Expatriate Medical Insurance – Your Guide to Global Medical Plans
Helpful guide for global medical insurance and tips on finding the best expatriate health care
Moving or traveling abroad for an extended period can be exciting, but it’s always worth preparing for any health concerns that may require medical attention. The more you travel, whether alone or with your family, the more risks you may be exposed to. Being prepared and informed about global medical insurance can help you make the best decisions about protecting yourself and your family.
Global health insurance is a specialized market where quality and service matter. Finding high quality medical care in your home country isn’t a difficult task, but finding the equivalent care elsewhere can be challenging if you don’t know where to look. You may feel at your most vulnerable where standards and costs vary dramatically. It’s important that your global medical insurance provider has the expertise and experience necessary to help you mitigate any risks.
Key Features of an Expatriate Health Insurance Plan
- Broad, comprehensive range of health care benefits
- Consistent global health care provision
- Medical and health care professional referral service
- Strong emergency evacuation and repatriation services
- Experience and a proven record in delivering world-wide health care
- Fast and easy access to an unparalleled network of health care professionals and facilities all over the world
- Upfront payment of treatment or reimbursement within five working days
- Payment of claims in your own currency
- Access to health care services and medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- The flexibility to tailor your health plan so you have the health care coverage that’s right for you and your family
There are many things to consider, so we’ve pulled together a list of key factors to guide you when selecting a global health insurance policy and provider. Most important are the differences in benefits and services, as well as policy wordings and practices.
Hospital / Provider Network for Expats in Country
There is no single international qualification, accreditation standard or process applied by health insurers. You can expect answers to this question to have a wide range. Some may simply provide a directory of known hospitals and health care facilities, similar to the telephone book, listed without any selection criteria. At the opposite extreme, some insurers conduct on-site evaluations by medical professionals, which represent the ‘gold standard’ in the healthcare industry.
Expatriate Health Insurance and International Legislation
Being compliant with international health care legislation is an area where global private medical insurance carriers have the opportunity to distinguish themselves. While it may be a challenge to follow the frequent changes to health care legislation around the world, offering access to their expertise and sharing it with customers is an area where global health insurers can add value.
Home Country Coverage for Expatriate Insurance
Expat plans are typically designed and priced to provide benefits outside of your home country. We often get asked if these plans will cover an illness in the insured’s home country. The short answer is: not always. Typically, there will be benefits available for limited coverage in your home country, usually restricted by a maximum number of days in your home country. These “incidental home visits” typically can’t be specifically for medical services or your claim may be denied. Additionally, there may be additional deductibles and/or co-pays for home country benefits. Some plans offer 2 weeks of home country coverage and other plans provide benefits for up to 6 months. It often depends on the plan as well as your home country. Restrictions on US citizens are typically the toughest as the cost of healthcare in the US is the most expensive.
Emergency Medical Assistance Services for Expatriates – Basic vs. Premium Options
Some health insurance carriers bundle certain medical assistance services into their basic, or core offering, while others make this an “add-on” or “fee-for-service” option. It’s important to differentiate between them, knowing exactly what you’re paying for, and the limitations of the service.
Emergency Assistance in your Global Expatriate Plan : How Much
The emergency assistance provided by global health insurers can vary from very good to very poor. It’s important to ask for and understand their capability and experience. When venturing to a new country, you may feel more assured if you’re dealing with a company with more experience in this field.
Beyond these initial questions, it’s also worth running through a check-list of qualities you may be looking for in an international health insurance provider…
Why an Expat Plan in Place of Local Healthcare?
The challenge of the best expatriate health care plans is to overcome global variations in health care coverage. It is easy to arrange health care coverage for a single country of destination, but most expatriates will be mobile within a region. Localized health care can be expensive and puts the expatriate at risk of being without health care coverage when they need it most.