Considering Your Overseas Healthcare Options

Medical Procedure
by phalinn on Flickr

One of the biggest considerations for expats when choosing where to move and live abroad is their access to healthcare.  In many parts of the world, quality medical care is available at a fraction of the price that it would cost in places like the United States.  Medical procedures are often the driving force behind vacation destinations as well, a practice known a “medical tourism”.

In particular, retirees are flocking to places like Central America where they will be fully covered by governmental healthcare once they achieve residency status.  Legislation within these countries is now starting to cater to this particular demographic by creating programs that make residency and access into the country easier than ever.  For instance, in Panama, there is no age cutoff and you only need to prove $1,000 in monthly permanent pension income to get residency.

However, government healthcare might not be a completely viable option for those that plan on traveling frequently, or spending their winters in their second home while living the rest of the year in their country of origin.  In situations like this, maintaining supplemental international insurance coverage can cover all your bases.  Another option is to purchase the local insurance of the country only while in that country.  Of course, the capability to do this will vary from place to place and could result in very high premiums.

For the more adventurous of heart, there’s always have the option to go without any kind of insurance.  If you’re relatively healthy and aren’t on any regular medications, then might be possible to wing it with nothing at all or a cheap disaster traveler’s coverage.

One of the hottest trends in overseas health care is medical tourism.  Outrageous medical costs and long wait lists are driving more and more people to go abroad for care.  Hospitals and clinics worldwide are stepping up to provide first class medical procedures to foreigners and travelers.  The clinics are usually in a beautiful location and come complete with four star accommodations, a personal driver, and in-suite checkups.  Sometimes, depending on your insurance plan, by going overseas you could have zero out of pocket cost.  Common medical tourism procedures include dental, orthopedic, cardiovascular, cosmetic surgery, neurosurgery, weight loss operations, fertility treatments and gender reassignment.

If you’re looking to move or retire overseas, or just want have some affordable dental work done while relaxing in paradise, make sure to explore all of your healthcare options abroad.