Ultimate Health Insurance Guide

Anyone who ever looked into getting a health insurance for himself or family, may found himself buying whatever someone recommended rather than what was really needed or suitable, just because of the topics complexity. Especially if living abroad, the available options can be overwhelming in terms of numbers but also the variety of benefits and services. Moreover, available local options in your country of residence can be as good as any offshore Expat Health Insurance plan while living abroad. But what are the advantages and disadvantages?

What is important when looking for health insurance while living abroad?

First of all, you need to decide what kind of protection / health insurance you are looking for and what kind of benefits are important for you – different life periods may require different levels of protection. For instance, if you are a 24 years old single and just started to earn some money, it is important to get insured for sure. However, you probably won't need to or may not even be able to afford an insurance like a family woman / man could for their family. A family most likely opts for an insurance that includes Outpatient, Check-ups & Vaccinations and perhaps even Dental in its coverage, rather than an insurance which applies to hospitalization benefits only.

 

In addition, many people especially in Asia for example buy just a critical illness (CI), accidental death & dismemberment (AD&D), or perhaps just a travel insurance, rather than a real medical insurance, because they are misinformed by some bank sales or insurance agents, or got their recommendations and information through friends or some unreliable facebook groups and because it's simply much cheaper in comparison.

 

CI and AD&D are insurances where the insured person receives a lump sum in case of any insured event occurring, but this doesn't mean that your medical bills are paid! A medical insurance on the other hand will take care of the bills from the hospital, which is the most important part if you have an accident or got a serious illness. The lump sum for any CI or AD&D policy will probably not be enough to pay for everything and it will in anyway take time until you receive the money, which will be too late probably, or in a worst-case scenario may not even cover you at all.

 

Another point to take into account is that quite a lot of people around the globe are just covered through a long-term travel (medical) insurance rather than a real individual private medical insurance. This might seem like a nice affordable alternative idea, but let's have a closer look into the consequences. The idea of a travel insurance is to help the insured in case of an accident or illness with the financial burden while traveling (and not residing) - so far so good. But, after you have been treated and the hospital bills are paid (which you may have to pay upfront and claim later if insured through a travel insurance), long term follow up treatments usually are not paid at all through any travel insurances. However, follow up treatments can be as important as the surgery or the original treatment itself. Furthermore, the idea is also that after being treated the travel insurance company may repatriate or help to arrange the return to your home country or country of residence. Once you are home your medical insurance at your home country is supposed to jump in. But what if you don't have one, or are not able to access your home countries medical insurance system any more, but have solely relied on a simple travel insurance while residing in a third country? On top of that, many travel insurances contain a cancellation clause in case of an insured event happening. Meaning, they probably fulfill the contract by paying the medical bills caused by your accident and may cover you until the end of your current policy year, but won't insure you any further. But now you have a pre-existing condition, and no insurance. Last but not least, if you become a resident in the country you staying, no travel insurance will cover you there anymore and to make things worse they may even check your residential status when facing a big bill after you may had an accident and may not pay at all – the moment you need the insurance most, you may realiaze that you have paid all your premiums for nothing. For further differentiation between Travel Insurance and real medical insurance, please check the article Travel versus Medical Insurance.

 

Therefore, get a proper health insurance while you can. What level of benefits is best for you is up to you; but following is an overview and further explanation of the main benefits any health insurance is able to provide:

In-Patient coverage

The Core component and foundation to any Health Insurance package is In-Patient / Hospitalization coverage. Everyone should have at least a hospitalization health insurance plan regardless of age, fitness, and health history. Such basic plan usually provide cover when a patient has been hospitalized (needs to stay in the hospital overnight), but many plans also provide coverage for daycare treatments (usually at least 6 hours even if not overnight). There are always major costs that are associated with In-patient care. In catastrophic incidents, it’s important to realize potential costs, which could run into tens of thousands USD. In-patient coverage plans typically include also services like medical evacuation (transport from injury site to hospital) and medical repatriation (transport to a different hospital if the current hospital cannot treat your condition).

