Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’

Many relationship experts claim that it’s the little things that cause marriage break-ups – the toilet seat being left up, or the dirty clothes abandoned on the floor…

The same applies to the immigrant’s relationship with their new country. Even when everything seems similar on the surface – language and culture – you quickly discover that your new home is determined to leave the milk out of the fridge every couple of days just to annoy the hell out of you.

Society is oiled by a whole raft of unwritten rules. When you’re growing up, you pick up these rules as you go along. You don’t even know you’re following them. It’s only when you move somewhere else that you realise that the rules you weren’t even aware of aren’t the same everywhere. What’s worse, because no-one in your new country is aware that they’re playing by their rules, no-one will ever explain them to you. Somehow you are just expected to know.

Take, for example, healthcare. Between private health insurance and Medicare, the scope for befuddlement is huge. In the UK, you go to your doctor, get a prescription, take it to the pharmacy, pay your £7.20 and that’s it. Here, you have to pay for your appointment with the doctor, then claim most of it back by visiting a Medicare office, then shop around because pharmacies can charge more or less what they like, then remember to ask for the cheaper generic version, because it would be WAY too helpful for the doctor to have prescribed that in the first place…oh, and don’t forget to present your Medicare card at every stage of the transaction.

Then there’s shopping, which seems just like shopping at home, but which actually has a whole language of its own, which no-one taught you at school. At the checkout in Target, you’re always asked if you have any lay-bys or Fly-buys. I finally plucked up the courage to ask a local, and discovered lay-bys are a throwback to Britain of the 1950s, where you can have an item kept aside for you, to be paid off at a rate of 5 shillings, sorry, dollars a week. Fly-buys is some kind of loyalty scheme, but it’s so ingrained in society that there are never any leaflets or posters explaining what it is. Bra sizes and shoe sizes are different, and I’ve already mentioned the difficulties caused by cheese descriptions.

None of these litle irritants want to make me divorce Australia, but sometimes I do feel like yelling at it for leaving the lid off the toothpaste again.

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