If you are moving abroad for more than a year, then it is critical that you purchase an international health insurance plan that will cover your emergency and routine medical expenses. Most people who are traveling for a year or less will generally purchase an emergency travel medical insurance plan that will cover them outside their country of citizenship only and keep their medical plan active back home. In most cases, if you are moving abroad for more than a year, your domestic health plan won’t cover your global medical expenses and will terminate after a few months or a year.
More and more people are moving abroad to pursue a global career choice, retire or simply experience life overseas for an extended period. While some employers will purchase a group expat health plan for their employees, many will ask the expat employee to secure the cover on their own. It is critical that you purchase a global medical plan that covers your global medical expenses.
Expatriate health plans will often cover in-patient hospital expenses as part of their base offering. The insurers will also offer or include optional out-patient coverage for doctor visits, scans, tests, prescriptions and other medical expenses that are incurred outside a hospital setting. The plans will also either include or offer optional medical evacuation coverage, which is critical if you are living in a country with limited medical facilities that may not be up to a Western standard. Some plans will offer optional vision and dental coverage as well.
All the expat health plans will provide a variety of deductible options for expats. As with all health plans, the larger the deductible you choose, the lower the premium. If you are planning on living overseas for life, you should obtain a plan that offers lifetime coverage. Of course, the premiums will increase as you get older and global health inflation generally runs at 11% per year. Premiums for expat health plans vary widely from one provider to another, but it pays to look at the fine print before you purchase.
I recommend that you not purchase a local health insurance plan in the country you are moving to or at least supplement the cover with an expat health plan with a large deductible. The local plan will most likely be of poor quality if you are in a third world country and will also probably not cover medical treatment outside the host country or if you move to another country.
If you or your spouse is considering becoming pregnant, it is of course important to obtain a plan that will cover maternity, usually after a 10 or 12 month waiting period. If you are already pregnant, no individual expat plans will be able to cover that pregnancy. Many employer-based expat health plans will cover an existing pregnancy.
Finally, you should also look at the medical insurance provider to make sure that it has the necessary resources and financial stability to cover you over the long term. The insurer should have a global medical network and 24/7 claims service as well. Working with an independent expat insurance advisor will help you navigate the different plans based on your unique needs. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
About the Author
David Tompkins is an insurance consultant for Expat Financial, an insurance brokerage specializing in sourcing international insurance for expatriates. Expat Financial offers expat health insurance plans to expatriates, travel medical insurance online along with expatriate life and disability insurance. Expat Financial works with individual expatriates in most parts of the globe. Expat Financial is a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. and even sources international group insurance plans for expatriate employers. David can be reached via 1-604-628-0426 or via the contact page of Expat Financial.