How To Arrange Health Insurance Overseas
Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,
"What happens to my health insurance policy when I go overseas?"...
“Will Medicare become portable?”…
"What standard of health care can I expect in Latin America?"...
"How much will health insurance cost in another country?"...
"Am I too old to qualify for a new international insurance policy?"...
"If there's a public health system, would I qualify for its benefits?"...
"Is it really possible to enjoy free health care living overseas?"...
The answers to these and every other question you may have related to health insurance overseas vary depending on two things: the country (or countries) in which you're planning to spend time...and your own personal circumstances.
The good news is, you could buy all the health coverage you need overseas for as little as US$100 a month...maybe as little as US$50 a month... If portable Medicare is achieved expats would be able to receive medical services from world class professionals in their country of residence, whether that be Panama, Belize, or Mexico.
Or you could forego the expense of insurance altogether by opting to "pay as you go" in a country where medical costs are so low (and standards so high) that taking out a health policy simply wouldn't make sense.
And, yes, under some circumstances, you could even enjoy free health care overseas.
Again, it comes down to who you are...and where you're going.
The challenge for you, as a future overseas retiree, is to find the right policy for you--a plan you're comfortable with, bearing in mind your current state of health, your age, your future needs, and, of course, your budget.
Having gone through three international moves--from the United States to Ireland to France to Panama--I can tell you that overseas health care is one of the most hard-to-research topics you'll address as you prepare for any international relocation of your own. One that's difficult to understand without knowledge of the global health insurance industry...not forgetting on-the-ground intelligence for the countries you have a special interest in.
Fortunately, in all these years of globetrotting, I've made reliable contacts in the health insurance industry...and my network of international friends and correspondents continues to grow. So, when I have an overseas health-related question, I know who to call.
As you address the all-important issues, here are seven Overseas Health Care Facts to keep in mind...
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #1:
Local insurance costing as little as US$100 (or less) can be all the health coverage you need.
We're living now in Panama. In this country, a local health insurance policy can cost as little as US$100 a month or even less, and, again, it can be all the coverage you need.
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #2:
In some countries, the best option can be no health insurance at all.
One option you might want to consider would be to go without insurance, period. This is a very personal choice. The most important thing is that you can sleep at night. If the thought of going naked, as it were, sounds horrifying...don't consider it. On the other hand, I know a number of expats who do just that. They spend their time in places where the cost of medical care is so low that they don't worry about insuring against it. India would be a good example.
What's more, in some countries, once you become a permanent legal resident, you're eligible for free health care. During our seven years living full-time in Ireland, for example, we enjoyed medical care at no cost, including the delivery of our son, Jackson.
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #3:
Both health care and health insurance can be both higher quality and lower cost overseas.
This is not the case everywhere in every country, of course, which is why you need help researching the situation in the countries where you're considering spending time.
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OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #4:
The time to act is now.
If you know your plan is to live or retire to another country at some point in the future, you would be wise to organize health insurance that will cover you in that country as soon as possible. Pre-existing conditions, yes, play a role in how insurable you are. But, when it comes to obtaining a policy as a foreign resident, more important than pre-existing conditions, is your age. The longer you wait to apply, the more difficult it will be to qualify for coverage.
In other words, reading our "Top Health Insurance Options for the Retiree Abroad" special report today could save you a considerable amount of money...and hassle...down the line. In fact, it could mean the difference between being able to qualify for international coverage...and being told that, unfortunately, you've missed your window of opportunity to do that.
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #5:
You have many, many good and affordable options. The challenge is to collect current and reliable information so you can choose among them.
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #6:
If you're an American, be prepared for good news.
As an American abroad, you're going to find the cost of health insurance a bargain practically anywhere else you go.
Not so, necessarily, if you're an EU citizen or a Canadian. If you're accustomed to socialized or subsidized health insurance in the country where you're coming from, the issue is not as clear-cut. In some parts of the world, you may find health coverage affordable...in other places, not so much.
We Americans, though, accustomed to health insurance that costs hundreds of dollars a month, are pleasantly surprised, even shocked, to discover that, in much of the rest of the world, health insurance needn't be a significant part of your monthly budget.
The average American abroad is also delighted to find that, in many places around the world, he can see a doctor for US$20 or spend the day in a hospital emergency room, as I did last year in Panama (for the treatment of a nasty spider bite), for about US$70 (including lab work, injections, and the services of a knowledgeable, helpful, English-speaking physician).
It's for this reason that a high-deductible policy, like the one that Lief and I carry for our family, can make sense. We pay day-to-day health costs out of pocket and count on our high-deductible policy to cover us in the case of more extraordinary events.
OVERSEAS HEALTH CARE FACT #7:
Everyone Would Win With Portable Medicare
As you likely already realize, if you're an American living, retiring, or traveling overseas, your Medicare doesn't travel with you. Currently the United States prohibits Medicare from paying for medical services for retirees outside the country and its territories. The nearly half-million retired Americans living overseas and the millions more who travel extensively abroad must either go without care until they return to the United States or pay out-of-pocket for the care they need.
At Live and invest Overseas, we see this as a fundamentally unfair situation for retired Americans who have paid into Medicare their entire working lives. This restriction on Medicare coverage is also unfair to American taxpayers because it ignores the potentially huge cost savings to Medicare offered by lower-cost healthcare options abroad.
At Live and Invest Overseas, we will keep you posted on the progress of portable Medicare through our daily e-letters and special reports.
What should you do? I can't make that important and personal decision for you. However, I can arm you with all the information and intelligence you need to make it wisely for yourself.
At Live and Invest Overseas, we cover all the important details:
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Some countries offer a dozen (or more) local insurance options. Some offer just a handful. And be assured the information you might find on the Internet is incomplete... or even completely out-of-date in many cases. Then the confusion is compounded by the fact that these are all "local" operations.
It's vital for you to know the up-to-date current info about your best options country by country--things change all the time. We will help you with this at Live and Invest Overseas.
If you're considering a new life overseas, health insurance is one of the most important issues you must address. At Live and Invest Overseas, we will keep you posted on overseas health insurance issues and advice through our free daily e-letter and special reports.
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