Global Medical Plans – IPMI
If you plan to live or reside abroad for an extended length of time, you will want to make sure you invest in a high-quality international health insurance plan for the period you are overseas, outside of your home country, in case something happens and you need to seek medical treatment. For most countries around the world, it may also be a requirement of your visa (if you need one) to show proof of adequate coverage. These plans are ideal for Expatriates, Global Nomads or International Citizens who are abroad for the majority of each year.
What is International Health Insurance?
International Health Insurance offers comprehensive worldwide coverage for individuals and families living abroad for a year or longer. Coverage should include in-patient, out-patient, wellness, evacuation, dental, vision, and select other benefits. Plans are renewable each year for life or until your specified termination date. The primary advantage of having a global plan is that you have the option of receiving care anywhere in the world, including in your country of residence or back in your home country. You get to choose the hospital or doctor of your choice. Additionally, with private medical insurance, you can also choose a private hospital over a public facility to receive faster, and often higher quality, care.
What is the Best International Health Insurance?
This is a more complicated question as each plan comes with different strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to find the best plan for your specific needs and budget. We would suggest you start with a large international insurance company with a strong presence both in the country you will be living in as well as your home country.
You should then have your broker generate a few quotes from two or more providers which you can then compare side by side. Review the fine print to determine restrictions and differences. For example, are the limits on coverage annual (per year) or lifetime. It will matter. As cost, if an essential factor, you need to consider carving out benefits that you don’t need. Some plans, like Cigna Global, are modular in design and you can pick and choose benefits to include or remove. Other plans are comprehensive but will allow you to adjust certain benefits as well as deductible amounts to lower your premiums. Simply choosing the low-cost provider is fine – but understand that it may end up costing you more if something goes wrong.
Can I Buy Health Insurance From a Foreign Country
Some foreign countries offer a local national plan that is only available to citizens. In some cases, after you have resided in that country for a pre-set amount of time, you can apply for the local health insurance plan offered by the government. As an alternative, you are often able to buy local private insurance in your host country. This type of plan would cover your care in that country. Finally, you are able to buy an international medical plan from one of the providers on our website. This international health plan will cover you in your country of residence, your home country, and any other country in the world where you would like to be treated. The primary benefit of a global plan is providing you choice in where you are able to access care.
How Much do Global Medical Plans Cost
One of the first questions we often get: “How much does international health insurance cost?”. Eligibility and premiums are based primarily on a policyholder’s age, medical history and area of coverage (typically not on an individual’s claims history), as well as the deductible and maximum coverage, selected. Plans will normally offer two areas of cover; Worldwide or Worldwide excluding the USA, sometimes excluded countries also include Canada, Hong Kong, and other more expensive countries for treatment. If you choose the coverage that includes the US, it will typically be more expensive. The reason for this is that treatment in the USA is the most expensive in the world. At times, international insurance providers (i.e., GeoBlue and Cigna) will rank countries by medical costs and have premiums adjusted accordingly.
The annual cost of an international health insurance plan for a US citizen, male age 45, living in Spain will range from as low as $500, with limited benefits, to as much as $8,000 for a comprehensive global medical plan, including coverage in the USA.
As you can see from the example above, the cost of an international insurance plan will vary widely by provider and plan type. For a more thorough discussion of plan costs and other questions, read Choosing the Best Expat Medical Plan – Costs and Coverage Questions.
Cost Estimate: Request a Quote for International Health Insurance
Our Recommended Plans
- The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
- Access to Cigna Global’s network of trusted hospitals, clinics, and doctors
- The convenience and confidence of 24/7/365 customer service
- Premium Benefits, Coverage and Service
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- For Foreigners in the US or US Citizens Abroad
- 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
Need a Group Plan? Visit: Group International Insurance Options
Global Medical Plan Benefits
International Health Plans offer comprehensive coverage for those living outside of their home country for a year or longer. The best plans offer:
- Freedom to choose any hospital, clinic or doctor
- 24 Hour Emergency Assistance and Helpline
- Emergency Evacuation, Repatriation, Hospitalization
- In most cases, Home Country coverage is included
- Choice of GBP, Euro and USD currencies for payment
Or You Can Compare: Compare and Review Global Medical Plans
Additional Benefits and Options
Plans may offer additional benefits such as dental, vision, maternity, prescription drugs, and other coverage options. Some of these are included in the base plan. Other times they are optional add-ons that come with an additional premium. For example, Cigna Global Health Plan allows you to pick and choose various options (Wellness, Dental, and Vision, etc.) and benefits to design a plan that meets your specific needs.
International Health Insurance and Pre-Existing Conditions
Individual global medical health insurance plans are purchased by one person or a family. Typically, the plan is purchased because there is a risk of some medical issue soon (maternity is a typical example). Therefore, these plans come with added risks that an insurance company will try to minimize through a process called underwriting. After you apply, a team of underwriters will review your application and any pre-existing conditions. They may require a copy of past medical records. After their review, they will typically either
- Approve your application as is
- Approve your application with a limitation or exclusion of the pre-existing condition
- Add a premium surcharge to offset the added risks of insuring you with your condition
- Deny your application altogether
Typical Plan Exclusions and Limitations
All plans, domestic or international, will provide a list of exclusions for specific risks that they can not insure, including:
- Acts of War.
- Hostilities, Military Actions, Terrorist Acts, and Other Civil Commotions, whether the war has been declared or not.
- Nuclear Explosions and the resulting nuclear fallout.
Many providers have their specific exclusions in addition to those above. These additional exclusions can be broad or narrow depending on the type of policy or the company that has issued the insurance. Be sure to review a plan’s exclusions as specified in the policy schedule.
Of course, we suggest working with a licensed international insurance broker. There are no additional costs to use a broker. The benefit is that you get an experienced agent working to help sort through a variety of policies to find the best plan for your specific needs. Your broker will also help get your application processed promptly and resolved any issues that may come up during the year. Contact us to get a quote today.
Our Recommended Plans:
Cigna Global: Free Quote / Apply – High-Quality Plan, Best for Families and Seniors
Aetna International: Free Quote / Apply – Flexible / Best for Families & Individuals
GeoBlue Xplorer: Free Quote / Apply – Best for US Citizens or Residents
Recommendations for Cover in Specific Countries
- Chinese Health Insurance for Foreigners Living in China
- Thai Insurance for Internationals Living in Thailand
- International Medical Insurance in Mexico
- Health Insurance for Foreigners in Canada
- American Health Insurance – Coverage in the United States
- Medical Insurance for Internationals in France
- UK Global Medical Health Insurance Plans
- US Dept. of State Advice on Global Health Insurance
Written by Joe Cronin. Joe Cronin is an expert in the areas of global health and international insurance, with specific expertise in advising individuals and groups on international medical insurance plans. Follow Joe @Joe_Cronin_Jr