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Top 10 Questions to Ask Your International Health Insurance Provider

Important Questions to Ask Your Global Insurance Broker & Insurance Company

Choosing global health coverage can be very difficult and one of the many things you have to do if you are moving abroad or already living overseas. Obtaining excellent international health insurance is vital if you and your family are expatriates. A major illness or injury could put your health at risk if you can’t access adequate medical care, but also your finances.

Most experts will agree that it makes sense to work with an expat insurance specialist firm such as ours. To help you in your global journey, we have put together 10 questions that you should ask before purchasing international health insurance broker

Question #1: Does your company cover expats for life?

Many people are moving abroad for long time periods or when they are older, so obtaining a global health plan that will cover them for life is vital. This is especially important for those planning to retire abroad. We often get requests from senior expats who want to retire in the Caribbean or in Asia. There are many international health care plans out there which will not cover you past a certain age or restrict benefits once you reach 65. Therefore, it is important that you ask if the plan can keep you and your partner covered for life. Of course, premiums will increase with age, but no-one wants to get kicked off a plan when they need coverage the most.

Question #2: Are there doctors in my city and country that I can access?

The size and quality of an international health insurance company’s medical network for direct reimbursement is critical, so it makes sense to ask your potential insurer or broker for a list of medical providers in your new country or region. Most expats want to be able to show a card and not have to pay out of pocket for medical expenses at a hospital or if they are in the USA, most clinics, hospitals, doctors and pharmacies. Most quality insurers will be able to give you a list of doctors and hospitals that you can work with.

Question #3: Is there a free choice of hospitals and doctors in the plan?

When picking a global health plan for you and your family, it is important to get a plan that will allow you to choose whichever medical doctor or hospital that you wish to utilize. That hospital may not be in the provider network mentioned above, but you can at least get treated there, pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by the insurance company. Note that in some countries and cities, you may not be able to find a hospital in the insurers network and some facilities simply do not want to work with an international insurer.

Question #4: Can the insurer provide a guarantee of payment to the hospital if outside of the network?

For large medical expenses incurred at a hospital overseas that is not in the medical network, it makes sense to deal with an insurance company that has 24/7 claims support with the ability to give the hospital a guarantee of payment if required. This should allow you to receive medical treatment without having to pay out of pocket as the hospital can call the insurer and make sure that they will receive payment for approved medical procedures. You can also get a medical second opinion at the same time.

Question #5: Can the insurance company cover my pre-existing medical condition?

We often get this question for expats or those about to venture abroad. A previous illness or injury or ongoing pre-existing ailment has to be disclosed when you apply for international health insurance. All individual expat health plans are medically underwritten and the insurer will either decline, accept, ask for extra premium or exclude the condition. People often get angry when their condition is excluded but can ask us to advocate on their behalf and supply more information to the insurer, especially from the doctor. If the insurer still excludes the condition, we can give you a rough idea of how other insurers will view the condition. It usually makes sense to take the policy, especially if the condition will not cause to much financial harm if not covered.

Question #6: Should I add coverage for the USA and how much will it cost?

Most global health plans will give you worldwide medical treatment excluding the USA or the ability to add treatment there for an extra fee. If you are an American expat, it almost always makes sense to add this coverage option as you will probably want to return home for medical treatment where your regular doctors and family reside. Adding a US coverage option can increase your premium dramatically, but not necessarily too much for American expatriates with the Cigna plan that we offer online. If you are an expatriate living near the USA, it is often a good idea to include care in the USA as your local country may not be able to properly treat you there.

Question # 7: How much will I save if I pay annually versus monthly?

Most expat insurance partners that we work with will offer a 7 to 10% savings if you pay for your premiums on an annual basis verus monthly. For my son who recently move abroad to study, I took this option because the savings were simply too large to ignore. If you can afford it, we definitely recommend paying annually.

Question #8: When can I apply?

We often get requests from people who are thinking about moving abroad in 6 to 12 months, but most insurers will not allow you to apply for coverage until you are 30 to 45 days out from leaving your country of residence. If you are already living abroad, you can usually request an effective date the very next day – assuming you are approved. Apply today for our most popular global health plan from Cigna.

Question #9: Does the plan cover maternity expenses?

If you are planning to add to your expat family or have children for the first time, it is a good idea to check if your international health plan will cover maternity and newborn expenses. Some plans will exclude maternity fully while others will include it with a fee or as part of the insurers more deluxe coverage. All individual health plans have a 9 or 12 month waiting period before maternity expenses will be reimbursed. Some group expat health plans will cover maternity expenses without a waiting period. It is critical to have your maternity coverage if you will be having a child abroad as the costs can be quite enormous.

Question  #10: How much will the premium cost for international health insurance?

Perhaps the most obvious and important question to ask your global insurance broker and insurance provider is how much a global health policy will cost. The cost of any international health plan will depend on a variety of factors, such as your age, occupation, gender, occupation, citizenship, where you reside, deductible level, the options you choose and much more. There are so many different options to choose from, such as getting outpatient care, evacuation, maternity coverage, dental and if you want access to medical care in the USA. It makes sense to talk to our expat insurance expert advisors at Expat Financial and discuss your requirements. It is very easy to examine all the options and obtain a quote online from one of our many international health insurance providers, such as IMG, Cigna and GeoBlue. Note that premiums will increase as you age an also if you add your partner or dependent children to a policy. Please contact us today to discuss your global insurance requirements and answer your international health insurance questions today. The above article primarily relates to individual policies but is also relevant to the group expat medical plans that we offer multinational employers.