Sunday, May 25, 2008

A couple of questions from my students...f

The undokai ("sports festival") was held today. After Saturday having just totally crappy, rainy weather all day long...Issei went to bed last night and added an "oh by the way, God....could you let tomorrow be nice" at the end of our nightly prayers. I have been up since about 5:45...had to get some major amounts of java in my system to get the proverbial "show on the road". The morning started out a little cool and foggy.....and throughout the day I was, in no particular wet...misty-ed finally, sunburned.
Sheesh!!! We had 3 seasons all in one day!!! :-D
But...the day is over....we all went out to eat dinner because the kitchen was "Closed", the cook was gone!!! The K-man just brought in the disc with pictures so will go through them...more than likely tomorrow....and hopefully post some good ones from the day.

But...the main reason for this post students have some questions (about things that have bothered me so...sorry...was listening to Jimmy B and I have his words in my head!!!) .
Sometimes, my students will ask me questions about "life in America" and sadly, I can't answer those anymore. Oh...don't get me wrong...I could...but it would be "life in America....17 years ago!!"

QUESTION #1....Since the Presidential campaign is big news over almost seems at times that my students know more about what's going on and who said what, than I do! This came up a few times last week......What is American health insurance really like? How much do you pay a month? What does it cover?

Japan has a National Health Insurance plan and, from how it has affected us, it's a pretty good system. The K-man pays about $600 a month for insurance for himself, me, and the two boys. This insurance is for our regular doctor, but also for dermatologist, dentist, eye doctor (sometimes).....pretty much any kind of doctor's visit is covered.
Now...when we go...we pay only 30% of the total bill. (When I was working at a private school, our coverage was 10%!!!). You can get extra insurance for things like cancer, and other diseases...but we don't have that.
Here's a good example of how it has worked for us.....both boys were delivered by Cesarean....10 and 6 years ago, the mandatory hospital stay for this type of delivery was 14 days (regular delivery is 6 or 7 days!). Most women here have their babies at private maternity hospitals which could seriously double as really nice hotels. Our total bill for the 14 days...only about $3,400!!!

(**Then....the city of Nagasaki, like many cities here in Japan to help combat the dropping birthrate gave us a "Thank you for having a baby" gift that was about $3,000....yes....the whole bill for the hospital stay and delivery itself was about $500 for each!!!!)

So...if you could briefly let me know what YOUR insurance is like...either in the comment section OR you can send me an e-mail ....(briefly because please remember I will probably have to translate it!!! be kind, please!!). We can call it the

post....and I would be forever in your debt for your help!!!
QUESTION #2...again from my students, but a bit more on the less-than-serious side...
What do YOU say (words or just sounds!) when you are standing up...or sitting down...or walking up stairs...or doing something that requires some physical effort on your part???

In Japan....we (oh yeah...I'm so with everyone else on this...) say something that sounds like
"yo-show" (when doing something that's hard!) or "yoshe" (can be used for "light" things...opening a door, for example!). I think there are probably many more, but these two were the most common for this part of the country!!!

So...think about your mothers/fathers/grandfather/grandmothers and pay attention to what they say when they plop down on the sofa or when they get up from that sofa! Report back to me....if you can......My students appreciate hearing about stuff like that...and let's be honest....whatever answers you can give me, will take some of the pressure off of me!!!

Due to the undokai today and classes yesterday morning and afternoon AND to the fact that even though the kids have tomorrow off (alternate holiday) parents still have to go to work.... going to be my theme for the following week:


Ginaagain said...

I'm going to tell you two different insurance stories because it's astoundingly scary how different things can be when the company you work for gets to determine how good your insurance will be.

When Bob worked for the big company (that he just returned to) our insurance was approx. $400 a month and covered almost every health issue, including mental health. Dr. appts were $20. Psych appts were $50. Prescriptions were $15 for generic and 25% of the cost for a name brand drug. An emergency room visit was $75. Hospitalization was $125 total. Two years ago Delaney needed extensive hearing evaluations, and then surgery to place tubes in both ears and remove her tonsils and adenoids. The whole thing cost us $175.

