Make Sure You Use Telemedicine Services Offered by Global Health Insurance Providers During Coronavirus Pandemic
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, it can definitely seem that things are getting a bit crazy. The COVID-19 Coronovirus pandemic (or epidemic) has caused a great deal of panic and concern for everyone, including expatriates. While we are not medical professionals, we are global health insurance experts and will explain how telemedicine and telehealth can benefit global nomads and expatriates during the pandemic.
What is Telemedicine for Expats?
Basically, telemedicine and the term telehealth are pretty interchangeable. The services generally include medical education and patient consultations via chat and video conferencing, generally using your smartphone or computer. The California Telehealth Resource Center provides a great definition of telehealth – and it basically is the same for expatriates as local nationals back home. In fact, during the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine has become vital and more commonplace. If your global health plan has telehealth, it should allow you to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse to discuss illness or injury that you are concerned about, but sometimes also includes discussions related to mental health and general stress.
What Telemedicine Won’t do for Expatriates?
While telemedicine is a great resource for global citizens and their families, there are some downsides and considerations:
- It doesn’t replace the need to visit doctors’ offices or hospitals for every condition, especially serious or urgent accidents and illnesses. You still have to use your common sense on when you should use telehealth.
- There are limitations on the use of telehealth and obviously the doctor can’t take your temperature, take your blood pressure, feel your body etc…
Remember that telehealth is a complement to in-person medicine, not a replacement for all your health interactions. Luckly, there are many improvements to telemedicine that will continue to benefit expatriates and global nomads around the world.
The Advantages & Benefits of Telemedicine for Expats Living Abroad
There are so many great features and benefits for expatriates living overseas who use telehealth to complement their health needs. Here are four benefits of telemedicine while living abroad:
- Convenience – you can choose when you are available to talk to the virtual doctor
- Easy – the telehealth services offered by some global health providers is quite easy to use via your computer or smartphone
- Inexpensive – most telehealth services are free or at a reduced cost for expatriates if offered by your global health provider
- Great for Remote Locations – if you are an expat living abroad in a remote region, using telehealth can be a vital way to seek treatment for more routine conditions as a Western-trained doctor may be hundreds of miles away.
Why Telehealth is Vital during a Pandemic?
As you may know, the coronavirus is very infectious and can easily be spread by touch or droplets. Here are several reasons why telemedicine is vital during the current COVID-19 pandemic:
- If you feel that you may have COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever and dry cough, you can use your telehealth service to talk to a doctor before you visit an overcrowded and overburdened hospital or doctor’s clinic.
- By using telehealth, you can potentially avoid the unnecessary visit to a doctor where you might catch the COVID-19 or potentially infect others.
How do I Get Telehealth if I Am an Expatriate?
Only a few international health insurance policies offer the telehealth services to their expatriate clients. Luckily, Expat Financial offers the Cigna Global Health Options plan that includes an excellent telemedicine service via their wellness application that you can download to your phone or use via their online portal once you are a client. For American expatriates, the GeoBlue expat health plan we offer online also offers telehealth services. Of course, you have to have health coverage in place before you catch this terrible illness or any other medical condition – so make sure you get a quote and purchase online via our site. The rates and coverage and service is the same, but you get our added advocacy and service at no extra cost.
Finally, we are able to source global benefit plans for expatriate employers which can include telehealth for their expat population. Many of our clients have found it extremely helpful during the recent pandemic