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SOVEREIGN MAN

Questions: Seychelles, GoldMoney.com, Italian passport, Thai hospitals

March 12, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Greetings once again from the land of smiles.

First of all, I really appreciate all the responses after yesterday’s letter in which I announced that I will be speaking at the upcoming Casey Research Crisis and Opportunity Summit. I’m really looking forward to meeting with so many of you in Las Vegas.

For some reason, a few subscribers had difficulty with the link that gives more information about the event, so I want to re-post it here in case you’d like to join us:

http://www.caseyresearch.com/crpmkt/crpSolo.php?id=181

And with that, let’s move on to this week’s questions:

Stephen asks, “Simon – I don’t recall you mentioning the Seychelles as a potential offshore banking location? Any reasons not to incorporate there and/or open a bank account?”

Seychelles has a reasonably developed financial infrastructure and is a decent choice for offshore merchant processing… but I find it to be expensive to set up a company, and the due diligence requirements are fairly strict.

More importantly, though, I am generally mistrustful of very small countries that rely almost completely on their offshore industries. If the government has a string of bad years, they won’t think twice about imposing new taxes and fees on all the entities incorporated there.

Russ asks, “Simon, I know you’re busy, but I have a quick question regarding GoldMoney.com.  Is this account something that must be reported to the IRS as a foreign financial account?”

That’s a great question… a lot of people have asked it, and the bottom line is that there is no clear guidance one way or the other.

On one hand, GoldMoney should not be regarded as a financial account because it exists outside of the banking system and deals strictly with precious metals, which are not regarded by the government as a monetary instrument.

On the other hand, the service is clearly designed to be a banking substitute, and as all administrative and storage facilities are overseas, it certainly could qualify.

Jim Turk, the founder of GoldMoney.com, is one of the people who thinks that it does not qualify as a foreign financial account. Your best bet is to talk to your accountant and decide how you want to proceed.

Robert asks, “My father is Italian and based on my lineage, I am entitled to Italian citizenship.  I have already done most of the leg work, aside from getting the required apostilles, but I have been hesitant to complete the process as I live and work here in the good ‘ole USA.  In your expertise, would you find this to be a good option for a second passport?”

Western European passports are extremely valuable for most people– they entitle the citizen to live and work anywhere in the EU, and they’re fantastic travel documents, even better than a US or Canadian passport.

With any second passport, though, there are a few things that you really need to watch out for:

First, military conscription is a very real issue in many countries, including Italy. I believe the maximum draft age in Italy is 25, which means that anyone who obtains Italian citizenship between the ages of 18 and 25 must serve briefly in the military.

Second, you should also watch out for tax consequences. At the moment, Italy does not tax worldwide income, but as the economic situation there continues to deteriorate, it is entirely possible that the Italian government may start taxing its expats.

Christina asks, “Simon you’ve written before about the marquee international hospitals in Thailand like Bumrungrad International. Do you have any experience with ‘tier 2′ hospitals? Is there a major step down in quality?

I recently had the pleasure of carting myself off to the emergency room here in Pattaya. I’ve been to the ER in many countries, including in the United States, and as I think anyone could attest, you spend more time waiting around the ER than being treated.

Here at Pattaya International Hospital, though, I was literally being treated within -seconds- of my arrival. As soon as I showed up, I was met in the parking lot by two nurses who took me straight to a bed in the back where they triaged me.

The doctor came within 5 minutes, and he spoke flawless English, having studied in Canada.  To me, this speed is a major differentiator in quality and one of the reasons I routinely tell people that, in case I get sick, I really hope that I’m in a country like Thailand.

That’s it for this week! Thanks for bearing with me while I recover.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lrm

    Of course,in countries like Thailand,the majority of citizens do not get care at all…I do not believe they have a hippocratic oath, and treat villagers with the same care that they do wealthy Thai and certainly foreigners/whites.

    In the US,although changing, folks may still be treated in a true emergency, even if they do not have insurance or ability to pay. Heck, we have even experienced, during lean graduate student times, having a surgery (follow up for cleft lip palate issues as an adult) expense written off by the hospital as charity, in a small colorado city. We applied for this option, and they gave it to us, much needed and appreciated by us. The hospital writes it off as a tax deduction, and we get care…like the old days, when charitie groups ran hosptials and it was truly for care of the sick, not a profit making venture, and common sense applied.

    That said, in the US, of course we now have a particular immigrant group who uses ER for routine care, b/c they know they won’t be turned away. This flies in the face of the puritanical/Judeo-Christian history of the US, where citizens knew when and how to utilize services for the great good.

    In any case, it is easy to romanticize/glamourize healthcare in 3rd world countries, or second world-such as brasil, colombia, thailand,etc. but the truth is that most of their own citizens do not receive acess to such care, and folks like Simon and many other foreigners avail themselves solely b/c they have the power of the dollar behind them. This is of course a fantastic opportunity, and nice to be treated like a human in their system again, but let’s not loose perspective on what got you ‘in the door’…Why,it’s your US dollar and white skin advantage, primarily. No need to bite the hand that has indeed fed you, even if you know longer wish to partake in said buffet.

  • lrm

    Edit: Do NOT treat villages the way they would a wealthy Thai or foreigner.Thanks.

  • lrm

    edit: Charity!!!! doh!!!! LOL

  • Cathy

    About goldmoney and reporting, unfortunately, our eager beavers in DC are coming down on everything offshore. Looks like we have to report our gold holdings now. See Mark Nestmann’s reporting on the proposed changes:

    http://nestmannblog.sovereignsociety.com/

    I think DC is the city that never sleeps…

    • http://rauschenbach.us Möpsi

      That article says “a tungsten bar plated with gold is almost indistinguishable from the genuine article, because it’s virtually the same size and weight. … So, how can you protect yourself?”

