Expat family, business traveller, young professional -
What type of Health Insurance do I need?
Whether you’re a frequent business traveller, a young professional heading to an emerging market to maximise your earning potential or a serial expat family on your fifth international assignment; you need health insurance.
When you are planning a move abroad, trying to find the best health cover for your needs can be a minefield. With hundreds of tiered plans from dozens of providers on the market, you can get lost in the jargon and end up with a plan that falls short of your needs.
Here, health insurance experts Medibroker International explain the differences between the types of health cover available for expatriates, why you need cover for your move overseas, and the best way to buy.
What is International Health Insurance?
International health insurance, also known as International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI), is designed for people living overseas for longer than 12 months. It is not the same as travel insurance, which only covers things like lost baggage and is not suitable for expatriates.
Similarly, IPMI differs from short term medical cover. Short term plans are designed for periods in the gaps between cover, for example if you are working overseas on a short term contract, e.g. two months, but will then return home. You may need short term medical insurance while you wait for your employee insurance plan to take effect during the initial period of employment, but is not a suitable solution for people who will live abroad for longer than 12 months.
Why buy International Health Insurance?
Not every country has free healthcare for all.
Without a comprehensive health plan, you could encounter a number of problems. Moving abroad without the right international health cover can result in visa issues, being denied treatment or extortionate medical bills.
In countries like Singapore, healthcare can be very expensive. For example, the potential costs for childbirth can easily amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
International health insurance can cover everything from getting a prescription abroad to long term treatment and emergency treatment.
IPMI also ensures you can receive private treatment in the UK upon repatriation or during trips home. This is important in the face of the NHS crackdown on ‘health tourism’, which will also mean British expats could be denied treatment.
A compliant international health insurance plan offers financial security and ensures your personal well-being should any medical issues arise, wherever you are in the world. In most cases, international health insurance policies allow customers to choose in which country they receive medical care, in some cases with the option to receive treatment in their home country. This is an attractive benefit if you are based somewhere remote with healthcare facilities of a lower standard than those in your home country.
Perhaps most importantly, an international health insurance policy that is compliant in your country provides you with access to a consistent quality of care because you have access to the best facilities and medical professionals.
In countries like Dubai, there are certain visa requirements in place for prospective residents – and this includes health insurance. Nobody wants to be turned away at the airport because they don’t have the right cover.
Will local cover be sufficient?
It’s wise to get an international plan rather than local cover so that you are covered even when you travel outside of your expat country. An international plan will also entitle you to private healthcare in the UK when you return.
What types of IPMI are available?
• Cover for individuals
International health insurance ensures you get treatment when and where you need it.
• Cover for corporations:
If your company is transferring you to an international office or you are starting a new job abroad, it’s likely that your employer will provide you with health insurance. However, it’s important to ensure you understand exactly what your company plan offers you. Does it fall short of your individual needs? Are your dependents covered? What cover, if any, does it provide if you leave your employer? You may need to purchase an add-on to ensure you are fully covered.
• Cover for families
If you are moving abroad with a family, you can cover everyone with one plan for peace of mind that your loved ones are protected.
What level of cover do I need?
International health insurance plans can be limited to core cover or extended and tailored to meet your individual needs, e.g. to include cover for dental treatment abroad or maternity benefits to cover the costs of pregnancy and childbirth. The type of international health insurance plan you will need depends on where you are going, your own health and an array of other factors.
The complexity of health insurance as a product is one of the reasons why it’s best to use an insurance broker to help you find the most appropriate plan for you.
Why use an insurance broker to buy health cover?
Using a trusted health insurance broker to help you get the best plan for your needs is the easiest way to buy insurance. Comparison sites can’t fully assess your individual requirements, and insurance providers are biased towards their own product.
Nothing beats speaking to an experienced insurance professional.
An international health insurance broker can guide you through the different policies and the extent of the protection they provide. We also provide support for the lifetime of your policy, helping you every step of the way from purchase to renewal and we can liaise with insurers on your behalf should you need to make a claim.
Medibroker can advise you about the type of international health insurance available for expats. If you are moving abroad, request a free quote today. Our advice is completely impartial and we are regulated in the UK by the FCA.
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We would love to hear from you about your experience with health insurance abroad.