Saturday, July 20, 2019

Best of Both Worlds (USA v. the Philippines)

I have come upon this topic and have been wrestling with it myself, of where the better place is to live in - the USA or the Philippines.  For those of you who live in the US, and enjoy the amenities of living here, I can understand how you may say that living in the US is far more superior than living in the Philippines, but there are many advantages as well to living in the Philippines.  It is of course, not to say that there are no advantages to living in the US, there are! Both have their pros and cons and deciding on which country to live in will depend entirely on what you have available to you at the time and which country offers the better option.  

Healthcare

While it may be true that there is an Affordable Care Act that you can take advantage of, the truth is there are many moving parts to this story yet.  There are legal challenges to the law presently pending, and the outcome is anybody's guess. 

More importantly, if you are thinking of bringing your wife here (and her minor children - not related to you), she usually will not qualify to avail of Medicaid because of the 5-year bar for lawful permanent residents. There are, however, exceptions given to veteran families.

If you should choose to get private health insurance for her and/or her children, the high monthly premiums, high deductibles and co-pays are something you should consider.  Unless they are generally healthy, it may not be a good idea to bring them here, because ultimately healthcare in the Philippines is far cheaper than it is over here.  Healthcare can be a great drain on your finances if she or you are chronically ill.  Even with Medicare, you still have to consider that part that will not be covered by Medicare (20%).  There are Medicare Advantage Plans but with an average of $100 a month or more, it may still be cheaper to get healthcare in the Philippines.

Although I have healthcare now, I continue to pay my very cheap (P200) monthly premiums for Philhealth as a "back-up" plan.

Also with the Affordable Care Act, if you made the poverty threshold for the Affidavit of Support for your wife (and children), you most likely won't qualify for Medicaid, your next alternative would be to be covered under Medicaid Expansion.  Before you move to a state, check if they have Medicaid Expansion, because not all states offer them.

Realistically, since you pay for everything in the Philippines, the cost of healthcare can also be heavy for someone who is older. That is why if you can retain access to some healthcare that you are entitled to in the US, it is advisable to keep them.  After all, you pay about $100 a month for Medicare which you don't use while in the Philippines. 

Work

Again, depending on which state you are in, the availability of "good" work is something to consider.  In my city of Flint, most work seems to be service crew work which I have no inclination for, and I also don't see myself doing good work in that field. I guess I am picky, but I did leave a job with "good pay" by Philippine standards (P110,000.00 a month plus allowances and bonuses) and it is not physically straining.  It is mentally straining but I always preferred that type of work.

I have found jobs outside of our city an hour of drive away.  My husband does not want me to take those jobs because: (1) they don't pay well enough to cover the cost in gas; (2) not all of them offer healthcare; and (3) it is dangerous to drive in the freeway, during the winter, for a new US driver.

I have found work as a substitute teacher; more flexible hours and I work close to home.  But when I do think of not doing work that I am most passionate about (study of the law), it does bother me big time. But I am willing to think of it as a temporary thing while I study for the bar. 

Education

The cost of education here is atrocious! I went to the state university in the Philippines for my undergraduate on P2,000 a semester of tuition.  After that, I went to law school on P20,000 a semester of tuition.  In both times I NEVER incurred any debt.  When I went to law school, I worked full-time (40 hours a week). I graduated with zero debt! Of course I had no savings though, after paying for my tuition and books.

I worry for my son and we are working hard for him to get good grades so that someday he can qualify for a scholarship.  Because if he can't qualify for one, he will have to go to the Philippines for his college education. Not going to college is NOT an option.  I believe education is important, not only for the edge in getting a job, but also in the ability to think critically to better ones self.  

I do not want my son to do service crew work or factory work for the rest of his life.  I want work that will challenge him and make him more prepared for a 21st century economy.  I cannot see that achieved without an education.




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