Health care can be expensive in the U.S. That’s why many people now travel or retire overseas for more affordable, reliable health care.
France offers the best health care in the world. In fact, the World Health Organization named France number one in their health report, providing the best overall health care system in the world.
For those who are paying into the French Social Security System, it’s a lot cheaper than taking out private health care plans (which North American retirees will have to do). Private medical insurance is mandatory for non-E.U. citizens wishing to take up residence in France.
Once you move to France, you might be able to transfer your health care plan to a French provider. This may prove cheaper. Costs depend on age and medical history, but if you’re in good health, monthly premiums average $125.
Private medical insurance generally covers hospital treatment, but under some plans you must fund the cost of doctor’s visits yourself. Others will reimburse around 75% of doctor’s fees.
The cost of a doctor’s care in France depends on whether you choose to see a médecin non conventionné (private doctor) or a médecin conventionné (a doctor who works within the French Social Security system).
The conditions for reimbursement for medical expenses vary from hospital to hospital. Unless it’s an emergency, you should check into the reimbursement conditions before you are signed in for hospital treatment. For instance, your health care insurance policy may cover you for treatment only in a public hospital, not in a private clinic.
The French social security system covers treatment in public hospitals and clinics with conventionné status. You’ll be reimbursed 80% for treatment the first month and 100% thereafter. All surgical expenses are reimbursed 100%.
Regardless of treatment and surgery costs, you’ll also be charged a non-reimbursable rate of approximately US$9.50 per day for bed occupancy.
At private clinics with non-conventionné status, you’ll be able to reclaim only about 10% of your medical expenses.
Uruguay has quality health care.
Uruguay has a broad selection of medical care alternatives. These include free public hospitals that provide a social safety net in the cities and the assurance of care in remote parts of the country. There are also a variety of private health insurance options, similar to those available in the U.S. However, the most popular medical care choice in Uruguay is a “hospital plan” called a “mutualista”.
With a mutualista, an individual becomes a member of a private hospital’s plan. The hospital takes care of all your medical needs, from routine visits to major treatment. In exchange you make a fixed monthly payment to the hospital, as well as a small co-payment when services are provided.
A mutualista is different from health insurance. There is no middleman between the hospital providing service and the member. There is no deductible, no lifetime cap, and no complicated terms to decipher.
While most expats opt for a mutualista, some choose a similar hospital plan at the British Hospital in Montevideo. The membership fee at the British Hospital is higher than a mutualista, but there are more English-speaking doctors and staff, and the waiting times are usually less.
Each private hospital plan sets its own guidelines for accepting expat members. Some will not take new members over a certain age or with certain pre-existing conditions. However, while not everyone gets their first choice of hospital, most persistent expats, even if those are over 65 or have a pre-existing condition, find a hospital that will accept them.
These are just two examples of reliable health care systems overseas, but many countries abroad have great, affordable health care systems.
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