Monday, March 29, 2004


MARCH 29, 2004

Quite often we receive emails from people who have read our blog and have questions or comments. The question we hear most often is concerning health care, and the comment we hear most often is how brave we are to have made this move.

Since many of the people who are contemplating moving to Italy are our age and older, health care is certainly a valid concern. Art and I are lucky enough to have been able to maintain our health insurance through the Post Office. The reason I say “lucky” is because the Post Office has very reasonable insurance rates, even for retirees. Even though the cost of our health insurance takes a nice sized chunk out of our monthly pension, we think that it’s worth maintaining this coverage. If we were to discontinue our health insurance through the Post Office, we would be unable to resume coverage at a later date. Since we don’t know what the future will bring, for now we are keeping this coverage.

Since we have only been in Italy for six months, we can’t know for sure how our plan will work for the long term, but for now, this is our plan: Art still orders his prescriptions by mail order. So far we have picked them up when we have returned to the states, but at some point, we will need to have someone mail us these prescriptions. We also know that we can’t list “prescriptions” on the customs form, or the package will be denied entry. Maybe once we enter the Italian healthcare system, we can get some of the medications in Italy, possibly at a lower cost.

We hope to return to the States twice a year, once at Christmas, and once again in May, or, if I can talk Art into it, in July/August. During these two visits we plan to have our regular check-ups…dental care, eye exams, general check-ups, as well as any specialist visits we might need. Once we reach the appropriate age, we will also apply for Medicare, although I don’t know much about that system at all.

We do want to enter into the Italian healthcare system too. So far, we just haven’t been able to coordinate days and times, but this is high on our priority list. In order to receive a handicapped parking permit, Art will need to be seen and certified by an Italian doctor. For us, the main benefit of having a handicapped parking sticker will be a reduction on our car tax. This is something we learned about through an article on the Informer website. (

Hopefully as our Italian improves, the thought of dealing with an Italian doctor will become less daunting. We have already had our first experience with the Italian healthcare system when we were injured in a car accident. We know that healthcare here is much different than healthcare in the U.S. We know that we have to bring our own aspirin with us to the hospital, and our own food. We know that tests are not ordered like they are in the states. This may be good news and bad news…how do you know if a specific test might be helpful? We have to learn how to ask the questions, and to seek other opinions. One of the students in my Italian class had to return to the U.S. for extensive medical treatment after an injury to her hand was treated incorrectly here in Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this could never happen in the U.S…..I think we all know that it can and does happen, all the time, BUT… at least when you know the language and the “normal” procedure, you can do some research, ask your friends and family for recommendations, call in other doctors, etc. For some, this may be a scary situation. Right now we are both in relatively good health, and plan to enjoy our lives in Italy for as long as we can. Should the time ever come when our circumstances change and we need to be in the States for medical reasons, then we’ll move back. This brings me to the second thing I wanted to write about…our “bravery” and “courage” in moving to Italy.

When people comment about how brave we are, or what courage it took to sell everything and just move to Italy, we’re always a little amused. For us, it wasn’t really a choice. We weren’t that brave….really. For us, Italy just exerted such a powerful draw that we were powerless to resist. We just did what we HAD to do….we HAD to live in Italy, end of story. I know it doesn’t make sense, but honestly, that’s the best way I can explain it. When you feel something so strongly and so deeply, then you must simply follow your heart and see where it leads you. Life is such a gamble…who knows when they fall in love if that love will last? Statistics seem to indicate that for at least half of us, it won’t last. But even though living together has become much more common and much more acceptable, people continue to get married. Hope springs eternal! And who among us is working at the job we thought we would be working at? Or even the job we studied for? Isn’t it strange how our lives seem to take these strange (and wonderful) twists and turns?

When Art and I first met, over fifteen years ago, I never thought I’d travel to anywhere but Great Britain. Art loved Hawaii and San Francisco. And I had never even been to Florida! For our first European trip, when Art suggested Istanbul, Kelly (Art’s daughter) and I both turned up our noses at the thought of such an uncivilized, remote place. Since that first trip (when we did NOT go to Istanbul) we have visited fifteen countries at last count. And Turkey is among those fifteen, and one that I would love to visit again! Two amazing facts about us and Italy: #1, we never had ANY desire to visit Italy. As Art says, all we had heard about Italy was that it was dirty and the trains were always late. And #2, since our first trip to Italy, in September 2000, we haven’t added ANY new countries! We just kept returning to Italy over and over…work was just a necessary evil to allow us to earn enough money, and enough time off, to visit again. So, here we are…In Italy, a place neither of us ever thought we would even visit, much less live in! We’re here because we’ve followed our hearts, not because we’re brave. We’re having the time of our lives! And to those of you who STILL don’t get it, well, I guess all I can say is…I’m sorry….and I hope that at some point in your life, something will stir your soul like Italy has stirred ours.

And a Post Script: Before I could post this, the fruit and vegetable truck came…and I now have FRESH garlic! I never even knew there was such a thing! Well, you know what I mean! It smells wonderful! I’ll add it with fresh onions to the potatoes for dinner tonight…what do you want to bet it tastes WONDERFUL?!


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