How To Get The Best Deal On Health Insurance If You’re Retiring Abroad

Tuesday, 3 September, 2019

Health Insurance is a key factor
if you're retiring abroad

The pull of a new life

More and more people are looking to retire abroad, whether it’s on a full or part time basis. More countries are starting to offer retirement visas for foreign pensioners.
Asian destinations that cater to retiring foreigners are Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
In Europe Cyprus, Portugal and Spain all have specific retirement programs on offer.
Latin America is also a popular destination for people retiring. Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica,Panama and Peru all have some form of retirement visa.
Down under Australia and New Zealand have always been popular destinations.
Whether it’s for the lower cost of living or a warmer climate the choices are on the rise for anyone about to retire.

a big issue

One of the biggest issues that people face when retiring abroad is health insurance.
Getting older means that cover gets more expensive and limited.
These limitations are in both the number of providers available and the cover options they provide.

Why's it so difficult?

As we age our medical history tends to get more complex making insurers reluctant to accept us.
Even if they do take you on as a client they can impose some pretty big conditions in doing so.
These will come in the form of restrictions on the cover they offer or an increase in costs. Possible even both.
As we mentioned there’s a smaller  number of insurers available to older clients.
Some companies don’t want older customers it’s that simple. There are plenty of insurers who won’t take on new customers after the age of 64.
Whilst there are others who stop cover completely at the age of 65.
Get one of these and they’ll leave you high and dry, which could be the end to your retirement abroad.
All this can prove to be very stressful indeed.

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that's the way things go

Unfortunately, this is just the way things are and there’s very little that we can do about it.
Or is it?
Well you may be happy to know that we can take steps to make things easier, get better cover and make it cheaper.
So if you’re retiring abroad then here are some ideas that could make a big difference to you!

plan ahead

Let’s start with a bit of forward planning…
If you’re living abroad right now then you’ve got health insurance in some form.
Do you intend staying overseas when you retire?
Answering yes to that question means that you’d be wise to take a look at your current health insurer.
If they’re a company that don’t want older policy holders or end cover abruptly, look elsewhere.
It’s also worthwhile looking at the premiums they’re currently charging people who are 60+.
Hiking premiums for older policy holders is another way of dumping unwanted customers.
Having continuity with your health insurance makes a big difference.
If you’re healthy right now then it’s important to make sure your insurance company is in it for the long-hall.
Let’s assume that they’re not you need to start planning ahead.
It doesn’t matter how happy you are with them right now, that’s going to change.
If you’ve got a pre-existing condition and your insurer won’t cover you because you’re too old.
Finding health insurance is tough and you’ll be funding your pre-existing condition yourself.
If you’re fit and healthy make sure you’re with an insurance company that’s going to stick with you.
Having an insurer that you can stay with means that if you do get sick you’ll always get treatment.

decide what you need

You may be moving abroad for the first time so, you’ll need to think about what you want the cover for.
Are you looking for major medical or would you like outpatient treatment as well?
Not including outpatient treatment will make you premiums much cheaper.
This is because the insurer won’t be paying for GP or clinic visits.
Inpatient procedures tend to be much more expensive though they’re less common.
It makes sense to have a provision for the big things that can hurt us financially.
If you’re going for major medical inpatient cover be aware that policies differ.
What one company sees as a claimable expense another may not.
One good example of this is how they view treatment in an A&E department.
Some insurers will provide cover for emergency treatment on a basic cover policy.
Whilst another company may only pick up the bill if they have to admit you into hospital.
Also as technology and medical procedures advance your time in hospital reduces.
So what was once an inpatient procedure with an overnight stay is now a day patient treatment.
Now you go in the morning and you’re sitting at home in the evening.
The cost of these procedures will still remain high even though now there’s no hospital stay.
Take for example angioplasty, depending on where you live the cost is between $4,000 and $30,000.
The big issue here is some insurance companies use this as an opportunity to reduce costs.
Now that they are day patient procedures they no longer cover them on a major medical plan.
Other companies will still include them and provide cover and that makes a big difference to you.
Another prime example is the cataracts operation.
At one time you’d have gone into hospital had the procedure and then stayed in for observation.
Nowadays there’s no overnight stay and you’re in and out all in one day.
So, depending on your policy you may have a struggle to get them to pay the bill.
So when you set a policy up you want to know that you’re getting as much cover as possible for your money.
Therefore, it’s worthwhile checking what an insurer considers inpatient and outpatient procedures.
Get this straight from the start and you’ll get value for money on your major medical/inpatient plan.

