Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Affordable Healthcare in Retirement

A major concern for all pending retirees is the future cost of healthcare.  At a time when people start approaching their golden years, it is arguably too late to start considering options.  Especially long term health care, and the question of how long savings will last!

Would relocation be an option?

Probably like most of you, I have read many articles on this subject.  I realize that this is a major concern for our aging population.  It should be explored in detail.  Based on information derived from various sources, I thought to share the following overview of some comparable data points.

Relocating is never easy.  There are many factors to consider like family, community organizational memberships, pets, your circle of friends, etc.  Making the decision even more complicated… is the need to also determine all relocation and ongoing expenses, as accurately as possible!

When we retire we want to feel independent.  We would also like to have the option of choosing the care we need, as we age.  If one were able to secure a low and/or more affordable cost of living – complemented by lower healthcare costs – then making a move to a foreign country may offer a simple solution, to the complex problem of limited retirement income.

Let’s explore a couple of examples:

Malaysia offers modern hospitals and affordable healthcare.  A visit to the doctor may cost about $16 compared with $300 in the U.S.  Hip replacement surgery could set you back about $20,000 vs. approximately $80,000 back home.  A visit to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning is approximately $23 vs. $180 in the U.S.

Uruguay offers high-quality, very affordable health care.  Family practitioners have the same, modern medical equipment available as any local family doctor you may be more familiar with, in the U.S. 

Many doctors in Uruguay actually trained and graduated in the U.S., Germany, or via another ‘first world’ educational system.  An example of an expat living in Atlántida Uruguay shows that in comparison, monthly insurance that may have set a person back $650/month – along with a deductable of $2,500 in the U.S. – may now only cost that same person $80/month.

Uruguay has a public health-care system.  Expats who have applied for residence can use the system in an emergency.  A membership cost of $85/month for hospital care – called “Mutualista” – is available to expats.  There are also many co-pay options to choose from.  Remember to simply find the option that suits you best!

Along with its warm and sunny weather, Ecuador also offers first class medical care.

Medical services including dental care, eye exams & glasses, emergency care, colonoscopy tests, mammograms, treatment for ulcers, serious back treatments, etc., are all considered highly professional. The general cost of healthcare is a fraction of U.S. costs. 

Doctors in major cities typically speak English, as many have studied in the U.S.  A general practitioner visit costs around $20, and a visit to a specialist between $30 & $40.  By way of an example, a man in his 60’s may pay approximately $1,500/month for medical insurance in the U.S., compared with approximately $60/month in Ecuador.

Costa Rica offers a universal health-care system.  Doctors speak English.  Many have studied and trained in Canada and Europe.  A doctor’s visit – including house calls – may cost approximately $60.  

Public healthcare [Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS)] or the private healthcare system [Instituto de Seguro Nacional (INS)] are also available to legal residents.  This includes a network of 200 affiliated doctors, hospitals, labs, and pharmacies.  It is mandatory for permanent residency applicants to become members of La Caja.  But, the average price for this cover is only approximately $50 a month.

And it covers prescription medications, doctor’s visits, testing, surgery and all other related health-care cost up to 80%.  The quality of the health care provided in Costa Rica is generally highly rated by U.S. expats.
Once again… it is up to you to find out all the facts and actual costs before making a decision to relocate anywhere.  The information provided above is intended as a guideline for informational purposes only, and only intended to illustrate costs differences between different, often desirable retirement destinations.  Relocation experts can also offer professional advice, if required.

It’s all up to you, but the good news is… you have some great choices available to help you control and manage your retirement dollars!