US expats in Japan unhappy about Obamacare repeal and replace

Published:  13 Jul at 6 PM
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A survey undertaken by the English language Japan Times suggests that over half of US expats in the country won’t repatriate if Obamacare is repealed and replaced.

The chaos over Trump’s attempt to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare with the unpopular bill now under discussion has worried American expatriates working in Japan to such an extent that over 50 per cent of those surveyed say they would rather stay where they are than return home. The Japan Times survey took place between late June and last week, with results that may have surprised the US government.

The majority of the rest of the respondents said the bill wouldn’t affect their future as they were planning to stay in Japan indefinitely, although even they criticised the repeal attempt as it would invariably limit their access to US healthcare. Most of those surveyed disapproved of the new bill’s intent to strip 22 million of their healthcare coverage over the next nine years. The proposed, deeper Medicaid cuts were also unpopular with respondents for their effect on the poor and disadvantaged.

Jim Rion, a freelance translator now living in Yamaguchi Prefecture told the survey America’s healthcare policies had worried him long before the 2010 introduction of Obamacare. Rion, who’s lived in Japan for 13 years, and has a wife and son, is concerned about the limited options in the USA for emergency family healthcare. Messing with Medicaid and Medicare, he believes, will lead to serious problems for those who can’t afford expensive private health insurance. In Japan, he adds, medical care for children is free and very much appreciated, especially when remembering the hassles and expenses his siblings in the USA have when their children are ill.

Rion’s concerns are shared by another long-term US expat English teacher living in the Tokai region. She suffers with chronic migraines and was covered in the USA by her parents’ medical insurance. Should she return, she said, there’s no way she could afford private health cover, adding she’s investigating attending graduate school and continuing her career in Japan. Just one single respondent to the survey gave a different perspective, saying governments should stay out of healthcare provision and adding ‘taxation is theft’!
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