Ten Things to Consider When Buying Global Health Insurance
Purchasing global health insurance is a big decision, and choosing the right coverage, and the insurance company is both challenging and daunting for most expatriates. There are lots of insurance terms that you may not be familiar with and, of course, the fine print. Global healthcare is quite different from domestic policies. Some expats come from countries with universal healthcare, or they were under their parents’ or employer’s plans, so they may not have purchased individual health insurance before.
That is why we have put together a list of ten things you should consider when buying global health insurance coverage:
1. Do You Require Portable Coverage?
Most expatriates will move from one country to another, so your global health plan must allow you to move from one region or state to another. Note that you need to advise the insurance provider of the move as the country of residence impacts your renewal rates.
2. Does the Insurer Have a Large Medical Network?
Expats need to choose a global health insurance provider with an extensive medical network, so you don’t have to pay out of pocket when you need a claim. The convenience and speed of showing your card to a hospital are invaluable. Note that you will need to check via the insurer’s website to find a provider that is in their network. If outside the network, you can call the insurance company and ask for a guarantee of payment (GOP) letter. Then, have them fax or email the document to the hospital OR pay out of pocket
3. Does the Provider Have a 24/7 Support Line?
Your global health plan is useless if you don’t have a provider who can service it for you. A 24/7 emergency line is a must for any comprehensive health plan. You should also be able to access their online customer portal to access policy information and submit claims.
4. Are You Working With an Expat Insurance Expert?
Understanding and discussing your global healthcare needs with an experienced global health insurance broker is critical in deciding which plan & options to pick. Your local broker or agent will have no understanding or contacts, so it makes sense to work with a specialist firm such as Expat Financial, a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. We work with all the large and well-known providers, and the rates, coverage, and direct service from the insurer are the same regardless. We don’t charge a fee as the insurer compensates us, and you have an independent advocate on your site. Learn more about the advantages HERE.
5. What is the Reputation of the Global Insurer?
It also makes sense to ask your expat insurance broker about the reputation and capabilities of the global health insurance company. Are they good at paying claims and dealing with clients? Will they be around when you need it?
6. Do You Need Coverage for Life?
Some plans will only cover you until age 65 or 75, so if you plan to live abroad for life or you are retiring abroad, you must obtain a global health plan that can cover you for life as long as you remain an expatriate. Both the Cigna and Allianz plans are great for this purpose.
7. Do You Only Require Hospital Coverage?
Some expats we talk to specifically want hospital coverage that will cover claims incurred at a hospital. They just want to emergency-only coverage, but also covering claims that need a hospital stay. Expats often wish to save money by self-insuring out-patient claims, especially in countries where such costs are minimal. We do recommend that you get a medical evacuation option, especially in developing countries. Some people purchase travel medical insurance if they are keeping their healthcare back home and only going abroad for a short time.
8. Do you Need the USA Coverage?
If you are an American expat, you will almost certainly want to be able to obtain medical care in the United States. Also, if you are residing in a country near the USA and local health services are lacking, it makes sense to consider including the USA coverage option. An expat living in the USA will be required to include USA coverage for obvious reasons. Including coverage for the USA will increase your premiums.
9. How Much Will Premiums Increase?
The cost of insurance increases with age, so consider this when buying global health insurance. Also, the inflation rate for universal healthcare often runs around 8% per year. This percentage depends on the insurer and their pool of clients.
10. Will My Pre-existing Medical Conditions Be Covered?
Many expatriates will have a pre-existing medical or chronic condition. You have to declare these when applying for your global health plan. Failure to disclose may lead to your claim and policy being canceled. Individual expat health plans are individually underwritten, and if you have a pre-existing medical condition, the insurer will either decline to cover you outright, exclude the condition or ask for a premium loading. Sometimes you can request to have the rating or exclusion removed after a few years, depending on your situation. A broker such as our firm can assist with this.
A Final Word About Buying International Health Insurance Plans
Global health insurance is vital if you will be moving abroad, so make sure sure you buy comprehensive healthcare when you live abroad. Most expats will have lots of questions. We can provide our unbias advice and support so, contact us to learn more.