Should I Give Up Medicare Payments When I Move Overseas?

“Regarding health insurance, what do most over-65-year-olds who live full time overseas do in practice? Do they register for Medicare at age 65 and pay the Part B premiums? Or do they skip the premiums, figuring they will bite the bullet on the premium surcharges later, if and when they ever do return to the United States?”

–Steve G., United States

Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison responds:

We have no way of knowing, Steve, other than what people choose to tell us.

But the answer will vary by the country and the quality and/or cost of the medical services there. Many people keep Medicare as a backup in case they need high-cost or leading-edge treatment and want to get it in the United States. Some don’t pay Medicare and buy local health insurance. My policy in Uruguay was less than US$50 per month. Still others have no insurance anywhere and pay out of pocket because the cost of insurance is high while quality medical care is low.

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