Living abroad in retirement is not out of reach and in many instances, it is more cost eﬀective to live overseas than within the U.S. borders. Healthcare is a vital part of senior living and needs to be easily accessible and aﬀordable. Many people think that living abroad means sacrificing good medical care and benefits and this is just not the case. There are many countries that oﬀer aﬀordable healthcare or options to become part of a public or subsidized healthcare system. Consider international insurance if traveling is the retirement goal. Cigna asserts, “The quality and eﬃciency of a country’s health care system can have a massive impact on its inhabitants’ quality of life. The health of a nation depends largely on how the system can cater for their people, which is why a good public health care system is so important” (Cignaglobal.com).
For example, Columbia oﬀers not only aﬀordable healthcare but also ranks 22nd for world health by the World Health Organization (liveandinvestoverseas.com). Ranked higher than the U.S., Columbia oﬀers high-quality healthcare and treatment options for seniors and is a major player in medical tourism (traveling overseas for medical attention). The availability of quality hospitals is desirable for retirees. These facilities are located throughout the country, not just localized to big cities, and have a wide range of specialists and surgeons. The medical training is comparable to the U.S and part of their training is a requirement that doctors work in the U.S. Medical procedures in Columbia are significantly cheaper than in the United States. Dentistry is also high ranking, and you can expect to pay half as much as the back home for quality dental care.
Just like Columbia, Thailand is also known for its medical tourism. Thailand makes the list (not for their public healthcare system), but rather for their private healthcare system. One hospital, in particular, is noted as the best hospital in Thailand, Oliver Lovett asserts, “Bumrungrad International Hospital considers itself a one-stop destination. They can take care of you no matter what help you require. It is at the cutting edge of robot technology”. The best medical staﬀ work in the better hospitals and medical procedures are considerably cheaper than in the United States, making healthcare much more aﬀordable. Dentistry is cheaper, but not significantly low cost.
Another country that is known for medical tourism in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has a world-class medical system, in part because the government has invested heavily into its healthcare. The high standards of education provide for highly trained and qualified medical staﬀ throughout the country for both private and public healthcare. Costa Rica may not be as inexpensive as other countries, but its medical costs are about half of what to expect in the U.S. and dentistry is extremely affordable.
The World Health Organization ranks Spain as one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Spain provides both private and public healthcare systems with modern facilities, state-of-the-art technology and equipment with rigorously trained staﬀ and doctors. A Spain correspondent, Marsha Scarborough says, “I think one reason Spaniards enjoy life as much as they do is that they have no healthcare worries. They know that their health needs, whether minor or catastrophic, will be handled without a financial burden. That kind of peace of mind is priceless”. A retiree from Arizona boasts, “Medical and dental care is excellent. The prices are about one-third of U.S. medical costs if your insurance doesn’t cover it” (international living.com).
Neighbor to Spain, Portugal is ranked highest for the best doctors and medical training available. The private system oﬀers healthcare coverage for approximately $65 for mid-tier coverage and the public system clinics cost about $6 for a doctor visit (internationalliving.com). Portugal correspondent, Tricia Pimental explains, “In terms of prescriptions, the costs are also low. They fall under three diﬀerent categories: With a doctor’s prescription and if you are a resident with an identifying number in the National Health Service, items like insulin and Metformin, for example, are free. Without being part of the system but with an Rx, you will pay the fixed retail cost printed on the box. To use the same example, a month’s supply of Metformin is about €3 ($3.32) …and if you don’t have a prescription and not seeking either an antibiotic or a controlled substance like pain medication, frequently it can be purchased over the counter at that same fixed price”.
Japan makes the list not only for quality healthcare but its desirability to retirees. Retirees should access international health insurance at first, but once residency has been established after one year, retirees enjoy the same benefits as Japanese citizens. “Healthcare in Japan is aﬀordable due to strict government regulations on costs. The government places the top priority on healthcare aﬀordability” (expatfinancial.com).
Malaysia makes the list because they have public universal healthcare that is available to all legal residents. Government funding allows residents and locals to receive comprehensive care at a very low cost.
Though abroad healthcare can prove to be significantly cheaper for medical procedures, prescriptions, and doctor visits, international health insurance is recommended. Once residency or citizenship is determined, retirees can utilize the same benefits as the natives and locals. It’s important to note and to consider when deciding on an overseas destination that usually the higher the healthcare the higher the premiums for insurance in those locales. Consider how long it takes to become a resident so as to take advantage of universal public healthcare.