Approx. cost for just a hospitalization health insurance plan: $50 - $500 per month (depending on age, region of coverage and limitations of coverage)

Out-Patient coverage

This term is mainly used for any doctor / physician consultation and treatments including specialists, that do not require admission to a hospital. Out-patient ranges from going to the doctor, because of a cold, emergency room visits, as well as minor Out-patient surgeries or long term diseases such as diabetes, which need regular follow up treatments. More than 70% of all claims associated with health insurance fall into the Out-Patient bracket. Therefore, it can be a key component of any Insurance Package, especially if you have Children who will be large utilizers of Out-patient Care. Out-patient plans cannot be purchased without In-patient coverage. The coverage ranges from limited coverage up to plans without limits (except the overall annual limits of your health insurance). Most plans cover medical practitioner, prescription drug, specialist, diagnostic testing, and vaccination fees. Some plans will also include chiropractic treatments, herbal medicine, acupuncture and visits for psychiatric care as well as check-ups, eye examinations and prescription glasses.

Approx. additional cost for health insurance plan including Outpatient: additional 60% - 150% of the in-patient premium.

Dental

Dental coverage varies widely depending on the insurer. The treatments are never fully covered under most insurance policies. The coverage will be up to a maximum amount, and have Co-payments associated with it. Most Dental add-on plans provide coverage for preventative treatments such as cleaning and polishing, as well as simple routine treatments such as fillings and inlays, but also major treatments such as onlay's, crowns and maybe even implants. Dental prostheses on the other hand are not always covered. Emergency dental care is often covered within any In-patient coverage, but not always.

 

Approx. additional cost: $30 - $100 USD per month / per person (depends mostly on coverage limits)

 

Check-ups / Wellness - including Vaccinations

Medical Check Ups are specifically provided to see if there are any underlying problems that have not yet surfaced and could result in any illness. This is something that is highly recommended as anything caught early, can be treated efficiently and cost effectively. Looking after your well-being is always critical. Being able to keep on top of your Health before it gets on top of you is the key. With a Wellness Package, Insurance companies will cover you for an annual check-up looking at a range of issues e.g. Cancer Screening.

 

Approx. additional cost: $0 - $30 USD per month / per person (some products include Wellness into Outpatient coverage already; for others it has to be added separately).

 

Maternity (Pregnancy Care)

Maternity benefits will cover the cost for pre- & postnatal healthcare as well as the delivery for expectant mothers. This term is used for any costs resulting in pregnancy and Child Birth. The costs of Maternity Care vary from region to region significantly. For example, in China a Maternity package including prenatal, normal child birth and postnatal care can cost up to $20.000 USD (maternity complications aren't included yet); meanwhile in a private facility in South East Asia you may only pay $3,000 USD for everything. For any young woman or family, it is important to ensure that the welfare for the new born child is covered. In addition, if a child is born without any Insurance, and there emerge unforeseen medical conditions, the baby would not be covered at all for the condition after the birth.

 

Approx. additional cost: $100 – $400 USD per months (depends on region and benefit limitations)

 

Area of coverage

The area of coverage defines the area where the insured person can seek elective treatments. Internationally there are mainly two areas of coverage available – worldwide excluding US / worldwide including US. Some products may also have an option for regional cover such as South East Asia, Europe, some Africa areas, or South America. Local products at your place of residence may only provide coverage for the country that you are living in, but are also able to offer coverage beyond that and/or offer worldwide excluding US / including US as well.

 

Apart from the actual area of coverage, many insurers provide emergency cover outside that area for certain period of time while traveling, which is important to know. If you work and live in Thailand for example, but only travel once in a while to other areas, a Thailand only or Southeast Asia medical insurance plan may work perfectly for you.

