First experience with banks and doctors in the States

Less than two weeks into our new life, and we’ve experienced a few new things. Banks and doctors in the States are, of course, very different than in France, but it’s still a bit jarring to realize that I don’t really know how either work, despite having spent the first two decades of my life here.



I had maintained the savings account that I’ve had since college to pay my student loans, but closed my checking after a few years in France to avoid paying the fees. I opened a new one this summer, and transferred all of our money into it a few weeks before moving, expecting to be able to use the card sent a few months ago to my parents’ house upon arrival . . . Except they forget the “safe place” where they were keeping it!

No big deal, we had our French cards, and we could always go into an actual bank to withdraw money. Also, I had wanted to set up free online checking with another bank once we arrived, so I went ahead and did that. You don’t need a bank card to transfer money into a new account, just the routing and account numbers, which I had. While waiting for the new fee-free check card, I found the other one while cleaning my old room. (For anyone who has taken on the task of cleaning out your room at your parents’ house, you know how simultaneously fun and sad this can be.)

So hurray, I now have two bank cards, two accounts, and two ways to pay for all the things we’ll be needing to buy soon. But my poor husband still had nothing, since he was waiting on his social security number. It has been surprising to me how many things need this, at least coming from France, since they mainly use ID cards to identify people. But it showed up Friday, less than two weeks after arriving, and I went online to add him to my account.

Except the social security number is so new, he couldn’t be added! He needed to call to verify his identity. Reassuring but also mildly frustrating. He handled it like a pro though, since his job at the bank involved talking on the phone with clients all day about banking things and verifying their identities! I’m not sure if this would be a problem for people going in person to set up an account, but it’s something to keep in mind with the current trend of banking moving towards all online and phone services.



This is not the sexiest secret to share, but I’ve had my ear blocked by wax the past few months, and was managing it with drops the doctor in France gave me. I could have gotten her to do the removal procedure, but every time I went in, I was with bébé, who refuses to let me out of his clutches in the presence of the evil shot-giver. It wasn’t too bad, and in the days leading up to the flight, almost all better, so I figured it would be fine and left my drops in France, leaving precious packing room for more important, non-replacable things.

The first few days here were okay, but every morning it got harder and harder to get rid of the “sleep fuzz” as I call it, so I went and bought drops here, along with a little bulb syringe. It didn’t really help the way I needed, and messing around so much probably just made it worse. The travel health insurance we bought doesn’t cover preexisting conditions, and I wasn’t up for calling all the doctors in town to see who would take me without insurance.

When visiting a daycare here, they mentioned CVS minute clinic as a way to fill out the immunization paperwork, since we don’t have a pediatrician here yet. So when my ear became totally blocked Saturday morning and I could barely hear anymore, I decided to check them out. Of course the one I went to that opened at 9 was exceptionally closed until 11, but at least I was first in line! It took about 30 minutes once it opened to sign myself in on the computer, wait a few more minutes to be called, and get the procedure.

It cost 89 dollars, which would make most people in France gasp in horror, but if you’ve ever had a blocked ear, you know you’d gladly pay much more to be able to hear normally again! I feel silly for not finding the time to do it in France before I left, but at least this gave me an idea of the kind of medical care available here. I know one clinic is not indicative of everywhere, but for a consultation or vaccine or short procedure like “cerumen removal”, it’s good to know there’s something available 7 days a week that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars. And if it is a sudden illness, the travel insurance does cover one doctor’s visit, so it might even be “free”.

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