Thursday, June 17, 2010

Old age assisted living in Belize!

There are several places in our area of Western Belize for older retirees who need assisted living. At 25% the cost of her USA and equal to, or better than the USA. They are small scale though, about 6 to 8 persons outfits accomodations.

What Happens to Your Health Care When You Go Overseas?

The Sovereign Society (June 16, 2010)

A Booming Medical Tourism Industry Means You Can Look Forward to a Healthy Life Offshore
By Mike Cobb

Nearly 500,000 retirees pick up their Social Security checks at an embassy or other location outside of the United States. If you’re among them – or want to be – then it probably means you’ve successfully expatriated your wealth … and/or yourself!

Gaining a second residency, or giving up your native citizenship altogether, typically means severing ties (even if only temporarily) with the culture, amenities and conveniences to which you have become accustomed.

You can take your Social Security with you when you go … even if you forfeit your citizenship. But of all the things you give up … what happens if your insurance coverage is among them?

Believe it or not, that’s a “risk” that many – even those in need of costly surgeries and routine preventive medicine for a low co-pay — are willing to take. Here’s why…

Healthcare in the United States may be a hot-button topic at cocktail parties and on Capitol Hill.

But no matter what side of the issue you fall on, among the many transitions you must be prepared to make before you move overseas includes a change in your medical care.

It’s one thing to toss some ibuprofen, a hot/cold pack and a six-month supply of allergy medicine into your suitcase when you travel for a week or two at a time. But what about if you need emergency or longer-term care?

You’ve probably developed a relationship with your primary care physician, specialist(s) and perhaps even a particular hospital.

Especially if you have chronic conditions, traveling can be a challenge – not just because of the loss of familiarity, but because the doctors and facilities you so carefully researched in your home city or country don’t make house calls, let alone jump on a plane and meet you halfway around the world.

If you’ve been thinking about living or even retiring overseas, but feel like it may not be an option for you, you may want to revisit your stance.

Why? Because an emerging “medical tourism” industry means that not only can you travel with health issues, but your health might even be a reason to leave in the first place!

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‘Electing’ to Go Elsewhere

Medical tourism is a growing business in which U.S. and Canadian patients fly overseas to have surgeries and procedures because they can have them done for approximately 25% to 50% of the cost in North America.

The most-popular ones are electives such as plastic surgery and dental work, because they are typically not covered by insurance.

India and Thailand, however, are now doing major operations like open-heart surgery.

But why would someone decide to go to Bangkok over, say, Boston for such a risky procedure?

For many, the question is instead, “Why not?”

As we move toward socialized medicine and the lines get longer — and the treatments get rationed — anyone with money is going to look elsewhere for service.

And this can be a nice option for anyone wanting not only to accelerate their access to services, but also to lower their premiums as well.

Advancements Being Made Outside of America

Keep in mind that the FDA approval process is a slow one. In the United States, you may not have access to equipment, medication, materials and procedures that have been approved in Europe for years.

Latin countries have access to many of these new tools of medicine. Here in Belize, where I am based, my wife was getting 3-D ultrasounds for our second daughter … when her friends in the United States were getting 2-D.

Each country has one or two top-notch hospitals with U.S.-trained English-speaking doctors and state-of-the-art equipment. In fact, the technology is in place to let a doctor in Belize send images to docs anywhere in the world real-time for consult.

Covering Your Coverage Costs

You might have to change providers when you leave the country, but you might not necessarily be giving up anything when you give up your U.S. citizenship.

There are some great insurance companies out there. I use one called BUPA, out of Miami, that covers anyone living outside North America.

Coverage is for hospitals worldwide, including the U.S. and Canada, and they even have a jet they use to air-evac you if you need it.

I pay less than $5,000 per year for a family of four. And many folks supplement with a local policy at a hospital “in country” to cover their non-emergency and non-major medical needs.

What About More-Comprehensive Care?

What if you or a loved one is in need of assisted-living services? While this is still a few years off, the opportunities for assisted living experts to develop this product in the region is huge.

My company, ECI Development, is currently in discussion stages with some doctors who’d like to partner with us to provide the medical component to our real estate developments in Belize, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We have the regional and development experience, local connections and an existing human resource infrastructure to launch a program.

The medical component is taking shape and stands to provide a huge opportunity for any number of physicians to participate full time, part time or on a consulting basis.

Longer-term care is just one area where ECI will facilitate a joint venture with experts from that industry. We’ve already done some limited assisted living in the case of a woman with M.S. Her costs in the United States ran about $10,000-$12,000 per month for round-the-clock care.

Her costs at Gran Pacifica, however, were 25% of that. Because healthcare jobs tend to pay well in that area, they are very coveted. Accordingly, the quality of her care, she believes, is also improved from what she was receiving in the U.S.

An Opportunity Gold Mine

People – investors, developers and medical professionals – who get into the medical tourism arena first will carve out a nice spot for themselves on the ground floor of this growing industry.

Remember, Levi Strauss went west to the gold fields to make a fortune and he did … selling shovels, buckets, overalls and rations to the miners.

Medical tourism and assisted living are going to provide similar opportunities to folks who want to be out there ahead of the crowd and serve the growing needs of this group of clients.

Any way you slice it, whether you take advantage of overseas medical care or simply wait for the real players in this booming industry to emerge, you can take comfort in knowing that your health as well as your wealth can be preserved by going offshore!


Mike Cobb
Chairman & CEO, ECI Development

Mike Cobb is the chairman and CEO of ECI Development, a Belize-based Central American Real Estate holding and development company. He is also a member of The Sovereign Society’s Council of Experts.

1 comment:

james said...

I think all houses should be razed and we all live in tents.