 

Local medical insurance product versus offshore International Health Insurance

 

Depending on the country you are living in, a local product can be much better, but it also can be as bad as being without insurance in comparison to an offshore health insurance plan. If you live abroad and look for an individual health insurance plan, offshore options can be a great alternative. But many countries have regulations in place which state that only onshore regulated products are licensed to be sold (best example is the US, but also China, or Thailand and many others). Fortunately, only if you are a live in the US you are forced to buy a licensed health insurance plan from the US market. If you live abroad it is commonly your individual choice what insurance plan you buy for yourself – and that can be a big advantage, because you can also transfer such a plan to any other country. Doesn't matter if you live two years in Kenya, then move to Vietnam for one year and subsequently go to China for another three years, before you finally settle as an Expat in Spain; the rates might vary slightly being governed by the region you are living in, but other than that you will be covered without the need of applying for another insurance.

 

Imagine you have an accident in Vietnam, but you are only insured through a local insurance there. Yes you will be covered, but what is if you move to the next country? Any new insurance will either exclude your pre-existing condition or charge you in addition for it. With an international expat insurance you can basically move wherever you want to (not all countries though unfortunately) and keep your insurance without changes; your insurance will stay the same – it doesn't matter where you move to next. Of course, health insurances change in price as they are based on age, but usually you don't need to worry about the medical bills for your pre-existing condition, as long as you are insured through the same insurance (that does not mean you can not look for alternatives once in a while).

 

Now, if you would have taken out a local insurance each time you are moving (which might even save you some bucks depending on the product), you probably not be able to transfer that insurance plan to any other country; aside from the fact that the coverage of local insurance plans can be considerably low in many countries. Moreover, if taken out a local health insurance plan with better coverage and perhaps even transferability, these local health insurance products are often more expensive than international offshore health insurance plans, if compared like for like.

 

There are maybe a few insurance products which are able to be transferred from one country to another. It is usually only possible through global insurance companies such as Allianz, Cigna, AXA, Aetna and a few others, but that does not count for all countries globally and not all products are able to merge from one region to another. If that happens, it is most likely that you need to apply for a new insurance, which won't cover your pre-existing condition(s) (which you will have after an accident or any serious illness) or they will charge a 50 – 100% premium surcharge on top to cover it.

 

For anyone living abroad it is always better to have an insurance plan in place, which you can retain wherever you go without having to worry about it (again).

 

Which international insurance providers can I presently choose from?

 

Each insurance company and each product has its strengths and weaknesses. There is no “best health insurance”. Which one to opt for will depend on your individual circumstances. Here's a list of the major, reputable health insurance providers for offshore products that you're likely going to find yourself choosing from.


CIGNA — One of the largest health services organizations in the world. Especially among Americans Cigna has a great reputation and has competitive products for the higher end market. For US citizens living abroad, Cigna's US cover for temporary trips of up to three months is one of the best available US coverage options. Their products are very flexible coming in a variety of combinable options including co-pays and deductibles.

 

Allianz Worldwide Care — Based in Dublin, Ireland – is a brand of Allianz Partners which belong to Allianz SE – the largest insurance company in the world (subject to which numbers are compared). Allianz has various high level products that can be combined with each other. They have one of the best claims administrations in international medical insurance, but that also comes at a price.

 

AXA PPP — Apart from Allianz – AXA is one of the biggest insurance companies also. AXA PPP's customer service unfortunately is not as good as it should be for such a company who tries to compete with other major players. Their products haven't been updated since many years and in spite of that the rates are not as competitive as they should be. The products are able to cover a variety of benefits, but are not as flexible as Cigna or Allianz.

 

Aetna — An American-based fortune 100 company with the biggest platform for healthcare management. Aetna's new product family – Pioneer is, based on the benefits, overpriced compared to what’s on offer from the competition. However, Aetna's service level doesn't lack anything.

 

Generali — Is also one of the biggest insurance companies in the world; based in Italy. Their focus lies more corporate medical insurance plans, than on individual medical insurances. Therefore, Generali's individual health insurance plans are very simple with few options.

