What expats should know about UK’s National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service (NHS) is a free publicly funded national healthcare system. Recognized as one of the world’s leading health systems, it is the primary healthcare provider in England, including in-patient care, primary care, emergency medical care, long-term healthcare and dentistry. The NHS is for the most part funded from general taxation with a small amount contributed by National insurance payments.

The NHS has three core principles:

  • That the system meet the needs of everyone
  • That coverage be free at the point of delivery
  • That it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

Most expats in the UK are able to access free emergency medical treatment at NHS hospitals. However, some expatriates will be responsible for payments of in-patient medical treatment and dental, depending on where they are from. Countries such as Australia, EU and New Zealand, etc, citizens are exempt from the NHS healthcare payments.

Expats Using the NHS while living in the UK

Expats living in UK must register for an NHS Number in order to make medical appointment. Due to the long waiting lines, in most cases the appointment will be in about a week or much more. Expats looking to use the NHS should be prepared for long waits.

Private Healthcare in UK

Private healthcare in UK provides best medical specialists in London. Medical cost of private clinics in UK can be expensive but free from long waiting lists. Also, they do guarantee quality treatment and don’t cover chronic conditions, pre-existing medical conditions or cover you outside the UK. Expats living and working in UK will want to obtain international health insurance plan if living the the UK. International health insurance offer global coverage when expats travel back to their home country or overseas. Most plans will cover international medical emergency evacuation and repatriation, preventive healthcare expenses, hospitalization and medicines.

Expats from Outside Europe Returning to UK

It has been reported that Expats from outside Europe who return to the UK and want to access NHS hospitals may be billed for 150 per cent of the cost of treatment if they don’t have sufficient medical coverage. Most treatment remain gratis for those with a European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) along with United Kingdom pensioners residing in the European Economic Area (EEA). Note that Brexit may impact these rules and systems. There are exemptions available to some people, but these rules reflect the current efforts by the UK government to reduce expenses related to the very expensive NHS and cover for expats. More info is noted in the nhs.uk web site for UK expats living in many non-EEA nations who may get free hospital treatment in those countries because of a reciprocal arrangement with the British government.

Obtain International Health Insurance With Expat Financial 

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates planning on living the UK who want global coverage.  We also offer group plans for multinational firms that have excellent coverage & wellness programs for your employees along with great rates and enhanced coverage. If you have questions about our services or the plans  we can source, please contact us or complete the quote form

Preventive Healthcare for Expats is Critical

Living abroad is widely viewed as an adventure. People move abroad to become expatriates for work, lifestyle or to retire abroad. Sometimes we are so busy with expat life that we often forget to take care of our health. Moving abroad can often place you in countries with limited medical care or support along with being exposed to more health and safety risks. One way to keep yourself healthy is to take steps to prevent health problems from occurring when you move overseas. Preventive healthcare refers to medical measures to disease prevention. Preventive healthcare is very important for detecting health problems  before they become serious and preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In this article, we will help you obtain a better understanding of preventive healthcare and why it is critical for expat.

Differences Between Preventive and Diagnostic Medical Care 

Preventive medical care includes screening, immunizations, lab tests and other medical tests to help you avoid any illness before you notice any symptoms – aiming at help you stay healthy.

Diagnostic medical care is following up and monitoring existing healthcare problems, including treatment based on test results. Both preventive and diagnostic medical care are important in keeping you as healthy as possible.

Preventive Healthcare for Senior Expats

Many senior expats are living a healthy and energetic life style. As we all know, as we get older things don’t always work as well as they used to. Preventive healthcare is especially important for this age group to help them prevent disability and stay healthy.

Generally speaking, all seniors & many adult expats will benefit from these screenings and tests on a regular basis:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Mammogram
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Cancer screening
  • Diabetes screening
  • Age-specific immunizations

Preventive Healthcare if  Pregnant Expats

Being pregnant as an expat is exciting and overwhelming. The best way to take care of yourself and your baby is to get preventive healthcare tests and prenatal care:

  • Follow routine tests such as blood and urine test; Certain medical tests during pregnancy will reduce your risks for any potential diseases;
  • Visit your healthcare provider regularly and talk to medical professionals about vaccines you may need;
  • Check with your expat health plan to see if there is maternity coverage. Most individual plans have a 12 month waiting period while group plans usually have no waiting period.
  • Make sure you check in with your doctor often when you become pregnant. Advise your MD if you will be living abroad in a country where there is limited healthcare or more exposure to health risks such as infections, viruses or other hazards such as the Zika Virus.

