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Choosing between a local or global health insurance plan as an expat

Why you should purchase a global over a local health plan if you are an expatriate

Expatriates who are moving overseas will often opt into purchasing a local health plan from the government or a private insurer. Some countries, regardless of your own coverage, may require you to purchase the local coverage care, even if inadequate for your needs. Most local plans will be inexpensive and some can potentially be quite good. However, if you are moving overseas there are five reasons why we recommend expats to purchase a global health policy:

Portability

As an expatriate living abroad, opting into a local health plan may limit your portability and your access to medical care in cases of relocation. If there is a possibility of you moving to a new destination, or if you are not consistently in one primary country, you will want to have access to a health care plan that provides you with the portability that you require. Another benefit of obtaining a global health insurance plan is that it may also include coverage for business travel and travelling for pleasure. Global health insurance plans are especially important for expat employers that employ mobile employees globally.

Local health plans may be deficient

Many expatriates find that local health care plans are not sufficient for their standards. One benefit that has proven to be important for expats is the ability to get medical care with a large network of hospitals and clinics. Many local plans will have a small network, in which you have to receive your care. Global health care plans tend to have a much larger network, as well as the ability to access medical care from outside network hospitals with approval from the insurer.

Local health facilities may be substandard and not up to western standards

The quality of medical care and facility capabilities vary greatly from one country to another, and in some countries, the standards of medical facilities may be much lower than those in Western countries. If you are an expat located in a second or third world country, the medical standards set in place may not be up to the standards in which you are accustomed to. Medical care that is not up to your usual standards may be passable for check-ups and basic care, but will not be adequate for any procedures that require a specialist or any form of intensive care. However, it is not only in third world countries that you will want to consider a global health plan. Even in developed countries, having a global health plan in place will help in a time of emergency, and explain how to deal with medical emergency coverage when times of need require it. It will also have the added benefit of providing you and your family with an accurate direction and alleviate panic at all times.

Local plans won’t cover you for treatment outside of that country

The difficulty with local plans is that once you have left the country, your local plan may be cancelled out. While being an expat often encompasses a certain amount of international travel, you will want to ensure that you are covered upon leaving your main destination. Another difficulty that comes along with local health care coverage is if you do decide to relocate, there may be a lapse in coverage or necessary waiting periods for coverage between the two regions. This may become detrimental in your protection if you are travelling in high-risk zones.

You may need or want to seek treatment back home or regionally

Although local health plans may be tempting for expatriates, local health plans are not designed for expats, but in reality, are designed for local natives. If you are wanting to obtain medical coverage back in your home country, you will no longer be covered under your local health care plan. You may also require medical evacuation coverage in cases that local hospitals are not able to treat you adequately. Evacuation coverage is a crucial feature of any expatriate insurance plan.

Expats are often portable, so it is vital that you have a global health policy that will cover you if you move from one country to another. It is important to note that most expat health providers are not able to renew their coverage should you move back to your home country or spend more than 6 months in your country of citizenship. It is important that you check your requirements and fine print when you apply online for a global health plan.

Expat Financial offers a variety of international insurance health insurance plans on a group or individual basis. To maximize your expat experience and avoid unforeseen risks and costs, please contact us today to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements. Toll-free number: 1-800-232-9415 or email info@tfgglobal.com

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Using your international health insurance while abroad

Before you go abroad, it is essential to learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If an emergency does happen, will your health insurance plan cover medical emergency evacuation overseas? Are you familiar with the payment method overseas in your destination country? Does your insurance cover preventive health checkups while you are working and living overseas? You don’t want to be making phone calls at the last minute to locate medical services if get hurt or sick abroad. In this article, we will discuss the importance of obtaining international health insurance, and how to use your insurance while abroad.

What Does International Health Insurance Plan Cover?

Most expats living and working overseas are not covered by free medical care. Some expats may rely upon the local government medical plan due to the low cost; however, these plans typically do not provide private medical coverage which typically provides a much higher level of care. As the standard of medical care varies greatly from country to country, most expats will want the peace of mind of consistently having private healthcare facilities with English speaking medical staff and overseas trained doctors. These private clinics and hospitals usually cost much more than public medical facilities. Therefore, a guarantee of payment provided by insurers is critical to protecting your financial wellbeing.

An international health insurance plan will provide coverage on hospital outpatient & inpatient treatment (depending on your individual policy), extensive cancer coverage, maternity care (see more detailed information at Maternity Benefits for Expatriates), global medical evacuation coverage, as well as dental & vision care, and wellbeing care. The plan can also let you choose the medical provider such as the hospital and doctor to suit your needs. Please remember, Expat Financial can manage the tailoring of your international health insurance plan with flexible and global coverage.

