Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Where are you and where are you going?
General Snoopy
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:55 pm

Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Apr 26, 2014 1:06 am

Martinis, Girls, and Guns! My martinis are Gin and rather than the traditional olive I prefer the more colorful lemon twist. I also drink Scotch on the rocks and have been known to drink beer - both mass market and the microbrews. Girls? Yes, but before I say more, do I need to be politically correct? Guns? Sadly, I am a poor shot with a pistol.

“Retired Adventurer” is a contradiction and perhaps sums things up pretty well. I am an American and currently live in California. I am also a throwback to an earlier era. At 51 I am too old to be ERE, but ER is certainly feasible. My main goal over the last several years has been to simplify my life and as a side effect ER became financially feasible. My other goal has been to live an interesting life.

My health is generally good; however, my body is reminding me that I am no longer a whippersnapper. My doctor has informed me that I have developed a condition that has a high correlation with high levels of stress (i.e. high levels of cortisol). The condition affects my vision. Diagnosis seems to make sense as I have other minor conditions that also have a correlation with elevated cortisol levels.

Elevated cortisol levels are associated with an excessive intake of coffee and alcohol, so I have decided to eliminate or at least greatly minimize these. Finally, it also looks like I need to accelerate my planned retirement. This realization is why I have decided to start this journal.

The main consideration in the exact timing of my exit is health insurance. There is no cure for my current chronic conditions, so health insurance is not relevant for my current health issues; however, the future is a different matter. Official early retirement is age 56 where when I start my pension at age 60 my health insurance will also be reactivated. If I depart before age 56 I will still keep my pension (albeit reduced), but my health insurance will not be reactivated; consequently, it would be ACA health insurance (Obamacare) followed by Medicare.

Is relying on Medicare (and Obamacare) a wise choice if one has affordable health insurance through a pension? Additionally, for a few years I will lack the Obamacare subsidy when I do Roth IRA conversions.

The downside of staying long enough to be eligible for retirement health insurance is that the employment stress will be extended; consequently, cortisol levels will remain elevated longer and other health conditions may possibly develop. My reading has told me that the eyes are generally the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to emerging health problems especially as it relates to the nervous system.

Another consideration is my pension. To collect at age 60 I would need to work an additional two years; otherwise, my pension would start at age 62. I have pretty much decided to work an additional two years, so as to expand my savings and start my pension two years earlier at age 60. Retiring at age 53 would however be too soon if I also wanted to retain my health insurance post 60.

Cheers!

IlliniDave
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:53 am

I'm a year or so younger than you, and for me early retirement (the possibility of it) was also something that came about as an unanticipated consequence of other currents in my life. It was in preparing for what at the time seemed like a high likelihood of getting downsized, where I discovered I was pretty close to an inflection point of being able to cobble some sort of bridge together to reach traditional retirement in the circumstance I couldn't obtain an equivalent position and remained either unemployed or "under"-employed. With that epiphany the contingency plan became "the" plan.

I too have some degradation in facets of my health for which staying in the grind is not therapeutic. If I stay with my employer until i hit age 55 I have the option of buying into the company's healthcare plans, but have to pay the full cost myself (versus about 30% now). When I hit 65 it would convert to a medicare supplement. If I leave before 55 I believe I lose the option to buy in (after the CORBA mandated period, if relevant).

The best answer I can give to your question based on the looking I've done is that it's probably too soon to tell which is optimal, since I think it's clear ACA still needs some time before all the dust settles and things stabilize.

For my situation it seems like buying into the company plan is a little more expensive than the closest ACA equivalent, but it's a pretty robust plan. ACA is state-dependent, and income dependent. I'm looking at moving back to Illinois when I retire. I don't know how Illinois and California compare. On hca.gov I ran the calculator on a 24k income for myself as a single person, and it told me I'd get subsidies to effectively pay 99.6% of the cheapest bronze plan for the county in Illinois I plan to move near, or about 45%ish of the most expensive gold plan, leaving me with about $350/mo in premiums. Buying into my employers plan will cost me about $700/month irrespective of income (making it about the same as ACA gold if my income is high enough to disqualify me from subsidies, which would probably be the case if I stay at work until 55).

