Are You Retiring Abroad? Consider Health Care First

The best countries for the comfortable life of retirees

No matter your age, the cost of health care is an important consideration. The more it is important when you are retiring to another country. For many Americans, what’s stopping them from being an expatriate when they are older is the fear that they will not get the same quality of health care as they would in the United States. That’s another way of looking at it, but remember that there are, in fact, many countries with better health care systems than the United States. So, if you are looking to move to another country for retirement, you can do so as long as you check the requirements and the kind of health care system it has.

Sign Up for Your Country’s State Insurance

But remember, before leaving your home country, check the regulations of your state insurance. In the United States, you must enroll in Medicare even if you are not planning to live there. You might be asked to pay a penalty if you don’t enroll in Medicare after leaving for a year or more. You can return to the country anytime and expect the government to shoulder your health care expenses, pay the premium, and be done with it.

Once that is out of the way, you can focus on finding out about your destination country’s health insurance. This is not second on your list. This is a priority. If the destination country has a reputation for a bad health care system, you may want to choose another place to retire in. Or prepare enough money to cover your health care expenses. Getting a private health insurance policy is one way to ensure you’re well-protected, but that might not even be enough in some cases.

Bring Your Medical Records With You

The great thing about today’s EMR systems is you can access them easily. Your health care provider is required by law to give you a copy of your medical records in a format that you like—either digital or printed. Take these documents with you no matter where you go. Scan them. Save a digital copy in your laptop, cloud account, and external hard drive. If you trust someone enough to see these documents, give a copy to that person, too. There might be nothing more important when you are on the brink of death than these records.

Using Your Destination’s Public Health Care System

It is possible that if you are paying taxes as an immigrant in another country, you are eligible to use its public health care system. The problem is that not all health care systems are the same, so don’t expect the same rules to apply everywhere. Less developed and developing nations have weaker health care systems, while countries like Spain, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, and Canada have comparable health care systems to the United States and the United Kingdom. Australia, Cyprus, and France receive rave reviews from retirees, too, but you may need to pay a percentage of the cost of the services provided to you.

Paying for Private Health Care Provider

You can, of course, pay for a private health care provider. But for retirees and senior citizens, the premium may be too expensive for your liking. Remember that insurance policies rely on a certain set of parameters: your age and health history. If the insurance thinks you’re too big of a risk, it may refuse coverage or make you pay thousands of dollars in premium. There are many downsides to using private health insurance coverage because not everyone has the capacity to pay. Also, the company may refuse to cover new and emerging diseases such as the coronavirus.

Different Quality of Health Care

Even though your destination country’s state health insurance gives you coverage, that does not mean you will receive the same high-quality health care service you might receive if you are in your home country. That’s why you have to consider going home if you get seriously ill. This is not only because of cost considerations but also because you want the best health care possible.

If you are planning to retire in another country, the first thing to consider is the health care costs in that country, as well as the quality of service you expect to receive. Plan before you make the first step to moving. If there is one deal-breaker in your plan to retire abroad, this might be it.