expat network

Top Tips For Arranging Expat Health Insurance

health insurance
One of the biggest concerns that many expats have when moving overseas relates to healthcare insurance and the quality and availability of medical provisions in their host country. While the healthcare available in the west is generally well developed and up to a high standard, this may not necessarily be the case in locations overseas and the availability of good facilities is a key consideration when assessing if an expat destination will be suitable.


Before you go

  • Research – Before you move abroad thoroughly research the available healthcare in state and private healthcare systems. Check the reputation of the private healthcare in the country and where it is located.  Consider the proximity of facilities to where you plan to live.  If the good quality facilities are in the large cities, how easy will it be for you to get there?
    If you have  pre-existing health condition how good are the facilities available to provide your with the treatment you require if the condition comes back?  Ensure that you take copies of your health records with you so that the health professionals are fully informed when planning any treatment required.   You should check that any prescription medicines that you need are available and that it is legal to take some with you.  Prescription medicines may be available under a different brand name.
  • Country-specific risks – Understand the specific risks in the host country you are moving to where there may be specific diseases that are prevalent. You can refer to or encountering health problems than others, and it is best to make a decision on whether these risks are worth taking when you are armed with the full facts. The World Health Organization  guidance on International Travel and Health where you can find up to date information about worldwide health risks and the immunizations needed in your host country.  You should ensure that any vaccinations required are up to date or ensure you book to have injections before you leave.
  • Health check – It is worth considering a full check-up at your Doctor and dentist to ensure that you do not have any issues that may lead to problems.


Expat Health Insurance: Key Considerations

When seeking a provider for expat health insurance there are a number of things that you need to take into consideration. Here’s an overview of some of the factors that should be addressed when selecting a provider:

Selecting a Health Insurance Provider

The key considerations when selecting a health insurance plan are as follows:

  • Know yourself – Any policy needs to cover you and the lifestyle that you lead.  If you live an active life and participate in potentially dangerous activities you will need to ensure that the policy will not exclude cover for any resulting accidents.  If you are older will the policy be renewable as you get older?  You also need to be sure that it will cover any pre-existing conditions.  You should be sure you answer any questions honestly when seeking a quotation as you do not want to be refused coverage when they find that you did not disclose medical tests or treatment prior to taking out the coverage.
  • Review the insurer’s reputation – Any insurance provider will have some people who have a bad experience with a claim or some other issue.  You should, however, look at review websites to see the overall reputation that the insurer has.   If you need to call upon the coverage due to a major accident or illness you want to be confident that they will be able to give you access to the facilities you need and that they will be efficient in dealing with any claims.
  • Costs – Consider the cost of the insurance, but make sure that the cost saving is not driven by inadequate cover.  Cheapest is not always best and you need to be sure that you are assessing on the basis of the coverage you need and comparing like with like.
  • Coverage – Be sure that you understand what coverage you will have.  Will you have freedom to choose which hospital or Doctor or hospital you receive treatment from?  Is maternity care included and does it also include coverage for any complications that may occur?  Is an additional premium required to obtain the level of coverage you require?
  • Claims handling – The ability of the insurance company to manage claims is fundamental.  The availability of 24/7 customer support 365 days a year should also be considered as you want to be sure you can arrange coverage quickly and easily if an emergency occurs in country where you are unfamiliar with how things work.  You should also understand whether there is a direct billing process in place ensuring that the doctor and hospital costs will be settled directly without you having to pay and then claim the money back later. Costs can be significant and the absence of direct billing can cause significant financial difficulties at a time when you are going through a very difficult time already.
  • Availability of a second opinion – If you have a serious condition you want to be sure that the diagnosis is correct and that the best treatment option is being followed.  Most international policies will allow you to seek a second opinion, but make sure that it does.


Ultimately, you need to ensure that you are getting the coverage you need, at a price you can afford from an insurance provider who can deliver what you need efficiently and effectively where you need to be covered.