Understanding Your Healthcare Insurance Options Abroad
At Creative Planning International, one of the most common questions our U.S. expat clients ask is, “How do I pay for healthcare expenses while I’m living abroad?” This can be a daunting question for anyone planning a move overseas. Fortunately, U.S. expats typically have several healthcare insurance options available to them. Of course these vary by country, so it’s wise to evaluate your options with an international wealth advisor who’s familiar with the healthcare system in your new country of residence.
#1 – Public insurance
Depending on your country of residence and employment situation, you may be eligible to participate in a national, public healthcare plan. If you’re actively working for a company, you may even be automatically enrolled in the national plan. Typically, countries require you to pay monthly contributions to the plan in exchange for affordable access to healthcare in public hospitals and clinics.
Of course, the quality of care can vary widely among countries. The following countries are known for providing excellent public healthcare to foreign residents.1
#2 – Private insurance
If you plan to move to a country that doesn’t have a good public healthcare system, you may need to look into purchasing a private policy. The good news is that there are many options for purchasing international health insurance plans, and these plans typically provide similar coverage to U.S.-based options.
For many U.S. expats living overseas, it makes sense to purchase a worldwide healthcare policy, which helps cover medical expenses regardless of where you are. While certain country-specific policies help cover the costs of traveling back to the United States for care, they may not pay for medical treatments once you’re back on U.S. soil. While a worldwide policy may be more expensive, it can help protect you regardless of what country you’re in when you receive treatment.
If you find that you spend very little time stateside, say one or two weeks per year, excluding the United States from your annual policy and only purchasing coverage each time you visit may be much more economical.
#3 – A combination of public and private insurance
For some U.S. expats, it makes sense to combine both public and private health insurance coverage. While public insurance may help pay for healthcare in your new country of residence, you may still struggle with long wait times for public care. Adding a private health insurance policy can allow you to access affordable care at private hospitals and clinics, as well as at public facilities.
#4 – Medicare
If you’re planning to retire abroad, it’s important to understand that your overseas Medicare benefits may be extremely limited. At Creative Planning International, we often recommend our retiree clients enroll in their new country’s public health system and/or maintain private coverage while living overseas.
If you plan on returning to the United States at some point in the future, it may make sense to continue maintaining Medicare Part A coverage while living abroad, as it can be expensive to repurchase this coverage after your benefits have lapsed.
Could you use some help planning for healthcare expenses while living overseas? Creative Planning International is here for you. We work with Americans abroad and cross-border families to help maximize their wealth and avoid costly mistakes. As expat fiduciary advisors, we understand the complexities faced by U.S. citizens moving overseas. For help navigating your healthcare options as part of your overall wealth management strategy, request a meeting with a member of our team.