Healthcare in Early Retirement? The question seemingly has no easy answer as an American. When we discuss healthcare in retirement, and our short-term plans to utilize medical tourism, and moving abroad to capitalize on Mrs. RRR’s access to practically free healthcare with her EU citizenship we are usually met with squints, sighs, and other skeptical sayings and body language. For some reason, despite clear evidence to the contrary, Americans as a whole feel like healthcare everywhere else is somehow poorer quality and less than what’s available in America. Well, I hope you’re sitting down because we are about to blow your damn minds.
“You get what you pay for.”- someone who usually over-pays for everything. It’s safe to say that this saying doesn’t apply to healthcare in the United States. According to a study that compared the healthcare systems of 11 countries published by The Atlantic, the U.S. was dead last in overall ranking, cost, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. And this is despite spending more than double the average on health expenditures per capita. We spent 66% more than the next highest country: Norway, which is a supposedly notoriously expensive country. So, even though we are spending the most, we aren’t receiving even close to the best care. Overall, the U.S. ranks 50th in life expectancy, so it stands to reason that there are at least 49 other countries that have decent enough healthcare to keep people alive longer than us. Even crazier is that life expectancy varies pretty widely by state. If you just look at Mississippi, we are ranked 95th in life expectancy. Malaysia, Armenia, Sri Lanka, Iran, and Mexico are just a few of the 94 countries that surpass Mississippi in life expectancy.
Want to hear another mind boggling stat? More than 25% of doctors practicing in the United States have medical degrees from foreign countries. Oh, you read that right. 1/4 of MD’s practicing here didn’t get their degree in the land of the free! Well, I guess that ruins the “doctors from other countries aren’t as well trained, or educated as ones in America” argument. Hell, depending on how many doctors you have, there’s a good chance you might have seen a doctor that wasn’t trained here and didn’t even know it. But, how did you survive such poor care?
Universal healthcare is potentially the biggest controversy and debate amongst people discussing insurance and healthcare coverage these days. Which is unfortunate because we should be focusing on the outrageous profits that every aspect of the health industry seem to be raking in. But, opponents of universal healthcare might be surprised to hear that nearly 2/3 of healthcare spending is already paid for by the government through Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA. ….MAGA?
That’s right, only 1/3 of spending is made up from BCBS, Aetna, UHC, Cigna, Humana, and the thousands of other companies. All told, in 2016 there were 5,977 insurance companies, each with their own administrative departments, case managers, claims adjustors, marketers, mail clerks, janitors, and dozens more employees which all add costs to your monthly premiums and deductibles. A study by the Harvard Medical School determined that 31% of healthcare dollars in the U.S. went to administrative costs, nearly double what our weird talking neighbors to the north spend with their communist “socialized healthcare”. The number of health insurance home-office employees has doubled since 1994. It’s no wonder we spend more than everyone else, someone has to pay Josh’s salary to hide in the bathroom all day, and for Sarah and Megan to gossip about office drama.
Speaking of spending, 896,000 families declared bankruptcy from 2006-2017 due to medical costs. Nearly 70% of those families were insured, so don’t think that having health insurance will save you from having astronomical costs when it comes to healthcare, not that the monthly premiums aren’t already incredibly expensive. There are huge discrepancies with insurance coverage, including: whether your provider is in network, what your deductible and out of pocket expenses are, and whether the procedure, treatment, or prescription is even covered. Unfortunately, insurance is not a catch-all safe guard that leaves people free from the clutches of the inflated system. If anything, it has caused the inflated system that we all must suffer in.
It’s sad to say this, but placing all your faith in the American healthcare system will leave you dead and broke earlier than you plan.
You can take control of your health by eating right and exercising to limit the liklihood of health issues. You can read more about these actions below.