Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Red tape and the joys of private Health Insurance for Expats!

We have some news on the Visas front. We were hoping to get the permanent visas sorted by end of the month but…. It seems now that the Directorship of Alistair has to be processed by the authorities before we can apply. This is going to take at least 3 months! Oh dear!
We were hoping that as he is the director of the company in Brazil (by default as the director has to be in Brazil!) we could apply quickly without a need to go back to the UK, now that the company is registered. 
Well, we will, but only once the role is processed. So in conclusion, as Alistair’s business Visa (and my tourist Visa) expires end of September, we will need to get out again.
We “hope” that we can get the temporary visas renewed from Buenos Aires rather than having to go back to the UK. I don’t fancy an 11 hours flight twice in a week!
Anyhow, time will tell.
Meanwhile there is a container with all our possessions, stuck in some harbour in England. We have not had much news from the relocation company, so we hope all is still there. The container will not leave the UK until we have the permanent Visas sorted! So it seems we won’t get any of our stuff until at least Xmas time! Oh dear!
That is, if all our stuff is not already on sale on eBay. As I said, the relocation company we use does not seem particularly responsive ….

Anyhow, I have now finished my 4 weeks intensive “intermediate “course on Portuguese. I have had some time this week to pursue some other issue.
2 or 3 weeks ago I went to see a doctor for a minor issue (women stuff!). Anyhow, my Portuguese teacher recommended me her gynaecologist who had her clinic in the same building than my language school. This put me in contact with the “International Health insurance” company. Namely for that AXA! Oh dear!
If you are American you will be familiar with dealing with those “people”, but for us Europeans it is quite a SHOCK! When I phoned AXA, which for South America means calling a number in the US (!) I talked to a bloke and had to detail exactly why I had to see a doctor. Go explain in details your menstruations problems to an American bloke on the phone! Oh dear!
Anyhow, he came back telling me I was allowed to see a doctor. “F*ck you mate, I see a doctor if I want! “ was my 1st thought!
Anyhow I saw the doctor. She requested blood and urine analysis and also a mammography and ultrasound of ovaries and breasts.
On Monday I went to give samples for the Blood and urine test. I then phoned the Insurance Company. I had been naive on that one.  I should have checked with AXA BEFORE getting anything.
It happens that they allowed me to get the blood and urine test but then the guy kept asking why the doctor asked for a mammography and ultrasounds. The answer: “Well I am not a f*cking doctor mate and  I do not speak Portuguese!” was in my mind but I restrained myself (Am I turning into a “grumpy ol’ woman” before my time?)! I explained politely that not being a doctor I did not question her requests. In any case they tried to call her but failed so I had to cancel the ultrasounds and mammography.
In Europe those sort of tests are done and usually free for women of 40 and over. It did not come to my mind that for these companies, anything that is not strictly necessary to keep you barely alive is not allowed and prevention is not a word that is included in their vocabulary!
Knowing AXA on reputation I must admit I would NEVER had taken any contract with them on anything. I always avoided them when buying insurance via brokers, always asking who the underwriter was.
So in conclusion I would very much like to get local private insurance that seems much better (and is probably much cheaper!). In any case, Alistair is trying to get his contract local rather than in the UK. It would simplify in term of tax, insurance etc… and after all if we live here, it makes sense to get pay here as well.  Again this is in progress and we will see.
As you can see there are lots of question marks and stuff pending. It is going to take a long time to be completely settled and feeling “at home”.
In the meantime I will try to investigate the Brazilian health care system which seems free. For what I heard it seems similar to the NHS in quality and delivery (i.e. medieval!) but knowing the Brazilians I am sure it will be more caring. In any case I would like at least to know how it works in case I need to see a local GP for small ailments. I really don’t want to talk to AXA anymore if I can avoid!

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