Living as an expat, you need to have coverage for medical expenses. This is one of those things that you cannot always go back to your home country to seek medical care. Being prepared is half the battle. Choosing the best country to live in with excellent expat health insurance is what you should look for.
As an American Expat, I have searched many different places to figure out where to live. I have used travel hacking to travel cheaply to many places and searched for good places to call home. One of the requirements I was looking for was a place that had affordable quality healthcare. In the U.S., healthcare and health insurance are usually tied to your employment. The U.S. does not have a Universal or a single-payer system like most of the world, and Healthcare expenses can be high.
So as people travel around the world, they often look to places with good expat health insurance. These are places that make finding insurance easy, affordable, and it is quality.
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What Are The Types of Expat Health Insurance?
Most people will think of health insurance as the insurance their jobs give them. Others will think you need some simple travel insurance that will help you as you travel. If you are traveling long-term, you will need to look into the types of health insurance you can get.
It is easier to consider countries that offer health insurance to their residents instead of looking into international health insurance. Many countries offer different health insurance schemes. Those can be either universal or single-payer, with options to choose a national health insurance plan or add on private insurance.
Here are those two options:
National Health Insurance:
National Health Insurance refers to state-run health insurance. These countries have health insurance that the government runs. Usually, if you work in the country, you will be automatically enrolled into the system; you may have to register into the scheme if not employed. Other countries will have automatic enrollment into the health insurance scheme.
Different countries have different schemes for their national health insurance, and it can either be Universal or Single-payer.
Private Health Insurance:
There are plenty of places where you may want to obtain your private insurance. Many countries have excellent quality health insurance, but some offer some that you may not be comfortable going into the public clinics or you may have longer wait lines.
At this point, you may want to opt into obtaining private insurance to help pay for private clinics and hospitals that your national health insurance may not cover.
Several countries offer private insurance as a way to obtain better rates and shorter waiting times. You will need to look into what is best for your situation.
What is Medical Tourism?
As we talk about expat health insurance, we need to consider how far things go and affordability. Many countries are regarded as great places to go to because of the medical tourism industry.
You hear stories of people traveling abroad for medical treatment because of costs. It is estimated over 1 million Americans leave every year abroad for medical treatment. People seek cheaper options for expensive medical treatments such as knee replacements, dental, and Invitro Fertilization, to name a few.
Medical Tourism is leaving your home country to go to another country for medical care. You look at the cost for a specific medical procedure, and you find better options.
Living in Taiwan, it is easy to live on a budget, but the most incredible thing is the cost of medical care. People come here for IVF, surgeries, dental work, and many other medical procedures. The cost of flying, staying, and the medical procedures still come out cheaper than having the same procedures done in the U.S.A.
You have to weigh the options at hand. If you pick a country or a place to obtain some of the best expat health insurance, you need to consider all options. Where should I move to? How much is the cost of living associated with the cost of medical care? Would you need additional insurance on top of national health insurance?
Here are 7 of the Best Countries for Expat Health Insurance:
These countries have what people want. They are an excellent place to live, have quality healthcare, and have affordability. Expats and retirees want to make sure they are taken care of outside their home country.
The cafes, the culture, and the beautiful scenery of France can be enough to move there, but what about healthcare? France is one of the best places to move for healthcare. Anyone who is a resident can sign up for the healthcare system, and it is a universal healthcare system.
You need to apply in the first three months of living there into their social security system, automatically signing you up for the healthcare system. We are talking about one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It is affordable, and expats love living there.
Their healthcare scheme is called “Protection Universelle Maladie” Or Puma Law. This law puts forth that any resident that has lived in the country for three months can use the healthcare system.
Healthcare is not free, but it is affordable and much more affordable than you will find in other countries. For an expat health insurance option, moving to France is a great choice. You have the lifestyle plus the healthcare to take care of you.
If you want to stay close to home, then Mexico may be the place to flock to if you are looking for good places for expat health insurance. It is close to home, so you do not need to go far, and it is plenty affordable.
You can be a part of their health system for as little as $500 a year for residents or expats living in Mexico. Now there are plenty of private hospitals as well.
In the U.S., people wait in lines, but in Mexico, you can meet pretty quickly with a doctor, and it will be in English. So you do not have to worry as much. Interestingly enough, many people already flock from the U.S. to Mexico for dental care.
Suppose you are looking for a destination to live as an expat with good healthcare. Look no further than down south to Mexico.
Spain is a beautiful place with lots of wine, culture, beautiful beaches, and friendly people. It is also considered a top healthcare system in the world by the WHO. Spain is on this list because it checks off the boxes for expats. It is a great place to live with an affordable quality healthcare system.
