How To Avoid Common International Health Insurance Mistakes

Organising health insurance is one of the most important things an expat needs to do before moving overseas. But what are the common health insurance mistakes you might make?

The first thing to do is select the right international health insurance plan for you and your family; without the appropriate plan, you may be putting your finances and health at risk.While there are lots of health insurance firms offering great products and plans, read this handy guide to learn what you should do and what you should avoid.

Be honest

It always pays to be honest, and that’s true for expats applying for international private medical insurance. You will need to disclose any pre-existing medical condition. Not doing so means an insurer could invalidate any claim and terminate the policy.

Prepare for all eventualities

It may be worth considering an international health care plan that covers maternity as well as prescription costs. Bear in mind that maternity care in hospitals around the world can be an expensive undertaking. Even if you are not planning to start a family right now, you might want to consider this coverage for a later date, especially since most of these plans will have a minimum waiting period, usually of 12 months. Expats who are currently taking prescription drugs need to opt for a plan that covers this. If you are heading to a country where prescription drugs are expensive, then a health plan may help.

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US expats: stay covered at home

When US expats are heading overseas and thinking about how to obtain the right level of health insurance, it’s important that they opt for a plan that covers medical treatment when they are in the US. Obviously, this option will cost more but the amount may be minimal in terms of the level of medical support delivered. These plans will also help prevent hefty medical fees for treatment if the expat didn’t have the right coverage.

Buy domestic health cover

Some expats may decide to wait until they arrive in their new country before arranging health coverage, and will then opt for a domestic policy, since these tend to be cheaper. The downside to saving money is that the expat may not be covered when travelling to other countries or returning home. These plans also tend to be basic, while an international health care plan will have a comprehensive offering.

Remember all expats will need health coverage

If you are a young and healthy expat, you may feel you don’t require international health coverage; however, not getting coverage can put both your health and your finances at risk. Unexpected situations, such as being injured in an accident, falling pregnant or being diagnosed with cancer may happen. Not having the right level of health coverage could mean having to meet expensive medical bills.

Consider more possibilities

It may be worthwhile considering a policy which includes emergency evacuation, particularly in countries where medical facilities do not meet Western standards. It may also be imperative to access better medical facilities, which would require ambulances and a converted plane to move patients to another country for treatment. It may also be a good idea to have a health plan that covers an expat’s dental needs.

Avoid the cheapest international healthcare plan

Potentially the most important mistake for expats to avoid when selecting an international private medical plan is that of buying the cheapest health care plan available. Do not judge a healthcare plan on price; policies are usually cheap for a reason. It always pays to be prepared; your insurance policy must deliver what you need, when you need it. Quality healthcare is not cheap, which is why a comprehensive medical plan is a sound choice.

Check the policy’s fine print

Do check your international health insurance policy’s small print, as plans can be confusing and complex. Most of us tend not to read the fine print, but in this instance, understanding what the policy will cover and what your responsibilities and potential out-of-pocket expenses will be could be crucial.

Use a broker

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to deciding which health insurance plan will best meet your needs, such as age, where you will be living, out-of-pocket expenses, gender and citizenship. It may therefore be a good idea to use a broker to source international private health insurance plans. The market is complicated and a broker will understand how to best meet your needs. A broker can save you money by finding a suitable policy from a reputable health insurer. Brokers will also save time, particularly if you are organising other parts of you move overseas, and offer helpful advice as well.

Finally, you should consider these issues when choosing your international private health insurance plan, as these could help avoid other potential mistakes:

• Will the plan cover your family?
• Is there discounted in-network doctor and hospital rates?
• Does the plan offer a free annual health check-up?
• Is the insurer offering access to other health services?
• What, exactly, will the out-of-pocket expenses be?
• Does the plan deliver a 24/7 service to access doctors or ask healthcare questions?
• Does the country you are moving to demand international or expat health insurance?

We all make mistakes in life, but finding the correct healthcare coverage is vital to ensure that you and your family get the right treatment should you ever need it – and receive it promptly too.

More information

To help expats, there are a number of reputable international private medical insurance providers. Take a look at our insurance page for more information.


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