Expats in Africa – Important tips for living in Africa

Africa Introduction

Africa has become a very active continent for expatriates from around the world. Followed by AsiaAfrica is the world’s second largest continent with about 30.3 million km including several surrounding islands. The continent of Africa has 54 independent countries, with an estimated total population of 1.1 billion. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast, Africa hosts a large diversity of cultural traditions, natural beauty and languages. Africa can be divided into several general climate regions. Areas near the equator have a tropical rain forest climate, with high temperatures and seasonal heavy rain throughout the year. At the northern and southern parts of the continent are of subtropical climate. The number of expats in Africa is unclear, but it has been reported that there are an increasing number of Chinese expatriates in the continent due to the growing economic presence of Chinese companies in Africa.

Economy in Africa

Africa has abundant natural resources such as oil, gold and diamonds and many foreign mining companies are operating in various countries on the continent. The HR consultancy firm 24-7 has reported that after salaries for expats in Africa hit bottom in 2016, there will be new hiring in 2017 which should result in higher salaries for expatriates in the region. This is especially true in the mining sector, where Africa is believed to hold 90% of the world’s platinum and 50% of its gold. In the last ten years, Africa has an achieved an impressive figure of 5% GDP growth. Expat Financial has several mining company clients in Africa that employ large expatriate populations and require global benefit plans. Though prices for Africa’s commodities fell in 2015, decreased political instability guarantees the continued developments in Africa. The top three of the largest economies in Africa are NigeriaSouth Africa and Egypt. Oil and gas revenue has contributed significantly to the economy of many nations in Africa. Non-resource sectors in Africa are also making inroads, especially in the communications and banking sectors, which are also big expatriate employers.

Current Expat Working Environments in Africa

Expat assignments in Africa continue to focus on specialized industries such as oil, gold, diamonds and copper. According to a global survey, many expats working in Africa are making more than $250,000 annually. Based on InterNations‘ research, Nigeria has the highest number of high-earning expats. The overall labour environment has also been improving in recent years. Since 1994, some African governments started to take steps to secure and protect the rights of workers, and other labour-friendly practices. However, government corruption at both local and national levels continues to be a major impediment to both the political and economic systems in many African countries. Political instability and civil strife in many nations in Africa is a constant concern for expatriates and their employers. It is important that companies employing expats obtain coverage that will cover war and terrorism risks.

Safety for Expats in Africa

It is widely known that many countries in Africa have serious safety concerns for expatriates and locals alike. Many countries on the continent have high crime rates and terrorism concerns, such as Nigeria, Chad and Zimbabwe. In fact, Kenya has experienced some horrific terrorist attacks in recent years, including the Westgate Mall attack in 2013. Other countries such as South Sudan are experiencing civil wars while DRC is in the midst of a political crisis that has lead to demonstrations and attacks. As an expatriate, you have to have a safety plan to avoid these civil disturbances and of course the usual crimes of opportunity such as muggings and pickpockets. Expats should remain vigilant and take steps to improve their safety, such as avoiding high crime areas at night, avoiding demonstrations and not wearing valuables or flashing cash. Probably the biggest concern for expats in Africa should be road accidents as local driving can be very dangerous on poorly run transportation systems. If you take adequate precautions and use your street smarts, you can enjoy residing in pretty much any African nation.

However, not all African countries are dangerous for expatriates. Many are quite safe for expatriates, including MoroccoTanzaniaEthiopiaBotswana, Seychelles and Malawi. You don’t need to live in fear while residing in Africa. Be smart and take adequate precautions and enjoy the culture and local population who are keen to show you the wonders of Africa.

Health Risks in Africa for Expats

Though it has abundant natural resources, Africa remains the world’s most underdeveloped continent. Even though nations such as NigeriaSouth Africa and Ghana are relatively wealthy, healthcare resources in cities and especially in remote areas can be very poor. Low standards of healthcare facilities and inadequate water sanitation have affected a large proportion of African residents and are a concern for expats as well. The region’s health risks include malaria, dengue fever, ebola, tuberculosis and Hepatitis A and B. There also have been outbreaks of avian flu and Lassa virus, as well as HIV. Expats moving and traveling to Africa should carry water purification tablets, anti-diarrhea pills and alcohol-based hand cleaning solutions along with updated vaccinations based on regional and country-specific recommendations from the medical community.

International Health Insurance for Expats in Africa

It is critical that expats should include emergency medical evacuations in their international health insurance policy before moving to Africa. A typical international health insurance plan via Expat Financial will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatmentmedical emergency evacuationroutine health check-ups and dental & vision care.

Expats in Africa should also think about having adequate life coverdisability cover and accidental death coverage while residing in the continent. Expat health insurance premiums will vary depending on the coverage of the plan, your age, citizenship and several other factors.

Expat Financial is extremely experienced in covering expatriate employees in Africa. We are able to source global benefit plans for groups of 2 or more expatriates in Africa and across most parts of the globe. 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.

Obtain important information on the international insurance plans that are offered by Expat Financial to expatriates and some local nationals in the African region: expatfinancial.com/regions/africa/

expat healthcare

Rapid growth in demand for private health insurance in China and its impact on expatriates

According to a recent Ernst & Young report, the market for private health insurance in China is increasing at a rapid rate. Insurance premium revenue jumped from RMB 1.5 trillion in 2014 to RMB 2.4 trillion in 2015 and is projected to reach almost RMB 5 trillion in 2020. The increase in premiums must indicate that more and more people are seeking private health insurance to protect themselves from medical costs. Though the public healthcare system in China provides some basic coverage, it cannot meet the requirements of more affluent patients and especially most expatriates in China. In this article, we will discuss the rise of health and medical insurance in China and how it will impact expatriates and local nationals.

What Factors Drive Demand For Private Health Insurance In China?

The trend of a focus on well-being is increasing among the ageing and wealthier Chinese population, according to the Ernst & Young report. It is widely known that the standard of public hospitals in China varies from city to city. Usually, public hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are better than those in municipal or rural areas – as you would expect. Therefore, most patients will prefer large reputable public hospitals in major cities if conditions permit. However, with increased pressures, these larger public hospitals in major cities are becoming overcrowded with much longer waiting periods and line-ups. This is causing difficulties for expatriates seeking medical care in some Chinese medical facilities.

We should also note that the medical costs can cause a financial burden to many Chinese and foreign patients. With a private expat health insurance plan, they can reimburse the prescription drug costs and supplement their public health insurance plans.

The increased focus on health issues, unsatisfactory public healthcare services,  increased medical expenditure, and relaxed private health insurance regulation, are the factors that drive demand for private health insurance in China.

International Health Insurance For Expats Living And Working In China

Most expats living and working in China will prefer international health insurance over a local plan that is meant for local Chinese nationals. First of all, most foreigners are excluded from the public health insurance system. Second, even if you can access local public healthcare, you will still need to pay co-payments. The Chinese public health insurance system has little reimbursement for out-patient medical treatment fees. Thirdly, most expats staying in China prefer private hospital and clinics. These private medical facilities are equipped with foreign medical staff, English-speaking doctors and top standard of medical care. The decor of the private hospitals is also more welcoming for expats in China. Medical treatment at private medical facilities can cost much higher than at a public hospital in China. In fact, many insurers report that private hospitals are often more expensive than hospitals in the United States. With an international health insurance plan on hand, expats do not need to worry about the high medical expenditure and protect your financial security.

What Does International Health Insurance Cover? 

If you are living in China or are planning to move there, an international health insurance plan can provide flexible and portable coverage along with worldwide service. It will not only let you select the hospital, but also the medical providers and doctors. A typical international health insurance plan will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatment, medical emergency evacuation, routine health check-ups, dental & vision care, life coverage, disability coverage and accidental death. Expat health insurance premiums will vary depending on the coverage of the plan, your age, citizenship and several other factors. Some plans may not cover pre-existing medical conditions or may be able to provide coverage for your previous medical condition depending on the medical underwriter’s decision.

Choose The Right International Health Insurance Broker for China

We are very experienced in covering expatriates in China. As an independent broker, we can be of assistance when it comes to choosing international health insurance in China. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health 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.

Expat Entrepreneur

Tips on becoming an expat entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, can you imagine living abroad as an expat while running your business successfully? Starting a business is not easy, especially if you’re running one overseas. In this article, we will share a few tips on how to run a business while living as an expat before you decide to depart.

Know the local business environment

Promoting your services or goods to locals can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the local business environment. It is a good idea to join local business networks even if you are running an online business. This way can help you to understand the culture and the local consumer, be that in Asia, Africa or around the world.

Researching online is another good way to guide you to meet the right partners and launch at the right conferences.

Start to learn the local language

Unlike travelling, running a business overseas requires participation in cultural experience every day. Learning the local language is a crucial step. Although it may sound challenging, poor language skills are still better than none. Besides, speaking the local language will help you meet more partners and customers. You should also network both locally and internationally. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for expats.

Get tax and legal advice before and after moving abroad to start your expat business

Local and global tax rules are extremely complex and it makes sense to talk to an expat tax professional that can fully appreciate your expat business plans and it will impact your bottom line. You may want to pick a country with the right tax rules and treaties that will allow you to flourish. Many expats choose jurisdictions with low tax rates. You should also inspect the country first if possible, to see if it is a business-friendly nation with favourable tax rates and rules. You should also talk to a legal adviser to make sure you are fully compliant with the local laws.

Manage your expat based business online

As an expat entrepreneur running an online business, you will need to manage your team, and make sales entirely online. There are many great communication tools such as Skype, Slack and more to lead your team and sell online. Developing a balanced work and lifestyle is important. Sometimes due to different time zones, you will need to adjust schedules to the clients’ time zone. One of the best things about the internet is that it has enabled the expat entrepreneur lifestyle.

Don’t forget international health insurance considerations for expats 

It is important to choose a quality expat health insurer when you live abroad for your global medical needs. Expat entrepreneurs have a diverse set of roles and can’t rely upon a group expat health plan provided by an employer. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across most parts of the globe, even if you are working on your own or with a few other expat employees. If you have several other expat employees, we may be able to source a group plan that can offer better coverage, terms and premiums. 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. Additionally, don’t forget to obtain individual life and disability coverage.

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, and often includes 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 can 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.

Expats Using the NHS while living in the UK

Expats living in the UK must register for an NHS Number to make a medical appointment. Due to the long queues, 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 can provide you the best medical specialists, without the long waiting times. However, they can be expensive, 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 an international health insurance plan if living the UK. International health insurance offers 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 the 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 percent of the cost of treatment if they don’t have sufficient medical coverage. Most treatments 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 website 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 in 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 overseas to become expatriates for work, lifestyle or to retire; but 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 in the first place when you move overseas. Preventive healthcare refers to medical measures designed to prevent disease. Preventive healthcare is very important for detecting health problems before they become severe, such as preventing chronic diseases like 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 expats.

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.

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 lifestyle, but as many of us 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 for 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 tests. 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 are critical. Visit healthcare professionals and discuss any concerns on how to develop a healthy diet, physical and emotional development. Becoming an expat can be a great experience for your expat child, but it can also be a very stressful one. Subsequently, you may need to seek a mental health professional when you live abroad 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?

How Can International Health Insurance 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 fundamental medical coverage, but those plans usually do not cover preventive healthcare expenses or give you access to advanced private care. With 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.

Why should expats get the flu shot?

Every year, a contagious respiratory infection that is caused by a virus, called 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. Note that these are just general common sense tips, so you should consult your medical professional as each person’s situation is different.

What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?

Generally speaking, you may have the flu if you experience a cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and tiredness, fever, stuffy nose. Some children may have vomiting and diarrhea. The flu can impact people in different ways and the 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, they can be life-threatening. Expats who are old, young and with underlying illnesses or week immune systems can be more susceptible and vulnerable to 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, 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 varients of the flu virus that your vaccine covers. Please note, that the flu vaccine will not protect against all varients of the flu, and as such, you should still be cautious.

Expats Living Abroad With Younger Kids and Older Adults

Seniors, children under five, and pregnant women usually have a higher risk of serious 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 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 plan. Although in many major cities there are some satisfactory public hospitals for expats to choose from, 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. 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. Please note, 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 both spectacular natural landscapes and rich 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 an expat there, this article will give you 10 tips for moving or travelling with your family.

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 before travelling. It also makes sense to use one of the many translation apps that you can download on your phone.

2. Book Ahead Before Travelling Within China

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. The same goes for transportation tickets, so remember to book everything in advance.

3. Know The Local Climate

China is a big country, so the weather in China varies drastically from 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 a tropical climate. The Northern part of China, however, has a subarctic climate. For example, Heilongjiang has an average temperature of  – 30°C  during the winter season.

Generally speaking, the best time to travel to China is around Autumn. Starting in October, most of the tourist attractions have cooled 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, and learn paper-cutting and opera face mask painting.

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 the 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 discuss your situation. To obtain a 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 try Chinese Food

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, there are still a few areas you would definitely want to avoid, such as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 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 in local festivals. The major festivals are China National Day, Mid Autumn Festival, Chinese New Year, May Day holiday, and the Qing Ming Festival. 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 homesickness 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.

Why you should choose a private expat health plan over a government plan?

When you live abroad you are often faced with the following choice: Do I go on the domestic government public health plan OR do I purchase global medical coverage? Some countries will allow you to choose while others mandate or automatically cover you under the state plan. In some Gulf State countries such as the UAE, you have to be covered by a locally admitted insurer to obtain and retain your work visa. In countries such as Canada, expats are often enrolled in the provincial medical system after a waiting period of 3 to more than 12 months and in the interim most will opt for a travel medical insurance plan. The key to domestic plans is that they almost always only cover you in that country. Additionally, some domestic plans often only provide public or basic medical coverage and support. That is why expats around the world often contact Expat Financial to obtain a global medical quote. The Allianz plan we offer is available to some local nationals in select countries – it is not available to locals in the USA, Canada, UAE and several other countries.

Global Coverage?

However, if you are an expatriate, you usually require global medical coverage that moves with you and covers you locally, regionally and globally – especially back home. You may have a trailing spouse and child back home who you need to cover or a dependent attending university abroad – a government plan can’t cover these people.

Access to Private Care?

Domestic government health plans usually only provide access to public hospitals and doctors. This can mean access to more basic and restrictive medical facilities. Often domestic medical systems will restrict access to medical care and expats will be faced with long waiting lists to see specialists, obtain medical tests and receive surgical care. In Canada, the waiting lists can range from months to years to obtain medical treatment. Emergency care is usually received quickly in public hospitals. However, many expats want to be able to seek medical treatment in private hospitals and clinics.

The flexibility of Expat Plans

When you are an expat on a government health plan, there is no flexibility in your medical coverage – you get the same medical care that all domestic nationals are given. Whereas with a private expat health plan, you can pick and choose what benefits are provided, and as long as you have a relatively clean medical history, most pre-existing medical conditions should be able to be covered. You can even add dental and vision coverage, which is almost never provided by government-run systems.

Portability of Coverage – A problem for Government Run Plans

As noted above, government-run medical plans cover you only in your home country. These public health plans are not portable whereas expats are. So when you move to a new destination, you will not be able to take the government health plan with you, while the global medical plan is portable to almost any nation around the world. A global plan can also cover you when you travel abroad for business or pleasure. This is especially important for expat employers with globally mobile employees.

Government Cut Backs

Economic problems around the developed and developing world means that health budgets are being slashed and services and coverage are being curtailed. Such access and budget cut-backs can seriously impact an expat’s ability to access medical care.

US Affordable Care Act

If you are an expat in the USA and are paying taxes, it will probably mean that you will need to get a domestic health plan in the USA that is part of the Obama Care or Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially if your employer does not cover you. If you do not have coverage under the ACA, you may be faced with tax fines that can really add up. Talk to your tax or legal adviser for more information.

For Expats Living Abroad – The Choice is Clear

For global citizens, it is critical that you contact Expat Financial to discuss your global medical insurance requirements and discuss the advantages of having a health plan that can cover you and your family globally and address the many concerns you may have with government medical insurance. The same problems we have talked about above also often extend to domestic health plans. We offer some excellent global medical plans for expatriates that can provide global access to healthcare and not leave you at the mercy of government-run or socialized health coverage. Our most popular individual plans are from Cigna & IMG, which provide you with the ability to obtain a quote and apply online. If you are an HR manager, please contact us for a group plan to cover your mobile expat population.

International Health Insurance

How to lower your global medical insurance premiums – Five tips for expats