Not everyone who wants to become an expat heads overseas to enjoy a lucrative well-paid assignment, others will be working for themselves and this guide to health insurance for freelancers will help.
That’s because part of the expat’s moving package from an employer will be health insurance cover which they will need should an unexpected health issue strike.And with the level of medical care varying around the world, expat freelancers need to bear this in mind and prepare themselves for health insurance bills which will, undoubtedly, be costly.
For those who are travelling to more than one country during their expat freelancing career then health insurance is a must.
Indeed, our health is the most important part of our life and being in good health will help build a solid and successful career but not everything can be predicted so it will pay an expat to prepare for the unexpected.
It is also why many countries, including Germany, make health insurance mandatory for all adults, regardless of whether they are freelance.
The health insurance industry
On the plus side for expats, the health insurance industry is massive and growing all the time which means there’s a wide range of choices and cover available.
It’s also worthwhile highlighting that for expat freelancers heading to the UK that they should not be relying on healthcare being provided by the NHS, even if they have the relevant National Insurance number, but to have health insurance as well.
For an expat heading overseas the issue of finding health insurance may be low down on their list of priorities since there are so many other issues to resolve such as finding somewhere to live and sorting out a bank account, for instance.
But with a growing trend for digital nomads, these are plucky expats who head overseas with a laptop and move base on a regular basis because they work in the digital economy and want to enjoy new environments, there is a world of expat opportunities in the global economy but this also means having the right level of health insurance cover.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of their jobs, expat healthcare premiums may be costly and the expat may have to face issues that a pre-existing medical condition may affect the level of coverage they receive.
Some insurers may also place a cap on any potential healthcare benefits and it will pay the expat freelancers to check the small print of any health insurance policy very carefully.
• Does the health insurance offered cover them for immunisations?
• Does the health insurance offered cover them for immunisations? Some policies will not provide cover for preventive care, such as screening tests and shots and these are usually only free when delivered by an in-network health professional.
Expat freelancers will also need to consider whether they need a dental healthcare plan while living overseas too.
Another helpful tip for expats heading abroad is not to be tempted into buying travel insurance in the belief that they will save money and still get the same level of care since this will be a false economy and will not cover them for many issues.
It’s also a good idea for an expat who is moving overseas with their family to have a health insurance cover for family members too.
Essentially, an expat freelancer looking for health insurance cover needs to consider:
• The options for health insurance cover and a relevant plan at a price that delivers what they need
• Look for discounted in-network hospital and doctor rates
• Some freelance health policies come with a free annual health check-up and access to other health services
• The health insurance cover should deliver quality care
• Check what out of pocket expenses an expat will need to pay
Expats should find a policy provider that offers a 24/7 service for access to doctors or to ask an expert a healthcare question.
For those policies that offer a no cost annual health check-up, it may be a good idea for many expats to take these up since they may have a medical condition without knowing and the check-up highlights what steps they should take to prevent illness and disease occurring.
Health insurance cover with in-network doctors and hospitals
The previous tip for looking for health insurance cover with in-network doctors and hospitals is an easy way for an expat freelancer to save money on their health cover since these hospitals and doctors have signed up for pre-agreed rates so there will be no unexpected health bill surprises.
Expats should appreciate that they may need to pay out-of-pocket expenses and then reclaim them from their insurer but this could be an expensive exercise with some insurers offering lower rates for an in-network provider and the expat having to pay the balance for those professionals who are not part of the network.
It’s important that an expat who’s heading overseas deals with a health insurance provider who makes the process of finding a policy that is suitable and cost-effective as easy as possible; the expat will need to remain focused on running their business without the distraction of dealing with insurance companies.
Indeed, for this reason online access could be crucial so an expat freelancer can see what plans are available, how much the insurance premium will be every month and helps them keep track of any healthcare claims.
Online access for healthcare cover also enables the printing of temporary ID cards so the expat can access health services wherever they are.
Many health insurers also offer their expat freelance clients access to a library of health and wellness articles and also offer tips on healthy living which many expats may find useful and informative.
Essentially, expat freelancers heading overseas are doing so to enjoy themselves. As healthcare cover is expensive this also impacts on their profitability but those expats who decide to save money by not having healthcare cover may be making a costly mistake since our health is not something that should be neglected, even when working overseas.