Health insurance for cruisers - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-10-2019 Thread Starter
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Health insurance for cruisers

Good morning cruisers! Can anyone direct me to a thread devoted to cruising and health insurance (as in, what company/insurers are recommended)? Or, if this is the first post on the topic, I'd love to hear how Sailnet cruisers manage health insurance while at sea. Mahalo and cheers!
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-10-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

I take just enough money out of my 401k to get to the poverty line and qualify as poor. Then I get the max ACA subsidy and get an ACA plan.

There's lot of of health care threads but it's in the details of where and what you need that make a difference.
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

I worked 45 years to get to medicare and a point in my life when I could sail away without expecting other taxpayers to subsidize my cruising.
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

I "retired" at 55 and like Don, make just enough money in consulting work and investments to pay my bills and qualify for a subsidy under ACA. I feel like I paid plenty enough in taxes while I was working and pay enough now to have no qualms about this.

My insurance costs about $230 per month, but has high deductibles and co-pays.

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post #5 of 12 Old 04-10-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

As an individual you basically have no access to a national plan. A very few corporate plans offer national coverage but the norm is that you are covered by a PPO or HMO in a limited area, and everything else is "out of network" coverage. Which will be available, but damned expensive with hefty deductibles and copayments.
The other main alternative is Medicare/Medicaid if you are qualified, and even those are only good within the US, not offshore.

There have been other threads discussing mainly, for *most* boaters the answer is to pay for local medical care (most of the world is much cheaper than the US) and if you need to come home, you come home. Or carry medevac repatriation insurance as well.

The few policies mentioned elsewhere usually will cover you "if you're not out of the country more than six months" or with similar qualifications about when and where you are, so read the fine print.

Good luck finding and qualifying for anything "global".
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

Tilloglobe used to be pretty good for expats with a Stateside address. Google it.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-10-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

At my age, sailing a boat in the Caribbean, I couldn't find any kind of affordable health insurance. My wife, who is considerably younger than I could get it @ about a grand a year, but we don't remember which company.
If you are older and going overseas, I suggest you self insure. Most medical care in the islands is much cheaper than in the states, and better, too. Lots of Cuban trained doctors down here and they are way better than US doctors.
Otherwise, if you must have US healthcare, don't forget to get the air ambulance insurance as well. Caching!

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post #8 of 12 Old 04-11-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

One's health is the ultimate gamble. Every bite you take, every choice you make has a little impact on the outcome. Then again, so does your genetics. It's all too much to ponder, as none of us are getting out of here alive.

As this thread further supports, I get the sense that most global cruisers have little to no medical coverage.

Statistically, up to some older age, one's odds of needing very expensive medical care is fairly low. The majority pay (or their employer pays) way more in premium than the the individual ever gets back. However, when the minority come up craps on that bet, the cost can be bankrupting. It's not the odds of losing, it's the amount of loss, if you lose.

Broken bones and infections are not the concern, those always cost less than the insurance cost to cover them, even in the US. It's big surgery, serious disease, the big C that could be financially debilitating. The trouble is, most of us can not tell what our personal odds really are.

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post #9 of 12 Old 04-11-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

Capta is right. Plenty of Cuban docs and plenty of Brit docs in the English speaking islands. Medicare doesn’t cover muc of anything outside the US. Get medijet or equivalent. If anything big time goes on will get you stabilized and aerovac’d to the tertiary center of your choice. Dan offers the same service if you’re a diver.

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post #10 of 12 Old 04-11-2019
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Re: Health insurance for cruisers

It’s still many years off, but my wife and I plan to retire in our late 50s and travel (hopefully by boat).

Last year she got stage II breast cancer. Treatment went well and she’s doing fine, but there’s always a risk of recurrence and the way it spread aggressively to her lymph nodes gives an added chance of recurrence.

We will certainly never go without health insurance, and now that she has the mother of all pre-existing conditions it complicates things. Right now she can’t be denied coverage because of her cancer history, but if the courts or congress change the law regarding pre-existing conditions we’re kind of hosed. One of us would have to keep a corporate job just for the insurance plan until she reaches medicare age.

Who knows what the future may bring, but the need to maintain health insurance looms large.

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