Medical Emergency Evacuation Coverage is Vital

You have to prepare for the worst while living abroad as an expat. When visiting some rural or remote area with a serious medical emergency caused by injury or virus, the assistance of air ambulance consists of transporting to the closest medical facility or a nearby country is the only choice. However, the cost of such medical transportation service is often expensive. The decision to evacuate is not dependent on the patient’s will – it usually rests with the ability of local medical providers to treat your illness. Suitable methods of transportation including ambulance, commercial flight, helicopter and air ambulance.

Most local health insurance plans won’t cover the cost of medical emergency evacuation. Therefore, it is important to obtain an international health insurance plan with a medical evacuation policy. Depending on your policy, you will be able to access one or different degrees of medical evacuation coverage.

Preventive Health Checkup and Routine Physical Exams 

international health insurance for chronic conditions

To prevent you from serious health problems, it is advised to take steps to keep yourself healthy when living overseas. Preventive health checkups such as screening, lab tests and other medical tests will help you stay healthy and avoid any illness before you notice. The medical cost of preventive healthcare at private medical facilities is usually expensive as well. In fact, most local healthcare plans do not include preventive medical checkups. Therefore, a tailored international health insurance plan for preventive medical checkups is recommended in order to keep you healthy.

Maternity Coverage 

Please keep in mind that individual expat health insurance plans that offer maternity coverage will only take in effect after a 10 to 12 month waiting period, which means an existing pregnancy will not be covered. Due to the rising costs and risks of giving birth overseas, travel insurance plans do not cover pregnancy-related expenses.

It is important for expats to obtain international health insurance with maternity coverage while residing overseas. Remember Plan ahead to avoid devastating medical expenses.

Obtain International Health Insurance Plan Before Departure

Finding the right international health insurance plan is an important decision as you want to be protected and covered when living and working abroad. Expat Financial will save you time and money by finding the perfect plan for you. If your company manages many employees with varying needs, you can request a group expatriate health insurance quote, and we can advise you on whether your plan’s policies should be altered as your employees and company changes.

If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or if you would like to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

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When should you apply for international health insurance?

Moving abroad is one of the most important and exciting decisions you will ever make. Living abroad, either permanently or temporarily, can be a challenging and rewarding experience. To stay healthy and fit while living and working abroad, there are many health risks that you will want to avoid. In fact, to better plan and prepare a safe journey before departure, one of the most important considerations would be applying for an appropriate international health insurance plan. In this article, we will discuss steps that should be taken to apply for international health insurance before or after you have moved abroad.

Start Looking Early

Generally speaking, most insurance companies require a health insurance application at least 30 to 45 days before departure. You should allow for a week or two for the health insurance underwriters to process your request, but also they need to check whether there are geographical exclusions that may apply depending on the level of cover or due to a pre-existing medical condition. It is suggested for future expatriates to start researching your destination’s health care situation and contact your employer to find out whether you are covered under your employee benefits package.

Yes You Can Apply After You Move Abroad

Note that you can apply if you have already moved abroad – some people will purchase emergency travel medical insurance and then transition to a global health plan. Sometime you may simply want to move to another insurance company. Or you may be striking out on your own and have to leave your employer’s group expat benefit plan.

What to Look For in Global Medical Coverage?

International health insurance provides essential coverage for inpatient, day patient care, accommodation costs, cancer care, mental health care, and many more. The Cigna Gold and Platinum plans can also provide inpatient maternity care after a waiting period. The earlier you apply, the earlier that waiting period will be removed – which is key if you plan to have children while living abroad. Some employee health insurance plans are focused on basic local coverage, and this is not applicable to expats who are internationally mobile. It is important for expatriates to obtain an appropriate international health insurance plan with flexible and comprehensive cover.

What if You Have a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

There are many chronic medical conditions or pre-existing conditions that expats and their families may suffer from. The top 5 most well-known chronic conditions are heart disease, arthritis, HIV, diabetes, and depression. If expats with pre-existing medical conditions are travelling in a location where the healthcare facilities are substandard, it is all the more important to have full coverage. An untreated medical problem can quickly become more serious. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is even more important that you apply as soon as possible. It will often take time to gather previous medical history and tests, and the underwriters may have to write to your doctor to obtain additional information. This can all take a lot of time, and you may not get a decision from the underwriter before you leave.

