Home » 5 Reasons Expats Should Consider International Health Insurance

5 Reasons Expats Should Consider International Health Insurance

At the recent Expat Focus Health and Finance Summit 2024, Michael Condron from Cigna Healthcare delivered an insightful presentation on the importance of international health insurance for expatriates. Titled “5 Reasons Expats Should Consider International Health Insurance,” Michael’s talk shed light on the unique healthcare challenges faced by those living and working abroad, and how specialized insurance can provide crucial protection and peace of mind.

Understanding Expat Health Insurance

Expat health insurance is coverage specifically tailored for individuals living and working abroad. This type of insurance is designed to meet the needs of globally mobile people, including those who have relocated for work, study, or retirement.

The need for such specialized insurance arises from several scenarios:

  1. Moving to a country where public healthcare access is limited or unavailable due to residency status, nationality, or other factors.
  2. Requiring coverage during a transition period before becoming eligible for local healthcare.
  3. Desiring access to a familiar standard of healthcare when moving to regions with less developed medical infrastructure.

Distinguishing Expat Insurance from Other Types

Michael emphasized the differences between expat health insurance and other common types of coverage.

Travel Insurance: While useful for short trips and emergencies, travel insurance doesn’t cover routine or elective treatments. It’s designed for brief periods away from home, not extended stays abroad.

Local Insurance: Unlike expat insurance, local plans typically only cover treatment within a single country and may have more restricted networks of providers.

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Key advantages of international health insurance include:

  • Worldwide coverage, allowing treatment in multiple countries
  • Flexibility for families spread across different locations
  • Portability when moving between countries
  • Access to a broader range of healthcare providers
  • Higher benefit limits to accommodate varying international healthcare costs

Five Reasons to Choose International Health Insurance

There are several key reasons why expats should consider international health insurance.

Financial Security

    Health issues can be extremely stressful, and the last thing anyone needs during such times is financial worry. International health insurance provides the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can focus on recovery without concerns about how to pay for treatment.

    Quality Healthcare Across the Globe

    With international coverage, expats gain the flexibility to seek treatment wherever they are, including during trips back home or travels to other countries. This global access ensures continuity of care and the ability to choose preferred providers.

    Cigna Healthcare, for instance, boasts over 1.5 million direct billing partners worldwide, allowing policyholders to receive treatment without paying upfront in many cases.

    Expert Support

    Living in a foreign country can be challenging, especially when navigating healthcare systems. International insurers like Cigna offer 24/7 support, helping clients find providers, manage claims, and access various resources, including life management assistance.

    Clinical support is another crucial aspect, providing peace of mind through services such as explaining diagnoses, treatment plans, and offering second opinions – particularly valuable in countries where language barriers may complicate medical interactions.

    Faster Access to Treatment

    Private healthcare often means shorter wait times and quicker responses from medical professionals. Michael highlighted the growing importance of remote consultations, allowing policyholders to connect with doctors via phone or video at any time, in multiple languages. This feature proves invaluable for both individuals and families, especially in unfamiliar environments or during global events like the recent pandemic.

    Proactive Health Management

    International health insurance encourages a proactive approach to wellbeing. Routine annual health checks, age-appropriate cancer screenings, and vaccinations are important, and these are services that might be easily overlooked when living abroad without proper healthcare prompts.

    By catching potential issues early and providing support for lifestyle factors like diet and sleep, international health insurance can lead to better health outcomes and more treatment options if problems do arise.

    Additional Insights

    The presentation ended with a Q&A, during which Michael addressed several common questions about international health insurance.

    Age Limits: Cigna has no upper age limit for their policies, catering to everyone from students to retirees. Interestingly, premium increases based on age stop at 82 years old.

    Claims Impact on Renewal: Making claims does not affect renewal costs, providing long-term stability for policyholders.

    Coverage Options: Policies can be tailored to cover specific regions or provide truly global coverage, depending on the client’s needs.

    Student Coverage: International students are covered, with the stipulation that the main policyholder must be at least 18 years old.

    Discounts: Cigna offers various discounts, including a 10% lifetime discount for families of three or more, and senior discounts.

    Claim Process: The preferred method is direct billing to providers, but where this isn’t possible, claims can be submitted online and are typically processed within five working days.

    Often Overlooked Coverage: Michael highlighted the importance of outpatient coverage, which many expats might initially underestimate but can become crucial for managing ongoing conditions.

    Temporary Coverage: While many clients seek long-term solutions, Cigna also provides flexible options for those needing temporary coverage, such as during the transition period before accessing local healthcare systems.

    Repatriation: Policies can include medical repatriation or evacuation, as well as repatriation of mortal remains – features that are often visa requirements in many countries.

    Digital Nomads: Cigna’s policies are well-suited to the growing demographic of digital nomads, offering the flexibility needed for frequent international moves.

    In conclusion, Michael’s presentation underscored the vital role of international health insurance in providing comprehensive, flexible, and peace-of-mind coverage for expats. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, such specialized insurance offers a crucial safety net for those embracing global lifestyles, ensuring access to quality healthcare wherever their international journey may lead them.