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Who wants to work till they drop? We all have dreams of retiring early and seeing the nine-to-five (or is that seven) rat race in the rear view mirror. And with a little discipline, many of us might save enough to consider leaving the workforce early: only to run into a major roadblock -- the high cost of health care. But, if you are flexible on your location, you can sail over this roadblock to retirement and never worry about getting saddled with monster health bills as you age.
I know people who still work just to be eligible for their employer’s health care benefits. They have the house paid for and enough savings to coast on but once they factor in the $1,000 monthly health insurance premium - they grind their teeth, throw in the towel, and clock in for one more shift.
Of course, you can always go without health insurance. But that means you’re self-insured and when a medical bill hits, you’re responsible for the entire payment. If it’s something major, they will come after you for every penny you have. Health care costs are one of the major causes of bankruptcies - especially among the elderly.
So what to do? How about packing your bags and retiring some place exotic that offers decent health care at a reasonable cost. If you’re looking to retire early, think about living in a place like Thailand or Egypt or France or New Zealand.
Let’s start with Egypt and Thailand - they both have excellent resort communities with affordable real estate and they’ve developed world class health care facilities that cater to their wealthy upper crust and foreign residents. The care is comparable or better than what you’d get in a medium-sized hospital in the States. Unless you have some very peculiar ailment - they’ll fix you up just fine. And not only will you pay as little as 10% of what you pay the United States, your medicines will also cost a small fraction of what you pay here and they’re produced by the very same pharmaceutical companies. In fact, in many cases, what you save on the medicine is enough to pay your hospital bill.
A few examples might pique your interest: a doctor's visit to your house with a top physician in Egypt will run you about $30, that's right, to your home! Try even getting a doctor to come visit you at home in the U.S. A 30 day supply of medicine that runs about $300 in the U.S., costs a paltry $40. And if you are in need for an expensive surgery, the numbers are even more compelling. In Thailand, a coronary bypass surgery that would set you back at rack rate over $40,000 in the U.S. can be had for about $12,000. That hip replacement that will run you about $22,000 in the United States will cost about half that much in Thailand. Another major difference is the cost of hospital room rates which end up being $300 to $400 a day, a fraction of what it runs domestically. One of the leading hospitals in Thailand, Bumrungrad, has an excellent website with pricing information on 40 common procedures (note to convert to U.S. dollars, divide prices by 33 as of January 2010). What's excellent about this resource is they give actual prices charged for the 25th percentile, median, and 50th percentile.