 

Interglobal by Aetna — Interglobal was bought by Aetna a while ago, but their original products namely Ultracare insurances are still available through Aetna. These products are much more competitive than Aetna's individual products while offering the same good service.

 

William Russell — Is a medical insurance provider with products underwritten by Allianz. Their products are simple and good – 3 products with each 3 plans: Inpatient + Outpatient + Maternity and an additional Dental option for all 3. The price range is competitive.

 

A Plus — Also a medical insurance provider with products underwritten by an insurance company. Depending on which region you live in, the product is either underwritten by AXA France or Pacific Cross. A+ products and service are good, but of limited variety. For South East Asia A+ provides one of the best available plans in terms of coverage versus price. The international plans provide very good coverage as well.

 

MSH — An insurance provider based in France with its main focus on corporate clients, but also good international individual medical insurance solutions.

 

Foyer Global Health — Is the specialist expatriate brand by Luxembourg’s leading insurance company Foyer Group. They offer first-class cover in combination with comprehensive medical assistance as well as other services, which can be added. Foyers Global Health plans are probably the most competitive health insurance plans for people living abroad.

 

Integra Global — Is an insurance provider, based in England underwritten by MGEN, a social security provider in France. Integra Global’s main focus are individuals. Their products are especially designed for individuals and families.

 

Globality — Is a brand of Munich Re group based in Luxembourg, with a special focus on both expatriates as well as financial and local independent people requiring international medical insurance cover. Their products are well designed for the needs of anyone living abroad.

 

IMG — IMG and IMG Europe have been bought by Sirius International Insurance group in 2017. Sirius was already IMG's underwriting company. However, IMG is still operating under its own brand. Their products are to be considered on the lower end reflected in the price range with IMG's customer service being okay for their rates.

 

ALC — Is an international health insurance provider based in England and underwritten by Catlin through Lloyds. ALC has been bought by IMG in 2017, but is still operating its products under the ALC brand. The products are very similar to many others in the market.

 

ACS — Is actually a health insurance broker based in France with a variety of products to protect people while living abroad. Their products are underwritten by Allianz and are comparable with most other insurance products in the market.

 

AIG — Is an American multinational finance and insurance company. Amongst others AIG also provides individual medical insurances. Their focus is not on individuals and therefore the products are not competitive.

 

David Shield — is a health insurance provider based in Israel and underwritten by Hautville Insurance Ltd., which belongs to Allianz. Their health insurance plans come with a master card which can be used for any treatments easily. This feature is a very unique service tool among international health insurance providers, which unfortunately comes with a price too.

 

Clements Worldwide — Is an insurance provider focusing on corporations and schools, but is also able to provide competitive health insurance options for individuals. Clements is based in the US and underwritten by Lloyds London.

 

Now Health — Is a relatively new medical insurance provider (founded in 2004 in Hong Kong), now based in Dubai and underwritten by AXA PPP. Their products are internationally focused and for individuals and corporations alike, with several co-pay and deductible options. For certain regions Now Health plans are competitive, but not for all and their plan design can be confusing.

 

BUPA — Is probably the most expensive health insurance provider globally, which is almost impossible considering Allianz price structure. However, BUPA is topping it and is moreover providing the worst customer service imaginable.

 

More health insurances providers are available, but above are the main ones as for the international individual private medical insurances you may come across.

 

How to decide which health insurance with what kind of benefits I need?

 

First of all, get proper advice from your personal insurance consultant / broker! The more information you are able to provide the better your insurance consultant is able to help you in finding the most suitable option for you.

 

If you have no idea about the costs to be expected for your health insurance, then you may initially ask for a quotation giving you an overview of available options for Inpatient only as well as Outpatient coverage to get a first insight to work from. Secondly, if you do know about the estimated costs, set up a budget for yourself based on your income and the amount you are willing to spend for your healthcare.

