international health insurance plan

Navigating Health Shares: A Guide for Expats Seeking Affordable Healthcare Solutions

Living abroad as an expat can be an exciting and enriching experience. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

Take healthcare, for example. traditional health insurance plans can be costly and inflexible, often not designed to cater to the unique needs of expats.

This is where health shares come in as a viable alternative. 

In this article, let’s explore what health shares are, why they can be an ideal solution for expats, and how to choose the best plan for your needs.

What Is Health Sharing?

Health shares are community-based healthcare cost-sharing programs. Members contribute a fixed amount each month to cover each other medical expenses. 

Unlike traditional health insurance, health shares aren’t bound by the same regulations. This makes them a flexible and often more affordable alternative to health insurance. 

However, it’s important to note that health-sharing plans don’t operate on the same principles as insurance policies. They don’t “cover” eligible costs. Instead, a member makes a request, asking the community to help pay for a medical bill. 

Health shares also often have stricter membership rules than health insurance policies. Such plans are often religion-based, requiring members to adhere to strict rules and values. 

international health insurance plan

Why Health Shares Are a Good Option for Expats

There are several reasons why joining a health share community might be a good idea for an expat.

First, they offer flexibility and portability. Many health shares help share healthcare costs abroad. This is crucial for expats who travel frequently or live in multiple locations throughout the year. 

Additionally, health share plans tend to be more affordable. In many cases, they can offer significant cost savings compared to traditional health insurance.

There’s also the community aspect of health shares. Expats often find themselves without the local support network they had at home. Being part of a community provides a sense of belonging and help from like-minded people. 

What to Look for From a Health Share Plan

Finding the right health share plan can be tricky. That’s especially true for expats since not all health-sharing providers can help cover foreign medical bills. 

In general, when considering a health share plan, examine these three key features:

  1. Coverage Specifics: Understand what is and isn’t covered. Some plans may exclude certain treatments or have limitations on coverage amounts.
  2. Network Availability: Ensure the health share plan has a network of healthcare providers in the countries you live or travel to.
  3. Claims Process: Familiarize yourself with how a health share processes claims, including required documentation and timeframes.

Be sure to read reviews of popular health shares, such as Zion HealthShare reviews or Medi-Share reviews. These will help you understand how these health shares work for expats and what the membership requirements are. 

How to Choose the Right Health Share Plan

Choosing the right health share plan involves assessing your healthcare needs and travel patterns. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Evaluate Your Needs. Consider your typical healthcare needs, including any regular treatments or medications. Some plans, for instance, have stricter rules for people with pre-existing conditions. Be sure your chosen health share can help cover costs related to your condition. 
  2. Compare Plans. Look at multiple health share plans to compare conditions and treatments eligible for sharing, membership requirements, costs, healthcare network, etc. 
  3. Ask Questions. Don’t hesitate to ask providers detailed questions about their coverage and claims processes. You can also reach out to members and read their reviews to determine whether a specific plan seems like a good option for you. 

Of course, the crucial thing to look into is whether a health share accepts requests to share medical expenses when traveling abroad. Fortunately, many reputable providers, such as Zion or Christian Healthcare Ministries, do that. 

choosing international health insurance plan

Wrapping Up & Final Thoughts for Expats

So yes, health shares can offer a unique and often beneficial solution for expats seeking affordable and flexible alternatives to traditional health insurance

However, choosing the right health share plan requires careful review. 

Evaluate your healthcare needs and travel patterns. Then, compare multiple health share plans to understand their membership requirements, network limits, and benefits. 

Through careful evaluation and talking to an expert provider, you should be able to find a plan that aligns with your lifestyle and ensures you have access to affordable medical care wherever you are in the world.

David Tompkins
Author: David Tompkins