I don't think I'll base my decision on when I check out on health insurance. There are some other retirement benefits I'd get by hanging on until my 55th birthday which are more of a consideration. I have some medical tests coming up in June, and the degree to which my condition has changed (i.e., worsened--it's a one-way street) could weigh heavily on my near-term future.

That said, my overall health is very good, just the one weak link. My intent is to be somewhat of an adventurer in retirement. Good to hear from you.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:03 pm

R-Day is 7 January 2017.

After a lot of thought I have decided that it is time to bring things to a close. Two and a half years from now I should be retiring. Date will mean that I will collect my pension at age 60, but the date is too early to take my employers health insurance. I am looking forward to retirement. Work is wearing me down. For health insurance I will be relying on the Affordable Care Act and, after age sixty-five, Medicare.

After some discussion in another thread it looks like relocating to the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice area (near Tampa) of Florida will be my final retirement destination. I will leave high cost and high tax California.

In my youth I did a one year London-Cape Town overland/sea trip. Since then I had always wanted to circumnavigate the world. As I have gotten older, though, my enthusiasm for such a trip has been waning. Mainly, I just don’t want to deal with the aggravation. At the end of my first trip I was exhausted and recovering from a tropical illness.

However, I’ve decided to restart a travelling lifestyle. I will do it a lot slower, rent apartments on a weekly/monthly basis, and essentially spend about three-six months in a country/city. This type of pace should be a lot more bearable (and not to mention cheaper) than how I did it two decades earlier. My internet research seems to indicate it should be very easy to stay under $1,000 month in most parts of the world, which is significantly below my planned USA retirement budget.

International Health Insurance (ex USA) with a high deductible is available and is significantly cheaper than the ACA plans, so I should be covered. The most reasonable seems to be GeoBlue. I am still unclear on the relationship between Travel Health Insurance and International Health Insurance.

My default final destination is Florida, but perhaps in my travels I will decide to settle in another location. We will see what happens.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:38 pm

Circumnavigating the world will be an interesting and lengthy experience.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean will be through the Cunard Queen Mary 2, last remaining ocean liner, from New York City to Southampton, UK. For the rest of the world it is amazing at how limited the options are for passenger shipping. In the world there are only about ~300 passenger freighters and a similar number of cruise ships (of which only a few perform repositioning cruises). From Asia to Australia there seems to be only about one passenger freighter that does the run and it goes from Singapore to Perth. From Australia to New Zealand one can generally board a passenger freighter. From New Zealand to North America there are several passenger freighters as well as repositioning cruises. So, it seems to be possible to circumnavigate the world without flying. It would be cheaper to fly, but going by ground and sea would be much more interesting.

There seems to be three main routes for crossing Asia: (1) northern route using the Trans-Siberian Railroad, (2) southern route through Iran and Pakistan, and (3) central route through the Caucasus, Central Asia, and western China/Tibet. The northern route is the most common and easiest, but I would prefer the road less traveled. The southern route seems far too dangerous. The Iran-Pakistan border is closed to foreigners and Pakistan seems extremely dangerous in most parts of the country. The central route seems to be the most interesting route. The Visa situation appears to be steadily improving which makes the route feasible. These are former Soviet republics, so there is still some of the old style bureaucracy, but things appear to be workable.

My route will be to depart Los Angeles and make my way to New York City using Amtrak, the national train. Transatlantic crossing will use the Cunard Queen Mary II. From there I will use trains to make my way across Europe to Turkey and from their through the Caucasus countries and boarding the Caspian Sea freighter for Central Asia. From Central Asia I will cross to China and make my way to Tibet. China requires visitors to Tibet to obtain permits which are easily obtainable. China has extended their railroad network to Lhassa, capital of Tibet, and is planning to extend the railroad to Nepal. Sadly it looks like the rail extension will not be completed in time to support my trip. Continue my trip from Tibet to Nepal to India. Indian Visa is a major hassle and I will need to obtain it before I begin my trip. The border with Burma appears to no longer be closed with an international India-Burma bus service beginning 2016, in time to support my trip. From Burma, I will travel throughout South East Asia. Take a passenger freighter from Singapore to Australia. Take the Australian train to the east coast and from there another passenger freighter to New Zealand. From there the final leg to North America will be on either yet another passenger freighter or a repositioning cruise.

