Explaining Expatriate Health Insurance Coverage and Benefits
Finding the right health insurance that covers your expatriate lifestyle is important when relocating to any new country. It will ensure that all aspects of your new life are protected and that you have the health coverage you need to properly cover you in the case of a medical emergency, injury, accident or should you have a pre-existing condition that requires ongoing medical treatment.
The search for an expat health insurance plan begins months before you depart on your new adventure. Often the insurance company will need documentation and sometimes specific vaccinations need to be done before an expat plan can become effective, so the sooner you do your research and invest in the right plan, the surer you can be that healthcare will be available for you in your new location. If you wait until you are already living aboard and get sick, the daunting process of arranging the insurance and healthcare you need could prolong treatment and could end up being very expensive.
Before investing in an expat plan, be sure to ask:
What Insurance Must Expatriates Have While Living Abroad?
Depending on where you will be living abroad, you will need to consider country-specific regulations when looking into expat health insurance. Some countries require that by law you purchase a local health insurance plan, meaning you will have to pay a fee for a government-regulated plan, regardless of what other insurance you may have. Consider the pros and cons of buying a local, national plan vs. a global medical plan.
Other countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements, and some have nothing at all, in which case you will need to research and invest in your plan before departure. Having a good understanding of local insurance regulations will allow you to make an informed decision as to what additional insurance you may or may not need and will give you the chance to compare coverage.
Eliminate Gaps in Coverage
Even if there is subsidized health insurance in your new location, you should fully understand what is and what is not covered. For example, some services such as x-rays may not be covered unless you pay into their system. Additionally, you may not be covered under the local government-regulated plan unless you are a resident for a certain period or have paid a certain amount into it. Local National Plans may not cover certain preventative treatments, annual exams or private hospitals.
Understanding what is covered and for how long will ensure you are fully covered in any medical situation.
What Coverage and Benefits do You Require in an Expat Health Plan
Many expatriates are not covered under any insurance plan, either from their employer or the local government. For those individuals or families, an international health plan should be purchased. The good news is these plans are portable and will cover you for periods of time in all countries. There are two types of expat coverage depending on what you need – worldwide excluding the USA (and sometimes other select countries) and WorldWide, which is typically the most comprehensive option.
Some Optional Coverage Options You Might Want:
- Dental and Vision
- Emergency Evacuation
- Adventure Sports Coverage
Keep in mind that coverage for high-risk areas, including war zones and those with health advisories, will require different plans and benefits than other countries. The price of your plan typically reflects this as well.
If you are planning on living abroad for a year or more, contact a qualified insurance representative to learn your options for an expat health insurance plan that will cover you – regardless of where in the world you are living.
As with all insurance plans, it is important to read the fine print of your policy, to make sure you know in advance what will and won’t be covered. Some questions to keep in mind include:
- Will you need to pay upfront for medical care and then be reimbursed afterward, or will your health insurance company pay the medical institution directly?
- If you or your spouse has a baby while you are abroad, will your newborn automatically be covered by your health insurance plan? Would an elective C-section be covered?
- If you are injured while participating in extreme sports while you are abroad, will these be covered? You may be surprised by what some health insurance companies classify as “extreme sports.”
- What is the limit on the cover for chronic conditions?
Our recommended Expatriate Health Plans:
Cigna Global: Learn More | Free Quote / Apply – High-Quality Plan, Best for Expats and Seniors
IMG Global Medical: Learn More | Free Quote / Apply – Affordable Option, Best for Younger Clients
Photo: Insurance by Pictures of Money (CC by 2.0)