My second story is of the year and a half Bob worked for a small company wtih very poor insurance.

Our insurance cost $695 a month. It covered 80% of medical costs after the deductible of $1000 per family member was met. Prescriptions were $25 for generic or 50% of non-generic. Appts with a primary care doctor (pediatrician or family practice) were not subject to the deductible and were a flat $30. So, if you were healthy the costs weren't too bad. However, if you had problems it got expensive very fast. In 2007 my eldest son was hospitalized twice, saw a psychiatrist every week, and was on medications that cost us $400 a month. Plus, Taylor was diagnosed with a heart murmer and needed diagnostic testing to determine it was nothing to worry about, and I had a few health problems of my own. We spent $16,000 on medical care in 2007, not including the insurance premiums.

There is help available for people in lower income brackets but we don't qualify. The hospital has been very good about taking payments on the balance but it will take us years to pay it off.

I'm sorry I didn't make this short but I figured it would be easier for you to explain to your students if you heard both sides.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Ginaagain's story is an excellent one demonstrating why we need to change our system.

The health plan was a very high priority when my husband was looking for a new job 3 years ago.

We have good insurance. We pay about $300 a month for family coverage (there are 6 of use). Primary Care Physician is $20 per visit, $35 for mental heslth, $100 for emergency room visits--after a $200 dollar family deductible. Prescriptions are $10, $25 or $40 depending on what tier drug it is. Certain things we have to pay 10% of--that is new this year. One of the boys had a broken hand; the other needed 7 stitches. Where 3 or 4 years ago this would have just cost us our copays now it ended up costing about $200 per kid.

When my husband was out of work and we were doing COBRA (you pay to continue your employer coverage) were paying $1100 a month for the coverage.

Taylor said...

I obviously cannot answer the first question, but I think the most common word/ sound that people make while sitting/standing/going upstairs/that sort of thing is "Ooph", although I just sigh. I used to say "oy" apparently, though. I'm tired now, so I'm going to go to bed. Goodnight Lacey Washington, Camino California, Nagaski Japan, Tracy California and wherever else I know people!

Taylor said...

Whoops, Nagasaki is what I meant! Night everyone.

Karen MEG said...

Debbie, your students have great questions.
Well, I can't answer your question from the American angle, and it pains me to read Gina's story.

You probably know that we basically have universal healthcare coverage here in Canada. However, there are some doctors (more and more, it seems) who are charging "service" fees for things such as consultations, doctors notes, make you come in for repeat prescriptions so they can charge for it as opposed to doing it over the phone for you... anything that they don't categorize as "basic", And it's getting harder to find and keep good doctors, so my sister,when she switched to my friend's doctor, was actually "interviewed" to see if she made the cut as a patient. She did (I guess she had the right look and professional background ... I'm not kidding!). So this 2-tiered system is a reality. A lot of procedures are not being covered anymore because there isn't enough in the government coffers.

The other health coverage (ie. prescriptions, dental, vision ) is covered by the individual companies. When I was working, my company provided excellent coverage with no premium from my paycheque (100% drugs; 90% dental) ... hubs company is still pretty good but he has to pay every month, and there is a fee, although minimal, per prescription.

Wow, I can't believe the length of hospital stay after you have a baby there in Japan! I stayed overnight for both my kids. And we paid to have a private room, although only semi was available (which we paid a premium for as well, only about $100 or so). C-sections are usually about 4-5 days post-partum, I believe.

Interesting post. And I'm with you on your theme ;)

Susan said...

Unlike alot of people in America, Bill and I have always been very lucky with insurance coverage through our jobs. The County always paid 100% for me, and SECPA pays 90% on Bill (which is about $100, so they pay $1000). When both kids were on our insurance, the companies go by the birthday rule. Since my birthday fell 1st in the calendar year, the kids primary ins. was mine, Bill's secondary. So their claims were filed first on mine, and what it didn't pay Bill's did. I've always felt bad that some people had NO insurance while we had 2. Both insurances have changed to copays for doctor visits ($20) and perscriptions (depends on if they are generic or not). Lab, hosp, and major medical stuff pays 90% after a $300 deductable for individual, and a maximum out of pocket of $1000. A couple of years ago I took out a cancer policy through Aflac. It pays for my mammograms each year. I pay about $20 a month on it.