I’ve been contemplating whether I would like to retrace my steps on my previous trip when I did London-Cape Town overland. If so, I would take a passenger freighter from New Zealand to South America. Cross from the Pacific side to the Atlantic and take another passenger freighter to Cape Town. From there I would head north to Cairo. At this time I have not yet investigated the feasibility of the border crossings for Sudan and its neighbors and the Eritrea-Ethiopia border; it is possible these borders may be closed. From Cairo take a ferry to Europe and from there return to the USA through Cunard or a passenger freighter.

I’m looking forward to the trip.

I want to avoid winter in Central Asia/Tibet, so I will have to winter someplace warm in Europe. Cyprus seems like it would fit the bill nicely.

1taskaday
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by 1taskaday » Sun Nov 23, 2014 4:33 am

A pity you don't post updates more frequently.
I would love to follow your travels-sounds AMAZING!

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:52 am

@IIliniDave: Thanks for your comments and I concur.

@1taskaday: I won’t be beginning the trip until 2017 (which is when I retire), so my discussions will mainly be on the planning phase. The most difficult task will be trying to avoid airplanes. There are very few passenger ships, so trying to coordinate shipping schedules with Visa time limits will be problematic.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:01 pm

Health Insurance
While there are a lot of considerations in planning a multi-year international trip the health insurance problem is the most vexing. In addition to the practical health benefits it cannot be ignored since passenger freighters, cruise lines, and increasingly immigration authorities all require health coverage. Below is a summary of the research I have done on the subject. I would welcome your comments.

Coverage can be addressed in multiple ways:
(1) Travel Health Insurance
(2) Travel Health Insurance + Pension Health Insurance (USA)
(3) Travel Health Insurance + Affordable Care Act Insurance (USA)
(4) International Health Insurance (world)
(5) International Health Insurance (ex USA) + Travel Health Insurance (USA)

Travel Heath Insurance: Includes medical evacuation coverage (the most important benefit), repatriation of remains (in the event of death), plus emergency medical coverage. This type of insurance is designed to supplement one’s home medical insurance. For those with a national health insurance plan it is ideal. Americans can rely on travel insurance as their sole insurance (without home health insurance), but there are several important downsides to this approach: (1) What to do if a medical evacuation flight brings you back to the USA, but then you have no home health insurance? (2) Increasingly, cruise lines and passenger freighters require both travel health insurance plus a home health plan. Due to these downsides I don’t consider this option to be viable for me.

Travel Health Insurance + Pension Health Insurance: Combination provides worldwide coverage, but will not be available until my pension starts at age 60 and will also require that I delay my retirement to age 56. My current plan is to retire earlier, so this option is not viable for me.

Travel Health Insurance + Affordable Care Act Insurance: Combination provides coverage worldwide; consequently, it is the typical choice. The difficulty arises because I plan to do Roth IRA conversions, so will lose the government subsidy. The cost analysis is complex, but generally on an after tax basis after taking into consideration Roth IRA conversions I believe it works out cheaper to use international health insurance.

International Health Insurance (world): Worldwide health coverage including the USA, although generally not compliant with ACA rules. Like travel health insurance this type of insurance also includes medical evacuation coverage, although rather than returning to the home country it will return to the nearest health care facility capable of handling the health emergency. Due to the high cost of health care in the USA, international health insurance comes in two varieties – worldwide and excluding USA. It should come as no surprise that the ex-USA variant is substantially cheaper (~50%) than the worldwide version.

International Health Insurance (ex USA) + Travel Health Insurance (USA): Since my world trip may include trips back home to the USA for a few days or weeks, then for USA coverage purposes I could take out some travel health insurance for the USA portion of the trip. The downside is that the travel insurance will not cover incidents within 100 miles of my home of record. This combination option provides worldwide coverage (albeit with one small hole), substantially cheaper than worldwide, and tailored to my travel plans. This is my current plan.

