When it comes to international health insurance, there are various reasons and profiles of people who buy it. Mostly it someone who is living outside their country of citizenship, often known as expats, global nomads, global citizens, and digital nomads. It could be someone who took a position with their company overseas and will be living in a foreign country for the next two years or more. Or it could be someone who decided to travel the world for a year and will be moving from one country to another. No matter your specific situation, if you fit into one or more of the profiles below, you should consider buying an international health insurance policy.
Six Profiles of Expats and Global Nomads Who Buy International Health Insurance
1. Those traveling to or living in multiple countries
One of the primary benefits of international health plans is their ability to be used in many countries. When your extended travel or expat plans include trips to many countries, you don’t want to worry about whether or not you are covered in one country or another. You can purchase policies with a worldwide coverage region or exclude a specific country, your home country, for example, if you so choose.
Global health plans are also helpful for expats who are portable – who need coverage to move with them. Note that if you get onto a local health plan, develop a serious or chronic medical condition, that pre-existing condition may limit your ability to source coverage in the new country or through a new global health plan, so make sure you buy a portable global medical policy at the start. Also note that domestic health plans for local nationals usually do not cover medical expenses outside that country or region.
2. Expats that don’t speak the local language
Just because you are living in another country does not mean you are fluent in the local language. This is a common issue for those who travel to various countries and may know enough of the language to get by but may not be fluent enough to have an in-depth conversation. This can be a real concern if you have a health issue and need to speak fluently with the doctor or other healthcare provider. That is where your international health insurance helpline or translation services can be a critical lifeline. Providing policy documents in the local language, helping with translation, or finding a provider who speaks a language you do are all services your policy may offer.
3. Expatriates who may want to want to get medical treatment abroad or at home
Even if you qualify for coverage in the country you are in (by a government socialized medicine program, for example), you may want to get home or to another country, if you need health care services. Access to services like evacuation and repatriation is not a concern for locals but maybe for expatriates. If a service you need is not available locally, or the quality of service may be questionable, having coverage to get you back home or to another country that can provide the service is critical.
4. Those that don’t qualify for local coverage
Just because the country you are in has a domestic plan does not mean you will qualify for coverage under it. Some countries require that you be a permanent resident or citizen to be covered by the domestic (often government-sponsored) health plan. We often hear from future or current expatriates who tell us that they are not eligible for local health insurance plans – public or private – and they may not be eligible for several years if ever.
5. You are required to buy international healthcare
Many countries are asking future expatriates to make sure they are fully covered by an international health plan in order to obtain a visa and secure permanent residency. These nations do not want foreign nationals putting undue strain on the local health system, so they request that you buy a global health plan or a more basic local plan. COVID-19 has made this even more critical for global nomads.
6. Global citizens who may want to want more comprehensive coverage
Even if you qualify for coverage in the country you are in (by a government socialized medicine program, for example), many people want more comprehensive coverage. For instance, there may be a limit on the coverage for cancer treatment with the domestic plan, which could leave you with high out-of-pocket costs. In contrast, an international health plan could cover the cancer treatment in its entirety up to the annual limit. There may also be services not covered by the domestic plan like dental, vision, or hearing services that could be covered with an international health insurance plan. A good international medical plan will also give you access to both public and private medical care.
Every international expat has different needs and a unique situation, so it is essential to evaluate your needs, potential risks, and financial exposure carefully before you travel. Obtaining the best possible international health insurance is a priority for expatriates, global nomads, and international citizens. You need a plan that meets your global healthcare needs and fits your budget.
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