We understand that selecting the right expat health insurance coverage can be difficult. There are many different insurance companies to choose from and you will likely have many questions along the way. One of the most frequent questions that get asked is, what does expat health insurance cover? In this article, we will take you through what is covered and also go through the decisions you will need to make step by step.
What is expat health insurance?
Expat health insurance is specifically designed for people who are living abroad, in another country to where they come from. Plans can be bought for individual expats and also for expats and their families.
As an expat living abroad, you and your family may not always be entitled to any free or subsidized healthcare. So it is very important to consider an expat health plan to provide for your healthcare needs.
The quality of healthcare systems varies around the world, with some being of a lot higher standard than others. If are leaving a country that has a high-quality healthcare system in place, it may come as a surprise if you are moving to a location that has a healthcare system that is a lower standard than the one you were used to in your home country.
Why should I get expat health insurance?
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that you will be given the freedom to select a doctor or hospital that best suits your needs. In many countries, you may also select treatment by a doctor that speaks the same language as you do and this can be a big help.
The cost of receiving medical treatment abroad can be very expensive for expats. Depending on the location you are moving to, these costs may be extremely more expensive than what you are used to paying back in your home country.
But the good news is that with having an expat health insurance plan, you will be covered so you do not have to pay out-of-pocket for any treatments. Your health insurer will cover the costs as part of your policy. This can be especially useful as you won’t be left spending a large amount of money on any unexpected medical bills.
What does ex-pat health insurance cover?
There are many different aspects of an expat health insurance plan and it is very important to check to see what exactly is included in your cover. Your health insurer will provide you with a full breakdown of what is included in your plan by providing you with the information in advance of your purchase.
You will usually be provided with a Table of Benefits (including terms and conditions) to show you exactly what is covered by your plan. Typically, your international health insurance plan will include:
- The ability to select which medical facility or hospital that you visit
- Access to 24-hour emergency support
- Emergency evacuation support
- Prescription benefits
How can I buy a policy?
To help you, we have prepared this easy-to-follow four-step guide.
Step 1 – Start by selecting a core plan
As part of this, you will receive an annual benefit limit, which is the maximum limit per beneficiary per period of cover. Each level of cover will have a specific benefit limit, with the greater limits being used for the highest level of coverage.
Step 2 – Choose your extra or optional benefits
These are the additional benefits that you can add to your core plan. There are many different benefits that you can choose from and they can usually include:
- Dental care
- Vision care
- Repatriation & evacuation plan
- Maternity coverage – usually the more basic entry-level plans have no maternity cover. All individual expat health plans have a 9 to a 12-month pregnancy waiting period. So get a plan that covers pregnancy if you may get pregnant in the future.
It is definitely worth considering your options here to see if any of these extra benefits will be beneficial for you.
Step 3- Choose your area of coverage
Next, you will need to select which areas of coverage to receive medical care and treatment. Usually, the options will be either a worldwide policy including the USA or worldwide excluding the USA. Most plans will provide up to 30 days per policy year of coverage in the USA if you don’t include coverage there.
Remember that the cost of your cover can change depending on which region of cover you choose, so this is very important to select the one that best suits your needs. We find that most Americans will seek a plan that includes medical treatment that is worldwide including the USA. Some people living near the USA, such as the Caribbean, will also include treatment in the USA as they are more likely to seek important medical services in Miami for example.
Step 4- Pay for your plan
Finally, you can select your payment method and confirm all the final details for purchasing your plan. Most health insurers will allow you to pay for your plan either:
- Annually – this can save you 10% on most international health plans!
Most plans can be paid by wire or credit card. If you are paying monthly, it will have to be via a credit card. All premiums are payable directly to the international health insurance company or provider.
Depending on your location, you will be able to pay for your plan in currencies such as:
- Euro €
- S. Dollar $
- Pound Sterling £
The way that plans are usually set up, a typical policy will be for a 1 year period and will automatically renew at the end of the year. It is always best to review your plan to ensure that it still meets your needs before you choose to renew for another year.
Expat Financial – An Expat Health Insurance Resource for Global 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. We often get calls from people who need medical treatment and did not purchase health coverage – as you would expect, it is not possible to buy insurance when you are needing to seek medical treatment. Some pre-existing conditions can be covered, but it really depends on the condition and medical history.
Expat Financial offers health plans from leading expat health insurance providers, such as Allianz and Cigna. We also have a great plan from Expatriate Group that has no medical underwriting as it doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions. We’ve got further advice and articles with information for global nomads in our blog.