I just received a letter from SSA to apply for Medicare. I decided I would post the above question and get some feedback before I sent my form in.
First let me say that I understand that Medicare is worthless in Panama. This is one of the downsides of moving to Panama. While you may have worked your entire life in the US and religiously paid all of your taxes, you will not be able to collect a penny from Medicare unless you are in the US.
That being said the US puts the squeeze on you by telling you that your premium for Part B will go up each year at a rate of 10% a month for each year you postpone taking it. The current premium which went into effect January 2007 is $93.50 if your annual was $80,000 or less. In 2005 the cost was $78.20. The current rate of $93.50 will translate to $112.20 with a two year delay.
Example: You delayed enrolling in Medicare Part B for 24 months
$93.50 base premium in 2007
+ $9.35 (10% of $93.50) for the first 12 month delay
+ $9.35 (10% of $93.50) for the second 12 month delay
= $112.20 will be your Medicare Part B premium for 2007
So the gamble you have to weigh, if you live outside the US, is based on whether you think you will ever return there to to the US to live or return there for medical treatment for some extreme condition. Also there is the cost of Medi-gap insurance since Medicare doesn’t cover everything.
I realize this is a personal thing, but I would like a little outside input before I make my decision. At the present, I can’t imagine my wanting or being able to return to the US to live in a retirement situation as good as I have here, but when you have lived this long you learn that the word “Never” should never be used.
I really feel that this is one item where the US is really cheating or steeling (you pick the word) from the people that have paid into the system for so many years. I think a person should be able to use Medicare benefits no matter where he or she lives.
Well, that is my poser for the day. Should a person subscribe for Medicare even if he isn’t living in the US. What are your thoughts? Like I said in the past, there is no care in Medicare is you are not in the US.