While health care costs in the U.S. continue to rise, a new report from International Living looks at five countries overseas that offer affordable health care.
According to PwC’s Health Research Institute, medical costs in the United States look set to grow by 6.5% this year alone. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket medical expenses are one of the main reasons U.S. citizens go into debt, according to the Association of Health Care Journalists.
With that in mind, International Living finds five countries where expats can get fully insured from just $80 a month, see a specialist for as little as $30, and have surgery performed by a well-trained professional for half or less (often much less) of the U.S. price.
“You can more than halve your health care costs in all these places — without compromising on quality,” International Living reports.
Here are the five countries where International Living finds health insurance coverage for as little as $80 a month:
Legal residents of Costa Rica can take part in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social government-run health care system for a low monthly fee based on income, which is typically under $100 per couple, according to International Living.
Many expats also use private doctors and hospitals.
“Costs are low, with doctors’ visits running $50, so some expats choose to pay cash,” reports International Living. “However, although surgeries and hospital stays are half to a third of U.S. prices, a lengthy hospital stay or major procedure can still be costly.”
Insurance is available, with local providers like Instituto Nacional de Seguros, as well as companies like BlueCross BlueShield Costa Rica. Some policies may even cover travel to the U.S. or internationally, but there are exclusions based on age (the cutoff is usually 70 to 75, according to International Living) and for pre-existing conditions.
Expats can also use international insurance and travel insurance, according to International Living. Some facilities, including CIMA Hospital, Clínica Bíblica, and Hospital Metropolitana, in the capital, San José, take Tricare, the Defense Department’s health care program.
Foreigners who become residents of Colombia have the same access to health insurance as its citizens, according to International Living. Residents not older than 60 at time of enrollment can sign up for the public health insurance plan, Entidades Promotoras de Salud (EPS).
This basic plan is offered through a variety of administrative companies and covers doctors’ visits, hospitalization, lab tests, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, and eye exams and dental cleaning.
According to International Living, it is similar to a PPO (preferred provider organization) in the U.S., where doctors and hospitals within the approved network must be used.
There are also private insurance companies that will cover expats, for those that are over the maximum rst-time enrollment age or those that want to supplement the EPS plan. According to International Living, the cost of premiums, services offered and rules for pre-existing conditions vary from company to company.
“Because the cost of health care services is so inexpensive in Colombia, many expats go the pay-as-you-go route and choose not to sign up for any health care insurance,” Internatonal Living reports. “A one-hour consultation with a specialist will run you about $50.”