One of the biggest concerns that many expats have when moving overseas relates to global healthcare insurance and the quality and availability of medical provisions in their host country. While the healthcare available in the west is generally well developed and up to a high standard, this may not necessarily be the case in locations overseas and the availability of good facilities is a key consideration when assessing if an expat destination will be suitable.
Before you go
Before moving to a new country you should thoroughly research the healthcare that is available, both privately and publicly. In some locations, even the private healthcare may not be of a high standard and if you plan to live in a rural area there may not be any suitable hospital facilities in proximity of where you are based. You should ensure that you are fully knowledgeable of the level of care that will be available to you. This is especially important if you have an existing health condition or you are planning to retire abroad.
You should also look into the health standards and risks that you will face in the host country. Some countries will have a higher possibility of contracting disease or encountering health problems than others, and it is best to make a decision on whether these risks are worth taking when you are armed with the full facts. The World Health Organization website contains full and comprehensive information about worldwide health risks and the immunizations you will need to protect against common diseases in your host country.
If you, or any member of your family has a special medical condition that requires specialist help then you need to ensure that this help will be available in your host country. Again, this should be done before you find yourself living in a strange country with no access to the medical attention you need. Our international relocation guides contain comprehensive information about the healthcare facilities available in popular expatriate destinations throughout the world.
If you require prescription medication you need to check that the medication will be available in your host country and that it is legal. If you will be taking medication with you then you should ensure that it is properly labelled and that you have a prescription to accompany it.
It is always advisable to visit the doctor before you leave your home country and have a full check-up. Ensure your vaccinations are up to date and that you are in good health. You should also pay a visit to the dentist and ensure that your teeth are healthy and in good order.
The majority of expats do have private health insurance and, in the event that it is not offered as part of your expat contract, there are many companies available that specialize in the provision of such insurance. It is prudent to research the policies offered by these companies in full before signing up and you should always pay particular attention to the small print. See our separate section on expat insurance for more information.
Things to take with you-
- If you do have any outstanding medical conditions then it may be useful to get a copy of your records to take with you.
- Take your vaccination and immunization records; in some countries this will be a prerequisite for gaining entry.
- Ensure all medication is clearly labeled and that you have accompanying paperwork where required.
Expat city guides
For a high-level overview on the quality of healthcare on offer within expat destinations throughout the world, please refer to our section on the main decision criteria you should consider when choosing someone abroad to live. For detailed information about the healthcare facilities on offer in your chosen expat destination, you should consult a specialist relocation guide. The guides contain comprehensive information about the following areas:
- General medical care available
- Health insurance companies that offer relevant insurance for that destination
- Quality of care available within government hospitals and any relevant costs that will be applicable
- Information about dentist, opticians and other clinics