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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.

Why is expat health insurance so important?

Many expats traveling worldwide do not realize that the cost of medical treatment overseas can be extremely expensive. Expat health insurance is a great solution not only to protect you and your family’s well being but also to avoid an impact on your finances. In this article, we will discuss why expat health insurance is important and how to acquire proper coverage.

Global Multiple Countries Coverage

Many international health insurance plans can cover expats in multiple countries. And the plans usually have many benefits and offer customization that can influence the premium you pay. This is very important for travelers and expatriates living and working overseas. As a foreign national, you and your family members are generally not covered for medical treatment abroad. No matter where you are, or you wish to travel elsewhere for medical treatment, most global medical plans will offer medical coverage all over the world either including or excluding the USA.

Financial Security 

In most of the countries around the world, expats are required to prepay the cost before receiving medical treatment, and some of the medical procedures can be extremely costly. With an adequate expat international health insurance plan, you will be protected from any short and long-term medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. It will help you avoid the financial risk of uninsured medical costs while living and working overseas. Besides, most of the insurance providers have developed trustworthy medical network centres and medical staff worldwide. This will be able to keep pace with you and your family as your medical needs change. If you wish to be able to seek medical treatment in the United States, you should get the USA coverage option, but this will increase your premium.

Flexible Plan Design

International health insurance is usually easy to adjust to challenges with a variety of individual and family health insurance needs such as life insurance, disability, and more. If you are an employer sending your employee overseas, an international group health benefits plan and insurance solutions will help retain talented employees. Please also read our blog post “The Benefits Of An International Group Insurance Plan.” 

Aid Workers, Missionaries and NGO Organizations

Whether you are traveling overseas for a short missionary assignment, volunteer position or a long-term aid worker assignment, it is vital that you obtain a global travel insurance or expat health plan that will adequately cover your stay overseas.

How To Acquire International Health Insurance 

Expat Financial offers several international health insurance plans for expatriates across much of the world. Our insurers will help provide you with peace of mind during your stay overseas. We are also able to source international health insurance for Non-Governmental Organizations around the world sending aid workers overseas.  The insurance companies that we work with also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan – our firm can also assist as your independent advocate. If you have special questions about our international medical insurance plans or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form. The Cigna Global Health Options plan is our most popular international health plan for expatriates.

How to save money on your international health insurance premiums

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 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.

Urgent medical claim problem resolved by Expat Financial

This urgent medical claim from last night is why you should use our firm for your group expat insurance needs:

We received an email from the HR Manager for a group client of ours in the Middle East at 8 PM last night our time – an employee’s spouse in Europe was urgent need of an operation. The Global Mobility Manager informed us that the surgery was a life and death situation, but the hospital was outside of the large and well known global insurance company’s network – which is the largest in the world. The hospital was unwilling to accept a written guarantee of payment from the insurance company and their evacuation provider, ISOS – which is unheard of. The hospital wanted claim paid in advance, which is generally not possible. One option was to have employer or the employee pay the claim to hospital & get reimbursed. This is often the fastest solutions for these situations as the insurer can then reimburse the claim and if the insured’s family member does not have enough money or credit limit on hand, most employers will.

But we immediately called the expat group insurance company and got a workaround by having International SOS wire payment with insurer’s permission. It merely took a little broker advocacy. Payment was then wired by ISOS. The claim issue resolved. The employee was very much relieved and thanked all involved this morning. He mentioned in an email to us: “Really many many thanks for this!”

We asked the HR manager for permission to post this blog with no reference to the insurer, client or employee/dependent name etc… and he mentioned – “This is fine and true and I would like to thank you once again for your help.”

This is what we do as our client advocate, even after working hours and during weekends – it is what sets our firm apart. Expat Financial is a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. and is a global insurance brokerage firm.

To learn more about what we can do for your expat employees, contact us or visit our corporate page.

7 Tips for managing expat finances

For expats, those retiring offshore or even those going abroad for over a year, managing expat finances is critical. For most, moving abroad and working overseas can be one of the most exciting moments of your life. However, expats will want to plan ahead to preserve and grow expat finances and investments. It is very important for individuals and families to plan ahead and maximize their expat finances. In this article, we will discuss 7 great tips for managing and protecting expat finances and investment while living and working abroad.

1. Know Your Expat Tax Status 

A common misunderstanding about expat tax is when expats move abroad, they believe they are instantly exempt from their home nation’s tax system; however, this is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident, he or she may still be responsible for the tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. With other countries such as Argentina, joint filling income tax is not available. For American expats, the complexity of expat tax can be quite daunting. Expat tax issues can be very complicated and it often makes sense to work with a professional firm. It is important to research and visit your local tax office before moving overseas to make sure that you know the rules. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Trowbridge.

2. The Cost of Living for Expats

Before accepting a job offer overseas, you should definitely do some detailed research on the cost of living in your destination country. This may include any additional costs you may face. The cost of living for expatriates can vary significantly from one place to another and will often be more expensive than what the locals pay. For example, according to Numbeo, in Mexico, renting a 3 bedroom apartment in city centre costs over $500 USD; Whereas in Singapore, a 3 bedroom apartment rent per month could almost $4,000 USD. Knowing the cost of living in your destination country will give you peace of mind and let you plan ahead.

