Sonntag, 29. August 2010

Untold stories No. 1 - Why search engines should be your No.1 friend when single

To lighten this blog a little again, after such serious posts, I thought I'd tell you one of these stories, I haven't told yet.

We already use search engines like Google and Bing in our everyday lives, but do you, as a single individual make use of them in your dating life yet?

I can tell you that it has proved to be very helpful for me last year. Very quickly after arriving in South Florida I noticed that a lot of people down here are very pretentious and that is something you obviously also encounter when going on dates or meeting people in bars etc. In the end you might find yourself in the position where you no longer know what of what you're told you can believe and what not. Well, lucky ones we are, living in such an industrialized world with smart phones and search engines!!! :)

Being a little tech savvy and having worked in the field of SEO (search engine optimization) before, I might have an edge, as I know how to use search engines for my advantage, but let me tell you one thing, here in the USA you all have one advantage in comparison to Germany for example. Everybody who has been arrested for whatever reason over here, will one way or the other, turn up on the internet, as the sheriff departments post mugshots, names and reasons for arrest daily online, whereas in Germany that information is kept from the general public. So at least, if you have a full name, age and face, you can make sure that the person you are talking to has not just been released on bond for a maybe not so small crime, simply by googling that person.

Here's what I came across:

1. While out with friends one Saturday, I met this guy and his friends in a bar in Hollywood and we started having a great conversation. He seemed to be very nice, was attractive, smart and a great conversationalist. We talked for hours and were the last ones left in the bar after my and his friends had said goodbye. At 5 AM in the morning we parted and I even had jokingly said that I usually google people to what he responded it wouldn't be a problem if I did that with his name. The following day we texted a little back and forth and made plans to meet up again. On Monday then I was bored and while surfing the net, I thought about putting his name into Google. I did and what was I happy about that! Only three posts down on the first page of search results was an entry from the Lee County Sheriff's department, which is the county around Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast. The guy had told me that he works there quite a bit, so I knew right away that entry must be about him and clicked on it. I admit I was slightly caught by surprise. I stared at a mugshot which was clearly of the guy I had just met and looked at the charges. I couldn't believe it! The Friday before the Saturday we had met, that "nice" guy had been arrested with 14 other people in a prostitution sting in Fort Myers. He had spend the night in jail and was then released on bond at lunch time on Saturday after which he had traveled back to Hollywood and met up with his friends and ran into me at that bar. Prostitution is illegal in Florida, but apparently this guy had been caught when driving around town looking for a prostitute. He had then approached an officer posing to be a prostitute and became lewd and aggressive when he found out he had been set up. Too bad!!! Needless to say, I never texted nor met up with that guy again!

2. On another night out, we met some guys from up North. One of them showed interest in me and we had a good time getting to know each other. He told me he was single. However, I had caught a glimpse at his phone display which showed a picture of a little girl that he had not mentioned in his stories and that I didn't ask about. Thanks to the smart phones however, you can now google stuff from wherever you are and somehow that evening I decided to start a quick search online on that guy when in line for the bathroom. Funny thing is, I only knew his first name (which was quite random), age, where he was approximately from and his profession, but with the right keywords I had a quick match in no time. Amazing! Come to find out, he was married and had a two year old daughter. Thanks to his company, posting profiles on their top sales people, for that information. Friend and I left the bar after that. Somehow I have a little something against traveling business men now. Are they all cheaters!? Possibly not, but why not ask Google first!? ;)

Call me crazy, but this is how I roll! :) Investigative nature! Unfortunately, doesn't always work.

Single pregnant immigrant without health insurance in the USA.

Sounds scary!??? It sure is... BUT ONLY, if you're me and you base your decisions on the bigger picture.

Now before anyone thinks I'm stupid for deciding to start a family in the first place, knowing that I would probably have no health insurance covering maternity: We both were well aware of that and before the "We" picture collapsed, everything in regards to that was talked about and a plan established. Only problem: "We" is no longer existent, which makes it more complicated.

I believe it may be quite interesting for the 0.0001% of legal immigrants that will ever be in the same shoes to find out how the whole "pregnant - no insurance" thing works over here.

Looking at the market of individual health insurance, pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition, so once you are pregnant, chances of getting a health insurance plan are veeeeery low. Even if looking for health insurance in that market BEFORE getting pregnant will prove challenging, as there's a lot of fine print and maternity is usually not covered. If you want it covered you start out paying a lot more each month, as pregnancy/maternity is quite expensive for an insurance provider. Just the plain natural labor and delivery without complications and interference in a US hospital bed is likely to cost $10.000,-. Caesarean sections will of course be more and every drug you need will push the bill higher.

