Health Insurance in Argentina
A reader wrote in today about getting health insurance in Argentina. This is going to be a very important topic for everyone who moves here, so I'll do my best to address this.
I've heard the cost of healthcare is very low in Argentina, but I haven't been able to find out much regarding health insurance options for self-employed expats... Have you? Your site is always very informative.
Healthcare For Individuals
If you're an expat moving here on assignment for your company, you probably have to worry about health coverage -- you'll get whatever health plan your company is using. On the other hand, if you're moving here to retire or you're self-employed, you're going to need health coverage. The good news is that health care costs here are multiple orders of magnitude cheaper than what you're used to paying in the USA. Of course, if you're reading this from Europe, you're going to have to start paying for health care now. Argentina doesn't have the same kind of welfare state that you're used to.
US readers, however, will be very happy to hear that Argentina health insurance prices are priced at what I call a "chump change" level. Apparently the US health care insanity has not yet reached this far south (praise God) and ordinary people can afford health care here without going into bankruptcy. Just how cheap is health insurance here? Cheaper than your wildest dreams...
Unlike other employers, I give each of my employees a set allowance for health insurance and let them buy the plan they like. They can either go with the Cadillac plan with a high-end insurance company and use up all the allowance I provide, or they can pick the Kia plan and pocket the savings for themselves. My own personal philosophy is that each of my employees is better able to make individual decisions about their own health spending, so I don't pigeonhole everyone into the same plan. I asked a few employees in my office what they were paying for health insurance each month and what plans and companies they were with.
Read It And Weep!
One employee is paying $70 pesos ($25 USD) for a lower-end plan. Another is paying $130 pesos ($45 USD) for a high-end plan with a better company (according to him, anyway). Both of these prices are for men in their mid-twenties, however. My managing director is out for the day, so I couldn't ask her what she was paying. I do know for a fact that women pay more than men (due to maternity costs) and that older people are going to pay more as well.
Feel free to let your jaws drop open now. Yes, you can get top notch healthcare for less than $100 USD per month! How good is the health care here? Doctors will come to your house when you are sick and treat you in your bed! No, I am not kidding. Doctors come to you! I will never forget the conversation I had with my manager when I was first told about this. She told me she paid something like $15 pesos extra or something for the doctor to see her at her house. When I expressed shock at this, she couldn't believe we didn't have this service in the US. "But if you're sick you don't feel like getting out of bed to go see the doctor, so they should come see you." It sounds perfectly reasonable, but if you're used to US healthcare, this is a whole new concept (or at least a long forgotten one).
Every time I hear Bush on the TV saying that, "The United States has the best healthcare system in the world," I just laugh now. Its such a lie. We could solve the medicare crisis tomorrow by sending all our old people to Argentina. Clearly the people in charge of healthcare here have found a way to treat people cost effectively.
Health Insurance Resources
The following health insurance companies were suggested by my employees. It seems that each of them uses a different company, so there was no consensus in my office about which was the best. It all depends on what coverage level you are willing to pay for and what kind of services you want or expect.
Again, I am not endorsing any of these companies, and I know there are more companies out there, but each of these companies are used by an employee in my office, so they seem fairly happy with them. As an American, I'm sure that any of these plans will be better in terms of cost/benefit than what you're using to paying in the States.