I am in favor of the Affordable Care Act. To the point – it will enable me to return to America, if I so choose, without having to worry about living with no health insurance. As I approach my 38th anniversary of type 1 diabetes, this is a big deal. If I am in America and say my eye busts open again, what sort of costs am I looking at to see an eye surgeon? What does a pars plana vitrectomy cost these days? Prior to Obamacare, it might cost me $40k a year for health insurance, if I could even get it. And then the coverage might not even provide for my needs. These are the sort of risks that the so-called Obamacare can minimize for me. It can open doors for my return to the mother ship.

I may sign up for it now, from afar. I think I can do this, but I haven’t yet researched it. I would like to at least get an account. Get registered and check a box that says John lives outside of the country and does not need to pay anything, but if he ever returns, sure, he will fork over his share of funds. How do these things work? Can somebody tell me?

Better yet, I’d like to sign up for Obamacare and attain cheap health insurance, yeah, even cheaper than what I have up here in the Great White North, the supposed land of free healthcare. Diabetic supplies are not free here by any means. I do need health insurance, and the American Way is to find the cheapest. As an American citizen, I should be allowed to buy health insurance through Obamacare and use it up here. After all, I am an American.

Insurance does not work like this. I cannot buy cheap American health coverage for my Canadian expenses. Whatever I buy stateside has to be used stateside within the American healthcare system – doctors, hospitals, drug providers, etc. I cannot use it up here. Makes sense, just like about all other services I might want to use. I pay Canadian taxes which cover endless government services such as schools, healthcare, highways, police, armed forces, agriculture, natural resources, energy management, and on and on and on. A fundamental policy is you pay for services from within the country you use them. It makes no sense to have to have anything to do with Obamacare if I live in Canada. It makes sense to pay for services to the country you live in.

So why do I still need to file taxes? Why do I need to report all of my financial affairs to the American government? Every service I could possibly try to use – say sending my kids to school in Maine – would be rejected because I live abroad, yet I have to file tax returns. And if my foreign taxes are insufficient, then I have to pay America the difference.

Here’s a fun point. I cannot claim my company pension on my American tax return because it is a Canadian pension. Only American pensions qualify in America. I get a deduction in Canada but not America. This creates a risk for me that I may have to pay America the difference. Fortunately Canadian tax rates are high enough that this does not happen. America also gives me a foreign income exclusion of over $90k. I’m safe, for now. Until the idiots in Congress decide to repeal it again like they did in the 1970’s. http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/03/27/congressional-progressive-caucus-budget-for-all-would-end-foreign-earned-income-exclusion/

I’m more fearful of planning my retirement. I cannot participate in all of Canada’s incentives. We have something called a tax free savings account. I can invest $5k a year tax free for life. Sounds great. Makes sense in a country with lower wages and poor savings practices. Yet for us expats, such an incentive is potentially cancelled by American tax policy. There are no vehicles for recognizing this tool, for exempting it from my American taxes. It is not a salary so does not qualify under income exclusion. It is not an RRSP, so there is no investment exclusion. America will want taxes on this money, so I cannot participate in my country of residence’s incentives, and I cannot make up for it by using American incentives. 401K’s are useless on my Canadian tax return. I don’t qualify for them anyway because all my income is abroad.

See my problem here? Everything I do depends on where I live except for my tax dollars. How does one juggle these things? Well, many are now packing in the fight and renouncing their American citizenship. I might just do the same someday. Or, with this Obamacare, I might just move back home and give up my life of luxury in the frozen north, the life where I can sleep with my doors unlocked without fear of home invasion, where I live knowing that 99.999% of the people I meet do not carry handguns, do not even own guns, or knives, or whatever, and where healthcare is free. Pure Utopia. Right.

Support residence-based taxation (RBT)!