There are plenty of things to consider as you prepare to make the move abroad, such as what job prospects are available, where you plan to find accommodation and what the cost of living will be in your new country. One item that might not always be at the top of the list though, is choosing which health insurance plan to buy.
Why take out an international health insurance plan?
International health insurance is meant for those who are living and/or working abroad for a prolonged period of time.
Most expats have some form of private health insurance and it is very much recommended for them to do so.
Think about it, if you become sick in a foreign country, it will be far worse dealing with it abroad, compared with back home.
So having international health insurance can give you additional peace of mind abroad, which can make all the difference.
Having an international health plan can be especially worthwhile if you are moving to a remote country or a country that has a much lower standard of healthcare than you are used to.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit is access to medical facilities and doctors as a private patient.
You will receive access to treatment through your health insurer’s medical network, which can often lead to world-class treatment options.
Another benefit is that you will be covered by your plan so you won’t be stuck with the bill for any high-cost medical treatments.
Most importantly, having an international health insurance plan can very much help ease much of the stress that comes with moving abroad as it gives you one less thing to worry about.
What will I miss out on if I don’t get an international health insurance plan?
If you do not get international health insurance and you face a medical emergency abroad, you may not be able to get the right treatment you need.
You could also be landed with paying out of pocket for any immediate hospitalisation, which can lead to expensive medical bills.
When you are researching international health insurance plans, remember to keep the following four factors in mind:
1- Area of coverage
The first factor to consider is, will you be only covered in a specific country/region?
Some insurers will allow you to select the area of cover you wish, giving you added flexibility on your options.
For example, you can select to receive coverage in your country of residence and/or home country.
Consider your needs and which option will suit you best when selecting your area of coverage.
2- Medical evacuation options
Medical evacuation is another important factor to keep in mind.
This allows for the person or their dependents to be covered in medical treatment if it is not available locally.
So if you are ill, you can be transported to the nearest suitable medical facility.
Again, this can be particularly useful for anyone moving to a remote country.
3- Customer support
Finding out what customer support is available will be very important for your health insurance plan.
Some insurers offer 24/7 support for their customers and also offer support in multiple languages.
Be sure to do some research before you buy so you are aware of what to expect as you never know when a medical emergency may happen.
4- Payment price
Last but certainly not least, you will always need to consider the price.
The price you pay for your plan is known as your premium.
Remember to think carefully about your budget when you are researching which plan to go for.
Depending on which plan you choose, you could be given the option to pay for your plan in either monthly, quarterly or in annual installments.
A lot of companies will give you the option to pay your premium in various currencies, usually including US dollar to sterling or in euros.
Here are a number of companies that offer international health insurance for expats:
Allianz can provide plans for expats living in Europe, Africa or Asia and the Allianz MyCare app allows you to access your policy documents easily and on the go. You can discover more about Allianz plans via the link above. Note that the plan is not available to expats living in China.
If you are an American citizen moving abroad and you wish to buy an international health insurance plan from an American provider, GeoBlue is one option. Find out more about GeoBlue here
Cigna are experts at providing international health insurance and have a vast medical network of over 1.65 million hospital and healthcare providers. Cigna plans allow you to select coverage including or excluding the USA. Learn more here
Find out more about how international health insurance works on our global healthcare page.