What are the benefits of our international health insurance?

On a cloudy day, beachgoers still took advantage of local beaches.
We've written about international health insurance in past posts.  As we acquire more readers worldwide including an increased number of expats and baby boomers retiring and deciding to travel long term, we felt it was time to review this once again, especially in light of yesterday's annual premium payment.

We paid NZ $5855, US $3745 for the upcoming 12 month period.  This insurance doesn't cover us while in the US.  I'm not quite certain why not but with little time spent in the US during these past 40 months, with only a few months to be spent in the US upcoming in the summer of 2017, we aren't worried about it at this juncture.


We drove to Wairau stream to check out the scenery.
Tom will continue to be covered by the health insurance from his prior work until he turns 65 in December, 2017.  In the interim, we've both been covered by this annual expat policy with Healthcare International.

What happened to Medicare for me when I turned 65 almost three years ago?  Every US citizen is entitled to Plan A which covers hospitalization in part.  See here for details.

Why didn't we just go with Part A for me?  Simple answer: It doesn't provide coverage outside the US in most instances.  Plus, a monthly payment for Plan B is required at NZ $158, US $105.  See here for details. 

Most beaches in this area are rocky but this popular location is preferred by many surfers and sunbathers.
As a result of this monthly expense, useless in our case while traveling the world long term, we opted out of Part B by signing a waiver document explaining why we weren't willing to pay.  There are penalties for opting out which will result in a higher premium should we decide to activate it at some point.  There again, we aren't concerned about penalties at this point.

Plus, most Medicare recipients add a "supplemental policy" to cover some deductibles and ancillary costs, here again an unnecessary expense for us considering none of these would apply to our out-of-the US needs.  Had we included these, we'd have been paying as much "out of pocket" annually as we're currently paying for our annual policy with Healthcare International.

Surfing and kayaking are popular in both New Zealand and Australia.
These drastic measures would not make any sense for those living in the US or US territories where Medicare would pay.  Such action is only beneficial for those with very good health who don't visit doctors frequently, take a lot of medication, and often have medical tests and treatments, since none of these are covered by our current policy.

If we visit a doctor, regardless of the reason, we pay out of pocket as we do for my few prescriptions.  Such payments have proven to be approximately 25% of the cost for the same services in the US in most countries as we experienced in our 2015 medical exams and tests in Australia.

This is a first for us, spotting a tractor hauling a boat along the beach.
Our situation is unique and does not apply to most travelers nor to most Medicare recipients in the US.  Even those US citizens embarking on a one year trip outside the US are best to keep their existing insurance (including Medicare Part B and supplement) in place, adding emergency travel insurance as an adjunct.

Our policy with Healthcare International includes coverage for both of us for hospitalization with a NZ $3014, US $2000 deductible per hospital stay, emergency evacuation, and bereavement expenses for travel in the event of death of an immediate family member only (sibling, child, parent) covering up to NZ $7536, US $5000 in travel expenses. 

We were intrigued by the stone roof on this oceanfront home.
This benefit is only available for those who are the physical relation of the deceased family member.  In other words, if one of Tom's family members passes away, the benefit would cover his costs to return to the US, not mine and so on.

Our decision to choose this type of policy was wrought with considerable research and consideration over an extended period.  Each year we've researched other options but, to date, this plan makes the most sense for our needs and appears to be the most cost effective.


  Many homes in New Zealand have metal roofs helping maintain warmth in the cooler winter season reducing heating costs.  For the warmer sunny days, as we've experienced, it gets hot indoors requiring the opening of screen-less doors and windows.
Of course, when we soon file our taxes for 2015, we must provide "proof of insurance" to avoid paying penalties to the US government.  I have a copy in our tax prep file which we'll soon forward to our accountant along with other pertinent documents.

This can be confusing.  Finally, we feel we have a handle on it although it took time to decipher the various options.  If any of our readers have questions, most of the links we've provided here will assist you.  If you have questions we can answer please post a comment at the bottom of this post and we'll be happy to answer to the best of our ability and/or provide you with resources to aid in your decision.


Energy efficiency is exercised by most residents in New Zealand from what we've seen thus far. 
We realize this topic is dry and relatively boring especially for those who aren't living outside the US for the long term.  For those in other countries, we can only suggest you contact your home insurance, your government provided insurance and Healthcare International or another such company.  Most likely they'll be able to assist you based on benefits you may currently have available.


We're staying in today watching the political caucuses in New Hampshire, USA which is on TV during the day here based on the time difference, although its Wednesday here in lovely New Zealand.

Have a great day!
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Photo from one year ago today, February 10, 2015:

One year ago, this albatross is sitting on an egg.  Both the male and female sit on the nest, the other heading out to sea for food.  For more details and map of our location while in Kauai, please click here.


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