Insurance for American Expatriates

Do Expats Need International Health Insurance?

It is a common question that many current and future expats ask themselves – “Do I need international health insurance?” It is a fair question, and you will probably assume we would say YES – and we do believe that almost all expats should have health insurance – either through a government or private plan.

Learn Why Most Expatriates Need Global Health Insurance

There are many reasons why expats should need health insurance, but the most obvious reason is that it is simply a requirement by law in certain countries. For example, if you are an expat going to Malaysia, depending on the type of visa you have, the immigration officer may request you to submit proof of health insurance.

However, the need for international health insurance is far more apparent during the pandemic. Tourism countries that opened their borders during the COVID-19 will need to show international health insurance during entry.

Here are 5 reasons why expats and global nomads need international health insurance:

expats need health insurance

1. Access to quality healthcare wherever you live

Internationally mobile and global citizens often face challenges when receiving routine medical care abroad. Nothing is as easy as when you are back home. Moreover, throw in the challenges of not knowing the local health system, the difference in culture, or the low quality of healthcare in the expat country. These factors can add stress to expats who are already trying to wrap their heads around an emergency or chronic medical condition.

Opting for comprehensive international health insurance provides you access to quality private health care regardless of the type of local healthcare system in place. You will have access to top doctors and medical facilities when you have global health coverage. This can often include private medical care locally and regionally.

expats need health insurance

2. Global health coverage is better than local coverage

Every country has its own local medical coverage & facilities in place, and it is set up for local nationals, not expats. While some countries provide free healthcare for all, it may not be suitable for an expat who is always moving from one country to another. For example, some countries only give free healthcare once you live there permanently and may have a long waiting period before you are eligible. It will be challenging to live the expat lifestyle if you always plan your travels according to the healthcare system. If you live in a country with a less developed health system, a global health plan will often be a better choice for most expats.

expats need health insurance

3. It is more suited to the expat lifestyle

Another reason why expats need global health insurance is that it suits your expat lifestyle. With international health insurance, you have access to a wide network of doctors and healthcare professionals. It is also not limited to the geographic areas where you can claim your insurance. Having global coverage means you have the freedom to have worldwide coverage, including or excluding the USA.

Furthermore, if you are an expat who travels extensively, then international health insurance is often your best solution. You will be generally remain insured within your zone of cover. So on any given day, you can travel from one country to another, and the insurance travels with you.

4. You’re also covered in your home country

Some expats want to stay connected to their home country due to personal medical reasons. Back in their home country, their family doctor knows their medical history, they are familiar with the healthcare systems and procedures and know which healthcare professional to consult.

However, the consequence of moving to another country is that you lose access to the social security system of your home country since you are no longer a resident or tax-payer. With international health insurance, you have medical care coverage in your home & destination country. Note that if you are an American citizen, you may only have emergency coverage back in the USA unless you make sure you obtain a global health plan that includes coverage in the USA. Most expat health plans that we offer, such as the Cigna plan, will cover a citizen back in their country of citizenship up to 180 days per policy year.

5. You have control over your health costs

One of the biggest reasons why expats need health insurance is that you can control your health costs. When you don’t have proper coverage, you can be risking paying medical bills out of your own pocket. It is important to know that medical bills in certain countries can be quite expensive, including countries where one would think medical bills would be cheap.

For example, the cost of healthcare in China for expatriates is actually very expensive. When you have global health coverage, you don’t have to worry about paying out of your pocket. During an emergency, your policy allows you to get access to treatments in the private sector. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the financial consequences.