In many cases, pre-existing medical conditions should be placed on the group benefit plan before the effective date. Individual expatriate health insurance plans will either exclude previous medical conditions, decline the application or raise the premium. However, we work with 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. To learn more, please read our blog article “Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Talk to Expat Financial to Discuss Your Global Medical Insurance Needs

It makes sense to obtain a quote and apply as early as possible. It also is critical that you talk to an expatriate insurance expert that can discuss your requirements and provide quotes from a variety of global medical insurance providers based on your unique needs. We offer a range of excellent global medical plans that can meet almost any need and budget. For more information and to review the plans that we offer, contact our office or visit our international health insurance page. If your organization has a group of two or more expatriate employees, our firm can source international group insurance plans.

2017 Travel Destinations: Best of China for Expats & Visitors

Why international health insurance is critical for expats in Beijing

Beijing is the capital of China and is located in northern China. It is a city that is well known for its cultural heritage sites such as the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs and of course, the Great Wall. Besides being the economic center of China, this fascinating city is home to many multinationals from abroad and local Chinese companies headquarters. Many firms are willing to bring in new expats from abroad with western education and experience. In this article, we will discuss healthcare in Beijing, why international health insurance is critical for expats and expatriate group insurance plans for international employers if wishing to open a market in Beijing.

Healthcare in Beijing

Generally speaking, the standard of the healthcare system in Beijing is higher than in most cities in China. Since Beijing is the capital city of China with a large population, many well-known doctors and medical experts reside there. Many patients travel to Beijing just to see a renowned doctor in one of the many hospitals that are located there. Public hospitals in Beijing are not only serving residents, but also patients come from all over the places in China. As a result, most public hospitals in Beijing are often overcrowded, with long waiting periods and long line-ups. One should also note that the air pollution is a significant concern for both locals and expatriates in China. The health impacts of that pollution will impact the health of expatriates in Beijing and having medical coverage, and preventative healthcare is critical.

Private hospitals and clinics are also available in Beijing. These private medical facilities usually have English speaking doctors and medical staff. Some of them are even expatriates from western countries. High end private international clinics such as Beijing United Family Hospital are one of the options for foreigners. Such private medical firms can provide faster medical appointments and urgent medical treatment. Many private international clinics offer direct billing with global insurance companies, which is very convenient for expatriates living and working in Beijing. Therefore, most expats in Beijing would want to choose the city’s private medical centers.

The High Cost of Medical Care in Beijing & the Rest of China

Like most of China, private health treatment has become extremely expensive in Beijing, even rivalling the United States. Even at public hospitals with special foreign or VIP departments, medical costs are rising, according to recent reports. For example, an uncomplicated birthing procedure at private international clinics Beijing United Family Hospital costs over $13,000 USD. The cost of one standard private hospital room can be thousands of US dollar per night. In case of a medical emergency, the costs are estimated to double or triple. Without an appropriate medical coverage plan, expatriates could end up with paying tens of thousands of US dollars or even more.

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Why is International Health Insurance Critical For Expats In Beijing? 

Many expats working in Beijing may qualify for the local public health insurance system. However, the public health insurance plans does not meet most expat needs, especially if you want to get treated at a private facility or outside of China. As noted above, medical treatment fees in Beijing are relatively high, and expats may find that they still need to pay a certain amount of co-payment when going to public hospitals.

For expats who prefer private hospitals and clinics, it is critical to obtain an international health insurance plan. A typical international health insurance plan will provide coverage options such as hospital coverageoutpatient treatment, medical emergency evacuation, routine health check-ups, dental & vision care and US coverage options. It will help you maintain your health and avoid financial risks while working and living in Beijing. It is also imperative to have an international health insurance plan that provides international emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage.

International Group Insurance Plans For Expatriate Employees in Beijing

While we can source individual medical plans for expats in Beijing and the rest of China, Expatriate group insurance plans are critical for international employers who wish to open an office in Beijing or already have expat employees there. An international group insurance plan for expats in Asia will usually include life insurance, health insurance, dental, evacuation and disability insurance to expatriate employees and even some key local nationals. It will not only protect expatriate employees in Beijing, but also will protect an employer’s business as providing medical coverage is a key fiduciary responsibility. The international expat group insurance plans can be tailored to meet the needs of your employees working in Beijing so that your business objectives can be achieved. It is critical that a global benefit plan cover pre-existing medical conditions and provide easy access and direct payment to the hospitals in the city and the rest of China.

Get Insurance From Expat Financial for Beijing Expats

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers in Beijing and the rest of China. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support. Our firm can offer a wide array of individual expat health insurance plans for expats in China and even Chinese expatriates living overseas. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans and expatriates group insurance plans or you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon.