Last week we renewed one of Katie’s prescriptions. For a 3-month supply it cost us €39, the equivalent of about $46. In the United States a single month of the generic would cost $90 without insurance. This morning I was reading about someone who is experiencing a gap in their health insurance. It apparently ran out at the end of December, but they’ll be covered again in February. In the mean time, they’ll have to pay $900 out of pocket for their prescriptions. Without that medication, they could die, or at least suffer long-term health complications. And people wonder why America makes me feel powerless.
Today I have to finish layout out a book, so I can put it up for sale and make money. It’s work, but it doesn’t stress me out. I have things that I need to write, word count to make so I can meet a deadline for the next project. That doesn’t cause me anxiety. There’s research I have to do so I can apply for a business license in Finland, if I need to apply for a license at all. Essentially, I need to do what is required of my so I can apply for legal residence as a self-employed person. It’s no more stressful than any other work, even though some of it is in Finnish. My Finnish isn’t great, and I don’t want to make any mistakes because I misread something or translated important information incorrectly. It’s not triggering an anxiety attack, though.
What’s getting me wrapped around my axle is that I have to book an appointment with immigration. It’s not a big deal. The people at Migri have always been polite, and fair, and even kind. They’re patient and answer questions professionally. The system makes sense and it clear and straightforward. What throws me into a panic is the notion of having to go back to the United States.
I worry about costs. Getting health insurance, paying for Katie’s meds. Being able to afford all of the deposits for an apartment. The affect living abroad for almost 4 years has likely had on my credit score. The impact being self-employed will have on that credit score. Getting a bank account with an institution that will nickel-and-dime me to death with fees. Finding a job at my age, with my health, because being self-employed won’t cover all of the random expenses. Paying a small fortune for crappy internet access. Having to get a car, because anyplace with decent public transportation is likely a city with sky-high rents. Paying for car insurance.
Yeah, taxes are high in Finland. I look out the window at clear blue sky, free from pollution. The water is drinkable right out of the tap, and is not only clean and safe but tastes good. Even without being covered by Kela, the Finnish health care system, my medical bills are affordable out-of-pocket. I can grab a bus on the corner and go nearly anywhere in the country, and it’s inexpensive. I have a bank account, and I pay one monthly fee of €5.50 ($6.60) to use the ATM, not $2.50 or more every time I pull cash. Good god, online banking is free and uses two-step verification, because no one has written a check here for twenty years. All payments are direct deposit, so everyone needs a bank account, and they don’t hold you hostage financially.
We are not wealthy, we are not influential, we are not powerful, but we have a good quality of life. Going back to America would take all of that away. I could not continue to be self-employed. Katie could find a job as a teacher, but she wouldn’t be respected and treated as a professional they way educators are here. She’s get crap pay and be constantly told that she didn’t even deserve that, because America thinks teachers are lazy freeloaders. And I don’t even want to get into wide varieties of bigotry and hatred and fear.
I know that this is likely offensive to a lot of people. You think I hate America; I don’t. You can love something and still recognize that it’s broken. It’s another toxic relationship in my life. You can love someone and still know that they’re not good for you. It’s not good for me. Not for my physical health, mental health, financial health. I’m not rubbing it in, for the people who can’t get out, or who struggle every day. I recognize my privilege. But having seen that things don’t need to be that way, that all of the thing I was told my entire life will never work can work, knowing that things could be far, far better than they are, makes me not want to ever have to go back. The idea that I might terrifies me.