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Healthcare Costs: Getting Over the Early Retirement Roadblock Print E-mail
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Personal Finance - Retirement
Written by Ahmed Amr   
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 01:28
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Healthcare Costs: Getting Over the Early Retirement Roadblock
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Cheap International HealthcareWho 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 UniteBumrungrad Hospitald 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.

 



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amp  - Hmmm - with so many places to choose - - |2010-01-19 17:37:54
Now I know why so many are retiring to seemingly foreign exotic lands - they are not just choosing to get away from it all - but rather that it makes better economic and financial sense! Why spend more on meds when you can get them for less and still have dough leftover for that delightful glass of wine (just don't mix the two now!!)! Thanks again for the comparison -
Sleuth  - Health Insurance and Early Retirement |2010-01-14 15:16:41
Health insurance is one of the necessities I always insisted my children have once they were on their own.I myself retired 5 yrs. later than I wanted so that I could have a decent health plan. Once I retired I paid $500 per month for a premium for a two and a half year period until I received Medicare because of a permanent disability. My Medicare and my supplement
thru my employer together cost $2,400 per year not counting co-payments and prescription drugs. Premium rates in this country need a complete overhaul. As the above article states health care is more reasonable overseas;
however, if a surgery or treatment failed done overseas one would not have any recourse. In this country we can sue for any errors made. One reason why the doctor's liability insurance is so high.
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Omiewon  - Legal Recourse |2010-01-14 15:46:38
Sleuth, you make a good point about having legal recourse here in America, but it is a tough road. My wife and I have some friends that had something terrible happen medically to one of their kids. In the end, they prevailed but only after 7 plus years of legal battles.

The unsubsidized health premiums for older Americans are ridiculous. $500 a month is bad but without an employer sponsored plan it would probably have been triple that. Thanks for the comment.
duckie  - Good luck with that malpractice suit |2010-01-29 04:40:08
I've worked in hospitals. Doctors will do anything to cover their colleagues' butts, including lying under oath and altering medical records. Anyone who manages to prevail is the crooked US medical system is entitled to every penny they get.
 
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