Preventive Healthcare for Expat Children

Regular medical check-ups and screenings for your expatriate children is critical. Visit healthcare professionals and discuss any concerns on how to develop a healthy diet, physical and emotional development, etc. Becoming an expat can be a great experience for your expat child, but also a very stressful one – so you may need to seek a mental health professional when you live abroad in order to help your expat children adjust to their new location. Please read our blog post article and obtain more information on Expat Parenting – Are you ready to adjust to family life abroad?

Preventive Healthcare for All Adults 

According to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, most men are 24% less likely than women to go the doctor. However, regular preventive healthcare can help all adults live a long and healthy life. Some examples of participating in preventative health for men include prostate exams.

Except for general adult preventive healthcare such as blood pressure, cholesterol screening, cancer screening and immunizations, women will benefit from taking mammogram, cervical cancer screening, Chlamydia screening, etc.

How Can International Health Insurance Can Assist in Preventative Care?

The cost of preventive healthcare at many private medical facilities is expensive, especially in more developed countries. Local healthcare packages for expats may include some very basic medical coverage, but those plans usually do not cover preventive healthcare expenses or give you access to advanced private care. With a tailored international health insurance from a company such as Cigna, expats are covered internationally – including medical emergency evacuation and repatriation, preventive healthcare expenses, hospitalization and treatments and medicines. You can choose to add out-patient and wellness modules that include excellent preventive care for expatriates. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form

We now offer a compliant ACA global health plan for individual expats

Previously American expats who were impacted by the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ) had to purchase a USA local compliant health plan as well as an international health insurance policy to provide coverage abroad. Expat Financial is now able to offer the perfect solution for expats who need global Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage under one policy that gives you both US compliant healthcare and global coverage. Or to put it another way, you shouldn’t need to buy multiple policies anymore in order to meet the Minimum & Essential Coverage (MEC) requirements and avoid the tax penalties.

Cigna International has offered this exclusive plan that to the best of our knowledge is the only ACA compliant medical plan for individual expats on the market. Only a very small number of insurance brokers in the world are allowed to offer the plan to expats and we are very proud to be considered as a key broker partner of Cigna and we can now sell the policy effective November 1st, 2016.

What is the Affordable Care Act? 

But for those of your who are asking, what is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we should give you some insights before, is a United States federal statute enacted by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, hence the name Obamacare. For more information on PPACA, check out our ACA page.

Which Expats Should Get an ACA Expat Policy? 

Well, that depends on several factors and you should get some tax or legal advice just in case, but we can provide some general insights. Obamacare applies to US citizens, legal US residents, resident aliens and non-resident aliens required to file tax forms unless they are exempt. There are several way to be exempt if an expat qualifies for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion by either the Physical Presence test or the Bona Fide Residence test. Generally this will mean being out of the USA for more than 330 days or being a bona fide foreign resident. Most residents of American territories are deemed to have Minimum and Essential Coverage (MEC). Again, best to talk to your tax expert.

How Much Tax Will an Expat Pay?

If you are an expat who is a US taxpayer and you are not excluded from the PPACA rules, then the tax amount will depend on your income. The tax is referred to by the IRS as the “individual shared responsibility payment,” but is most widely known as a tax. Expat individuals or family with an income over $83,400 can pay a penalty equal to 2.5% of their income in 2016 if they don’t meet an individual mandate to obtain compliant healthcare under the PPACA rules. You don’t have to comply – you can simply pay the “tax” instead, but why not put that tax to work with an ACA compliant health plan. Check with your tax professional to see how much you will pay as it varies widely.

Who can Purchase the ACA Expat Health Plan?

To be considered eligible for the Cigna ACA Global Health Plan, you must be under age 65 and a:

  • Non-US Nationals residing in the U.S. under an eligible visa or green card (Inbound)
  • US Nationals residing out of the U.S. (Outbound)

For expats in the USA, getting a MEC policy is very difficult to obtain before they arrive and they generally want a plan that will provide coverage outside the USA, especially in their home country. Most U.S. policies in the USA don’t provide cover abroad. If you are an American expat living or about to be living abroad and require PPACA compliant health plan, having one global solution seems to be the perfect fit. However, the coverage is quite comprehensive and the premiums may be higher than some are willing to pay.

