Living overseas is often an expensive endeavour for individuals and families who plan to work, retire or travel abroad for over one year. Perhaps the most important decision before you live abroad or even if you are already an expat is what global health insurance you should obtain, the insurer you will choose and the plan coverage options. There are lots of expat health insurance companies and providers to choose from and endless insurance options that can be very confusing for expatriates. As an international insurance brokerage firm with extensive experience and knowledge in this domain, we have put together six ways expatriates can save on their international health insurance premiums & coverage. It should be noted that these tips apply equally to both group and individual global health insurance premiums.
#1. Choose a Larger Deductible
A deductible is what you pay before the insurance company pays a claim. Generally, the deductible is per policy year, or you may have a small co-pay for each claim. For expatriates wanting to save on their global health costs, the easiest and most effective way to save on global health premiums is to select a larger deductible. The larger the deductible the lower the premium and vice versa. Some expats that we work with will select a $5K or $10K deductible as they do not think they will ever claim or live in a country with low medical costs.
#2. Exclude Coverage in the USA
Plans that include full medical care in the USA are almost always more expensive than plans that exclude the USA. Most American expatriates will want a plan to include care in the United States as they will want to receive care there for any serious medical claims. However, excluding care in the USA can save an expat somewhere between 40% or 50% in their medical premiums for some expats. If you do not wish to be able to seek medical care in the States, it makes sense not to choose the USA coverage option. If you are living in a country close to the USA, it may be wise to add the option as you may want to see medical care there, especially in the case of an evacuation.
#3. Pay your Premium Annually
We find that most expatriates like to pay their premiums monthly as annual premiums can be quite large, but if you can afford to pay annually, you can often save between 5% to 10% per year on your global health premiums. You can also pay semi-annually for additional savings over paying monthly.
#4. Self-insure Out-patient Care
Most global health plans will include a base policy that covers claims related to hospital care. You will have the option to choose to add out-patient care for an additional fee. Out-patient medical will cover medical claims that are incurred outside a hospital admission – such as doctors visits & consults, medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, wellness, medical tests and scans, dental accidents, vaccinations and more. However, many expatriates live in countries and regions where medical care is quite inexpensive, especially for out-patient claims like doctors’ visits. Excluding out-patient modules can save an expatriate many hundreds of dollars in premiums per month and is certainly something to consider.
#5. Add Coinsurance to your Plan
In addition to having a larger deductible, some plans will allow you to add coinsurance to your plan. Coinsurance is the percentage that you as the insured member pays in the event of a claim. The higher the coinsurance level, the less risk you are taking and the higher the premium. For example, if you have a coinsurance level of 80%, you would be responsible for paying 20% of claims – usually up to a maximum out of pocket amount. A 90% coinsurance level would be more expensive, and if you are covered at 100%, you don’t have to pay a portion of the approved claim. The coinsurance is active after the deductible has been satisfied.
#6. Choose a Lower Level of Coverage from the Insurer
Most expat health plans will have 3 or 5 different levels of coverage with varying degrees of care maximums and services covered. For example, the Cigna Global Health Options plan that we offer have three levels: Silver, Gold or Platinum. As you would guess, the least expensive plan would be the Silver plan, which will have much lower levels of care without maternity coverage.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Insurance plan?
Are there more ways to save money on your international health insurance? Yes, but these generally involve you taking on a lot more risk with minimal premium savings. We recommend that you purchase the best possible global health insurance plan that you can afford. In the end, you generally get what you pay for. To learn more about the global health plans that we can offer individual expatriates, please contact us or get a quote online today. We would love to discuss your international health insurance needs and the ways that you can save on your health insurance costs.