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Working in the States

Working in the States

Old Dec 10th 2010, 6:39 am
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Default Working in the States

Just curious to how people found the transition to working in the States. I went there and found people a bit full on and intense. Is this normal? They said that they will sort out a visa so I'm not wondering about that just yet.

I'm surprised about medical insurance, it seems a f**k load compared to Australia. I asked what happens if somebody lost their job - do they lose access to medical? Erm it seems that they do. One person said that the US has one of the highest living standards in the world. Yep perhaps they do but it doesn't seem that much different to Europe or Australasia.

How have others found moving there to work?
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Old Dec 10th 2010, 1:13 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Deutschmaster View Post
Just curious to how people found the transition to working in the States. I went there and found people a bit full on and intense. Is this normal?
Well, it maybe is on the surface. If you ask me, there's a lot more "keeping up appearances" here, but as far as actual productivity goes, I'd say its a wash. If people seem to appear more intense, it is probably because they are stressed from lack of vacation time....

The medical thing - yep - can be the worst place in the world if you lose your job. Never ceases to amuse me - the US is supposed to be the land of entrepreneurship, but in actuality it is a real corporatist society which sometimes discourages initiative - there are a lot of people who would like to start their own businesses etc....but are scared to leave corporate land due to loss of benefits.

Last edited by Dan725; Dec 10th 2010 at 1:16 pm.
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Old Dec 10th 2010, 2:00 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Deutschmaster View Post
I'm surprised about medical insurance, it seems a f**k load compared to Australia. I asked what happens if somebody lost their job - do they lose access to medical? Erm it seems that they do.
It's more complicated really. If the insurance you have is company sponsored and COBRA eligible you are able to keep it for a period of time if you lose your job. However, you will have to pay the full premium up to 105% since there will be no company subsidy. That could easily triple or quadruple the cost depending on how much your company pays towards the premium.

In general I find the working culture annoying. Not enough time off, expectations that work is your number 1 priority and no real employee protection.
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Old Dec 11th 2010, 12:58 am
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Default Re: Working in the States

I think a lot of it will have to depend on where you live and what you do for work.

Personally though, it was a lot more intense and people really didn't have much of a going out with mates to have drinks on a Friday night type of culture where I was working. A few people played football or what not but they knew each other from before they worked at the place.

Part of that though was because people had so much further, or more likely take much longer to commute from work to home so they just couldn't be arsed...oh and working stupidly long hours was expected, discounting the excess often expected in the industry.
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Old Dec 11th 2010, 5:35 am
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Default Re: Working in the States

A lot has to do with the company, the specific job, and your colleagues.

But yes, in general, there's no safety net - lose your job and while you may be able to retain your health coverage for 18 months, if you can pay for it, you won't have any past that. Many employers offer no health insurance or woefully inadequate health insurance.

I recently had surgery that required a long convalescence. I'm still having talks between various parties as to how much pay I'm owed. In addition, people seem to think that my time out of the office was some sort of massive holiday. Sorry - I would have preferred to work.

I really want to visit my SO in Europe sometime in the early spring, but apart from paying for it, I know that it will be a fight just to get time off - even unpaid. I feel like a prisoner.

But I'm American from birth. Things were not this bad 20 years ago. And I see worldwide trends to slash all benefits and yet boost productivity of every single worker. This can only be accomplished through fear of losing one's job.

Again, your situation may be different, but this is what the rank-and-file feel. And yet collectivism is still a dirty word. Go figure.
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Old Dec 11th 2010, 5:51 am
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by snowbunny View Post
A lot has to do with the company, the specific job, and your colleagues.

But yes, in general, there's no safety net - lose your job and while you may be able to retain your health coverage for 18 months, if you can pay for it, you won't have any past that. Many employers offer no health insurance or woefully inadequate health insurance.

I recently had surgery that required a long convalescence. I'm still having talks between various parties as to how much pay I'm owed. In addition, people seem to think that my time out of the office was some sort of massive holiday. Sorry - I would have preferred to work.

I really want to visit my SO in Europe sometime in the early spring, but apart from paying for it, I know that it will be a fight just to get time off - even unpaid. I feel like a prisoner.

But I'm American from birth. Things were not this bad 20 years ago. And I see worldwide trends to slash all benefits and yet boost productivity of every single worker. This can only be accomplished through fear of losing one's job.