What does the ACA Global Health Plan Cover? 

This comprehensive policy offers a number of benefits for expats, including:

  • Worldwide coverage including the USA
  • Completely portable coverage for this American style plan
  • A wide range of deductibles and coinsurance
  • Optional dental, vision and evacuation
  • Meets the minimum essential coverage requirements of the PPACA so you can avoid the tax penalty that currently runs at 2.5% of income
  • Unlimited maximum with maternity cover
  • Covers pre-existing medical conditions! This is a huge benefit of the Cigna plan.
  • Great mental health and addiction coverage

Who Can’t Purchase this ACA Global Health Plan? 

The plan is not meant for everyone and Cigna can only offer this policy to a select population including:

  • US Nationals residing in the U.S. (including US territory includes: Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Marian Islands and Virgin Islands). There are visa requirements to get the policy.
  • Non-US national not residing in the U.S.

What Can I Do if I Don’t Qualify or Require an ACA Expat Health Plan? 

For expats who don’t qualify for the Cigna ACA plan or simply don’t want one, we still offer their excellent Global Health Options policy from Cigna via our web site. It offers similar coverage with a variety of options and deductible levels to meet almost any budget. Also, you can exclude the USA for additional savings if you don’t require coverage in the United States.

If you do want to get Cigna ACA health plan quote, click the link below.

getquote

If you have a tax or legal questions that relates to the PPACA, Obamacare or ACA, it is strongly recommended that you talk to your tax or legal adviser. The above is noted for general information purposes only and not meant to be seen as legal or tax advice.

Why expats should get the flu shot?

Every year, a contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus – the flu, generally occurs during the late fall and winter months in many countries around the world. Expats living and working overseas should take actions and protect against the flu, especially if they reside in countries with limited healthcare. In this article, we will discuss the general facts about the flu, why expats should get the flu shot and steps to reduce their chance of getting sick.

What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?

Generally speaking, you many have the flu if you experience cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and tiredness, fever, stuffy nose. Some children may have vomiting and diarrhea. The more accurate name for the flue is the influenza virus. The symptom impact people in different ways and symptoms can vary.

Though many people will recover within 7 to 10 days, the elderly, younger children and people with chronic medical illness are at greater risk of severe complications. In some cases, this can be life-threatening. Expats who are old, young and with underlying illnesses or week immune systems can be more susceptible and impacted by the influenza virus.

Why Do Expats Need To Get Vaccinated Every Year?

Due to the fact that flu viruses evolve so quickly, new flu vaccines are released every year. Last year’s vaccines may not be able to protect you from this year’s viruses and may have worn off. For expats living and working overseas, the flu shot is a great way to protect yourself and your families. Good hygiene such as washing your hands can also help. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination can reduce doctor’s visits, missed school and work, hospitalizations and deaths related to influenza.

It usually takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot. After vaccination, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect you from the flu viruses.

Expats Living Abroad With Younger Kids and Older Adults

Seniors (people are 65+ years), children under five years old, pregnant women usually have a higher risk of complications from the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older. Expats living abroad should check with their doctor in order to be fully protected.

Check With Your Doctor If You Had Severe Reaction To Flu Vaccine

Most types of flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein. For people who are allergic to eggs, you should be supervised by a doctor who is able to manage severe allergic conditions. There are also flu vaccines that don’t contain egg proteins. Expats should consult a physician about vaccine options.

How To Protect Yourself and Your Family Against The Flu?

Even after getting the flu shot, expats should wash hands often, using soap and water for at least 15 seconds to prevent the spread of the virus. If conditions not permitted, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Try not to touch your face often, and clean hard surfaces such as computer keyboards and cell phones. When you are sick, stay at home.

The Importance of International Health Insurance While You Are Abroad

As noted above, contracting the flu virus while living and working overseas can lead to serious complications and medical costs. This is another reminder of the importance of maintaining an international health insurance planAlthough in many major cities there are some satisfactory public hospitals for expats to choose, the method of payment and the quality of medical treatment may be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. We also offer group plans for multinational firms that have excellent coverage & wellness programs for your employees along with great rates. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your unique needs and produce a customized expat quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. The above information is widely known and we are not providing medical advice. You must consult your doctor for more information before taking any action. 