 

Generally speaking, a hospitalization plan is a must have for everyone; no-one should burden himself, his family, or friends with the financial risk of unexpected accidents or illnesses. A hospitalization treatment can cost more than $10,000 USD (much more in many regions). General Outpatient treatments however, are generally possible to pay out of pocket by yourself; especially if using normal public hospitals, rather than private medical facilities. The risk of paying for Outpatient treatments yourself is that, in the event of any long-term illness (chronic or whatsoever) the financial risks are quite unclear and can cost you a fortune as well. A long-term condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis and many more can cost you overall more than any Inpatient treatment would amount to. Nevertheless, if you are young, healthy and just started with your career, you are maybe very good of with just a proper Hospitalization plan.

 

If you are already a bit older and able to pay a bit more then you better consider to include Outpatient, because as mentioned, if not included this can be as much of a financial risk as any unexpected accident.

 

A big consideration for any woman or young couple is pregnancy care (maternity benefits). Child birth in private medical facilities is expensive, but there are also some more affordable solutions available. To include maternity into your insurance plan, get some quotations first to understand the prices and perhaps even check with some hospitals to get a feeling of the underlying costs there too. It is possible to get just get a cover for maternity complications as part of your Inpatient plan and pay the actual pregnancy care by yourself through a package provided by the hospital. In this way you may save some money, instead of including Maternity into your insurance plan; especially as most hospitals are keen to provide discounts, if paying cash and buying packages upfront. To be without Maternity complication coverage however, is something no woman should consider as the risk is just too high; even if most likely nothing is going to happen.

 

Dental coverage is debatable. The value for money ratio on dental coverage for any individual insurance policy is usually not great. An annual dental check-up including cleaning isn't really expensive at any dental clinic and even if you need some minor routine treatments the costs aren't that high either. On the other hand, if you need any real big dental treatment it won't be covered in full, because any dental insurance rider has a cap and there are always Co-Pays. Regrettably it is not possible to roll over any unused dental benefits from the years you have not used a lot into the following years. Overall, over the years you will pay more for the dental coverage than you are able to receive, especially if you start young. Dental coverage usually has nothing to do with risk management; it is purely a mathematical equation about how much you pay in and how much you can get out at the most; it's not comparable with the actual medical insurance were your life could be at stake.

 

Last but not least/ To sum it up, anyone needs to think about which area of coverage is necessary reflecting the individual situation. A medical insurance plan with regional coverage where you live and work will work perfectly for most people; especially if they are only travelling out of their region for holidays. Here, an additional short term travel medical insurance can be much more cost effective than an insurance plan with worldwide coverage. However, if travelling frequently, an insurance plan with international coverage is highly recommended. Not only is it easier to deal with just one insurance and be sure to be covered, but also these insurance plans usually have better coverage. Another advantage of having worldwide coverage is to be fully covered at your home country as well.

 

Other useful knowledge when checking for health insurances.

 

To know what kind of benefits you need and where to be covered is just one part of the story. There are some facts many people are overlooking. These facts are usually listed in the fine-prints or policy wording in insurance terms.

 

Underwriting Terms

For individual medical insurances, basically two different underwriting terms exist. Not all insurance providers offer both (please talk to your insurance consultant about the pros and cons in your individual case). The most common term is FMU – full medical underwritten and the second one is Moratorium. Some insurers are also offering a kind of CPME – continuation of previous medical exclusions, which can be helpful if switching from one insurer to another.

 

→ FMU: for these terms an applicant needs to fill out a medical questionnaire within the application form. This will be fully reviewed and evaluated by the underwriter. Unfortunately, underwriters are very strict and sometimes unreasonable with seemingly no common sense on that matter. This means that even for minor pre-existing conditions; even conditions which have been fully recovered, premium loadings apply or will be excluded from coverage.

 

→ Moratorium: these terms basically mean a period of normally 24 months after the starting date after which a pre-existing condition will be covered as long as no treatment for this condition was needed.

