How to find a doctor while living abroad

Before moving or travelling overseas, it is essential to learn more about the health services at your destination country. This is especially important for people with chronic medical conditions or people who will stay in a foreign country for an extended period. In this article, we will discuss how to find a doctor while living abroad and tips to prepare for medical care before and after departure.

Ways to Find Medical Facilities Abroad

Research Hospitals: We recommend that expats and travellers research their destination country’s medical information and hospitals online. This is especially important for expats who have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes, and depression. When living abroad, most expats will want to use private hospitals and clinics, especially in countries where local government medical systems are underdeveloped or not available for expatriates. Expats typically prefer private medical facilities because of their excellent treatment and high level of medical service. Unlike public hospitals, many private hospitals have not only English speaking staff and well-trained doctors, but also the flexibility of treatment bookings to suit expats’ schedules. It should also be noted that most private medical facilities provide better accommodations and services for expatriates.

The cost of private medical treatment can vary significantly from country to country. In many nations, uninsured medical expenses can cause a financial burden to many foreign patients. Therefore, it is vital for expats to obtain an international health insurance plan that can cover both emergency and non-urgent medical costs.

Researching Doctors While Living Abroad: In addition to hospital search, it is suggested that expats research doctors online in their destination country as well. Please keep in mind that you will want to select doctors who can speak your language. Many embassy sites in your destination country will provide doctor services information. For example, many US embassy websites in foreign countries will have a list of international physicians and doctors. It is also recommended that expat patients with medical needs should contact their embassy before they go abroad.

Aside from a web search, another excellent source for expatriates living abroad is to check with their international health insurance provider’s website, as it will often provide a list of medical doctors and hospitals that are in the insurer’s medical network. This may even allow for the direct reimbursement of the costs without the expat having to pay out of pocket for medical claims. It is vital that expatriates and expat employers obtain medical coverage with an expat insurance company that has a large medical network that will provide fast and efficient payment of claims while living abroad.

How to Prepare in Advance

In case of medical emergency, some healthcare facilities may be unsatisfactory in underdeveloped countries or for expats working and living in rural areas. Expats and visitors can follow these simple points to make sure you and your family members are adequately prepared while living abroad:

  • Bring any medications you may need while living abroad and make sure the bottles are correctly labelled.
  • Always consult a doctor if you need to find a replacement medication or prescription in your destination country.
  • Carry your global health insurance card with you, as well as your international health insurance company’s contacts and policy number.
  • Check if the local doctor can write and speak English, or your native language.
  • Have a written document that identifies your blood type, any chronic illness, and allergies in the local language. This information is vital in the case of medical emergency.
  • Make sure your international health insurance plan has medical emergency evacuation coverage.
  • Wear your medical information bracelet if you have an underlying medical condition
  • Have the embassy contact information for your destination country.

Obtain International Health Insurance Before Departure

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 tailored international health insurance from a company such as Cigna, expats can be covered internationally with: medical emergency evacuation and repatriation, preventive healthcare expenses, hospitalization and treatments, and medicines. The peace of mind of knowing that you and your family have access to the best healthcare is very important for individual expatriates and their employers.

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.

 

 

Hong Kong International Health Insurance Options

International health insurance in Hong Kong is an important factor to consider when moving to this city. In this article, we will discuss how international health insurance in Hong Kong is vital for locals, travellers, and expatriates in one of the most prosperous international business areas in AsiaHong Kong is within a few hours by air from major cities such as Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore in Southeast Asia. Hong Kong has an advanced medical care system, education, international cuisine and an active lifestyle that helps attract many expatriates from all over the world each year.

Healthcare in Hong Kong

Public System: The standard of healthcare in Hong Kong is generally considered one of the best healthcare systems in Asia. Most healthcare is government operated and managed by HK Health Authority. There are approximately 56 hospitals in Hong Kong, of which 12 are private, and 44 are public. Public hospitals are equipped with advanced facilities and well-trained medical staff, and the cost to Hong Kong ID card holders is minimal and affordable. For the most part, the public system is more geared to emergency care, not preventive health care. There is also usually less choice, especially concerning doctors. The one thing the public system does not provide is dental care, so expatriates seeking dental treatment must take out an international health insurance plan to cover the medical cost.