Lindsey is on her own now, But as long as Marcus is a full time student(and under 24) he can be on our insurance. I have to send his class schedule to the ins. co. every August to prove it. But this will soon come to an end, hopfully he will graduate next year.

As for the sounds, I usually say "crap" when I am doing somthing tedious like getting up when I'm sore.

Ginaagain said...

Karen mentioned something I forgot to comment on...

14 days in the hospital?! That is so amazing. My boys were born by cesarean and I was in the hospital 5 days with number one and three days with number two. The girls were regular delivery and I was home less than 24 hours after both of their births!

Family Adventure said...

Really interesting questions, Debbie. My perspective is grounded in experiences with two countries with nationalized health care systems, and while Karen is right in terms of there being problems here in Canada, I cannot imagine a situation where an illness/accident to a family member could put us into debt for years to come. Gina, it really shouldn't be that way! I hope your next election is the beginning of change for your country, though I fear it will be a long road...

Something physically strenous: Moaning or breathing out heavily and quickly! I have to admit, I never thought about it, but will observe more closely now :)


Anonymous said...

Hey Deb, ran ?? #2 by Dave and his sound was OOOOOOOO. Mine would be damn I'm tired.

Claudia said...

50 words or less? My insurance sucks ass. 4 words, how did I do?? ;)

The Girl Next Door said...

My insurance experiences mimick gina's - now we have an HMO for about $600/month for 4 people (which will sadly change for me when the divorce is final and my health care costs will skyrocket...). Dr or specialist or labwork or xray or hospital copay is $25. Prescriptions same copay. I had my twins (15 years ago) for a total of about $100 - copay was $10 back then and the hospital was $25. And I had LOTS of sonograms and such. I stayed in the hospital "2" days because I had them after 8pm, so they "gave" me an extra day. (vaginal birth).

when in spain we had the expensive 80/20 plan 9we pick up 20% of everything) with $1000 deductible. My son broke his femur and ended up in the children's hospital in barcelona for a month. The good side of socialized medicine is that we got out for about $3000. The bad part is they sent him home with a still broken leg because he was "close enough." So we flew home to america to finish up things.

I am very against socialized medicine after that experience (and others we had while living there) but our American system has serious flaws. There must be a happy medium!

As for the noise - "umpfh" ??

Minnesota Matron said...

This post says it better than I can, here.

Now that I'm a full-time regular faculty member, our insurance has changed to $122. a month, with $20 co-pays for each visit and a $1000. deductible. This means we'll spend about $3000 for very good health care. Ironically, I am employed by the State of Minnesota which provides far better benefits than most private companies.

Another story -- a good friend has breast cancer but can't see the doctor of her choice because her insurance company won't pay for 'out of network' care.

Tell your students that it's grim.

And we sort of grunt and say: Uh or Ugh upon exertion :-).

Anonymous said...

We are lucky enough to have the first example of insurance ginaagain. but, there is no way in hell that the hospital would let us stay that long after a birth. I was out within 24 hours w/ 3 of them and within 48 hours.

As for something strenuous I'd have to say "ugh".

Memarie Lane said...

We can't afford insurance. My husband only makes about $1200 a month, so the thought of paying out half that for insurance boggles the mind. When something goes wrong we have to pay out of pocket. But if you consider that you're paying $7,200 a year in insurance, not counting the additional 30% you have to pay for each visit, and that my most major medical expense this year will be the $2800 fee for my daughter's birth, it seems like I'm getting the better deal.

Manager Mom said...

There is NO WAY I can express my hatred of my health insurance in 50 words or less.

I normally would not post a link to my blog in a comment - and I'm not trying to be rude here- but I wrote an extended rant about my crappy health insurance a while ago, HERE:

Not sure if you can translate all of my, uh, "terms" into Japanese though...