2017 Travel Destinations: Best of China for Expats & Visitors

10 tips for expat families moving to China

China is a popular travel & expatriate destination. It has many spectacular natural landscapes and cultural heritage. However, moving to China with children can be challenging for expats. If you are planning your first family trip to China or becoming a expat there, this article gives you 10 tips for families moving, traveling or already living in China, including advice on language, weather, culture, medical insurance and more.

1. Learning Chinese Before You Arrive

Though many Chinese people can understand and speak English in urban cities, it is recommended that expats learn some Chinese language before traveling. For example, some key words and daily sentences such as how to ask for directions and eat in a Chinese restaurant. Chinese language is very useful when there is nobody around who speaks English. It also make sense to use one of the many translation apps that you can place on your phone.

2. Book Ahead Before Travelling Within China

Many popular Chinese cultural heritage and natural landscapes have fascinated Westerners to China today. For expatriates planning to travel within China, it is very important to book hotels and transportation ahead. Hotels near tourist destinations are usually very popular. And it is almost impossible to find another local comfortable hotel room after 9 pm during peak travel seasons. Same as transportation tickets. You don’t want to stay overnight with children in a public transportation center just wait to buy tickets of train or bus.

3. Know The Local Climate

China is a big country. The weather in China varies between place to place. In the Southern area of China, the climate is usually hot, mild and humid. Hainan Island, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Yunnan all have tropical climate. The Northern part of China, however, has a subarctic climate. For example, Heilongjiang has an average temperature of  – 30°C  during winter season.

Generally speaking, the most popularly recommended time to travel to China is around Autumn. Starting October, most of the tourist attractions have cool down and the summer holiday travel crowds have gone. And the weather in many places are comfortable and mild. You should also keep updated on the pollution levels, especially in big cities such as Beijing.

4. Tell Your Children About Your Travel Plan Before Departure

To ensure a successful trip to China, it is recommended to discuss your travel plan with your older kids. You can design interesting activities for your family: visit lovely giant pandas in Chengdu, enjoy the beautiful natural scene by cruise and hiking, go to the Great Wall and Forbidden City in Beijing, learn paper-cutting and opera face mask painting, etc.

5. Medical Check-Ups Before Travelling

Don’t forget to schedule medical check-ups before departure. Especially when you are traveling with children. Talk to your doctor about your travel plan as early as possible. You don’t want to put you and your family’s health at risk of some communicable diseases.

6. Travel Medical Insurance versus International Health Insurance

Travel medical insurance is designed to provide emergency only protection while you are overseas. Unlike travel insurance that generally only covers emergency healthcare, international health insurance will not only cover routine medical care but also allow expats to receive medical treatment anywhere with their region of cover, including emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Our most popular international health plan for  expats in China is the Cigna Global Health Options plan. Contact us to to discuss your situation. To obtain travel medical insurance plan, please click here.

7. Bring Medicine

Do remember to prepare some drugs for emergency care, as well as a copy of your family’s medical history. This is very helpful in the event you need to see a doctor in China. Make sure you bring some information on your current health from your doctor along with clearly labeled prescriptions.

8. Encourage Your Children To Taste Chinese Food

In many places of China, there are McDonald’s, pizza restaurants, steak houses and the food is often as good as you will find back home. It is recommended to encourage your children to taste Chinese food. Chinese cuisine has diverse styles in different regions. For example, in Si Chuan and Chongqing, due to the cool climate, local people favour dishes with a lot of garlic and chili, with heavy spices on top. In Shanghai, local people would prefer braising and stewing dishes. And because of different sauce, the appearance of Shanghai cuisine is usually of dark colour. Peking duck and Cantonese dim-sum are popular dishes throughout China.

9. Avoid Non-Recommended Areas

When traveling with children, you should pay close attention to safety and health risks. Though kids are generally safe from crime in China during these years, there are still a few areas you would definitely want to avoid. In China, most big and middle sized cities are safe for tourists.

10. Engage Yourself in Local Festivals

It is recommended that expats immerse themselves into Chinese culture by participating local festivals. The major festivals are China National Day, Mid Autumn Festival, Chinese New Year, May Day holiday, Qing Ming Festival, etc. There are many parties celebrating of such events. Some expats tend to take the opportunity to return back to their hometown during the Chinese holidays. However, it is a great time for expats to make friends with local Chinese who will also assist you to overcome home sickness and culture shock. If your colleagues invite you to go to the local party during Chinese holidays, it is best to join for the fun.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates in China and around much of the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your insurance plan. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form