Best situation to be in: Get great health insurance from your employer and your life will be much easier. In an employer based health plan, pregnancy can not be labeled a pre-existing condition as there's some legal protection going back to the 70's for that. But not everybody is that lucky!

So let's be the one not having insurance coverage like me. What are the options?

The answer is simple. Not many!

Option 1: You're very fortunate and qualify for federal Medicaid support.
Problems: Medicaid for pregnant women is income based and even if you qualify due to your income... You have to be a US-citizen or a permanent resident of the USA for at least 5 years to qualify, although in some sources it says as greencard holder being pregnant you are exempt from the 5-year bar. All I know is, I was denied :(

Option 2: Pay cash!!! Whoop! As cash is still loved by doctors and hospitals, you will be able to negotiate and get better rates than an insurance provider. You may "only" pay 50% for example of what an insurance would be charged. However, that would still be a lot if you don't belong to the rich and famous.

I was "lucky" enough to have noticed a highway billboard in my first months over here that advertised for a birth center. It is an alternative to hospital care and usually the cheaper option. In my case I found a birth center run by an OB/GYN and a midwife (vs. others where there are only midwifes) and although I'm still having to pay for my care in cash, the package including prenatal care, labor and delivery and postnatal care, will "only" cost me around $4.200,-, IF everything goes without complications. In addition to that, I'm looking at a completely natural birth. Drugs for pain relief? No such option!

May sound scary for many again, but since my birth center has an OB/GYN licensed to operate in the local hospitals, I'm on the safer side. In case of complications he will deliver my baby out of a hospital without additional charge. I would only have extra costs for taking up room and equipment in the hospital then, but that is where Emergency Medicaid for pregnant women could kick in and that is something I would be eligible for.

Now as I ended up on my own, I'm paying everything by myself, which is tough. Quite obvious if you don't make the super big bucks and all of a sudden find yourself with a $740.- extra bill each month on top of your regular bills. But what doesn't kill me, makes me stronger! :)

By the way, there would be an option 3, as some of you may question how illegal aliens get their pregnancy health care. Yes, I could just go to the hospital and demand prenatal care which they couldn't deny me. My problem with that: Within the last 18 months I established quite a nice credit score. Getting care from a hospital and just not paying my bills (like a lot of uninsured citizens and legal as well as illegal aliens do) does therefore not work for me. I rather work my pregnant butt off and pay cash for my medical care, than ruining my credit by not paying those hospital bills and having debt collectors chasing me. I may need my good credit for something once baby girl gets here.

Well, long enough post about that topic! Cross your fingers for me as there is still a lot to figure out in regards to my near future.

Life is a roller coaster...

Nobody ever said life is easy. I mean, yes, some people are more fortunate than others and get to live the good life all the way. Others however get the roller coaster ride of life. That includes me. I've been a little quiet here lately, as my life has once again turned away from "normal". I guess normal would just be too boring. :)

What happened!?

Well, I want to keep this short: In June, I found out several things that made me end the relationship with Andrew. It was best for my personal well-being, but it wasn't a smooth break-up, so things have been rather rocky since.

I am therefore looking towards single motherhood and I'm currently living the crazy life of a single, pregnant immigrant, which brings it's very own stories with it. More in the next posts.

Niemand hat jemals behauptet, dass das Leben einfach ist. Ich meine klar gibt es Leute, die sich gluecklicher als andere schaetzen koennen und nur auf der Sonnenseite leben. Andere dagegen bekommen die Achterbahnfahrt. Dazu gehoere ich. Ich war in letzter Zeit ziemlich ruhig hier, da sich mein Leben einmal mehr vom "Normalen" abwendete. Normal waere wohl einfach zu langweilig. :)

Was ist passiert!?

Ich will es kurz fassen: Im Juni fand ich einige Sachen heraus, die mich meine Beziehung zu Andrew beenden liessen. Fuer mein Wohlergehen war es das Beste, allerdings war das Ende nicht sehr schoen, so dass es seither ein wenig holperig zugeht.

Ich gehe nun demnach auf das Single-Mutter Dasein zu und lebe momentan als alleinstehende, schwangere Immigrantin, was seine ganz eigenen Geschichten mit sich bringt. Dazu mehr in weiteren Eintraegen.