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International retiree health insurance: how to find the best one

For all of the expats planning to be (or who are already) retired abroad, health insurance is an important issue. International retiree health insurance can be a tricky, though, as so many factors come in place when trying to obtain one, with coverage levels, provider networks, and price being some of the most crucial ones. Today, Pacific Prime will look at the three most important things to look for in international retiree health insurance.

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Things to look for in an international retiree health insurance   

When shopping around for the right plan, your retirement destination is probably the first thing you need to consider. In some countries, having health insurance is obligatory. Some countries also have specific retiree visa restrictions, like in Thailand, for example. Other key things to look for in an international retiree health insurance are:

Coverage level and range

We’ve placed both coverage level and range in a single point, as they are connected. This is ultimately the most important of all of the three points, as it directly talks about what benefits and coverage can you get from an insurance plan.

Coverage levels

The two main types of coverages are inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient coverage, or hospitalization benefits that cover the costs related to any overnight hospital stays, usually have the highest medical costs associated with them and are the base of any health insurance plan.

Outpatient coverage, on the other hand, covers the costs that arise from things like doctor’s visits, such as to the GP, gynecologist, or dermatologist. These benefits should be included in every retiree health insurance policy, as regular doctor visits are recommended for people of retirement age, but also because all chronic conditions require constant medical check-ups.

Pre-existing condition coverage

Many people who have hit retirement age at 60+ have already developed at least one chronic condition. This is important, as a new insurer will treat such chronic ailments as pre-existing conditions, and they will, therefore, be excluded from your coverage. That’s bad, as, for example, if you have diabetes, your monthly prescriptions may be excluded from coverage, as well as any future, potential diseases that occurred as a result of diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney or eye damage, etc. In such a case, it is likely the policyholder will still have to pay for such treatment out of pocket.

While sometimes it is possible to get coverage for pre-existing conditions, it usually increases the overall price of the policy, or it comes with certain benefit limitations, such as a moratorium, yearly deductibles, premium loading, or co-payment for services related to the pre-existing condition.

There is one way to avoid this altogether, and we discuss it in another post we published on long term health insurance.

The more you know, the better. Check out our video on the top 8 insurance exclusions so you will be extra prepared.

International coverage

While you may choose to retire in Thailand, Malaysia, or another warm-climate country, now and then you’d like to travel; either for fun or to see your family back home. Having an international health insurance plan allows you to move around the world with the peace of mind that you access to the best private hospitals and clinics of your choice no matter where you find yourself.

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For most individual health insurance plans, the age limit is 65 years old. However, some plans can cover you without any age restriction. Of course, such policies can be a bit more expensive. These are called plans with lifetime renewability guaranteed, and that’s what you, as a retiree or a retiree-to-be, want to look for.


Price is probably the thing you’ve been the most curious about. While the premiums for international retiree health insurance will vary drastically based on country of residence, your health condition, and the insurer you choose, our State of Health Insurance Report 2018 (this year’s edition coming soon!) states that the average premium for retirees, based on data from 100 countries, is USD 9,008.

Get the coverage you need with Pacific Prime

Pacific Prime has 19 years experience in the health insurance market and has helped thousands of clients secure international medical coverage worldwide, including retirees and people looking to retire abroad. Undoubtedly, securing coverage for pre-existing conditions is a crucial concern for many retirees, but having the right insurer relationships helps Pacific Prime negotiate lower premiums for our clients. Contact us for impartial advice, free quotes, and retiree health insurance plan comparisons today!   

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!