Success stories are regular features of The Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter service, where we share profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories we've come across is that of Akaisha and Billy Kaderli, who retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and The Guide to Chapala Living.
There's one thing everyone has to worry about. It's a fatiguing topic and one filled with emotion and fear. As a nation, we can hardly get past it, and present solutions are sometimes as hard to handle as the problem itself.
I'm talking about health care, and how to pay for it.
High cost and obstacles
We know a couple who pay $1,200 a month for a catastrophic, high-deductible plan in the States, despite having never had a claim. Another couple pay $2,000 a month just for the husband's ability to be insured with his pre-existing heart condition. Some people are not able to be covered at all with U.S. insurance companies due to a past condition, even when it completely cleared up a decade or more ago. They feel they are just twisting in the wind and waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Sometimes, our readers write to us about staying in their jobs for another five years or more for the promise of employer-covered health insurance that will last the rest of their lives. They wonder, Is it worth it? They feel like they are spending their healthy years chained to a job that has lost its luster for something in the future that might not exist when they need or want it.
As you know, Billy and I have traded security for adventure many times in our lives. And when it comes to health insurance and the price of health care, it's no different. Medical Tourism is a viable option and one that we espouse in our articles and books. We have been called on the carpet for our decisions in this area more than once.
However, among world travelers there is a phrase we use when we discuss health insurance policies and whether or not we want to continue holding one and paying the corresponding price tag. It's called "going naked" or "going semi-naked."
This phrase pretty much describes how it feels when one chooses to let that insurance policy go. One can feel pretty exposed and vulnerable -- at least in the beginning. On the other hand, not being tied to $12,000 to $24,000 in health-insurance payments each and every year opens up other possibilities. In a few years, you can save enough money from not paying premiums to afford something unexpected out of pocket.
For the most part we're talking about travelers here, so these are people not living a full-time traditional life in the States. They have made certain decisions and trade-offs to have the life they enjoy, and they have already received health care in other countries. There is always a first time for an experience such as this -- going to a doctor in a foreign country -- and that new experience can be unnerving. But then after receiving the care, realizing the doctor speaks English, seeing the hospital or clinic with its computers and quality equipment, and having the heartfelt care, they often get a much better perspective.
Those who have never received medical service out of their own home country tend to look at this topic with jaded eyes or great suspicion.
Those who have gone through this experience feel their eyes have been opened to new possibilities. The idea of "going naked" of an insurance policy becomes a manageable possibility. Going "half-naked" (choosing a high-deductible policy or travel insurance when visiting the States) is a comfortable middle ground.
Once again, Billy and I are not advising anyone to do anything. We present options to challenging situations, and you can ruminate about it or toss it into the round file.
But what we see over and over again is how this one subject seems to be overweighted as compared to other themes that could generate happiness and comfort in one's retirement life. Categories such as cost of living, reasonable weather, and having a community of friends and energizing, rewarding activities to do, for instance.
There is no one size fits all, to be sure.
But if the overbearing cost of health care and insurance is a concern in your retirement plans, you might consider some working alternatives.
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991.