I’m excited about this. I like being in control. Knowing what I am getting for the money I am paying. Knowing who to see, where to go, what to pay. It’s liberating in its control over me. I’m a sucker for structure.
Welcome to Swedish-America. And healthcare.
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