Are you a Canadian who plans to live abroad as an expatriate or retire to a sunny destination? Or maybe you are wanting to become a digital nomad or your company is sending you abroad as the only expat employee? Or you are already living abroad as a Canadian expat. Either way, there are a lot of reasons why Canadians living abroad need to buy international health insurance. While some reasons may seem obvious, some are not or simply need to be emphasized.
Canadian Expats and Global Health Insurance
Here are seven reasons why Canadians living abroad need and should buy global health coverage:
Reason 1: Your provincial medical plan doesn’t cover you abroad
In Canada, most Canadian residents are covered by their provincial medical plans for most medical expenses incurred in Canada, It is widely understood that for the most part, your provincial medical plan, such as OHIP or MSP, will either not cover any medical expenses outside of Canada or next to nothing. There are lots of reasons why, but understand that provinces are under immense pressure to cover what they do in Canada without the added costs of covering you abroad. So go on the assumption that if you get sick or injured outside of Canada, you are on your own and better have health coverage.
Reason 2: The cost of an uninsured medical expense can be enormous
We all get used to paying little or next to nothing for most medical items and services in Canada. Yes, we have to pay for physio or medications, but the really big expenses such as surgery, hospital stays, scans and x-rays, cancer treatment etc… are all paid for by the government via our universal health system. An uninsured expense in most countries around the globe, especially in Asia or the USA, can be a financial bombshell.
A friend of mine got a gallstone attack that he almost died of in Hawaii and after 10 days in a hospital and a medical evacuation back to Canada, the bill was over $750,000! Medical expenses are no just cheap in the USA either – China and Singapore are surprisingly expensive for expatriates – they have excellent hospitals, but they are not cheap.
Reason 3: You need to be covered globally and also back in Canada
When you are living abroad, it is important to remember that Canadian expats are often mobile and usually require to be covered in the new destination country, regionally and especially when back home in Canada seeing family members or for short/long visits. Note that expat health plans can’t cover you in your home county more than 180 days as they are not allowed to be renewed if a Canadian is living permanently back in Canada. But if you are sick or injured back in Canada without provincial medical, the bills can actually be very expensive and in the six figures. Also, you may want to seek treatment options in Canada or see your regular physician.
Reason 4: Your expat destination probably can’t cover you
There are a few expatriate destination countries that have universal or private healthcare for their local nationals, but that coverage may not be available to expatriates immediately if ever. Also, if you move from that country to another, you will probably lose the previous nation’s medical coverage – a big problem if you have developed a medical condition in the meantime.
Having a global health plan that is portable from one nation to another is key. Also remember that the local health system in may developing countries that Canadians live in may not be up to 1st world standards and having a good global medical plan with medical evacuation coverage can not only be convenient but could save your life.
Reason 5: Canadian expats may be required to buy international health insurance
With the onset of Covid-19, many countries that expats are moving to are requiring that Canadians have a comprehensive global health plan as they don’t want global citizens to become a burden on local health systems. We offer individual expat health plans that will cover COVID-19 like any other illness and will meet the visa requirements of most countries. Countries such as Thailand and Barbados are examples of countries that require that expatriates obtain adequate international health insurance – usually covering in-patient care, out-patient, wellness and medical evacuation.
Reason 6: Peace of Mind
Are Canadian expatriates risk-averse? Maybe – we still see some Canadians move abroad with little or no medical coverage because they are healthy or simply forget. Talk to anyone with health issues – they were all healthy at some point until they weren’t. Buying global health insurance will provide a Canadian expatriate with peace of mind.
Reason 7: It’s easy and affordable for Canadian expats to buy international health insurance
OK, not always affordable as many Canadian expats don’t realize just how good a thing they have in Canadian medicare. American expats are often familiar with the cost of healthcare, but Canadians can definitely benefit by how easy and affordable global healthcare can be if they explore the options and plans that are offered via our website. We often get calls and emails from those about to move abroad and we can steer them to the right plan that can fit most needs and budgets.
Remember that individual expat health plans are subject to medical evidence and pre-existing conditions might or might not be covered. Canadians can learn more by downloading our expat health insurance handbook or choose one of the main global health plans we offer. Or contact us today to discuss this in more detail. Our most popular plan for expatriates is the Cigna Global Health Options plan, but for countries where it is not available, we do have other options.
A Final Note – Get a global health plan over travel insurance
Some Canadians are tempted to buy travel medical insurance coverage when living abroad as the prices are quite inexpensive, but note that Canadian travel insurance plans rely on you having provincial medical coverage, which often terminates after you become an expatriate – usually after 6-12 months depending on the province. Canadian and even international travel insurance plans are meant to just cover emergency medical expenses – so getting a chronic illness or cancer won’t be covered by travel medical.
Another point, Canadian travel coverage plans can only cover up to 6 months or at the most one year. Finally, Canadian travel insurance plans really are meant to patch you up abroad and get you back to the provincial medical plan as quickly as possible – which you probably lost access to after you moved abroad. So the moral of the story is to get a global health policy when living abroad.