Asian Medical Care and Insurance Plans: What Every Expat Needs To Know
Asia is the world’s largest continent and the most populated one as well. It’s also home to some of the world’s largest economies and all the world’s major religions. For travelers, it’s the place of legend. From the ancient Silk Road to the mysterious pagodas of Bagan, Asia has beckoned travelers for centuries. And it’s no surprise that millions of expats call the continent home. Opportunity and adventure are everywhere! Here’s what you need to know about health insurance plans in Asia so your new life is as safe and healthy as possible.
Healthcare Standards Across Asia
The majority of Asian countries offer their citizens access to some form of public healthcare. Just how effective and efficient this public healthcare actually is is widely varied. Countries like Singapore, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, South Korea, and Japan offer care that’s consistent in its delivery and high standards. Others, like Myanmar, Cambodia, North Korea, and Laos are ranked among the worst healthcare systems in the world. And within some countries, like China, India, Indonesia, and Turkey, the standards of healthcare can range from superb in certain cities and then plummet to abysmal in more rural, remote regions.
What International Citizens Should Expect for Care in Asia
In many Asian countries, visiting the doctor for a non-urgent matter, like a sprained ankle can be very inexpensive. And if you feel comfortable with the local language, a short visit, and a few dollars may be all you need But the reality is that in most Asian countries there is a vast gap between public and private healthcare facilities.
The public facilities, while often less expensive, have long wait times, compromised privacy, language barriers, and less sophisticated equipment. Accessing the private healthcare system via an expat health insurance plan is a more comfortable, reassuring experience. You can expect an English speaking physician, a private room, state of the art testing, and fewer waits. However, such a standard of care doesn’t come cheap and that’s where a comprehensive health insurance plan
The Urban-Rural Divide in Asian Health Services
It’s important to also consider your health plan from the point of view of emergency treatment. The standards in healthcare can vary dramatically between rural and urban environments, If you need emergency healthcare in a rural environment, would you have to be evacuated to a regional hospital? If you need assistance in a remote area, would your insurance be able to assist you? Even if you don’t envision living in a rural village, you never know where your new job and new life will send you.
Asian Medicines: Appreciating Preventative Care
While accessing healthcare in an emergency is one thing, focusing on preventative well being is another altogether. Attitudes toward preventative healthcare in Asia vary. In some countries, it is highly valued. However, in others, it is practically non-existent. Attitudes towards preventative healthcare, public smoking, exercise, nutrition, alcohol and drug consumption, and even traffic regulations can all influence national healthcare policies. And they also influence your own health and well being as an expat! The right expat health insurance plan in Asia won’t just give you peace of mind in the case of a serious accident. It focuses on your health and well being all year round.
The Role of Regional Health Centers
Most Asian countries have at least one city where expats can access private healthcare services. It’s often the capital city, as there are facilities designed with diplomats and foreign service personnel in mind. But for more complex cases requiring complicated surgeries or rare specialty services, it may be necessary to visit a larger regional center with a high concentration of hospitals.
There are certain Asian cities that are known for being regional healthcare hubs. Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai are major expat hubs with the facilities, support, and resources you need for top-notch care, even if things are more limited in your home base. The Chinese healthcare system is good but varies widely by location, city, or province. With luck, you’ll never have to go there. But it’s reassuring to know that there is an entire continent of care you can take advantage of if necessary.
International Health Insurance Plans: Coverage at Home or in Asia
Health insurance plans purchased in Asia can have several advantages. They are competitively priced based on in-depth knowledge of the local market. They are usually recognized and accepted by local hospitals. This saves expats from paying upfront and then being reimbursed later. As well, it can also be reassuring to have a company representative nearby in case of questions or problems.
Local health insurance plans may be limited to only certain countries or regions, making them impractical for expats who travel between several countries. Their claims limits for certain kinds of coverage, such as outpatient care, are often reasonable. However, the same price cap might be applicable to the far more pricey in-patient care.
For expats, in-patient care usually ends up costing much more than it would for residents. This is because expats may be more isolated and with less of a support system. It is often more prudent to stay in the hospital for an extra day or two to facilitate healing and recovery. There is also the practical matter of understanding your policy. Local policies are often written in the local language. Even if you do have a strong grasp on linguistics, there is a big difference between being fluent in everyday conversation and knowing the nuances of contacts and healthcare terminology.
Price isn’t the only factor in comparing health insurance plans. It’s also important to take into account your peace of mind, the comprehensiveness of the services offered, and the understanding of your expat life and work. Relocating to live life as an expat in Asia means planning to manage and protect your health in a new country. Make sure you take care of yourself.
International Health Insurance Plans in Asia
- 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
- 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
- Premium Benefits, Coverage and Service
- Define your deductible and prescription benefits
- For Foreigners in the US or US Citizens Abroad