GeoBlue Xplorer Essential (http://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com)
Company: Blue Cross & Blue Shield (USA based company)
International Health Insurance, unlimited lifetime benefits, deductible $10,000, ex USA, ex RX, ex dental
Age 50-54 Monthly Premium $194 (2014)
Age 55-59 Monthly Premium $240 (2014)
Age 60-64 Monthly Premium $298 (2014)

World Nomads (http://www.worldnomads.com)
Travel Health Insurance, $100,000 emergency accident & sickness medical expense
USA coverage >100 miles from home
Four Weeks Premium $110 (2015), age independent

Finally, for the sake of completeness there will be about two-three months between my date of retirement and my departure date from the USA. I was planning on continuing my work health insurance for the period of time that I am still in the USA.

The likelihood of actually using health insurance while on the road is fairly remote, but when you need it you need it. It is a risk that should not be ignored. These are my plans. Does anyone have any comments?

reepicheep
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by reepicheep » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:31 am

You may be able to ride as a passenger on cargo ships.
http://www.flightlesstravel.com/plan/cargo-ships/

A Life of FI
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by A Life of FI » Sat Mar 28, 2015 7:52 am

What about the option of using only Affordable Health Care Act Insurance only - from my understanding most (if not all plans) under it cover emergency services when you are out of the country. In terms of non-emergency services, its sounds like you are going to be traveling around a bit, so I don't know, but would think it be to more unlikely that you would seek out a random doctor somewhere for something that's not an emergency. And even if you did the health care costs elsewhere are generally much cheaper than in the US and, considering the ACA deductibles, you would probably end paying more out of pocket for the same non-emergency services in US than overseas (unless you had so much in health care expenses in that year that you went over the deductible limit… in which case you might not be traveling so much anyway). Also keep in mind that if any doctor you seen for non-emergency services while you were out of the US started recommending anything involved, where the cost would start to become significant, it would either turn out to be an emergency (which would be covered under the ACA plan) or, if it wasn't an emergency, irregardless of cost/insurance considerations, most people would feel more comfortable doing these things in their own country so they would wait until they were home (which would again mean the costs would be covered under the ACA plan).

In terms of visas and immigration I would think the ACA policy you be adequate, the idea of the requirement is that you are insured for any medical emergency that might arise while the country and their local hospitals will not need to bear the cost - which most (maybe all) ACA policies do.

Also I believe to be exempt from the penalty for not having health insurance in the US (not 100% sure but don't believe any travel insurance policies qualify as ACA insurance) you either need to be out of the US over 330 days or claim on your US tax return that you were a resident of a different country during the tax year. So you would need to track you days or be able to claim residence in some other country.

If you are comfortable with having a high deductible, I might think about choosing a bronze plan which gives you all the same providers as silver/gold plans but just has a higher deductible (this will probably be a bit more expensive than the cheapest bronze which tend to exclude certain providers). The advantages of having a high deductible plan is that you get to contribute to a HSA account and get a tax deduction for it (not sure if you can do this with the travel insurance policies - I have tried to check before but did not find a definitive answer).

You mention in you first post that you would be subsidized except for a few years when you do IRA conversions (I would let a couple year drive the strategy), if you were fully subsidized and had a high deductible plan you might find your health insurance may be a annual net income of around $500 (ie. free insurance plus a tax deduction of $3,300 times a tax rate of 15% or 20%) rather than the the annual net expense of $8,400 ($700 * 12 months) you were looking at originally under your employers plan or the annual net expense of $4,869 ($408 x 12 months) you are looking at for you best option above - in other words you might be paid for having heath insurance.

I am ERE and out of the US most of the time and the above is what I do (except I don't get any subsidies) so if you find something better or see some fault in my logic please let me know.
Last edited by A Life of FI on Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:40 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Ego
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Ego » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:07 am

General Snoopy wrote:Health Insurance
While there are a lot of considerations in planning a multi-year international trip the health insurance problem is the most vexing. In addition to the practical health benefits it cannot be ignored since passenger freighters, cruise lines, and increasingly immigration authorities all require health coverage.
I hadn't heard that. Is this for regular old tourist visas or for permanent resident visas?

We got the 10 year Indian visa from the contractor required by the consulate before arrival. It was straightforward, but that was a few years ago before the changes. You can get a visa on arrival which I believe is now only for 30 days.

Sounds like you've got a great trip planned.

RealPerson
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by RealPerson » Sat Mar 28, 2015 8:13 am

I think Ego and spouse chose not to buy overseas health insurance when they did their trip through South America and Africa. Overseas medical costs are a fraction compared to the US, so you may decide to self-insure. That leaves the medical risks when visiting home. I am not sure if there are policies you can buy short term when visiting the US for, say, weeks or months. Maybe somebody on this forum has information on that?

I realize that emergency evacuation from overseas to the US is a benefit you would not have if you self insure. Then again, you could be evacuated to a regional quality health center. For example, when you are traveling in less developed countries in South East Asia such as Burma or Laos, you could receive excellent medical care in Bangkok or Singapore. Still much cheaper than the US.

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Ego
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Ego » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:12 am

Yeah, we're still self-insuring. That's why I was concerned about being asked to prove we're insured when entering a country. I'd imagine a solution could be photoshopped rather easily but I'd have to know in advance. The General could do the same if he needed proof for freighter travel.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:26 pm

@ego: Schengen Tourist Visa requires travel health insurance. It became a requirement in 2010. I haven’t researched other countries.

@reepicheep: Cargo ships that accept passengers I call passenger freighters. There are only about 300 such ships in the world. A medical exam certifying that one is safe for travel is required within 30 days of departure. The ships require passengers to have travel medical insurance and home medical insurance. Deviation insurance (for when ships have to deviate due to a medical emergency) is also required.

@RealPerson: Travel Health Insurance policies are available for short trips to the USA. For American residents they only cover trips greater than 100 miles from the home of record. The nightmare scenario would be if a medical emergency would be incurred (likely through a car accident) the travel insurance would cover the emergency health care, but at the first opportunity the insurance company would want to offload me with a medical evac to my home state where I would have no coverage what-so-ever. I would have to wait about 30 days before the ACA insurance coverage could be started. Because of the donut hole this is a less than ideal solution, but this is my current plan for the USA portion of my trip.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:28 pm

@ A Life of FI: Thanks for your detailed response. Your response has caused a lot of thinking, so my apologies for the length of this response.

On my last big trip two decades ago I self-insured. It worked out, but I took a lot of risks back then. These days I am trying to not be so reckless.

Unfortunately relying only on the ACA insurance is not sufficient for the Schengen Tourist Visa (as of 2010), passenger freighters, and cruise lines. Travel medical insurance is required; however, technically, I could just get travel health insurance just for the duration of time where it would be required.

The tax interplay between ACA insurance subsidies, Roth IRA conversions, and the start of my pension is complex and is an area that I should study more. Roth IRA conversions to the top of the 15% tax bracket will eliminate all of the ACA insurance subsidies. Roth IRA conversions in the 25% tax bracket will actually yield a marginal tax rate of 40% (qualified dividends are taxed at 0% in the 15% tax bracket, but will be taxed at 15% in the 25% tax bracket; therefore, the net marginal tax rate is 25%+15%). To minimize the tax on Roth IRA conversions the conversions would need to be spread out over many years.

ACA insurance plan
Florida Blue Select Essential (HSA) Bronze
Company: Blue Cross & Blue Shield
CY2014, Age 55, Income $24K, Sarasota Florida
Monthly Premium $415 (unsubsidized), $86 (subsidized)

Worldwide coverage is available through participating BlueCard providers. It is interesting that when one goes to the site for BlueCard it takes you to a site that is copyrighted GeoBlue Technologies. I suspect that the international network coverage for Florida Blue would be the same for GeoBlue Xplorer. They both in fact are under the Blue Cross & Blue Shield umbrella.

The principal benefits of travel medical insurance and international health insurance over ACA insurance is medical evacuation coverage and repatriation of remains (a benefit for one’s next of kin). Travel medical insurance will provide medical evacuation back to the home country. International health insurance will cover medical evacuation to the nearest medical facility capable of handling the medical emergency.

