What and Why: Part-Time Expat Living (Part 3: Healthcare)

Atop the Metropol Parasol, Seville, Spain

I can remember my mother telling me through the years, “Your health is everything. If you have your health, you have the best of life.” For many people, health is an important concern when it comes to living overseas. It is a common reason why people choose to be part-time expats. And there are two basic reasons why this is so.

The first is that some people want to maintain the health services they enjoy in their home countries, and if they move permanently out of their countries, they will lose those benefits (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare, etc.). Perhaps there are health issues that are being treated, and they want to continue with the same treatment plan, same payment scheme, or same doctors. Or, maybe they simply feel that they will get the best care in their home countries. So, this plays into their decisions to live overseas part-time. They want to continue their present health regimens at home. By living in their home countries for a majority of the year, they can maintain and continue present health services.

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La Boqueria, Mercat St. Josep, Barcelona, Spain

For others, they move overseas for just the opposite reason. They want to be in a different health system. Many countries have excellent public health systems, as well as private hospitals, doctors, etc. In Costa Rica, for example, the public health system, while not perfect, is one of the best in the world. Treatment is of high quality, and cost is much lower than in the U. S. And, in the private sector, top notch hospitals in the capital rival treatment anywhere. I have had two surgeries in Costa Rica at two different private hospitals. I received the exact same treatment and level of care as a private hospital in the States, for 25 – 30% of the cost.

With friends in Cordoba, Spain

This leads many folks to live in a chosen country part-time because they want to take advantage of the health care options that are available. Recently, I visited a doctor in Costa Rica in her office for an infection. The office visit was $50 cash. I purchased the prescription and she injected the antibiotic on three successive days for free. The last day she came to our home at 6:00 am on a Sunday to facilitate our early departure for the airport. In many countries, people find that medicine is less a business and more of a human service than it is in their homelands. A lot of people want that kind of health system, and so they spend time in their chosen countries in order to experience.

I also know people who specifically wait until their annual 5-6 months in Costa Rica to have dental or plastic surgery work done because of the significantly lower costs and high quality.

Whatever your concerns regarding your health as a part-time expat, choose that which serves you best and enjoy the best health possible in your adventurous life overseas.



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