International Healthcare Insurance Guide

Despite the considerable risk of falling ill overseas, international health insurance is often the last thing people think about when moving overseas. With so many options, working out the right level of coverage can be difficult. This International Healthcare Insurance Guide will help you understand the key things to consider when deciding how to cover your and your family's health overseas.

For anyone planning a move abroad, one of the most important things you need to think about is health insurance. Health insurance works the same way as health insurance in your home country, where you pay a monthly or yearly premium to cover medical expenses. If you get sick or are in an accident, your health insurance covers hospital costs.

Types Of Insurance

Travel Insurance

Overseas property owners making multiple temporary trips to their overseas property tend to take out annual multi-trip travel insurance. Travel insurance covers temporary trips to their overseas property in the event of an accident and emergency treatment.

Local Insurance Cover

If you plan to live permanently overseas, you can sometimes buy local insurance coverage from your new country’s government or a local health insurance provider. Local healthcare cover is commonly provided in these main formats:

+ “Free” state cover, where the healthcare systems are funded by tax contributions, e.g. United Kingdom and Spain

+ Hybrid state healthcare insurance providers, e.g. France and the Netherlands

+ Local private healthcare insurance cover providing quicker access to private healthcare facilities

Local healthcare cover in countries with excellent healthcare infrastructure, such as France, is considered adequate for many expats and at a cost lower than international health insurance cover. However, international cover may be required in countries with limited access to local healthcare.

International Health Insurance Guide

International Health Insurance, sometimes referred to as Expat Health Insurance, is a common type of coverage purchased by people moving abroad. International Health Insurance is an excellent solution for those who want faster access to the best hospitals and doctors. Generally more expensive than travel or local health insurance, these policies provide several key benefits.

  • Financial risk
    Unexpected medical fees can be disastrous without adequate health insurance coverage, particularly if you live overseas.
  • World Class Treatment
    International health insurance will provide access to the best healthcare providers. Give you the ability to choose which provider to use and reduce waiting times.
  • Peace of Mind
    From unexpected medical expenses and ongoing healthcare expenses.
  • Healthier Life
    Early detection of potential medical problems thanks to regular health check-ups under your health insurance policy coverage.

You can buy International Health Insurance cover for specific regions, e.g. Europe, Worldwide, including or excluding the United States. Due to the high cost of medical care in the United States, the cover is usually substantially cheaper when excluded from the policy. The cost of cover is based on many factors, including your age, medical history and the countries you need to cover.

Choosing A Health Insurance Plan

No one health insurance plan fits everyone’s requirements perfectly. You should ensure that the chosen plan meets your specific needs, so here are key questions you need to ask the insurance provider:

Does the policy cover pre-existing conditions? A critical consideration for many moving overseas. It is essential to check what would be covered.

Does it cover everything you need? Does it cover all the potential costs you want to cover, e.g. medical emergencies and dental treatment?

What’s included, and what is optional? Does the policy cover maternity care, dental work or rehabilitation treatment?

How does the claims process work – direct or indirect? Are you required to pay the hospital yourself or can the insurance company pay the hospital direclty

What is the excess on the policy? How much of the costs do you have to pay first before the insurance company pays the rest of the healthcare bill?

What are the policy limits? Is it unlimited or restricted to lifetime, per claim or yearly basis

Coverage abroad? If you plan to travel to more than one country, does your insurance cover other countries?

Fixed or comprehensive cover? How much will the policy cover – percentage of the total costs or fixed amount per claim.

What is covered?

You can choose what you want your insurance plan to cover. Below is a list of basic and optional cover provided by international health insurance plans.

Basic Heathcare Insurance Plans (common inclusions)

  • In-patient medical treatment – intensive care unit, surgery and any treatment costs occurring during hospitalisation
  • Out-patient medical treatment – doctor and specialist visits, urgent care, any treatments not requiring hospitalisation
  • Emergency healthcare services
  • Prescriptions and vaccinations for you and your family

Optional extra coverage for an additional charge

  • Cover for pre-existing health conditions
  • Dental – annual check-ups, simple fillings, cavity treatments, restoration, orthodontic treatments
  • Vision – laser eye surgery, eye tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • Mental health care, physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatment
  • Maternity – costs during pregnancy, childbirth, hospital fees and specialist fees
  • Evacuation – transport to the appropriate emergency health care
  • Repatriation – returning to your home country for treatment

You should check the policy clauses and exclusion sections to reconfirm what is covered. For example, cover for pandemics such as Coronavirus depends on the insurance provider.

When Should I Buy?

While you can make enquiries before arrival, if you use a local insurance healthcare provider, you will have to set up your cover once you have arrived in the country.

For most international health insurance policies, you are advised to get cover in place before you officially move overseas. Some insurance policies have a waiting period before full coverage kicks in, so planning ahead is strongly advised.

Top Health Insurance Companies

You should set aside time to properly assess the different offerings of health insurance providers, whether you are looking at local or international health insurance cover. A good start is reading reviews on the providers, and the Overseas Property Forum team can connect you with reputable global health insurance companies with a good track record. Tell us about your healthcare requirements?

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