4 Reasons Why International Health Insurance is Essential When Moving Abroad 

Published on: April 12, 2024

Last Updated on: May 20, 2024

4 Reasons Why International Health Insurance is Essential When Moving Abroad 

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We all are well aware of how globalization connects individuals staying across borders for whatever purposes. Job, travel, education- you name it! Moving to an altogether different region encompasses tons of planning, from tickets to visas and, of course, healthcare access. 

Global healthcare refers to a primary component of any expat planning process. Let’s dive deeper into five reasons why international health insurance is indispensable when traveling abroad.

1.Comprehensive Coverage Beyond Borders

A key advantage of having international health insurance is its ability to provide comprehensive coverage across borders for global nomads and citizens.  Domestic health plans are often an option for some expat destinations, but they often fall short of providing adequate protection for expatriates. 

These local plans may only be available to local citizens, offer basic coverage, not allow for treatment abroad or back home, and may only cover public hospitals. Remember that a few countries, like the UK, will ask you to secure local coverage, such as the National Health Service (NHS) plan

On the other hand, international health insurance is uniquely designed to cater to the needs of those living abroad. An effective global health plan ensures that you have access to quality healthcare services, such as hospitalization, outpatient care, emergency evacuation, and repatriation, irrespective of your location. Expat health plans can offer peace of mind, knowing that you and your loved ones are protected against unforeseen medical expenses, no matter where your journey takes you.

Tips for Permanent or Temporary Relocation

Whether you’re relocating temporarily or permanently, medical emergencies can arise at any time. To make matters worse, often navigating the healthcare system in a foreign country can be daunting, especially when faced with language barriers and unfamiliar medical practices. 

For most international citizens, global healthcare coverage can reduce the stress and concerns associated with living abroad by providing access to a global network of trusted healthcare providers – often hospitals that the insurer has checked out and allow for direct reimbursement.

If you require routine check-ups, specialized treatments, or emergency medical care, most expat plans can give you immediate access to top-notch services from accredited hospitals and physicians within your insurer’s network. You should make sure to check the medical network of the insurer you are looking at to make sure you can get direct access and payments. 

We also find that international health insurance often includes medical concierge services, which facilitate appointment scheduling, medical referrals, telehealth, and assistance in navigating the local healthcare system. The support of an international brokerage such as Expat Financial, which is owned and operated by TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd, is a big advantage for future or current expats as you get the same rates and direct insurer service, but also their advocacy in case you run into an issue with the insurer.

2. Protection Against Healthcare Costs and Currency Fluctuations

You will find that health costs can differ significantly from one country to another. For example, healthcare in China and the USA is very expensive, but medical care in Italy or Cambodia is dramatically less. Your country of residence impacts your health insurance premium, and if you live in a high-cost country, expect to pay more for your global medical coverage. 

Note that even in lower-cost countries, an unexpected medical expense can quickly drain your savings if you’re not adequately prepared with insurance. A quality policy from a secure insurance provider can help shield you from the financial burden of exorbitant medical bills by covering the cost of eligible treatments and services. 

Some ex-pats will choose to get hospital-only coverage when living abroad and not insure out-patient expenses, such as a routine doctor’s visit, prescription medication, or x-rays. But note that some medications can run into the tens of thousands, so keep this in mind when considering a plan that covers out-patient care. 

Most policies in the market will give expatriates the flexibility to pay premiums and receive reimbursements in multiple currencies, safeguarding you against adverse currency fluctuations. You can often save up to 10% if you pay annually versus monthly. 

3. Near Seamless Transition Between Countries and Continuity of Coverage

You will find that life as an expatriate often entails frequent travel between countries for work assignments, leisure, or family visits. You may also decide to move to another expat destination, so having local coverage only can be a big problem in the event you have developed a medical condition, be it urgent or chronic. 

Most expat plans will allow you to keep your health plan in the event you move to another country but can’t renew if you move back to your country of citizenship permanently. The usual requirement to be eligible for expat healthcare is that you are going to spend over 180 days abroad. 

Also, you can apply if you are already abroad, but make sure you don’t cancel existing coverage, especially if you have a covered medical condition, as new plans often require medical underwriting. 

If you are going abroad for a short-term visit, most people will buy emergency-only travel medical insurance, but these plans should not be relied upon by long-term expats. Travel medical coverage only covers you abroad for the short term and may require you to maintain your domestic health coverage back home. 

Continuity of coverage is invaluable, as it eliminates the need to purchase temporary insurance or rely on inadequate local healthcare options during transitional periods.

4. Customized Expat Insurance Solutions to Suit Your Unique Needs

Expat healthcare needs vary based on factors such as age, pre-existing conditions, lifestyle, and destination country. Every expat needs to get a plan that recognizes this diversity and offers customized solutions to suit your unique needs and preferences. There are lots of policies in the market that should be able to meet your requirements, whether you’re a young professional seeking basic coverage or a family with specific healthcare requirements. 

Speaking of families, if you plan to have children when living abroad, make sure you get a plan that covers maternity and birth expenses. Remember that all individual health policies have at least a nine—or twelve-month waiting period for these expenses. These waiting periods can’t be waived for individuals, but some group plans for expat employers can cover existing pregnancies. 

Whether you get a basic or comprehensive plan with additional perks such as wellness programs, dental care, and maternity services, most insurers will let you tailor your insurance policy to meet your budget. The better the insurer and coverage, the more you will have to pay. Some expats will choose a large deductible to save on premiums. 

Note that most plans have a coverage area that excludes the USA, but many expats who live near the United States and Americans will choose to include the USA in their plan and pay the higher premium.  

Some Final Thoughts on Global Medical Plans

As noted above, securing a global medical plan is critical for almost all global citizens abroad. In fact, some countries, such as Spain and Thailand, will require you to provide proof of coverage to secure your permanent residence or visa application. If you are relocating to Madrid as an American citizen you must go through a smooth immigration process with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer. They also can help you understand the international healthcare coverages. Make sure you read the fine print and understand what you are buying before you “sign on the dotted line.” Prioritizing your healthcare abroad is a great start to your next adventure abroad.


Mony Shah

With an adept skill of curating content on multiple genres, Mony has harnessed success as a Content Writer quickly. Find her sharing profound thoughts and opinions on business, finance and tech niches.

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