Being Smart with Health Insurance Abroad

| January 9, 2017
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health insurance abroadSeeing the world is one of the greatest experiences one could take for themselves. Saint Augustine of Hippo is claimed to have spoken the often quoted phrase ‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page’.

These days more than a billion people a year choose to turn the page, flying off to far flung corners of the world. Their pages fill with the sights, sounds and souls of the people and lands they explore.

It is dangerous business, however, going out your front door. Not only might you get swept up and carried to some strange and terrifying places, but you might find yourself faced with some seemingly insurmountable challenges made all the more difficult by language barriers and unfamiliar cultural norms.

One of the most testing experiences a tourist can endure is seeking urgent medical care in a foreign land.

This article will give you some tips for not only securing health insurance while travelling or living abroad, but advice on what type of insurance is best for you and can save you money in the long run.

Choosing the right insurance type

Insurance plans come in all shapes and sizes to fit the needs and requirements of us who need them. Along with their varying levels of coverage and benefits, you will also find a huge price range for health insurance plans that offer overseas coverage – but don’t be fooled into thinking the cheapest is the best plan!

Sometimes they’re with lower coverage limits, meaning higher out-of-pocket payments in the event of an accident.

Here’s a quick rundown on the types of health coverage you can buy for your overseas adventure:

  • Travel insurance: This is your cheap and cheerful sort of policy that offers healthcare coverage as a package with travel-related benefits (for example, the ability to claim for lost luggage or travel documents). The sort of health benefits you can expect include repatriation costs, emergency medical care (including necessary evacuations), and accidental death or dismemberment. These plans are generally short term, usually covering 3 months of travel, and are less expensive than other options.
  • Local country insurance: This is the equivalent of purchasing insurance in your home country, except you’re buying insurance for your host health insurance abroadcountry instead! They are more expensive than travel plans, however their coverage and benefits will include hospital cover, general treatment (ancillary or extras) cover, ambulance, and emergency evacuation and repatriation cover. Maternity and dental coverage may be added for a cost, as these plans are geared towards medium-to-long term expats.
  • International medical insurance: These plans are your most comprehensive, most convenient and, yes, most expensive form of health coverage. Along with providing a wide range of medical coverage for you while you travel, international plans also allow you to claim for care anywhere in the world. That means no separate travel insurance for each country or region you visit, and you can rest assured that many of these policies use private or semi-private hospitals to administer your care. These plans are often medium-to-long term investments that offer maternity and dental extras as well.

When it comes to choosing the right plan, saving money is as simple as knowing what care you’ll need while overseas and how you will use your insurance.

Those of you going on a short trip away to one country or region may find travel or local insurance a more cost effective option, particularly if you don’t have any long term, pre-existing conditions to be concerned with.

If you’re heading overseas for a long-term work assignment, or you’re simply planning to retire in a warmer, more tropical climate, then a travel plan won’t likely provide you with the health coverage you’ll need while abroad.

Local plans can be just as good as ones back in your home country, however those of you with high medical needs might want to consider the more expensive international plans.

The difference will be in the premium you pay for each type of policy, against the cost of receiving the care you need in the places you visit.

While some places like the UK and Thailand might have less expensive medical costs than places like the US, Hong Kong or Dubai, procedures like a hip replacement can be a lot to pay out of pocket wherever in the world you are.

About the Author

Pacific Prime is a leading global insurance broker with over 15 years serving more than 120,000 expat clients around the world. Their expert advisors have experience in helping expats overseas find the right care for their needs at the best prices available. If you’re looking for health insurance for your trip abroad, contact the team at Pacific Prime today.

 

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