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Monthly Wrap: Expat healthcare and Medicare in Florida – what you need to know

currency-newsMonthly Wrap: Expat healthcare and Medicare in Florida – what you need to know
If you’re thinking of heading across the pond for a new life in the sunshine state, one of the biggest differences you’ll find between your old life in the UK and your new life in America is healthcare.

It’s vital you look into options for health insurance before you go, because without cover even minor healthcare costs can stretch into thousands of dollars, while the quickest visit to the doctor could leave a big dent in your wallet.

Will you be eligible for Medicare?

If you’ve been a green card (Permanent Residence Card or PRC) holder for at least five years and you’re over 65 you’ll probably qualify for Medicare, which is the closest thing to a national health service America has. Medicare isn’t really a public welfare system as it still comes in the form of insurance, but it is largely funded by the Federal government.

If you haven’t had a green card for 5 years, you probably won’t qualify for Medicare, so you won’t benefit from the scheme as soon as you arrive, even if you’re over 65.

Medicare A to D

Medicare is broken down into four parts: A, B, C, and D. Medicare A and B is basic coverage. Parts C and D are only available through private healthcare plans.

Medicare A covers you for up to 100 days ‘skilled nursing’ care per illness, which you’ll be entitled to if you’re 65 or older and receive Social Security benefits.

Part A also covers up to 90 days in hospital and 100 days nursing home care, though if you happen to be homebound you should also qualify for up to 100 days of care, or an unlimited amount of intermittent care.

However, Medicare doesn’t usually cover everything, so you’ll likely be responsible for at least some of the cost.
Part B covers outpatient and medical coverage, including ambulance call-outs, home care if you’re homebound and certain prescriptions.

Depending on your situation you may want to look into Medicare Part C, or a Medicare Advantage Plan. This includes extra benefits, including vision, dental care and in-home support like housekeeping. However, this costs more than basic Medicare.

Covering prescriptions

One thing to note is that while basic Medicare doesn’t cover outpatient prescriptions, a Medicare Advantage plan, employer-sponsored plan or a stand-alone Part D plan does.

Another thing to consider is that prescription drug coverage is optional, but if you decide not to take advantage of this when you first start your cover you may have to pay a late penalty, which could apply for the life of your cover.

Alternatives to Medicare

If you’re moving to Florida to work and you’re under retirement age, you also won’t be eligible for Medicare so you’ll need to look into other forms of insurance.

There’s good news if you work for a company with more than 50 employees and for more than 30 hours a week however. By law, your employer must provide you with an Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA or Obamacare) compliant health insurance.

If your place of work doesn’t meet this criteria, you’ll need to consider private insurance instead.

Can you live without insurance?

At the time of writing there’s no lawful requirement for you to get healthcare insurance in the state of Florida, but requirements vary from state to state, so you should check carefully if you’re settling in a different location.

While zero insurance may seem like a money saver, this could prove to be a false economy as medical costs without cover could easily wipe out your savings and put you into crippling debt.

Why Florida is the best when it comes to the worst

In some states, if you have an accident and your nearest hospital isn’t on the list covered by your insurer, you could be in trouble and potentially face an ambulance ride (at added cost) to a more distant facility. Or the hospital might be covered, but the physician who needs to treat you isn’t. Insurers rarely yield much ground when it comes to the fine print.

House Bill 221 is why Florida is one of the best places for the worst to happen.

The bill essentially means you’ll be covered in an emergency situation, even if you don’t have access to a provider your insurance covers.
We all know that life sometimes throws a spanner in the works and at such times hindsight can be an expensive luxury. How you’re going to pay for treatment or care will probably be the last thing on your mind in the event of an emergency, but could quickly become the first thing you need to think about. So explore your options before the event and ensure you’re adequately covered for your own peace of mind.

Additionally, if you’re planning a move to Florida we’re on hand to help you cut the costs attached to one aspect of your move – your currency transfers – so please get in touch if you want to talk through your options.
Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.

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