Health and Aging Abroad

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

There are many North Americans choosing to live out their retirement years abroad now and that number will probably only increase.  They are seeking a less hectic lifestyle, warmer climates, and more affordable retirement living.  And they have many beautiful countries to choose from.

I was following an expat post on one of the Facebook exchanges the other day and one of the retired expats posted about being concerned about aging healthcare availability when living outside the U.S. and Canada.

Certainly not a subject any of us care to entertain but one that is very relevant as we move into our later years.

Here in Ecuador

Ecuador is a developing country and is in the process of building a strong medical and hospital system through its version of social security, IESS.

Staying healthy is key @macrovector
Staying healthy is key by macrovector

There have been many posts with high praise for the medical care expats have received for those who have opted in to that system.

There is also a network of modern, high-tech hospitals in the major cities of Ecuador.  And the price for private healthcare is a fraction of the cost in the U.S.

What Ecuador does not have, as is true for many countries outside of North America, is a good assisted living system.

Because many citizens of countries outside of North America are not as mobile the families tend to stay closer together and care for their aging family members at home.
There are options, however, and it was interesting to read some of the comments my fellow expats posted.

Purchasing repatriation insurance

One can purchase repatriation insurance that will pay for the insured to be transported back to their home country in the event of needing specialized long-term care.  Medicare is always available in the U.S. if you are over 65 and qualified for those benefits.

Seeking quality medical care Freepik
Seeking quality medical care Freepik

There is an organization that was started by some very caring expats in Cotacachi called Cotacachi Healthcare Chapters that provides valuable information and assistance for senior expats living in that area.  They have discussed building expat resources and help centers in other areas of the country. However, this would be a volunteer situation only.

Others have posted that they will want to hire a local indigenous healthcare helper to be available as wages are low and this is a very empathetic society.  Most all agreed they did not want to be a burden to their families up north.

The end game

A last note about a related subject was also brought up in regard to our eventual demise.  Some expats recommended having a will in place in the U.S. or Canada AND here in Ecuador.  The laws regarding transfers of property and inheritance are very different in Ecuador so if there are assets involved it is a good idea to cover those bases well.  The assistance of an estate attorney from both the U.S. and Ecuador may be needed for successful coordination of those matters.

Because burial and cremation issues are generally handled by family members here it is also a good idea to make arrangements through a local attorney to have those matters taken care of if you don’t have family in Ecuador.

These certainly are not subjects anyone likes to discuss but they are important ones and I was glad to see the post from that concerned expat and those who commented.  These are matters that take a bit of time to take care of but can give you much peace of mind once they are addressed. Here’s hoping your retirement years are long and filled with many good memories.

Let us know how you are doing as an older expat. Have you found the support that you need to live a healthy life?