Health Insurance For Expats
I received a question about health insurance for short-term visitors to Buenos Aires. Although I'm not entirely positive about this issue, I'll try as best as I can to answer it.
I am moving to BA for four months starting in March. You mentioned that you have good, inexpensive health insurance. Can I get health insurance for only four months and without a DNI? I'm just planning to do the 90-day travel visa, which I'll renew for the last month. My US insurance (through my law firm) will only cover "emergencies" and for that they charge $475/month, which I don't want to pay.
Health Insurance Without a DNI
I'm not sure whether or not it is possible to get health insurance without a DNI or residency visa. My guess is that it would be up to each individual provider. I have a faint memory of Hospital Alemán asking me to provide either a DNI or passport when I signed up. I don't remember for sure, though. They could have just asked me for my DNI and I'm remembering incorrectly.
Maybe some other expat who doesn't have a visa/DNI could comment on this issue? Did anyone out there get a health plan without being an official resident?
Regular health needs are so cheap here that you really don't need health insurance. The last few times I came here (when I wasn't a resident), I regularly went to the dentist, a doctor, bought medicine, etc., and I didn't have a health plan. You might pay $100 pesos for a doctor or dentist visit, for example.
Keeping Your U.S. Health Insurance
I also currently maintain a U.S. health plan for emergencies, which I advise you to do as well. As good as the care is in Argentina, who knows whether they'd give you an organ if you needed one? I still like having the option of going back to the U.S. for health care if I become gravely ill.
I have U.S. health insurance with a $10,000 annual deductible. For a single man in his twenties, the cost of this plan is less than $500 per year. I then combine this plan with a Health Savings Account, which allows me to put up to $2700 per year in a tax free savings account. The money deposited is deducted from your income tax and the interest earned from the money deposited in the account is tax free as well.
If your marginal tax rate is 30%, that means that you'll save $810 in Federal Taxes by using this Health Savings Account, more than offsetting the cost of the health insurance. For expatriates, this means they can essentially get free U.S. health coverage.
In the event that you become gravely ill, you can withdraw the money tax free from the Health Savings Account to pay for your medical expenses up to the $10,000 deducible. The money can be withdrawn throughout your lifetime tax free for any medical expense except the purchase of health insurance. If you manage to be healthy throughout your entire life and not need the money, you can still withdraw it without penalties during retirement, just like an IRA. So, there's really no downside to having a Health Savings Account.