Deciding to move abroad is a big decision in anyone’s life. Regardless of whether they are looking to move for work, study, travel, or retirement. One question to keep in mind is, what happens if I get injured or become ill?
There is nothing worse than having a medical emergency in a foreign country, where you are in unfamiliar surroundings. This situation can be a difficult prospect to face and one that you will want to try and avoid happening to you.
When you live abroad for a long period of time, you may be exposed to certain health risks. This can be especially true for expats moving to certain countries in the world which will require you to get vaccinations to go there.
In this article, we will help expatriates or global nomads to understand how to cope with medical emergencies while abroad. Here are five tips for coping with a medical emergency in a foreign country.
1- Plan ahead to avoid being left unprepared
The very first thing that you will need to do is to plan ahead. You don’t want to be left stuck without any ideas on what to do or how you will get medical attention abroad.
So be sure to spend some time making a list of your nearest hospital or medical facility. This could prove to be very helpful for you, especially if you are left facing any medical emergency. You should also have your global medical insurance card in your wallet or cell phone. Most global health plans have excellent smart phone apps that you can use for accessing medical care.
Having expat health insurance can be a real help here to ensure that you are covered for any emergency situation. You don’t want to put yourself at risk by not having sufficient health insurance coverage. Remember if you do need urgent medical attention, you should go to the nearest hospital or clinic as soon as possible.
2- Try to speak the local language
Another helpful tip to remember is that speaking the local language will be helpful for you as you move abroad. When you settle down and become an expat, there will be many steps you will need to take along the way.
This one will be very helpful for you, especially if you are left facing a medical emergency abroad. Think about it, if you can learn some of the basic phrases, this will be really helpful for you.
Make a note of how to say certain phrases. These will be helpful, phrases such as “I need help!” or “Where is the closest hospital?” If you know these simple emergency phrases, then it could make all the difference and save you any issues.
3- Be prepared with all the right vaccinations
Before you move, make sure you have got all the right vaccinations that you need. Be sure to do your research in advance of your move so that you know which ones to get. The vaccinations that you require will differ depending on the country you are moving to, so make sure to check which ones you will need.
Remember to also check that your vaccinations are on a date. If you require additional vaccinations, make sure you have enough time to get them.
Due to COVID-19, it is also advised that you have your COVID vaccinations up to date. Having your vaccinations can help reduce your chance of hospitalization or death. This can be especially helpful for expats who are older, so if you have retired abroad for example. It can be expensive to stay abroad in an ICU so having adequate coverage is essential.
It can also be beneficial to print off your medical records. This will be helpful for seeking emergency medical care abroad.
4- Research your health insurance needs
Be sure to carry out research to decide which expat health insurance policy will be right for you. This will be very helpful for you so you will be fully prepared with insurance in case a medical emergency was to happen.
The best thing you can do is have health insurance. If you have a medical emergency abroad, you will be happy that you have medical insurance. There can sometimes be very high medical costs that occur if you do not have health insurance. Most expats living abroad will want to have some form of private health insurance.
Expats must ensure that they have an adequate level of health insurance. In some countries, expats must have proof of international health insurance to be allowed to get a visa. Most insurers will cover you for all necessary medical expenses, such as healthcare from a doctor or hospital of your choice. Many will also provide you with access to an emergency medical hotline.
This will be very important for you when you are abroad. You do not want to learn the hard way by being left without insurance. Should an emergency situation arise and you cannot speak the language, you will be much better off because of your planning and you will be glad you did it.
5- Contact the insurer ASAP in the event of a serious medical emergency or claim
Note that if your hospital is in the medical network for your global health plan, you should be able to show your card and have direct billing to your insurer. If the hospital is outside the insurer’s medical network, you or your loved one can request a guarantee of payment by calling the insurer’s 24/7 response center. They will provide proof to the medical facility that you are covered and they will cover valid medical claims.
The insurer and their response firm can also provide valuable second opinions and possibly a medical evacuation if required. Note that evacuations have to be coordinated and approved by the insurance company.
Your insurer should provide a list of hospitals in their medical network and you should choose a global health provider that has a large medical network in your expat destination. Note that sometimes a hospital or doctor may not want to deal with any insurance company and may want full payment upfront.
6- Stay in a safe place
Last but certainly not least, it is important to consider the risk involved in the country you are moving to. We strongly recommend that you stay in a safe place, so it is best to avoid any conflict areas.
Do not move anywhere that could put yourself at risk and be sure to pay close attention to health and safety issues if you are moving to a dangerous country. Keep this in mind when you are deciding on which country to move to.
Expat Financial – An Expat Health Insurance Resource for International Citizens
Expat Financial offers international health insurance plans for individual expats as well as those who would like cover for their entire family.
Note that expat health plans for individuals are subject to medical evidence and your premium and coverage is also subject to the insurance company’s underwriting approvals. Get a global health plan you can afford BEFORE you need it – that’s how insurance works.