Retiring Abroad and Health Care Coverage: The Missing Link

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An overview

Health insurance for Retirees Abroad

A recent New York Times article by Tim Gray (NY Times 2/22/2014 page B4) highlighted the issues that a retiring couple can have when considering retiring abroad. Health insurance, as it turns out, may often be a stumbling block to realizing this dream. One main reason US citizens desire to retire abroad is the hope that their dollars will go further in a different country's currency.

This can also work in health care services since many countries now offer excellent health care at much more reasonable costs than can be found in the US and Canada (sad to say, isn't it?).

Retiring Abroad and Health Care Coverage

There is a growing business in health care abroad, notably in India and Thailand, where health tourists can go to get those needed or elective surgery where the care is excellent and yet the cost will not be a such strain on the pocketbook. There are many countries, as Mr. Gray points out, that offer high-quality health care, like France and Panama. However, Mr. Gray points out that a major illness like cancer or a major accident will be a financial burden no matter where you find yourself.

Since the start of 2020, the world has witnessed Covid19 pandemic which has disrupted international travel across the world. In these difficult times retirees should ensure that they have good health care options wherever they are. Having adequate travel insurance while in a new country is a necessity. It offers protection in case of illness or injury .A travel insurance with Covid19 coverage provides protection in case of coronavirus contraction or if quarantining or if a trip needs to be cancelled due to closure of borders.

And, of course, you do want to have access to good care when you need it.

Retirees must plan carefully for the eventuality of their needs. Medicare, for the most part, will NOT cover costs incurred while outside the US. There are private insurers that offer international coverage to US citizens and other foreign nationals which provide international coverage or US citizens, most plans require a person to be outside the US for at least 6 months out of the year.

However, this requirement will still allow some flexibility in returning to the US for a visit. It also will work for persons who sail in international waters and do not have a permanent US residence to call home. However, as the article points out, there are often age limitation to the plans available. The earlier a retiree starts planning, the more likely they will be able to find and afford the international coverage they need for a stress-free retirement situation.

Retirees and expatriates can purchase what we call "expatriate insurance" policies which are long-term policies that can be paid for monthly, semi-annually, or annually. The policies require a full medical questionnaire and/or check up, so persons with serious medical conditions pre-existing will likely be excluded from the plan (a good reason to sign up early).

Here are some examples:

Global Medical plans offered by International Medical Group (IMG) offer excellent coverage, but the person must be 74 or younger to sign up. Ordinarily, coverage ends on your 75th birthday. However, if a person is continuously enrolled from age 65 to 75, they will be offered a Global Senior Plan with no additional medical underwriting required. The insured can simply review the benefits and return the enrollment form with the premium. The Global Medical plan comes in several varieties: Silver, Gold, Gold Plus, and Platinum. The Silver plan is a fixed plan. Ordinarily, I don't recommend fixed plans to my clients, since they have a limit for each medical expense covered.

However, if you are living in a country with lower costs, this may be the ideal way to get coverage you need at a very reasonable price. The Global Medical Gold and Gold plus are the same, except the Gold plan has reduced coverage after three years whereas the Gold Plus plan does not have a different benefits in the fourth year.

Geo Blue

Another option is the GeoBlue Xplorer Premier Insurance and GeoBlue Xplorer Essential Insurance offered by GeoBlue. These plans offer comprehensive benefits and a range of deductibles that allow members to select the right amount of coverage for their benefits and needs. The out of pocket expense is calculated by adding the deductible and the co insurance maximum. For families, the deductible and co insurance is a multiple of 2.5. After 364 days of continuous coverage, the members may re enroll in the plan that matches their existing benefits.

So, don't rule out that exotic location for your retirement! Let us help you find the right plan for you.
As always, we wish you safe and happy travels (and hassle-free planning)!

Other popular destinations among the expatriates

What does visitor travel insurance cover?

Health care expenses

Covers hospital expenses for sickness or accidents.

Doctor visit

Insures Doctor visits for sudden injury or sickness.

Pharmacy drugs

Doctor prescribed eligible pharmacy drugs expenses.

Pre-existing conditions

Some plans insure acute onset of pre-existing conditions coverage.

Medical evacuation

Medical evacuation expenses to nearest facility included.

Repat of remains

Repatriation of remains to home country included.

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Geoblue Xplorer expat medical insurance, GeoBlue expatriate insurance

General - FAQ's

01. Is it necessary to purchase expat health insurance?

It is important to be aware that the domestic health insurance of your home country usually does not provide coverage while outside your countries borders. As a foreign citizen, an expatriate will not be eligible for local subsidized medical care. Another very important factor is the varying price of healthcare in different parts of the world.

It should be noted that the quality and price of healthcare can vary significantly even within a country. It is therefore important to have good worldwide health insurance so that you can access quality healthcare wherever you are currently residing.

02. What are the benefits of buying expat medical Insurance?

Following are some benefits that are are covered by the expat medical insurance:

  • Coverage for Wellness, Preventive Care and Vaccination
  • Coverage for transplant procedures
  • Pre-existing conditions coverage
  • Dental and Vision Coverage
  • Global term life insurance coverage
  • Sports Coverage
  • New born care, Maternity and Pregnancy coverage
  • Long term comprehensive medical insurance coverage with choice of different plan maximums

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You can find reliable US insurance providers like International Medical Group(IMG), Seven Corners, WorldTrips, Global Underwriters, Travel Insure, GeoBlue, HTH Worldwide and INF insurance.

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