Medical tourism, and medical retirement is a blossoming market. Sky high costs—over 20% of adults in the USA report they are struggling to pay their medical bills, and long wait-lists in the West has driven this into a $50-75 billion per year (in USD) industry. Because it has some of the lowest medical treatment costs in the world, South-East Asia is one of the top go-to destinations for people looking for medical treatment. The trouble with South-East Asia is that many parts are plagued with crime, crooked government officials to bribe, and many areas are unsafe for travelers. For these reasons Bali is emerging as the best location in South-East Asia—possibly the world—for medical tourism. Bali is safe, clean, the people are friendly, it lacks the corruption, and crime of many other countries in the area (even compared with other islands in Indonesia), and the quality of care and facilities is comparable to facilities in the West.
Bali is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. The food is great, the overall cost of living is extremely low, and there is access to all the modern day conveniences we are used to in the West. Sounds like an ideal place to retire, right? Beautiful, affordable, and access to quality low-cost medical care!
The only trouble is, Indonesia’s requirements for a retired visa make it mandatory for retirees to carry medical insurance that is valid in Indonesia, and Medicare benefits don’t cover this requirement. Many of the programs you can buy into are expensive, and could run you over $1,000 per month, which defeats the purpose of retiring overseas in order to stretch your retirement funds out.
Indonesia is an inexpensive country for everything, but for right now, there aren't any great options for expats to get medical insurance. The country recently rolled out a national health-care plan, which may eventually end up getting offered to people on retirement visas in the years to come. This would be dirt cheap, unlikely to be any more than $200 USD per year. Until this is available, other options must be explored.
One option for people today is a traveller’s insurance plan that covers you only while you are outside of the country. This can be a good option if you don’t plan on living 100% of the time in Bali. It can also be tricky, because they will want you to provide a return date when setting up the policy.
The traveler’s insurance option can be a lot cheaper, and since most retirees will probably want to visit their children, or other family members at least once a year, the trip return dates requirement shouldn’t be too much of a problem. One retiree’s plan at USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services runs him $2.66 per day, which would put an annual plan at $970.90 USD per year. The plan covers up to $25,000 for medical and injury expenses per year—more than enough to cover a full year of in-patient hospital care in Indonesia—as well as $250,000 for emergency medical evacuation. Additionally there is some emergency dental coverage, and some miscellaneous travel coverage included (after all this is technically a travel insurance policy).
There are also plans offered by the Indonesian arm of Allianz (pronounced Olly-ahnz), who are the only insurance company in Indonesia with plans that cover people fifty-five and older. These plans cost nearly twice as much as traveller’s insurance, but cover you year round without any traveling requirements, so you don’t have to worry about setting a return date. The cost depends on health history and age, however, to qualify for a retirement visa in Indonesia, you already have to be in good health, so chances are you won’t have anything in your history that will result in significant rate increases over what is normal. The normal rate for someone over 60 with Allianz costs about $1,600 USD per year.
No matter which route you choose, the cost of medical coverage in Bali is much lower than it is in a country like the United States, where 643,000 people per year declare bankruptcy because of unpaid medical expenses they will never afford to be able to pay, many of these retirees. Your retirement shouldn’t be spent worrying about running out of money, and having to declare bankruptcy. It should be spent enjoying the best years of your life. Maybe someplace tropical. Maybe somewhere like Bali.