Quick Guide to the International Health Insurance Plan
If you plan to move abroad soon, you are probably thinking about plane tickets, work, schooling, housing, etc… but what about international health insurance? Unless you are lucky enough to have an employer securing your global health coverage for you and your family abroad, you will have to start examining the international health insurance options available to you from the marketplace. Here are ten things to look for when buying an international health plan:
1. Source health coverage from a secure & reliable insurer
Any time you buy insurance, you want to ensure that the insurer will be there when you claim. Even more so when you are buying international health insurance coverage. The last thing you want is to buy a cheap plan from some “fly by night” provider, which may go belly up after you have developed a medical condition – because it does and can happen. We recommend that you use your judgment and make sure you do your homework on the global insurance provider you are buying from.
2. Buy from an international health insurance broker
Why would you buy from an independent global health insurance broker? Here are several reasons:
- You get the same service
- The cost is the same
- You still deal directly with the insurer on claiming and premiums
- You get independent support and service
- You will then have an advocate if something goes wrong
- You will gain access to several different insurers
- You will receive free advice from an expert.
One excellent independent source for international health insurance is Expat Financial, a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions. The firm is a very experienced global insurance broker. They don’t charge anything for their assistance and questions before and after your purchase. All your premiums and claims are direct with the global health insurance company. All you have to do is get a quote online, purchase, and they are there as your independent advocate in the future.
3. Buy the best international health plan you can afford
When planning to purchase international health insurance, it can get a little overwhelming with all the options out there. The best way to approach this to find a policy that you can afford. Look at where you’re heading and gauge how much cover you may need. Top insurance providers have policies that are affordable for expats. Similarly, if you require private treatment or don’t want to wait too long for your turn, it is best to opt for a higher coverage level.
4. Fully disclose your medical history
It is essential to disclose your medical history when purchasing global healthcare. It would help if you made sure the underwriting terms of the plan meet your needs. We say this because, in some cases, insurance providers will exclude coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, charge an additional premium or decline to cover you. But fret not. Some plans do cover some pre-existing medical issues, making it an important factor when selecting an insurance provider. If you do not fully inform the international health insurer you full medical history and pre-existing conditions, this could cause your policy to be cancelled in the future.
5. Get a large deductible to save on premiums
A deductible is an amount you pay for your healthcare services each year before your health insurance begins to pay. Having a deductible can save you more money on your healthcare. When you opt for a larger deductible, you are reducing the insurer’s risk. When you pay a bigger deductible, your premiums become lower. You do end up paying more each month, but your plan will catch up and start sharing the costs sooner because you will reach your deductible faster.
6. Buy an expat health plan with a large medical network overseas for direct reimbursement
Most insurance providers are well known and have a larger medical network overseas. It helps you in more ways than others. For example, an insurance provider like Cigna actively works with major healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical corporations. It means Cigna can access the world of medical treatment and healthcare better.
Similarly, insurance providers like Allianz have a wide global reach in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Africa. Therefore, with an extensive medical network, you can choose the doctor and the hospital you want to visit to receive medical care.
7. Include USA coverage if you want to be able to receive treatment there
Most plans do not automatically include USA coverage. Hence, if you are an American citizen, you would most likely want to obtain medical treatment back home, where it is more familiar. On the other hand, you may want to have coverage when you spend a few months in the USA, visiting friends and family or when you’re on a business trip. However, it is important to note that international health plans do not cover Americans who spend more than six months in America or move back there permanently. Instead, you will be expected to get a local US health plan from a domestic insurance provider.
8. Make sure you are covered for life if you are retiring abroad
If you are planning to retire abroad, we advise you to get international health insurance. Local healthcare plans in some countries may not be available or desirable for people retiring there. It is especially true if the country lacks adequate medical care. Having international healthcare is the most reliable option for long-term global medical care. It also travels with you from country to country. Therefore, retirees who travel back home during the holiday seasons are covered.
9. Pay annually and save on health premiums
When purchasing a global medical plan, you can pay your premiums monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. In this case, we advise expats & international citizens to pay premiums annually as you can save up to 10% over a monthly payment plan. Therefore, if you have the premium available, pay upfront, save, and enjoy the rest of the year.
10. Be careful before you cancel any existing coverage
If you have existing international health insurance, you should be careful when you replace it for another plan. Make sure you compare the coverage differences and the fine print. Be especially careful to make sure you don’t cancel your existing plan before the new plan is force and paid for – if that means paying an extra month on the new plan and having some double coverage, then so be it.
If your existing plan is covering medical treatment or a pre-existing medical condition, it is highly unlikely that it will be in your interest to move to a new individually global health insurance policy. It should also be said that choosing the cheapest global health policy is never a great idea – get the best international health insurance that you can afford – a plan and provider that will be there when you need it.