Insurance decision will cost an expat no matter what

Part 4: It’s gonna hurt

(In my three previous posts, I explain the complicated decisions expats must face regarding their healthcare, especially when the unexpected occurs.)

When expats consider medical insurance, they quickly learn the decision about getting or foregoing it can be complicated.

What they don’t always accurately take into account is how the costs of insurance will grow and how risky the lack of it can be.

Having it is expensive. Not having it can cost a bundle too.  Worse, not having it can be dangerous.

With insufficient insurance, inadequate personal resources or both, a patient who is unable to receive quality care in his or her adopted country or another one could end up permanently maimed.  Or Continue reading

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Being diagnosed, picking doctor not a walk in the park

Part 2: New York or Bangkok?

(In Part 1, I discuss how exposed to major expense are expats who elect to go without medical insurance tailored to living abroad.  I also explain what went into my decision on purchasing a policy.)  

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One day after surgery. I thank drugs for my smile and the hospital for my fashion statement.

Let me say that I never have thought of myself as the fragile sort of person who could easily break a hip like so many older men and women who topple because their bones give out while they are upright.  For them, such a fracture is usually the cause, not the result, of a fall.

After all, as I am inclined to boast, I work out daily with a combination of lifting weights or sweating on an elliptical training machine.  Then there are walks of several miles most days as well so as to help me manage my weight.

I also enjoy hiking, frequently upward, on vacations, so I’m unusually fit for someone my age, I like to think.

I confess viewing with horror the prospect of being referred to as “elderly” should I be so described as the victim of a crime or a collision with a motor vehicle.

My level of fitness undoubtedly contributed to my uneventful and quick recovery.  My bones, according to my doctor, are strong.

I broke my hip on a Sunday evening in July, and an x-ray Monday morning Continue reading

An expat’s dilemma: Would getting sick break my bank?

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Injured construction worker is to be transported to hospital.  Source: Phnom Penh Post

Part 1: Decisions, decisions, decisions

It began with my absent-mindedly stepping on a wet tile floor and falling down hard on my right side.  It ended with important lessons not only for me but for many others, especially older individuals, who also choose the expat life.

In addition, the incident could prove illuminating to anyone who seeks some insight into the complexities of obtaining first-rate medical care overseas, whether tourists or expats.

One of the lessons that I learned reinforced the importance of my paying undivided attention to where I walk, especially if I am outside in Phnom Penh.  I walk for miles everywhere, in large part for my health, despite the dangers that pedestrians face here. We cannot navigate cluttered sidewalks and must always be on guard in a city where the multitude of cars and two-wheeled vehicles pays virtually no respect to the right of way of pedestrians in seemingly chaotic traffic.

Equally important, the whole experience of my fall taught me that I had made the correct decision about medical insurance when I retired to Cambodia from Manhattan at the end of 2013.

Having done my research before my arrival, I learned that Continue reading

Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

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Purportedly mentally ill man is chained by his leg to a support in an abandoned house in one of Cambodia’s provinces.  Source: TPO (or PTO) via Twitter

The first two photos in this post are said to have been taken in Cambodia, but I cannot vouch for their authenticity, date or anything else about them.  They showed up in my Twitter feed with “PTO” as the source but, in a subsequent message, corrected as “TPO.”

Whether as real as they appear to be, the photos strike me as emblematic of how misunderstood mental illness is in Cambodia, how inadequate is its treatment and how brutal can be efforts to control severe cases.

Below is the second photo in the Twitter item, included only below because, in my opinion, it is far too sensational to put at the top. Continue reading

In Phnom Penh, home often is where the tuk-tuk parks

See you again in September

It is a common enough sight to see tuk-tuk drivers sound asleep with their bare feet sticking outside their vehicles, mostly rented for $100 a month more or less, when the sun is high.

Less frequently, a pedestrian may well spot drivers taking more than a short nap when it is dark.

There is a simple reason: Continue reading

Like others, Cambodians have their own verbal habits

5 Aug - 1When they answer their ubiquitous cellphones, Cambodians begin by saying Hallo, which is not a typo.  I suspect the word has its roots from the years that this nation was a protectorate of France, where they don’t pronounce the h” and the first sound is “ah.”

The telephone greeting often is linked to the Khmer phrase for “how are you?”  The populace apparently has tired of the words, and many can be counted on to reassemble the few syllables in their response to amuse themselves.

When I answer the way they do, I await Continue reading

Surprisingly, New York City is loosening its grip on me

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The Oculus, imposing portion of New York’s transit hub cum shopping mall that I photographed near One World Trade Center (also called Freedom Tower) in downtown Manhattan.

Thirty-five years.

That is how long I had made my home in New York City — only in Manhattan, from Washington Heights to Greenwich Village — in two long periods before moving to Phnom Penh toward the end of 2013.

How I loved New York over any other place I had lived such as Boston, San Francisco, Hartford and the Washington, D.C. area, where I went in my relative youth to work in the Pentagon and again, in 1995.  At that time, I worked in the U.S. Treasury Department before heading back to Manhattan in 2006 after having transitioned to real estate sales.

To my mind, Manhattan’s highlights run the gamut of the many clichés that you know as well as I do — energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, Central Park and, among so many other attributes, paradise for a food lover.
Continue reading