Five Things to Consider When Renewing Health Insurance
Time flies when you are living overseas. One minute it feels like you are just barely starting to plan your move. Before you know it, you have been settled into your new home for years. It might be time to consider a new apartment or a new neighborhood. And renewing your insurance policy should be at the top of your list. Auto-renewal might seem like the simplest choice but there are a host of factors to consider. Some things you can only learn by living in a destination. These are five things to consider when renewing health insurance.
Changing Your Deductible
Life can change significantly in just a few years, and so can your financial situation. A once-stark savings plan may have grown, while another may have dwindled. Your monthly cash flow might have improved but it has come at the cost of building up reserve funds. Thankfully, renewing your insurance policy is a chance to assess your deductible to reflect your new circumstances.
A deductible is the portion of your medical bill which you are responsible for, while your insurance company pays the rest. Often, it is about $500 but lower and higher amounts are common. In an emergency, having a lower deductible can be a great thing. Who wants to pay more than they have to, especially when they are sick? On the other hand, opting to pay a much higher deductible means that your monthly insurance bills are lower. That is good for cash flow, but in the event that you are hospitalized, you will be paying more money before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest of the bill.
There is no right or wrong choice. It all comes down to the kind of coverage and financial model you prefer. Some savvy international citizens choose to have a much high deductible in exchange for a lower premium. Then they stash the money they save each month into a special account. That way, should they ever be hospitalized they have some emergency money on hand.
Contact your dedicated agent to discuss renewal options.
Adding or Removing Benefits When Renewing Health Insurance
Trying to assess your own health before you travel is not exactly the easiest thing to do. On one hand, you know how often you visit a doctor. But is that pattern likely to continue or change when you live overseas? Will you visit your new physician overseas more because ordinary ailments- like a cough or a stomach ache – suddenly feel much more ominous? The truth is that it is a bit of a guessing game until you actually move and get a sense of what you need and what you want.
If you did not opt for dental coverage or hospitalization coverage before you moved, you might be reconsidering your choices based on local services. Some expats choose to add on services to their insurance policy because the easy monthly payments make for simple, streamlined budgeting. Others feel it encourages them to take better care of their health. In other words, since they have paid for the coverage, they are going to use it and they see it as an investment in their well being.
Sometimes the coverage changes you need are small ones. Maybe you have discovered a new hobby and you want to make sure you are covered. Perhaps your plans to master a new language have not exactly worked out and you know that you are absolutely going to need the services of an interpreter included with your insurance policy. Asking about translation services is a smart idea! There is just a lot you cannot know until you live it. Your day to day wellbeing matters. Let your advisor know what you need to make your policy the most user-friendly it can be.
Occasionally, some expats realize that they have actually over-insured themselves. They were nervous about their big move and bought multiple policies in a panic, not really realizing that they had overlapping services. Once they have settled into their new home and have a more realistic sense of the risks and problems on the ground, they are ready for one cohesive policy that reflects their new outlook.
Related: How to File a Health Insurance Claim
Budgeting and Prices
Value matters tremendously when choosing an insurance policy, but so does pricing. Many expats are on a limited budget. They have to keep their insurance premiums low in order to maintain a bit of financial flexibility. This is a huge benefit of working with an advisor when it comes time for renewing. There is zero shame in being blunt and sharing what your maximum budget is. Everyone has one!
When you are working with someone who knows your bottom line, you are assured of getting a deal that protects your health and your financial well being. Plus, advisors often know about discounts or bundles that you might not think of. Advisors work with everyone from graduate students on unpaid internships to semi-retired digital nomads who are anxious to set up a new home overseas. No matter how complicated or restricted your finances might seem, rest assured that they have seen more challenging circumstances.
There is no change in personal circumstances quite like having a baby! If it is something that you and your partner are considering, speak with your insurance agent before renewing your plan. Many insurance companies require you to have your policy in place well before you are expecting. This is definitely the kind of conversation you want to have while you are still in the consideration phase. Things to ponder include coverage for pre-natal care, fertility testing and support, developing a birth plan and knowing what kind of facilities you want to use, and care for the baby when they arrive.
Even if you change your mind or circumstances, talking about maternity coverage during your renewal period is still very valuable. You know you are covered should your family situation suddenly change and many maternity policies are bundled as part of packages for excellent overall wellness and preventative care. Baby or no baby, there will still be a lot of great benefits to use.
Also read: Maternity Coverage
Age is nothing but a number – unless you are an insurance policy, of course! Some policies stop covering people after they reach a certain age. If that applies to you, it’s time to start looking around for new coverage for your new stage in life. The great news is that more and more insurance companies are taking a refreshing modern look at growing older. They know that just because you are turning 65 it does not mean your health risks suddenly skyrocket. Policies for seniors are more affordable, accommodating, and flexible than they have ever been. Do not get stuck when it’s time for renewing health insurance, do your homework first.