Moving abroad either as a working expat, or just for a different lifestyle can be an exciting experience. The changes in culture, weather and living standards is enough to tempt different people from all walks of life. As you get geared up for your new adventure, and create your check list of things to do before the big date (sell your winter clothes, pack your favorite snacks you wont be able to get away from home), you will begin to realise the things you took for granted. For me being from the United Kingdom the big one is, the NHS…. come on who doesn't like free health care?
Expat/international health insurance is a must for all foreigners moving to a new country. Not only do some countries require proof of medical insurance before they grant you a working visa, but you need to protect yourself and your family from day one. Who knows what surprises await around the corner. When moving abroad you have to expect the unexpected, every expat has a story of that friend who just moved to Thailand, and got knocked off his motorbike on his first day out, etc.
As a expat financial advisor in south east Asia, it is important for all of my clients that we protect them and there families from any unforeseen circumstance. Here are some questions that you may have regarding expat/international health insurance.
So, what is expat/international heath insurance?
To keep it basic, expat/international health insurance covers your medical expenses while living abroad. Usually, it will cover a vast range of health-care, from emergencies to your regular check ups.
Depending on your lifestyle and your families requirements, there is many different packages you can choose from. From the most basic of coverage plans, to fully comprehensive all singing and dancing plans. I recommend speaking to your financial advisor/insurance broker, or drop me a message today, to work out which plan is most suited to your needs.
When will I need to take out health insurance?
As briefly mentioned above, I personally recommend taking out health insurance prior to your move, or as soon as you reach your desired destination. If you are from the UK like me, then make the most out of the NHS before you move, go get all the vaccinations you need… paid for by the government. If you are from another country like the US, where it is the norm to already have some form of health insurance, then make sure you make the most out of the premiums you have already paid for, and go get that annual health check up you keep delaying.
Can I just use travel insurance, instead of taking out international health insurance?
In short, the answer to this is no. Travel insurance is normally purchased for trips/stays that are shorter than 6 months in a single country. You can find plans that cover for longer than this, but typically you will find the level of cover too small, and the price for a longer term too expensive.
Why can’t I just keep the health insurance I already have at home?
Your health insurance from back home won’t cover you while you live in another country long-term. And if you aren’t a citizen of the country you will be moving to, you won’t be covered by its public healthcare system either.
Will the company I am going to work for pay/have health insurance?
Some companies will have health insurance for all of their employees, this is a question you must ask when discussing your contract. If you are moving to a country like where I live (the Philippines), the common insurance provided by most companies is not good enough for the professional expat. Also you will find that most do not cover any of your dependents.
Another point to consider is, if you are one of the lucky few to get insurance paid for by your employers, it will only cover you in your working location. Living the expat lifestyle means holidays, travelling, and visiting neighboring countries (one of the many reasons I love living in South East Asia). Nearly all the expat health insurance I provide for my clients is fully global cover, meaning no matter which country you visit, you will have the peace of mind that you can go to any hospital/doctors if need be.
What should I look for in an expat/international health insurance plan for expatriates?
While the plan you choose will depend on the kind of coverage you need while you live as an immigrant/expat, here are some of the basic things they should include:
· Adequate yearly benefit maximums
· Flexibility in plans and prices
· Wellness care and emergency care
· Inpatient and outpatient hospital visits
· A large network of doctors and medical facilities to choose from
· Multilingual and 24/7 customer service
Dental and vision can cost you more. But sometimes it is not necessary to add on, for example here in the Philippines a trip to the dentist can be very cheap, so it may not be worth adding on to your plan.
Just remember that the less expensive your plan is, the less coverage you’ll get. So, make sure that you do your research in order to find the right plan that works for you.
Expat/international health insurance is massively important to have. Living in a foreign country, it is now your responsibility to make sure you have taken care of protecting yourself, and family from any unforeseen circumstance. The government in your selected country will not take care of this for you, like they do back home. Health insurance wont break the bank, and most insurance companies will allow you to pay in monthly installments. If you would like to inquire about expat/international health insurance, or compare the prices of what you are currently paying, feel free to drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org