ACA tax penalty for not having insurance: You are correct that in general travel health insurance and international health insurance are not ACA compliant. You are also correct on the exemptions (non-USA residency or 330 days outside of the USA). Although, there is also an exemption whereby if you are physically present in the USA you are allowed to not have insurance three months out of a twelve month period. The ACA laws are confusing and contradictory to be sure.
A Life of FI wrote:
You mention in you first post that you would be subsidized except for a few years when you do IRA conversions (I would let a couple year drive the strategy), if you were fully subsidized and had a high deductible plan you might find your health insurance may be a annual net income of around $500 (ie. free insurance plus a tax deduction of $3,300 times a tax rate of 15% or 20%) rather than the the annual net expense of $8,400 ($700 * 12 months) you were looking at originally under your employers plan or the annual net expense of $4,869 ($408 x 12 months) you are looking at for you best option above - in other words you might be paid for having heath insurance.
https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/20224 ... ned-income

I hadn’t considered the tax considerations of the HSA version of ACA insurance. The link above says the HSA does not need to be funded with earned income, so your idea looks viable. At age 55 the contribution limit is $4350, so at the 25% tax bracket the effective tax savings are about $1,090. On an after tax basis the ACA subsidized insurance would be near free. For ACA unsubsidized the after tax monthly premium would be reduced from $415 to $324. The monthly premium for international health insurance is $240, so the unsubsidized ACA is $84 a month more expensive.

GeoBlue (world) is $470 month compared with GeoBlue (ex USA) of $240 month. Prices are CY2014, age 55, deductible $10,000, ex RX, and ex dental. It is also possible to buy GeoBlue (world) for three months (minimum purchase) to cover time in USA and then nine months of GeoBlue (ex USA). GeoBlue annual total (3+9) works out to $3,570. Florida Blue works out to $4,980 (unsubsidized) and $3,888 (unsubsidized, but after HSA tax savings). Florida Blue excludes the benefits of medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, and GeoBlue excludes the benefits of HSA tax advantaged returns.

Two decades ago I did some extensive traveling which included six months in east/southern Africa. I did become extremely sick and did contract a tropical illness. There are some illnesses that can really take you down. Despite that the illnesses were not life threatening and I managed without seeking local medical help although I did visit the local pharmacy. When I returned to the USA I sought some medical help to deal with a chronic condition. The doctors misdiagnosed me with cancer and then proceeded to almost kill me with surgical complications. The condition could have been solved without surgery by using some tests and medicine; however, American doctors practice defensive medicine (to defend against medical malpractice lawsuits) and combined with lack of experience with tropical illnesses leads to improper and dangerous decisions. I don’t trust American doctors due to their defensive practices, so I prefer to avoid them.

I consider the medical evacuation and repatriation of remains to be an important consideration, so travel medical insurance becomes required. A one year policy with World Nomads is $1,050. While on my previous trip to Africa I did meet a person that on a previous trip had exercised their medical evacuation coverage since they had contracted both malaria and pneumonia and their condition was precarious.

ACA Florida Blue Bronze with HSA tax benefits plus World Nomads travel medical insurance works out to $4,938 annual on an after tax basis. GeoBlue (3 months in USA + 9 months outside) works out to $3,570 annual. The delta works out to $1,368, so about a $114 a month.

After all this discussion I think the GeoBlue (3+9) works best especially since this approach avoids the donut hole when using the combined approach of Geo Blue (ex USA) plus travel health insurance for USA travel.

I’ll have to do more calculations, but if I can get Florida Blue subsidized (near zero after tax) combined with travel medical insurance, then that obviously would be the best solution.
A Life of FI wrote:
I am ERE and out of the US most of the time and the above is what I do (except I don't get any subsidies) so if you find something better or see some fault in my logic please let me know.
I think the answer to this question depends on the value you place on medical evacuation and repatriation of remains. The cost differential between GeoBlue (3+9) and ACA Florida Blue only is nominal. Cost calculations and other considerations are above.

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Ego
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Ego » Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:06 am

General Snoopy wrote:@ego: Schengen Tourist Visa requires travel health insurance. It became a requirement in 2010. I haven’t researched other countries.
Great info General. Thank you!

Rick Steves says it is virtually unheard of to be asked for it. Nonetheless, found a good example of the documentation required and will put it to good use. Forewarned is forearmed.

henrik
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by henrik » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:32 am

@Ego, you shouldn't have to worry about a Schengen visa, should you?