 

Waiting periods

This is the period you are not able to claim certain benefits under your insurance policy. Insurance companies are covering the risk from the moment the insurance starts. However, to make sure no condition existed prior the starting date, waiting periods have been implemented for certain benefits under most health insurance products – mainly for any Dental (up to 6 months) or Maternity (up to 12 month) waiting periods apply. Some insurers even have waiting periods of up to 30 days for Inpatient or Outpatient benefits.

 

Deductible

Is the amount you have to cover yourself in each policy year before any costs will be reimbursed by the insurance. Deductibles are usually amounts per year per insured person.

 

Co-Pay

This is a percentage of the medical bill the patient has to pay, which is not reclaimable. Co-Pays are possible for Inpatient and Outpatient treatments or both, but also for Dental and Maternity treatments.

 

Excess

Similar to Co-Pays, but not as a percentage. It's a fixed amount per treatment that will not be covered by the insurance.

 

Hospital Access and High Cost Medical Clinics & Hospitals

Private individual medical insurances usually cover all hospitals within your area of coverage – public as well as private. A unique term applying only to China and Hong Kong however is High Cost Medical Clinics & Hospitals. Certain facilities in the greater China region are classed as luxury, with treatment costs beyond average and even comparable with charges in the USA. Subject to your place of residence and the insurance plan you purchase, these luxury clinics and hospitals are either excluded, covered with a Co-Pay, or fully covered. To include such facilities fully the insurance premium can be up to 30% more expensive than without this option for any health insurance plan for residents in China; if living outside of the Greater China region, or even Singapore, then this doesn't apply.

 

Outpatient direct billing

Direct billing is a term for Outpatient treatments where your bill will be paid by the insurer directly to the clinic / hospital. This service for Outpatient treatments has mainly been developed in Asia; especially in China, but also other countries. Many private hospitals have contracts with all major insurance providers so that they are able to pay directly for treatments and doctor's visits. Unfortunately, such service is as yet not available everywhere. Different insurers will offer direct billing for different services. Find out what services the insurer allows direct billing for and what is the treatment limit for Outpatient direct billing before a treatment guarantee letter is required? Also check if there is an Outpatient direct billing service available in your area and at which clinics / hospitals.

 

The downside of Outpatient direct billing is that you may have to wait for some time after the treatment until the billing department at the hospital was able to confirm the successful outpatient direct billing process with the insurer. Thus, it is better to inform the insurer before going to have treatment, which may speed up things afterwards. All considered, pay and claim can be the fastest way, especially if it is just a minor Outpatient visit.

 

Treatment Guarantee Letter / direct settlement

A treatment guarantee letter is an official approval from your insurer for a specific treatment. Guarantee letters are issued for expected higher cost of Outpatient treatments such as surgeries, but also for any scheduled Inpatient treatments. Issuing such a guarantee letter can take up to five working days and also depends on submitting all required documents on time by the treating doctor. Make sure you get your guarantee letter and that your treatment is covered before you go to the hospital for treatment. For minor treatments, no insurance company will provide a guarantee letter; if direct billing isn’t available you may have to pay and claim, which will save you time in anyway.

 

After you have been treated the hospital will deal with the insurance company and they will settle the bill directly. This will also be the case in any emergency situation where you have been unable to inform the insurer upfront; as long as you have informed them as soon as possible. If you have your insurance card with you, the hospital should and is supposed to inform the insurer immediately, because they also want to get paid.

 

General Exclusions

Some standard exclusions you’ll find in every insurance plan – depression, alcoholism, self-inflicted injuries, car or motorcycle races, active participation in acts of war or terrorism. However, a number of important exclusions vary from insurer to insurer and it makes sense to take a good look at the precise policy wording.