      Well, a dowser can tell the difference between gold versus gold-plated tungsten, for $100, or 15 minutes of their time. That’s the same guy that can walk your property in Panama, and tell you whether the underground water is good or bad, and how much is there, and flowing at what rate, and in what direction, and how deep, and whether it is loaded up with lime or not, which all shows up in the shape of the measurable field, which is the same field whose wavelengths distinguish water from pottery, gold, silver, stone, bone, or anything. But without a very open mind, one might not stop and think to ask for such a person’s help. But such distrust is only a modern anomaly in the broad span of history.

  • Dave

    Simon,

    Extra days in Pattaya are always nice except in your particular circumstances. I am in Batam at the moment, but should be in Singapore Monday. If you are hale and hearty and in town drop me an email.
    Cheers!

  • Ant

    the Seychelles are actually virtually the cheapest to incorporate and the due diligence requirements are no different than other offshore locations.

  • Joel

    That’s not true Irm. I have friends in Thailand who don’t have a plug nickel to their name. They live in the poorest region of Thailand (Issan) in a shack that looks ready to fall down. Yet they are getting better health care than they ever could get in the US. They have a doctor’s office less than 100 meters from their shack, right next door to a public school. Whenever they are sick they get medical care immediately, no matter where in Thailand they happen to be. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. At one point a brother (who has some sort of brain problem) was looking at a month’s stay in a hospital. The total charge for this stay would have set the family back about 120 US Dollars. That’s well within their family budget.
    I lost my job here in the US last year, and lost my health care with it. Last night I ate some fresh squash I bought at a well-known US supermarket chain. A few hours later I came down with some sort of food poisoning. Last night was awful, though I seem to be getting better today. I have not been to the hospital and I’m dreading the thought of having to go. Unless it gets worse, I’m staying home. I find myself wishing I was back in Thailand so I wouldn’t have to make this sort of choice every time I get sick.

  • Ellen Schultz

    As the caregiver of an elderly (and last year quite sick) mother I can speak to the issue of emergency medical care in the US. I’m here to tell you that the ERs in NYC are full in a way I’ve never experienced in my life. Unfortunately, I had to take my mom to an ER four times last year. The first time we went to a previously high rated hospital in Manhattan. The time spent there was nightmarish, not for my mom who was a bit out of it, but for me. I was forced to stand up next to her bed for most of the time we were there, around twelve hours.
    Every time I found a chair to sit down next to mom’s bed, out of the way of the bustling ER personnel, an aide would come over to shout at me that I was getting in their way. I finally yelled back at her, but not before I had spent so many hours being abused by her and other personnel. Fortunately after 12 hours in the ER mom was admitted. As a postscipt to this terrible experience mom’s stay in the hospital, for pneumonia, for two only two days, was charged to her Medicare HMO at $20,000.00. Almost all of it was paid by her Medicare HMO except for $220.

    The second ER visit, this time to a hospital with an even better reputation, had us waiting over 14 hours before mom was admitted. The experience there was not as bad as the first one, but nevertheless pretty exhausting. Chairs were hard to find in the ER, but no one yelled at me when I found one to sit on. The third experience, to the same ER, found us waiting around 8 hours before admitting. However, the reason for the fast admission was that my mother was taken to a section of the ER that was cordoned off for possible cardiac patients. There were only two or three patients in that part of the ER with a couple of doctors and a couple of nurses to care for those few patients. I never got copies of the bills for those hospitalizations so I can’t tell what that cost the insurance company/Medicare. I don’t ever want to go back to an ER here again especially as our state legislature is continuing to threaten to cut the ER and nursing home budgets. Are they kidding?

    I, a person who was self-employed for 20 years and paid for my own health insurance, now find myself unable to afford the high premiums while continuing to live in NYC. My premium was last raised to around a thousand a month, something that would be challenging for us along with the rising co-pays for my mother’s health care, etc., etc. While I was in Panama for a couple of months in 2006 I met people who told me their premiums had risen to over $3,000 a month due to pre-existing conditions. Numerous people I met in Panama or have been in touch with in other countries have commented the high cost of health care and insurance premiums forced them to leave the US.

    I don’t really know what the medical care is like for the residents of every country I’ve thought of moving to, but I do know that I need to have health care and can’t find it here in my home country. I wonder if it’s possible that us moving to countries like Thailand and Ecuador and taking our dollars there will improve the economic situation for the people of those countries? Is it possible that our dollars will employ some of those people and allow them access to a better life? Am I being naive in believing that’s possible?

  • Giulialatini

    In Colombia are there any advantages (say for length of stay, vulnerability to kidnappings etc.) to having an Italian passport versus an American passport (I have both). If I go to Colombia, perhaps to live, I would start out my trip on either one or the other passport and stick with that one the whole time.

  • Mary Bartnikowski

    I like to have all my routine medical appointments at Bumrungrad International in Bangkok, Thailand – I highly recommend it. I’ve had medical treatment in Nepal, India, Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Bali and found the cost and service was better quality than what I have received in the USA. The first time i bought medicine in India i was stunned. The difference in cost was about 1000% less than the identical medicine in the USA. Drug companies in the USA are making a bundle on outrageous fees for drugs. I have recently discovered Ram Hospital in Chiang Mai – also top tier – and about 20% less in cost than Bumrungrad Hospital. It just depends on where you are and when you need medical attention. Click on the link below for my video on Bumrungrad.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/zestyzippy?feature=mhee

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