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Ego
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Ego » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:59 am

henrik wrote:@Ego, you shouldn't have to worry about a Schengen visa, should you?
We ran out of time before leaving and were unable to get Mrs. Ego an EU passport.

A Life of FI
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by A Life of FI » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:55 am

A couple follow-up comments which I'll do over a couple of posts. I'm not saying I'm 100% correct in these comments as I did not go the route your thinking about, so did not research it thoroughly - but did consider it and had a different bit understanding/logic on a few of your points above.

The first is in relation to the 3 month gap exemption, my understanding was that if you were not otherwise exempt (that is you qualified under one of these exemptions https://www.healthcare.gov/fees-exempti ... m-the-fee/) you could still be without health insurance for up to 3 months less one day a year and not have to pay the penalty for not having health insurance. Assuming that you don't qualify under one of the other exemptions in the above link, the 3 month less one day exemption would mean you could avoid the ACA penalty for not having insurance for 3 months less one day if you had ACA coverage for the other 9 months plus 1 day. Further it would not matter if you were in the US or aboard during the 3 months less one day that you did not have ACA insurance.

My understanding was that this could work for anyone subject to the ACA that had a gap in coverage during the year for whatever reason, regardless of whether they left the country or not. They could simply be trying to reduce their expenses and cancel their insurance for a few months each year and avoid the penalty without ever leaving the country.

In relation to travel this however could help a US citizen travelling - if they left one country were they were a tax resident and spent a few months in the US before coming to a third country where they became a tax resident - in that case they would be exempt from the penalty. However if they spent a few months is the US and did not qualify as a tax resident of another country (which I understand might be your case) during the year (or under one of the other exemptions) my reading was that they would need to pay the full 12 month ACA penalty for not having medical insurance.

Also if even you could do qualify under the 3 month less one day exemption you might run into the problem that the only exemption from the penalty is for the first gap period during the year (see third bullet point at https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-t ... /short-gap). My reading of this is that if you came back to the US for two weeks and then left and were not ACA insured during this time you would have used fully up the gap exemption, i.e. you gap period would be 2 weeks not 3 months. But again I don't think this 3 months exemption applies to your situation in the first place.

I can see that someone in your/my situation could get to the conclusion that the 3 month less one day exemption applied to them by combining the third bullet point in this link (https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-t ... dent-alien) which indicates that someone who is not legally present in the US is exempt and using this with the three month less one day exemption. That is to say that someone who is legally present in the US but for less than 3 months is exempt. However my reading of this is that US citizens would always fall under the first bullet point in the above link, which offers only the non-US residency or 330 days outside of the US exemptions. My understanding is that someone not legally present in the US, under the third bullet point, would be always be a non-US passport holder. Thus this combination of the 3 months and not physically present in US exemptions would
not work for a US citizen.

Again I not saying this is all correct just laying out what I understood when I looked at it last year, so look at it carefully.
Last edited by A Life of FI on Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

RealPerson
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by RealPerson » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:59 am

As a holder of a US and a Schengen-area European passport, I could easily make a European country my tax base. However, the taxation levels there are much higher than in the US. My health insurance savings would be quickly wiped out by having to file a tax return in Europe. The penalty would presumably be a much better deal, not even counting the hassle of figuring out a European tax return. Try having a European accountant figure out a tax return with all my investments in the US. I am sure it can be done, but at a price.

@Ego. I did not realize you are self-insuring in the US. Aren't you worried that one accident or illness could wipe out your entire estate? It just seems like an incredibly high risk for someone who is FI. Not a critique, just wondering.

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Ego
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Ego » Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:35 am

@RP I don't want to take over the General's journal.

Startbyserving & the second half of FRx's post in the thread below echo my sentiments.
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=6095#top

RealPerson
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by RealPerson » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:47 am

Sorry. Did not mean to hijack.

General Snoopy
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:47 pm

@ A Life of FI: My understanding is the same as yours regarding the ACA exemptions. Thanks for your detailed response. I was worried there may be something important I had missed.

