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Expat Repatriation on Medicare/Obama-care
Oct 12, 2012

Thank you always for sharing your expertise on this forum. It is really helpful to many of us. I am 60 and have lived in Japan for over 40 years. I am thinking of repatriating back to the US in the next couple of years. As an HIV+ individual, I have disability status with the Japanese government and as a result, all my meds and medical check-ups in Japan are free. I have paid enough Social Security taxes to make me eligible for Medicare at age 65 and will receive modest SS payments. I have enough savings for retirement, but it wouldn't be enough if I had to pay out of pocket costs for the meds and regular checkups. My question is, will Medicare and Obama-care (if it is still around in a few years), cover my prescription costs and doctor visits? Where can I find out more about my particular situation? The other question: although I don't yet have enough credits to qualify for disability under social security, will the US government recognize my Japanese disability status? Thank you!

Response from Mr. Chambers

Private health insurance will be available to everyone regardless of their health beginning 01-01-2014. However, insurance plans do not cover 100%. They all have deductibles and copays.

Each state operates an AIDS Drug Assistance Program which helps persons with incomes under $50,000 pay for their medications. The ADAP programs vary substantially by state. Each state has an ADAP site where you can learn more about its plan.

Assuming you paid into Social Security for enough quarters, you will not have to pay for Part A (hospital) of Medicare. Everyone (except high income persons) pays $99.90 for Part B Medicare (medical expenses)You can also purchase a drug plan and Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan. After 40 years in health insurance, the broadest health plan I have seen is Medicare with a broad Medigap plan, Plan F is the broadest.

Regrettably, US Social Security will not accept your Japanese disability determination since their definitions of disability differ. Also, unless you have paid into Social Security through FICA taxes in five out of the last ten years prior to becoming disabled, you are not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, although your retirement benefits are still there beginning at age 62.

I hope this helps you, Jacques



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