May 19, 2020

Retire with Great Healthcare for Pennies on the Dollar

Health Insurance
Retirement
Social security
healthcare
Tomas H. Lucero
3 min
Retire with Great Healthcare for Pennies on the Dollar

Americans spend a lot of time and energy preparing for retirement. While setting money aside monthly can sometimes be painful or inconvenient we are also glad that we’ll have a pot of gold to enjoy our golden years. However, what is retirement without good health or without quality healthcare? Worst, what is retirement without health insurance? Access to quality healthcare is a pressing issue for all of us, but particularly for those approaching retirement age. One solution that many Americans, as well as citizens from other parts of the First World, have taken up is retiring in Ecuador.

Ecuadorian cities like Cuenca have had great health service at low rates for a long time. Recently, though, the federal government has enacted sweeping legislation that will afford free healthcare for expat retirees who become legal residents on a national level. This is what the publisher of Live and Invest Overseas Kathleen Peddicord reports in her Huffington Post blog post, “Full Medical Coverage For Just $70 Per Month -- New Health Care Option For Residents Is One More Reason To Think About Retiring To Ecuador,” published early last year.

“Ecuador's national health care plan, managed by the country's Social Security administration, is now removing age and pre-existing medical condition restrictions for those who want to join the system voluntarily. ‘Voluntary’ membership is open to all citizens and legal residents at a cost of just $70 a month,” writes Peddicord.

According to Peddicord, Ecuador’s new health system is comprehensive: “The new health system provides full medical coverage, including doctors' visits with no co-pays or deductibles, dental care, and free or discounted prescription medicine.”

Ecuador’s health system does not restrict itself to public hospitals. It has also enlisted plenty of private clinics and hospitals into its program and is open to adding more. The same goes for private pharmacies.

The nation’s Social Security single-payer healthcare system is part of the wave of change that has visited Ecuador since the adoption of a new constitution in 2008; a constitution that mandates access to healthcare for all citizens and legal residents. The health care budget has increased over 200 percent and the money is being put to good use.

“New hospitals and clinics have been built or are under construction, old facilities are being upgraded and the government has doubled the number of doctors on contract with the system” writes Peddicord.

Hospital del Rio, Cuenca. Photo: Retire-in-Ecuador.com

All of this is great news for current, and future, expats in Ecuador who are looking for bargains on healthcare. However, there are some snags. For example, the rapid expansion of the system can leave facilities short on resources. This results in patients waiting up to two months to see specialists. Shortages on medications have also been reported. The Ecuadorian government, though, is poised to take action.

“The government says it is working to fix the problems and plans to hire an additional 2,000 doctors by the end of 2014; the country is actively recruiting in Spain and Cuba,” says Peddicord.

Additional drawbacks include the variability of quality and availability of services from cities to towns to rural areas and the red tape inherent in any government-run program.

“Despite the drawbacks, expats who have used the government system report that they have received excellent care and saved thousands of dollars. An expat who lives in Quito says she is extremely impressed by the system's improvements and expects things to continue to get better,” reports Peddicord.

Recipients of health care in Ecuador are also eligible to receive other Social Security system benefits like low interest rates for home purchases, funeral expense assistance and unemployment benefits.

“Although joining the government program is not for all expats, it is a great option for those who might not otherwise be able to obtain low-cost health insurance” concludes Peddicord.

Related Story: The Real Cost of Health Care

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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Tax
Compliance
financeleaders
Deloitte
Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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