3. Currency Management is Critical for Expats

It is common for expats to exchange currencies from their hometown bank accounts into destination country’s currency. However, banks may charge high flat rates and currency exchange rates which expats will want to avoid. This is especially important for expat families with international payments across countries. Some international banks offer a fixed exchange rate for a specific period of time. Expats should explore different methods of managing currencies as this can save quite a bit of money and time. You can obtain more information on currencies and currency issues on our Foreign Exchange page.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before you become an expatriate. You should try to make sure you will be able to manage your various stock, bank and investment properties from abroad or if you will have to sell some of those investments before you go offshore, especially for tax reasons. Many expatriates often sell their homes before living abroad, but when they return they find that they should have retained and rented the home as housing values have increased dramatically – this is especially trued for many Canadian and Australian expatriates.

Your risk profile may change because you will be living abroad. Will you have the time and ability to manage your investment portfolio and will your new expat location impact your investment decisions. If you have a private or company pension plan, you should examine how living abroad will impact your retirement savings and taxes. It makes sense to talk to an investment expert before you live abroad.

5. Have You Cancelled Payments in your Hometown?

This is obvious, however, many expats may forget to cancel their orders in hometown and receive penalty charges. Remember to cancel any subscriptions such as phone, internet, magazines, etc. before you move abroad.

6. Do you have Adequate Life & Disability Insurance? 

One of the most overlooked parts of protecting you and your family’s financial future is making sure that you have adequate life and disability coverage. While your employer may provide some coverage, more often than not it will be inadequate to fully protect you and your family members from the financial hardships associated with a death or disability. Many expats employers only provide medical coverage and expats are expected to obtain their own life insurance or disability income cover. However, when you are living abroad, you may not qualify for local coverage and such life coverage may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats need something both global and portable. Note that most expat life and disability plans are not portable back to your country of citizenship and if you have existing coverage, it’s probably a great idea to see if you can retain the policies as expat plans are usually more expensive.

To learn more about your expat life and disability requirements & the policies available, contact our firm for more information.

6. The Importance of Obtaining International Health Insurance

To many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world or you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally – sometime you may have to be evacuated. Either way, a large medical bill can wipe out your investments and put your financial future in peril.

With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many individual expats and their families are covered worldwide (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

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 worldwide. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support.

If you have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or your company requires a global expatriate group insurance plan, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Is your company employing American expats?

Is Your Company Aware of the Risks for American Expats?

Is your organization or multinational company employing American expats? Are you aware that most American expatriates will want to seek medical treatment in the USA if possible, especially for serious conditions? If so, are you aware of the significant costs associated with medical care in the USA?

We have sourced some excellent risk prediction guidelines for expatriate claims in the USA or for American expats who more often than not wish to obtain medical care back in their home country. These medical costs can easily run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more often than not the employer will have to cover.

Our firm is highly experienced in both sourcing global medical coverage for firms that employ American expatriates and covering their dependents who are located with the overseas employee or residing back in the USA. Unfortunately, we often see extremely inadequate medical plans provided for American employees that will often restrict medical care in the States or not cover the USA at all. Even worse, some expat employers will have group insurance plans that don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions for these American expats.

international health insurance for chronic conditions

Annual Medical Costs in the USA

Our firm has gathered a detailed “Risk Prediction Guideline for Expat Claims in the USA” that we are able to share to corporate clients that employ expatriates in the USA or have American expat employees working overseas. Note that the costs can vary widely depending on the state, city, medical provider and of course the nature and severity of the claim. Here are some sample annual medical costs from the report:

Rheumatoid Arthritis: $40,000 to $60,000

Bone Cancer:  $100,000 to $250,000

Lymphoma: $80,000 to $150,000

Diabetes: $30,000 to $40,000

Valve Replacement: $60,000 or more

Transplants: Over $200,000 in most circumstances

Back Disorders: Over $50,000

Complicated Pregnancy & Birth: Easily over $500,000

So, as you can see from the sample of medical costs in US dollars, the annual medical treatment costs in the United States can often run in the hundreds of thousands and for many clients, one claim can easily exceed the entire medical premium that they would be paying for a group of American expatriates. Many expats or their family members will often suffer from one of these conditions or may in the future. Many expat employers are not aware of the fine print on their global medical coverage are being served by domestic-focused brokers with limited or no understanding of expatriate medical coverage.

Next Step for Expat Employers

It makes sense to cover these risks with a global benefit plan that will provide superior coverage for your entire expat population, especially American expats or foreign employees located in the USA. To learn more, contact our firm to discuss your global expatriate insurance needs as it pays to work with a specialist firm. You can also visit our corporate expat insurance page for additional details. If our firm is engaged as your expat insurance broker, we would be pleased to share our valuable risk report.

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.

expat healthcare if critical

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.