Private System:  Private hospitals are often chosen by Hong Kong nationals and expatriates because of their high level of service and excellent treatment, without the long waits and queues. Private facilities in the city will also provide flexible surgery bookings to suit expats’ schedules along with more deluxe accommodations and services. You may have to pay more when a surgery is performed outside regular hours. However, the cost of using private medical facilities can be quite high. It is important that expats moving to Hong Kong obtain international health insurance coverage before departure. Many expats in Hong Kong will add optional dental care for their family.

expat healthcare if critical

Health Cover for Visiting Hong Kong as a Traveler

A visa for Hong Kong is not required for tourists from more than 160 countries within staying between 7 to 180 days. Medical payments are sometimes made in cash in public hospitals. As travelers don’t have a Hong Kong ID card, they will need to pay private hospital rates when using public hospitals. For example, the cost for an emergency visit at public hospitals can be HK$120 with ID card but could be HK$600 as a traveller without one. For this reason, travellers tend to use private healthcare facilities for treatment under emergency situations. It is important to obtain emergency travel medical insurance with medical evacuation coverage if travelling to Hong Kong from another country that will provide payment for medical treatment via a large network of hospitals.

Global Health Insurance for People Living and Working in Hong Kong 

As a well established international financial center, there are many expatriates working in business or finance related professions in Hong Kong. Some expat employers may provide health plan with basic coverage, but it probably won’t provide much coverage beyond HK or Asia. However, this is often inadequate when applying to private medical facilities. Additional private medical insurance plan is required to cover your stay. Many expats should also obtain global life and disability insurance coverage.

International Health Insurance Solutions in Hong Kong 

Expat Financial offers several international health insurance plans for expatriates living and working in Hong Kong. We offer plans from a varity of international health insurance companies that are designed for foreign nationals living outside the country for which they hold a passport or some local national living outside the US or Canada. 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.

Road accidents in Thailand are a big risk for expats

Thailand is a bustling and vibrant country at the heart of South-East Asia, and as a popular expat destination, it has much to offer. However, according to a recent article from the BBC, 478 people lost their lives on the roads in just seven days over the New Year period in 2017. Unfortunately, like many developing countries, road accidents in Thailand pose a significant risk for expats. In this article, we will briefly review the high incidence of road accidents in Thailand, road safety tips for expats and how this higher risk highlights the importance of having global medical insurance in Thailand.

Road Accidents in Thailand 

According to a 2015 World Health Organization report, Thailand’s road death rate is one of the highest in the world. In fact, on January 2nd, 2017, a public van lost control and collided on a highway and 25 people were killed in the crash. Between December 29 and January 3rd, 478 people died in 3,327 accidents according to the Department of Land Transport. It has also been reported that road accidents involving tourists and expatriates in Thailand are quite common. In fact, the World Health Organization reports that there were 36 road related traffic deaths a year per 100,000 people in 2015. The British foreign office in 2013 even launched a road safety campaign to cut the number of UK expats injured and killed while living abroad, especially in countries such as Thailand.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun newspaper, in January 2017, two Canadian women travelling in Thailand were involved in a car accident in Thailand. One died and the other suffered severe injuries and did not have any travel medical insurance. She is now faced with large medical bills.

One of the main reasons for road accidents in Thailand is speeding. However, other factors such as the rise in population, congestion in urban centers and highways, and too many cars and vehicles in cities, are all causes of road deaths. Luckily, the Thai government is implementing new road and safety projects and high-rise roads to improve the traffic conditions. In Thailand, many of the deaths and injuries involve scooters and motorcycles.

expat healthcare if critical

How to Increase Road Safety as an Expat in Thailand 

As a popular international destination, many expats choose to work and retire in Thailand. Just because there are more frequent road accidents doesn’t mean you should not enjoy life in Thailand. Here is some common sense road safety tips for expatriates in Thailand:

  • If you want to drive in Thailand, it is advised that you always follow the legal speed limit.
  • When crossing road intersections, don’t rush to pass.
  • If you need to ride a motorbike or bicycle, wearing a helmet is mandatory, but not usually enforced. However, it is well recommended, as motorcycle accidents make up 70% of all road accidents in Thailand.
  • Expats living in Thailand should take extra care when walking in the city.
  • Your risks of a road accident increase when you ride or travel at night, so try to limit your road use to the daytime
  • Avoid riding quad bikes as they can be dangerous and illegal.
  • Check out the UK Foreign Office website for Road Safety Overseas.
  • Before you enter Thailand and travel the roads, make sure you are covered by international health insurance. Make sure your health plan covers you if you are riding a motorcycle.

Railay beach, Krabi. Thailand

Medical Facilities in Thailand 

In major cities such as Bangkok in Thailand, the standard of medical facilities is generally quite good. Both public and private hospitals are available in Thailand. The public hospitals have reasonable standards of medical care and are used by the majority of Thai nationals. However, expats will want to skip the long queues of public hospitals and use private medical facilities with English speaking medical staff. If you are traveling the roads in more rural areas, the medical care you receive in the event of a road or pedestrian accident may be substandard. According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, many private hospitals in Thailand are equivalent to western standards. Although the cost of medical treatment is reasonable in Thailand, expats should obtain international health insurance with medical emergency coverage before departure in the case of emergencies.

Obtain International Health Insurance in Thailand 

As one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a popular destination for expat worldwide. In 2016, a man from BC was visiting Thailand and while traveling by scooter he was run over by a large truck. Barely clinging to life with severe injuries, he barely survived. The Canadian did not have adequate medical coverage and his hospital bills quickly ran up to over $170,000 USD. This is an unfortunate reminder of the importance of international health insurance for expats living in Thailand.

If you are planning to work, live, and retire in Thailand, most expatriates will want to obtain an international health insurance plan that will cover medical treatment in Thailand, but also globally. A good plan should not only cover accidents, but also illnesses. Expatriates in Thailand should make sure that their plan includes medical evacuation and repatriation coverageExpat Financial can source international health insurance for expatriates in Thailand from large and respected international insurance companies. If you are travelling the roads and highways in Thailand, contact us today for a quote and to discuss your Thailand expatriate insurance requirements.

Covering the chronic medical conditions of expat employees

Why should expat employers have a global benefit plan that covers chronic medical conditions? In today’s globalized economy, more and more companies are sending employees overseas to help their companies expand their markets. This includes companies involved in mining, engineering, manufacturing, oil & gas, legal and much more. These expatriates are a vital asset for multinationals and organizations who want to retain and attract global talent. These expats are a key part of any multinational’s global success. However, many of these expat employees or their dependents may suffer from unseen medical conditions, otherwise known as chronic medical conditions. These “hidden diseases,” otherwise known as chronic conditions, are usually not something that companies can ask their current or future employees about.

There are many chronic diseases and conditions that an expat employee or his or her dependents may suffer from. A chronic condition is defined as being a disease which lasts three months or more and can’t be prevented or cured by medication. It has been reported that 88% of Americans over age 65 suffer from a chronic condition and the rates of such conditions increase with age. The rates for expats abroad under age 65 must also be quite high as well. Unfortunately, tobacco, alcohol and poor eating habits can increase your risk of developing a chronic condition. Sometimes its related to genetics or just bad luck. As an expat employer, you often can’t screen out employees with chronic conditions for a variety of reasons, such as legal restrictions. It is key that you get the best global talent possible and our firm have heard of expats who refuse expat postings because their employer doesn’t have a benefit plan that will cover their chronic condition or their dependent’s pre-existing medical condition.

Five well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes, or depression have minimal symptoms at the very beginning. Below are a list of five significant chronic conditions that expat employers should consider when setting up a global medical plan:

Heart Disease: Otherwise known as cardiovascular disease, is a term describing diseases including the heart and blood vessels, whether the blood vessels are affecting other parts of the body. In many countries, heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults. Heart problems can cause a variety of symptoms such as chest pain, fast and pounding heartbeat and irregular heartbeats, or even shortness of breath. If diagnosed early, heart problems can be managed in many ways. Expats should take diagnostic tests regularly and discuss the best treatment options with their doctor. To prevent and control heart disease, expats should stay away from tobacco. Another good way to maintain healthy is regular exercises.

Arthritis: Is a chronic condition characterized by joint pain, stiffness and swelling. People of all ages can be affected. It has been reported that arthritis and related conditions are the leading cause of disability in the US, with nearly 43 million Americans affected. It has also been discovered by scientists that arthritis has a strong association with major depression, with an estimated risk of 18.1%. Physical activities have been shown to benefit people on preventing arthritis and related conditions.

Depression & Mental Illness: According to recent research in the UK, one in four people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. In the US, 18% of the population suffers from some form of anxiety or depression. Depression may not manifest itself until the stress of working overseas presents itself. These unseen mental conditions can get serious when they come to expat employees, whether they are on a short assignment or are a long-term expat. Unfortunately, many expat benefit plans we examine have mental illness exclusions or limitations.

Diabetes: According to the research of International SOS, failure to manage diabetes can cause a greater risk to an expat than an infectious disease. And The World Health Organization estimated that the number of adults with diabetes is expected to reach 592 million by 2035. Travelling across different time zones can complicate schedules for taking medications. When working and living overseas, expats also need to be careful not to run out of necessary medications. Expat employees should keep in mind that always consult a doctor before finding medication replacements. This can be very dangerous to your health.

expat healthcare if critical

HIV: Known as human immunodeficiency virus, this illness will weaken your body’s immune system and make you very sick. It has been reported by many sources that there are approximately 37 million people around the world who have the HIV virus. It has been widely acknowledged that there is no cure for HIV, but with proper medications and care, most people with HIV can avoid getting AIDS. While HIV used to be a death sentence, it is now seen as a chronic condition. Travelers and expats with HIV need to take proper medical plan when planning travel schedules. Most expat group insurance plans will exclude HIV, but we can source group plans that can fully cover this chronic condition.

The Dangers of Unseen Medical Conditions  

Due to the fact that healthcare providers vary dramatically between countries, expat employees living and working abroad with unseen medical conditions will rely upon medication within the country, and the duration of expat assignment. If expat employees are traveling in a location where the medical facilities are substandard, then the unseen illness can be seriously affected. An untreated chronic condition can quickly lead to a more serious medical claim and a failed expat assignment.

Some expat employers might be tempted to have the expatriate employees covered by a local or government group insurance plan. However, the local medical plan would usually only cover very basic medical conditions with long waiting lists. It is generally much better to have them covered under a global group benefit program with life, AD&D, disability, dental, evacuation and especially international health insurance coverage. A good global benefit plan should fully cover pre-existing medical conditions.

How do Health Insurers Work with Chronic Conditions

Because many of your expatriate employees or their dependents may suffer from a chronic condition, it is important to have a plan that will cover pre-existing medical conditions coverage. All individual expat health insurance plans will either exclude a pre-existing medical condition, ask for an additional premium or simply decline the application. For a group plan, because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people, they can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough – usually 10 or 20 employees. We often run into clients who have placed their expats under a group plan that excludes chronic conditions, leaving both the employee and the employer at risk for a denied claim. However, we work global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals.

international health insurance for chronic conditions

These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is excellent for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one pre-existing medical condition.

Obtain an Expat Group Insurance Plan that Covers Chronic Medical Conditions

Fortunately, Expat Financial can source international expat group insurance plans are available for companies with expatriates that can fully cover most, if not all chronic conditions. Some of the group expat plans we can source can even fully pre-existing medical conditions, which really is a must if you are an expatriate employer in today’s market looking for the best global talent. Expat Financial is able to offer flexible international expat group insurance plans in most parts of the globe:  Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, North America, South America, Caribbean, Oceania, Central America, and most major cities in the world. When your employees are sent overseas and experience a medical emergency that can’t be handled in the host country due to limitation of medical facilities and a shortage of equipment or medications, it is very important to have an international health insurance plan that provides international emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage. A group plan will also offer international evacuation insurance plan that will enable urgent treatment abroad if required. All of these services are vital when you employ expats and their dependents who have these “hidden diseases.”

As international insurance specialists, we can help you define your group’s international group insurance requirements in today’s global market. We have the experience, knowledge and global insurance contacts that expat employers require – only a specialist brokerage can adequately provide the independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world.

For more information, contact Expat Financial today.