increase the excess

Another way of reducing the premiums on your medical insurance is via the policy excess.
Increasing the amount that you’re prepared to pay could reduce your premium between 10 to 50%.
Though be aware that not all excesses work in the same way.
Some are on a per claim basis whilst others come in the form of annual charges deducted from claims made.
Also you may find that some policies don’t give you an option to reduce premiums through the excess.
These are always major medical inpatient plans and the premium quoted is what you’ll pay.


Here’s a bit of insider knowledge for reducing the cost of health insurance and that is to set up a group scheme.
Buying in bulk always brings discounts and health insurance is no exception.
To set up a group scheme you’ll need at least three members (this doesn’t include family).
Immediately you’ll get at least a 20% discount on your premium.
The more members that you have the bigger this discount gets.
This means that you can reduce the cost of your health insurance with simple cooperation.
It might be a residents association, sports club or another social organisation.
It doesn’t matter if there’s scope for a group scheme you can reduce the cost of insurance cover for everyone.

extra benefits

Cost savings are not the only benefit of setting up a group scheme.
If your scheme is big enough the provider that you use may have an option to exclude medical history.
This is a way around pre-existing condition exclusions and whilst there’s a cost it is a better way of doing it.
If your insurance provider doesn’t offer this option then find one that does, they’ll be happy to have you.
Insurance companies like to deal with large groups and are happy to give extra benefits to get them.
There’s less admin and they’re much easier to manage than lots of individual schemes.
So, the insurance companies give more that they would on an individual plan.
One good example of this is the treatment of pre-existing conditions.
Some insurers offer the option to ignore medical history on larger group schemes.
This means that if you pay a bit extra for everyone you can get pre-existing conditions ignored.
This is one of the biggest issues that retirees face when it comes to their health insurance.
Exclusions on their cover that make insurance questionable in it’s usefulness.
A group scheme and the right insurer can make this a thing of the past.
So start talking to people and seeing if there’s an appetite to organise your own group scheme.
If you manage to set one up having members contributions on an annual basis will make things easier for you.

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tell us what you need and we'll find the policy that works the best for you!

pay up front

Speaking of annual premiums, this is another way to shave off some more cost from your policy.
Paying upfront can knock off up to 10% extra from the cost of health insurance.
That’s a lot and it’s worthwhile doing you won’t get that from the bank.
You may not even be getting that from your investments (not if you’re retired anyway).
So make sure that you pay your health insurance upfront on an annual basis.
At the very worst you’ll make a 5% saving and some providers can be much more generous.

do your homework

Getting the best health insurance for you involves doing some work ahead of time.
Asking the right questions and looking at what a policy offers will make a big difference in the long run.
You’ll have to do it at some point, so don’t find out your policy has limitations when it’s too late.
It will be a much more expensive way of doing things.

use a broker

In fact finding a good broker is worthwhile when it comes to setting up health insurance.
It won’t cost you anymore to use one that going direct to the insurance company.
A broker should make sure that you set the policy up in the best way.
They’ll also look for the most suitable company for your circumstances.
Make sure that you ask them the questions that you’d ask the insurer.
This acts as a check to make sure that they’re working in your best interests.

what it all means

We’re not pretending that insurance costs are much higher for the elderly.
The fact remains that they are.
What we’ve done is show you some ways that you can reduce these costs.
Some will have a bigger impact than others and they’ll be more difficult to organise.
Though, be sure that everything adds up and can make a big difference on the whole.
We’re sure that if you’re looking to retire abroad some of if not all of what we’ve written will be helpful to you.
If you’ve got any questions please feel free to get in touch with us and we’d be happy to see if we can help you out.

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