Additionally, when the ACA regulations use the term "not legally present" they are referring to illegal immigrants. Obviously, illegal immigrants are not legally present in the USA, so the ACA does not apply to them.

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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by General Snoopy » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:11 pm

Journal Update

Retirement Date - 1 March 2019
After a lot of thought I have set my retirement date. I will be age 56, so not ERE only ER. The date will enable me to start my pension and restart my subsidized health insurance at age 60. Retirement in two years and seven months. It will go by quickly.

Finances
Things are going well. I should cross the $0.9 million USD net worth marker by the end of the year and $1 million by early 2018. I have a CD ladder which will serve as a bridge from my retirement date until the start of my pension. Social Security will be deferred to age 70. During the interim from age 56 to age 70 I will be doing Roth IRA conversions (401K -> traditional IRA -> Roth IRA). My target annual living expenses will be $24K with travel costs for the first year or so being additional. I will be relocating from Los Angeles (3rd most expensive city in the USA) to the Florida Gulf Coast, so that should give me more margin. For the last couple of years, I have been living on my planned annual expenses and the results have been interesting. The one-off expenses have thrown me – unexpected medical expenses plus replacement costs for major items (laptop computer, dental work, vision work, business suit, etc.) The experiment has been worthwhile. It has taught me that I need to set aside a contingency fund and not cut it too close.

Physical Fitness
In my youth I was in reasonable physical condition. I considered the military physical fitness test to be the benchmark. At age 23 I could either come close or max the military standards for pushups, pullups, situps, and 3-mile run. Today, 30 years later I am a far cry from my youthful performance. A few months ago I decided to do something about it. I first started a calisthenics program and did that for a few months. After I was consistent with it and made it a habit, I then decided to join a gym and work on my aerobics and strength training. I am happy with my progress. I started at a whopping 25% body fat (using calipers) and really weak. Over the last two months since I have been at the gym I have gained 4 pounds of muscle, lost 2 pounds of fat, increased overall weight by 2 pounds, and reduced my body fat to 23%. My goal is to get to 10% body fat and achieve the performance standards of my 23-year old self. I hope I can do this within the next year. Due to permanent running-related injuries I am not doing any running, but I am using the treadmill for walking. I would eventually like to get to the point where I can do 4 miles at a rate of 4.5 miles/hour. I weight-lift three times a week and on my off-days use the treadmill three times a week.

Health
Have had much dental work done. Gone decades with zero dental work, then it all hits at once. Decided to also seek treatment for my Rosacea. Doctors are using a light-based therapy. In the near future I will be seeking a general physical examination – haven’t had one in years; however, I’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether this is useful. Central Serous Retinopathy has done its damage to my retina, but is no longer active. Finally, I’ve decided to investigate Waveguide Technology for eyeglasses. I use glasses for reading. Due to astigmatism, the aging process, and laser surgery side effects, my cornea is distorted which is not completely correctible with conventional glasses. Waveguide Technology is supposed to be able to correct for these ‘higher order effects’.

Work
A lot of changes are afoot in my industry with a planned reorganization coming soon. I should still retain a job of some kind, but everything else is uncertain. There are rumors of pay cuts, but even in the worst case scenario I would still have pay retention for two years - alas a few months too short for me. I am in a holding pattern now, but in the next month or so the details of the reorganization should be known.

Downsizing
It’s an iterative process. Donated most of my books to the local library. Donated my military memorabilia to a local military store. Used craigslist to unload some stuff. Donated clothing to the non-profit thrift store. I still have more downsizing to go.

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Dragline
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by Dragline » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:26 pm

Congrats on your progress, particularly on the fitness and health fronts. That's all that matters in the end.

Get a shingles shot if you had the chicken pox. Everybody I know who didn't and gets it, regrets it.

IlliniDave
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Re: Journal of the Retired Adventurer

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:18 am

Your present situation and plans mirror my own, General Snoopy. I'm targeting 01 June 2019, a few weeks after turning 55, so my last minute at work will be about 1,040 days and 7.5 hours from now. I'm engaged in a slow process of downsizing and looking to reengage a fitness program that got disrupted a few years ago (my bad for dragging my feet getting back at it). Good Luck!

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