Pre-Existing Conditions

This is usually the biggest single issue with any new health insurance contract. You will often hear that insurance providers consider pre-existing conditions on a case-by-case basis. Mostly that’s only true for non-serious minor things (e.g. a cold, rash, or something like that), conditions that are localized and don’t affect other areas or one time occurrences (e.g. limited time aftereffects from an accident). Anything really serious or that can lead to other problems in the future will usually lead to you being outright refused coverage. As a general guideline – if the condition is a major reason you’re seeking insurance, they won’t accept the condition. Beware of insurance providers that accept you and don’t check this until you actually make a claim: It’ll give you a false sense of security.

Nevertheless, there are a few insurance companies which are able to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions for a premium loading. The premium loading is indeed a case by case decision made by the underwriter at the insurance company and can range even up to 100%. However, it’s better to have certain coverage with premium loading instead of having uncertain coverage for that particular condition without premium loading. But this also depends on everybody’s specific individual circumstances.

Chronic Diseases

Chronic Conditions are conditions which are usually ongoing for at least six months or need medical attention on a regular basis (even if it’s just once a year). Some insurers have limitations on the coverage of chronic conditions; some even have lifetime limits (which is something anyone should worry about). Especially in the case of Outpatient coverage, some of the really expensive claims are chronic diseases (Asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney diseases…). In case you receive an offer with lifetime limitations on chronic conditions you may check other options instead.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Usually all insurers exclude coverage of any STD, unless it was not your fault (e.g. due to a blood transfusion) – but the burden of proof may be on you. In addition, there is usually a limit on expenses that are covered related to HIV specifically (plus a minimum waiting period of 24 months for HIV; usually 48 months). In any case, keep in mind that the majority of STD-related expenses are Outpatient and unless you opt for Outpatient coverage, you won’t be covered for those.

Sports

There is usually never coverage with an ordinary health insurance for participation in professional sporting events, combat-focused sports and other very high risk sporting activities such as paragliding. If you take part in any form of professional competition or what could be considered to be a dangerous sport, you might want to check the exclusions regarding sporting activities. Some insurance companies exclude specific sports; others are broader in their description. If you are at a serious risk of a sports injury, you probably want to get something in writing from the insurance company to see if you’re going to be covered or not. Amateur sports however, are usually no problem and most providers are covering normal amateur sports activities.

Emergencies

Living abroad in a foreign country can be challenging. If you ever experience an emergency situation in a foreign country were treatment is needed right away, you may face further challenges at the hospital. Sometimes hospitals won't treat you as long as they do not have any guarantee of payment. A guarantee letter can take some time and even though insurance companies are usually very quick in response to emergencies, hospitals are still challenging factors in this equation. In most countries regulations exist which prohibit hospitals to let anyone die without treatment, but that doesn't mean they will provide the best treatment they could provide as long as the payment situation is unclear. If it is not life-threatening, they may let you wait until payment has been clarified. Therefore it is recommended to have an emergency fund in hand (credit card or any local bank card should do) to be able to put a deposit down, so that you can be treated immediately.

How to get started?

After you received your quotation (Individual Private Medical Insurance contact form)  you should speak with your consultant and choose your plan. Your consultant will send you the application form (for some insurers this can be done online), which you need to fill out, sign and send back by email. Once at the insurance company your application form will be reviewed and you will receive an official offer letter usually within five working days. If any pre-existing conditions are mentioned in the application form, the insurance company either requests further documents for evaluation, to exclude or include it, with or without premium loading (depends on the insurer). With the official offer letter in hand you can still decide if you want to accept the terms and arrange the payment, or not. After your payment has been processed your insurance coverage will be confirmed and you will receive your insurance certificate. Congratulations!

 

Did you know?


Unbeknownst to both Expat employees and employers alike, group health insurances are a good way to provide employee benefits on top of any social security the employee has to be enrolled in and are much cheaper than any individual medical insurances. However, most group insurance programs are not able to provide any individual medical insurance plan to the employee if leaving the company. This can result into a very aggravating situation. In case the employee developed any condition, or the employee is leaving for retirement, in both situations it will be difficult to find a new health insurance.