When moving overseas your health and wellbeing should be a top priority and you should always ensure that you fully understand what type of healthcare will be available, how you can access it and what you will be expected to pay towards it. Here is a list of 7 critical questions that every expat should ask when moving abroad.
How does the healthcare system operate in my host country?
Pretty much every single country has a different system when it comes to healthcare provisions; some offer healthcare free to tax paying residents, some operate solely on private, self-funded healthcare. The rules governing healthcare can be very complex and you should research them in full before relocating overseas. Make sure you identify what costs you will be expected to meet, how you will pay them and what aid and assistance may be available. Also, make sure that you are aware of any reciprocal health agreements between your home country and host country.
What is the quality of healthcare like?
While there may be both public and private healthcare systems available in your host country, you need to ensure that these will offer you care of a suitable level of quality. Make sure you are fully aware of the standard of facilities on offer at both private and public facilities before you relocate. If you have any specific health issues you should ensure that the treatment you need will be available in your host country and that any prescription drugs that you take on a regular basis will be obtainable.
What type of medical insurance will I need?
The level of medical insurance that you need will vary according to the healthcare system in use in your host. In some countries, private medical insurance is absolutely mandatory, while in others you may opt to pay insurance premiums in order to attain a better standard of healthcare than that available publicly.
What healthcare facilities are available in the area in which I will be living?
If you already know the area in which you will be living when you relocate you should always research what medical facilities will be available. This is especially important if you’re planning on living in a less developed country as you may find that that nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away.
What should I do in an emergency?
You also need to be aware of emergency procedures; who to call if you need urgent help and which hospitals that will be the most suitable for your needs in the event of an emergency. Every country throughout the world has an emergency number, although in some places it is better to phone the hospital direct.
Will language be a problem?
Depending on where you live, you may find that the doctors and nurses in the local hospitals and clinics do not speak the same language as you. If this is the case, you will need to find out how you can access care from people who understand your native language and what you should do in the event of an emergency.
What do I need to do when I first arrive in my host country?
Registration processes and requirements will vary from country to country and there may be a number of steps that you need to take in order to active eligibility for healthcare and ensure that you have adequate coverage. Each Expat Info Desk relocation guide contains step-by-step instructions for registering for healthcare and tells you everything you need to know about accessing medical services.
Expat medical insurance is vital if you are planning to live abroad or you are already an expat. Uninsured expatriates are taking a big health and financial risks. Expat medical coverage is not as expensive as you may think and many countries are now demanding that expats have adequate health insurance coverage to apply and keep their visas. If you’re looking for further information on expat healthcare then you may be interested in the following sections in our free expat’s manual: