How to Avoid Paying $500 a Month for Health Insurance

Suddenly I’ve become very popular at cocktail parties in the U.S.

I’m just back from a visit and met friends “laid off” from work and and with no prospects in sight

In exploring their options, they remember where I live.

“Can you really live inexpensively outside the U.S.?” my friends ask. “What’s it like to live in a foreign country? Is it safe? Is there Internet? English-language TV? What about health care? And health insurance?”

That last topic…health insurance…is the tipping point in my cocktail party conversations. If I were selling passports and one-way plane tickets to any of the countries that are top of the list for low-cost-but high-quality living, this is when my friends would sign on the dotted line.

I’ve recently done some research on health insurance costs, you see, and I’ve learned that if my husband and I were to move back to the States, we’d pay…at a minimum… $500-$600/month for a health insurance policy with a high deductible ($5,000 or more). And we’re healthy, with no pre-existing conditions.

But, I tell my friends, in many countries around the world, government-sponsored health insurance is either free or available for a minimal cost ($50/month or less).

If I want, I can purchase a private policy that gives me access to my preferred country’s best medical professionals and hospitals. The cost for this private policy will be at least 50% less than I would pay for its equal in the U.S.

The money I save on health insurance costs alone goes a long way to funding my entire cost of living in Latin America. (In Ecuador I pay $6 for a good haircut and style in a salon, and $10 to the woman who cleans my small apartment once a week.)

In fact, if you’re old enough to collect Social Security, there may be no better place to live right now than Latin America. I have friends living in Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama…who are living quite well for $1,500 – $2,000/month.

Editor’s note: Read more health care articles from International Living here.