Spain boasts about how close hospitals and clinics are to people, and you are never more than 15 minutes away from healthcare. There are about four doctors for every 1000 people in Spain, which allows you to have more time with the doctor. The doctors are not in a rush to get to the next patient.
The public option for health care in Spain is called Sistema Nacional de Salud (SNS). Taxes primarily finance it, and this allows most basic care to be free.
You may have some lines with the public system, but you can opt for private insurance to team up with an expat’s public option. This can allow you to go to private clinics to avoid some lines and help see specialists.
If you are looking for a beautiful country with excellent expat health insurance, then Spain should be a country you should consider.
Malaysia sits in the middle of Southeast Asia, boasting great culture, beautiful scenery, and more. Besides all of that, it has created a medical tourism juggernaut. People flock to Malaysia for the affordability of healthcare and then take a nice vacation afterward while saving money.
Having doctors trained in the U.K and the U.S.A. should give people ease. Penang and Kuala Lumpur are the two big city centers with the best hospitals in the country. With healthcare so affordable, it makes Malaysia a perfect destination for expats.
The public option for healthcare will cost around $400 per year. There are options to get private insurance that will provide more care with the most costs, but even the public option is affordable enough for any expat looking for an excellent place to call home.
Expats are looking for places with affordable, reliable, and quality healthcare. Expat health insurance should not drain the bank account but allow expats and others to live a much better life. Malaysia gives the quality of life and the healthcare to keep life going strong.
Finding places to live with good expat health insurance is a must for retirees and other expats. Portugal checks off these boxes. It is located in the Western part of Europe, with Spain to the North and East and having the beautiful Atlantic Ocean to the West.
The country is part of the EU and allows travel throughout to see many places in Europe.
Their healthcare system is one of the best in the world. They have top-notch facilities and doctors who speak English and help assess the patients’ problems through questions and time.
As a resident, you have the public options afforded to you, but you also have private insurance that you can get that can help you see private clinics and offices. These visits can cost quite a minimum, and an eye examination can be as little as $16.
Healthcare can be affordable, and it can go and help the patient as well. As an Expat, this is something I look into. How will healthcare affect my wallet? Will it be quality care at a reasonable price? Portugal is a place that answers these questions.
Most Expats consider Taiwan as having a fantastic healthcare system. According to World Population Review, Taiwan ranks number 20 for some of the best healthcare in the world. As an expat living in Taiwan, I have reaped the benefits of this healthcare system. The prescriptions from clinics are typically free; teeth cleanings are almost free with a $5 copay.
The health insurance is paid for through a tax on your income, and it comes out to about 2% of your monthly income. Their healthcare system is a Single-Payer system offering everyone an equal experience. There is usually a copay for doctor’s visits and a registration fee at the hospital, but the healthcare will not break the bank for you. If you do not have a job, you can opt to pay for the healthcare by yourself.
Many people flock to Taiwan for their Medical Tourism. They can get many different procedures done, such as surgeries, IVF, and dental work. The cost of having a baby can range from paying $1500-2000 USD.
The expats that live in Taiwan do enjoy their health insurance, and it provides them with an efficient system that is affordable and built with quality.
7. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a beautiful country that sits on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It has lush forests, beautiful beaches, and friendly people around. One of the reasons many retirees flock to Costa Rica is because they have such affordable quality healthcare, and you could save anywhere from 50-70% of the cost you would spend in the states.
The WHO ranks Costa Rica as the top place for life expectancy and Costa Rica as one of the top 20 healthcare systems in the world.
Costa Rica has a Universal healthcare system called ‘Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, known as ‘Caja’ for short. It is an excellent option for expats, and they can pay small income contributions (typically 7-11%) into the system while the government covers the rest.
There are options to get private insurance as well to help cover all costs that may be associated. This is a dream place for tons of people looking for low-cost, quality healthcare. For expat health insurance, it is a place that makes traveling affordable and has less stress worrying about healthcare issues.
If you are ever thinking about working abroad or moving abroad, you need to consider different health insurance plans. Being an expatriate can bring on new factors on where you want to live and work. Geo arbitrage is a great thing to think about when you want to save money, so having an affordable insurance plan can guarantee better planning.
You must think about if you will need private medical insurance. Places that offer subsidies can help you make better plans as well. In Taiwan, they offer Taiwanese citizens or spouses of Taiwanese citizens subsidies when trying to have a baby. So those are things to consider. The waiting period to see doctors may also be something to look into.
As you look for good expat health insurance, you must weigh your options. You must see which country offers the best coverages. You can even look at some U.S. companies, but typically those may have a higher premium than local countries that you can move to. Make a list, check the boxes, and decide which expat health insurance options you would go with.
This list of countries gives us many options. Which country would you consider moving to for expat health insurance?
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.