I have a dear friend who has spent the last 4 years teaching at an American school in Budapest, Hungary.
He's back now and faced with a long laundry list of to-dos. And according to Expat, he's got a lot of other school colleagues who find themselves in the same boat ona regular basis. They go off to teach overseas for a year or two or four, and come back feeling overwhelmed by their re-entry to American life.
At least my Expat-friend has a home (that was trashed by his renters and needed painting, carpeting and landscaping re-done.) But his list of logistical tasks to get re-situated here is a little more complex than when you move across town or even cross country.
When he heard about this blog, he was immediately interested because his health insurance runs out this month and to switch to COBRA would cost him $400/month. Oh, did I mention he's kind of, um, thrifty? The other thing to know about my no-longer-Expat-friend is that he's not an online kinda guy. Sure, he uses email; he goes online; he even has a web site (he's just published his first book.) But unlike me, who prefers not to deal with real, live people...Expat likes the human touch.
So, I recommended he check out my sponsor, eHealthInsurance.com, but since I was thinking of it primarily as this online tool, I was really curious whether he would "appreciate" its usefulness.
He gave me the lowdown this weekend...
Well, first of all I pegged Expat correctly...he took a look at the site and went right for the 1-800 number.
And it was, in fact, the phone service that he raved about. One thing he really liked, besides the fact that you make one call to compare tons of different plans, is that the person on the other end of the line made actual recommendations.
I guess Expat had been setting up phone service, and cellphone service and Internet service, and the folks on the other end of the phone basically refuse to make plan recommendations...he felt on his own and unqualified to make a smart, economical decision.
With the health plans though, the eHealthInsurance operator asked him questions about his life and his plans and then made a couple of recommendations. Like for instance: Expat is going to be traveling around the country on book tour. And he might even move back to Europe in a year or two. So Kaiser, or really any HMO, is not really the best long-term idea for him.
The other thing Expat loved was that the operator actually got his online application started for him, so he only had to go in later and continue to complete it.
Lastly, he is really impressed that they keep sending progress emails, so he doesn't feel like his data went into the ether. (In all fairness, Kaiser did the same thing...of course I just discovered recently that Kaiser's own online application site uses eHealthInsurance's infrastructure.)
So, I don't want to sound all sweetness and light, so I must confess Expat was extremely annoyed during part of the online application process. Why? Because the form is simply not designed for people who have been out of the country. The postal code and phone number parts of the form can't handle the non-standard number of digits found in foreign codes/phone numbers.
(That's exactly the kind of thing that gets me all wound up!)
But bottom line, this was something he didn't know even existed until I mentioned it, and he felt this immense relief to get this HUGE to-do crossed of his list with one phone call (and some annoying online hijinks.) He's recommending it to his other Expat friends :)
Oh, he's a 41-year old male, and he signed up for a PPO plan with a fairly high deductible for hospital visits but only around $150 in monthly premiums and co-pays on routine doctor visits..