Again, your situation may be different, but this is what the rank-and-file feel. And yet collectivism is still a dirty word. Go figure.
I recently lost everything because I had to have a major surgery. 10 weeks off work no pay, no short term disability in my state (nevada). Had to pay my insurance premiums in advance at my work for the time I was going to be off. Still owed $3000.00 for medical bills even with insurance, my regular bills kept coming in. Savings all used up to support myself during that time....
Yeah.. America is great..just dont get sick..
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Old Dec 12th 2010, 10:17 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
I think a lot of it will have to depend on where you live and what you do for work.
I would agree with this and feel fortunate that I work where I do after reading the stories of others. Our company has about 200 full-time employees and is employee owned. Employees start with 3 weeks of paid vacation and after 3 years have four. After 10 years this goes up to five. Add to this the option to "buy" or "sell" a week, basically taking an additional week unpaid or receiving compensation for a week if you don't need it. This is a big plus for me as we love to travel and my family is spread across the country.

Long hours do happen, but that's not the goal. If you work too many hours you're likely to find a manager in your cubical working hard to take something off your plate. It's not a problem to work at home now and then, to come in late due to an appointment or leave early once in a while.

The average tenure at the company is 13.5 years. People generally don't leave, though two more junior employees left last year because the office wasn't sufficiently "fun". That's a new one for me.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 3:06 am
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Default Re: Working in the States

Things have massively changed for us by moving to the USA - for the better. My husband works less hours. In his last job he was doing 50/60 hour weeks as the norm for the last 2 years. Usually these hours were only doing crunch time or when mastering a game which is fine, I'm used to this at the end of a project but the stress of doing this every day for 2 years nearly killed him and it screwed his relationship with the kids a bit too. He did get about 28 days paid leave in the UK but it became impossible to actually take any time off and while it was kind of nice that he'd end up with a lump sum of money at the end of the year for the holidays he was unable to take - although Gordon Brown took a big chunk of that - he really need time off not money He only gets 15 days holiday here and providing his family don't decide to visit again that will be plenty for us.
The commute is less, gone from a 40/50 minute drive to about 10 minutes which is great.
Most of the people he works with have families so there's no real drinking culture (unless it's someone's last day). Because of his previous hours and having no babysitter we're used to staying in so it's no biggie for us.
I know when his current game is close to finishing and mastered he'll be doing stupid hours again but I can live with that.
I can't quite get used to picking my own doctor etc, I'm used to having the NHS and its "get what you're given". Even the private medical coverage we had in the UK isn't a patch on what we get here. From everything I've read we're very lucky to have the insurance we do.
We definitely have a much much higher standard of living here than we did in the UK. Another reason why I never want to go back there.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 4:17 am
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Default Re: Working in the States

The vacation policy where I work gives all employees 0 days vacation allowance - but you can take unlimited (within reason) paid vacation at the discretion of your manager. This year I will have taken about 4 weeks, which was all that I asked for.

One thing I have noticed here in my line of work (software), compared with the UK, is that people tend to look out more for themselves first - rather than the team. There is less openness and less working together. People like to "own" something specific and not let others in. Productivity is far lower, yet it is not visibly so.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 6:59 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Deutschmaster View Post
Just curious to how people found the transition to working in the States. I went there and found people a bit full on and intense. Is this normal? They said that they will sort out a visa so I'm not wondering about that just yet.

I'm surprised about medical insurance, it seems a f**k load compared to Australia. I asked what happens if somebody lost their job - do they lose access to medical? Erm it seems that they do. One person said that the US has one of the highest living standards in the world. Yep perhaps they do but it doesn't seem that much different to Europe or Australasia.

How have others found moving there to work?
I just want to, once and for all, try and bust this myth (well partially bust it anyway).

Australia has both public and private health insurance covers. Public / govt health insurance has a cost and only covers you for non elective procedures. Yes, for common illnesses you are covered. HOWEVER. It has a cost.

For a couple with no kids earning 150k, you will be forced to pay 1.5% i.e. 1500 a year. 150K is considered rich by Australian govt so you will have to pay another 1% as surcharge i.e total 2.5% = $315 a month. This will ONLY cover you for common illnesses and none of the major surgeries.

The way to avoid the surcharge would be to have “private health insurance”. Lot of people end up taking the pvt health insurance so they don’t have to pay 1% surcharge and also get better coverage.

Now, the pvt health insurance totally depends on what type of cover you wanted. For a basic hospital cover my wife and I were paying around $225 a month. NOTE, this is after tax dollars so to convert that to before tax dollars and add it to the 1.5% cost of public health insurance we get to roughly $500 a month. Remember this is before you even add kids to the plan. I compare that with what I am paying now ($300 a month) and I consider US to be financially ahead of the medical insurance in US.

