Ten Things to Consider When Buying Global Health Insurance
Purchasing global health insurance is a big decision and choosing the right coverage and the insurance company is both difficult and daunting for most expatriates. There are lots of insurance terms that you may not be familiar with and of course the fine print. Global healthcare is quite different from domestic policies and some expats come from countries with universal healthcare or they were covered by their parents or employer’s plans, so they may not have purchased individual health insurance before. That is why we have put together a list of seven things you should consider when buying global health insurance coverage:
1. Do You Require Portable Coverage?
Most expatriates will move from one country to another so it is crucial that your global health plan allows you to move from one region or country to another. Note that you need to advise the insurance provider of the move as the country of residence impacts your renewal rates.
2. Does the Insurer Have a Large Medical Network?
It is important for expats to choose a global health insurance provider with an extensive medical network so you don’t have to pay out of pocket when you need claim. The convenience and speed of showing your card to a hospital are invaluable. Note that you will need to check via the insurer’s website to find a provider that is in their network. If outside the network, you can call the insurance company and ask for a guarantee of payment (GOP) letter to be faxed or emailed to the hospital OR simply pay out of pocket
3. Does the Provider Have a 24/7 Support Line?
Your global health plan is useless if you don’t have a provider who can service it for you. A 24/7 emergency line is a must for any global health plan. You should also be able to access their online customer portal to access policy information and submit claims.
4. Are You Working With an Expat Insurance Expert?
Understanding and discussing your global healthcare needs with an experienced global health insurance broker is critical in deciding which plan & options to pick. Your local broker or agent will have no understanding or contacts so it makes sense to work with a specialist firm such as Expat Financial, a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd.. We work with all the large and well-known providers and the rates, coverage and direct service from the insurer are the same regardless. We don’t charge a fee as we are compensated by the insurer and you have an independent advocate on your site. Learn more about the advantages HERE.
5. What is the Reputation of the Global Insurer?
It also makes sense to ask your expat insurance broker about the reputation and capabilities of the global health insurance company. Are they good at paying claims and dealing with clients? Will they be around when you need it?
6. Do You Need Coverage for Life?
Some plans will only cover you until age 65 or 75, so if you plan to live abroad for life or you are retiring abroad, it is crucial that you obtain a global health plan that can cover you for life as long as you remain an expatriate. Both the Cigna and Allianz plans are great for this purpose.
7. Do You Only Require Hospital Coverage?
Some expats we talk to just want hospital only coverage that will just cover claims incurred at a hospital. They only want emergency-only coverage, but also covering claims that need a hospital stay. Expats often wish to save money by self-insuring out-patient claims, especially in countries where such costs are minimal. We do recommend that you get medical evacuation option, especially in developing countries. Some people purchase travel medical insurance if they are keeping their healthcare back home and only going abroad for a short period of time.
8. Is USA Coverage Needed?
If you are an American expat, you will almost certainly want to be able to obtain medical care in the United States. Also, if you are residing in a country near the USA and local health services are lacking, it makes sense to consider including the USA coverage option. An expat residing in the USA will be required to include USA coverage for obvious reasons. Including coverage for the USA will increase your premiums.
9. How Much Will Premiums Increase?
The cost of insurance increases with age so consider this when buying global health insurance. Also, the inflation rate for global healthcare often runs around 8% per year depending on the insurer and their pool of clients.
10. Will My Pre-existing Medical Conditions Be Covered?
Many expatriates will have a pre-existing medical or chronic condition and these have to be declared when applying for your global health plan. Failure to disclose may lead to your claim and policy being canceled. Individual expat health plans are individually underwritten and if you have a pre-existing medical condition, the insurer will either decline to cover you outright, exclude the condition or ask for a premium loading. Sometimes you can ask to have the rating or exclusion removed after a few years depending on your condition. A broker such as our firm can provide assistance on this.
A Final Word About Buying International Health Insurance Plans
Global health insurance is vital if you will be moving abroad, so make sure sure you buy global healthcare when you live abroad. Most expats will have lots of questions. We can provide our unbiases advice and support so please contact us to learn more.