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.