And don’t even get me started on Australian pvt health insurance waiting times. For instance, if my fall were to fall pregnant and didn’t have pregnancy cover for alteast 12 months before falling pregnant, she will not be covered for pvt health insurance.

So, long story short – it’s very easy to say Australia has a health insurance but the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Sure, I don’t give 5 start to the US healthcare industry but anyway……
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 7:06 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
I just want to, once and for all, try and bust this myth (well partially bust it anyway).

Australia has both public and private health insurance covers. Public / govt health insurance has a cost and only covers you for non elective procedures. Yes, for common illnesses you are covered. HOWEVER. It has a cost.

For a couple with no kids earning 150k, you will be forced to pay 1.5% i.e. 1500 a year. 150K is considered rich by Australian govt so you will have to pay another 1% as surcharge i.e total 2.5% = $315 a month. This will ONLY cover you for common illnesses and none of the major surgeries.

The way to avoid the surcharge would be to have “private health insurance”. Lot of people end up taking the pvt health insurance so they don’t have to pay 1% surcharge and also get better coverage.

Now, the pvt health insurance totally depends on what type of cover you wanted. For a basic hospital cover my wife and I were paying around $225 a month. NOTE, this is after tax dollars so to convert that to before tax dollars and add it to the 1.5% cost of public health insurance we get to roughly $500 a month. Remember this is before you even add kids to the plan. I compare that with what I am paying now ($300 a month) and I consider US to be financially ahead of the medical insurance in US.

And don’t even get me started on Australian pvt health insurance waiting times. For instance, if my fall were to fall pregnant and didn’t have pregnancy cover for alteast 12 months before falling pregnant, she will not be covered for pvt health insurance.

So, long story short – it’s very easy to say Australia has a health insurance but the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Sure, I don’t give 5 start to the US healthcare industry but anyway……
You need to add in the Employer contribution in the US to make a logical comparison.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 7:13 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
You need to add in the Employer contribution in the US to make a logical comparison.
I totally understand. I am not comparing cost to the economy – merely comparing out of pocket for the employee.

While I am at it, there is no concept of co-pay in Australia for common illnesses. For the private health insurance, there is copay in the form of daily ‘charges’ capped to certain $ value.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 7:22 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
I totally understand. I am not comparing cost to the economy – merely comparing out of pocket for the employee.

While I am at it, there is no concept of co-pay in Australia for common illnesses. For the private health insurance, there is copay in the form of daily ‘charges’ capped to certain $ value.
It probably would not work dollar for dollar, but the more the employer pays for health insurance the less there is to pay for employees.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 8:32 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
It probably would not work dollar for dollar, but the more the employer pays for health insurance the less there is to pay for employees.
I see your point. On an average though, I do have a story here.

I work for an institution that does not have flash medical coverage AND I live on North Calif which is way more expensive they say SoCal. So the $300 that I am paying could be much cheaper.
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Old Dec 13th 2010, 11:47 pm
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Default Re: Working in the States

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
I just want to, once and for all, try and bust this myth (well partially bust it anyway).

Australia has both public and private health insurance covers. Public / govt health insurance has a cost and only covers you for non elective procedures. Yes, for common illnesses you are covered. HOWEVER. It has a cost.

For a couple with no kids earning 150k, you will be forced to pay 1.5% i.e. 1500 a year. 150K is considered rich by Australian govt so you will have to pay another 1% as surcharge i.e total 2.5% = $315 a month. This will ONLY cover you for common illnesses and none of the major surgeries.

The way to avoid the surcharge would be to have “private health insurance”. Lot of people end up taking the pvt health insurance so they don’t have to pay 1% surcharge and also get better coverage.

Now, the pvt health insurance totally depends on what type of cover you wanted. For a basic hospital cover my wife and I were paying around $225 a month. NOTE, this is after tax dollars so to convert that to before tax dollars and add it to the 1.5% cost of public health insurance we get to roughly $500 a month. Remember this is before you even add kids to the plan. I compare that with what I am paying now ($300 a month) and I consider US to be financially ahead of the medical insurance in US.

And don’t even get me started on Australian pvt health insurance waiting times. For instance, if my fall were to fall pregnant and didn’t have pregnancy cover for alteast 12 months before falling pregnant, she will not be covered for pvt health insurance.

So, long story short – it’s very easy to say Australia has a health insurance but the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Sure, I don’t give 5 start to the US healthcare industry but anyway……
Perhaps, but I don't earn $150k. I do have private, but it's only $70 a month which includes dentistry and optical. If I were to become unemployed I would still be covered under Medicare and $70 a month isn't that much to pay from savings.

Last edited by Deutschmaster; Dec 13th 2010 at 11:49 pm.
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