Health Insurance Information for Brazilians Living Abroad
Statistics from various sources state that there are between 2 and 3 million Brazilians living abroad. And more are joining them every year! More than 60% of Brazilian youth say they would love the opportunity to live abroad. Moving to a new country requires a lot of planning and preparation, especially when it comes to health coverage. Brazil’s universal health care system, the SUS, is the world’s largest public health insurance program. No other system covers so large a territory nor so many people. There’s nothing quite like it in the world, as Brazilian citizens living abroad soon realize.
Differences in Style
For instance, flexibility and a relaxed attitude are some of the characteristics that Brazilians are known and admired for. But in many other countries, they’re not so highly valued. Punctuality and reliability are highly prized in many countries. This is especially true for their medical systems. In certain countries, like Germany and Canada, being late by as little as 15 minutes might cancel your appointment. It could be weeks until you can get another time slot. And you have to pay a “no-show” fee before you’re rescheduled.
On the plus side, there is one area in which Brazilians will find other countries more relaxed. In Brazil, presenting identification cards is a big part of everyday transactions, especially in healthcare. In many other countries, this is much more relaxed. Yes, you will have to present identification at hospitals and pharmacies. But for other purchases and follow up health-related care (like physiotherapy or massage therapy), this often isn’t the case. Applying for a new health insurance card in your new country will likely be less bureaucratic than it is in Brazil.
Connecting with Specialists
Overall, family physicians and general practitioners aren’t as common in Brazil as they are in other countries. Brazilian are fortunate that they can make appointments directly with the specialists they wish to see. But in many developed countries, seeing your family doctor is the first step before you can see a specialist. In many cases, it’s impossible to even make an appointment with a specialist without your family doctor’s involvement! Sometimes, it’s even mandatory to formally register with a family doctor before you can participate in the healthcare system.
Will Brazilian Home Healthcare System Cover Your Abroad?
Unfortunately, it does not. The SUS is designed to provide health coverage for Brazilian citizens and residents. Once you are working and living overseas, you are no longer a resident. There are no reimbursements for overseas healthcare costs.
Things for Brazilian Citizens Living Abroad to Consider When Buying Health Insurance
A strength of the SUS health insurance program in Brazil is how comprehensive it is. The cost of hospital visits, clinic appointments, even prescription drugs are covered. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in most other countries. Even in many countries with universal healthcare require some kind of payment from the patient. For instance, foreigners in France know that patients pay a nominal fee at each medical visit. And in the majority of developed countries, pharmaceutical care is separate from health insurance. Brazilian expats will have to make sure that their new international health insurance includes all the services they previously had included at home.
In Brazil, the majority of hospitals throughout the country are small service hospitals, with less than 50 beds on average. This makes sense to cover the country’s vast geographic territory. But other countries have a different approach to rural and urban challenges. Many countries have limited services in rural regions, requiring patients to travel to larger centers. In some countries, rural medical clinics may not have a full-time doctor on staff. They rely on nurse practitioners or a part-time doctor who splits their responsibilities among many regions.
Buying Private Global Insurance While Living Abroad
When you first move abroad, it can take some time to get settled, receive all your paperwork, and sometimes even to find a job. Signing up for global coverage, which protects you at home, in your new country, and anywhere you might go is a smart idea. You’ll have comprehensive coverage while you set up your new life and you have a support staff to help you every step of the way.
For Brazilian Expatriates, Choice in Health Insurance Plans
If you get sick or injured, you want choice in your care. One of the most frustrating things about being ill is feeling like you’ve lost control. Suddenly, your well being, your energy, your appetite is beyond your control. Talking to your insurance representative about the choice of hospital and specialist can help. Access to a wide range of hospitals allows you to feel more comfortable in your care. If you prefer a male or a female specialist, you should be able to choose. Would you be more comfortable in a hospital across town, where you will be close to friends and colleagues? These are the kinds of freedom the right insurance package can provide. And making these decisions will help you feel you’ve regained some autonomy.
International Health Insurance for Brazilian Citizens Living Abroad:
Cigna Global offers a great option for Brazilians living anywhere in the world. The plan provides coverage both worldwide and at home in Brazil.
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
For Brazilians living in the USA, GeoBlue Xplorer offers an excellent range of doctors and hospitals in the highly regarded Blue Cross, Blue Shield network in the USA.
- Premium Benefits, Coverage and Service
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- For Foreigners in the US or US Citizens Abroad
For an affordable and flexible global medical plan, Aetna International is a very good option with worldwide coverage in almost every country.
- Fortune 100 company with more than 800,000 expatriate members worldwide
- Access to Annual Health Exams & Medications
- Talk to global member support 24/7/365
The Government of Brazil recommends that citizens who are planning to move abroad make note of the following:
- Information about any required documentation to enter another country should be checked with the Embassy of that country in Brazil. Those intending to reside abroad must go to the Embassy or Consulate of the country where they want to live while still in Brazil. The Consulate will inform about visa requirements and the procedures to get the proper one, depending upon the reason for the trip.
- In general, a visit for work purposes will likely require a visa. Proof of vaccination may also be required.
- Travelers should note, before leaving Brazil, contact information including phone numbers (including the emergency consular number), email, and the address of the Brazilian Consulate or Embassy of the country they are traveling to.
- It is also important to make copies of important documents (such as passports and ID cards), in case replacement is necessary.
- It is recommended that information on the itinerary, hotels and contact numbers be given to a family member or friend.
Caring for Mental Health
Brazilians are famous for being friendly, warm, and affectionate. However, in many other countries, the culture leans towards being more reserved and introverted. These cultural differences are part of why people love the expat life. But it’s not always easy. A more reserved culture can feel standoffish and even unfriendly. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common. Connecting with social groups for international citizens, both online and in person, can help you find a supportive tribe. Volunteering in your new community is a great way to break the ice by working on a cause you both care about. And reaching out to your insurance company for support is important. The staff can connect you to a counselor or psychologist if you feel you’d benefit from professional support.