Anybody that goes to study abroad should choose international student medical insurance carefully.
Health care can be very expensive in many countries. And having to pay a hospital bill out of the pocket can be a traumatic experience. So, it’s almost mandatory to start thinking about your medical coverage well before leaving.
In this article, you will find some tips for choosing the best health insurance for students studying abroad. And some information about the different options available.
Public Health Insurance for Students Studying Abroad
The Limits of Social Security as Student Health Insurance Abroad
If you are covered by your home country’s Social Security, you might find many restrictions. It’s common that these policies only cover sudden and unforeseeable illnesses. And in many cases, they exclude elements like contraception or regular treatments for chronic illnesses like:
Reimbursements are made at the level of your home country’s conventional rates, independently of the amounts paid abroad.
Also, they are done only after you request them. And you must first advance the costs of consultations and treatments received, and then present all invoices and receipts.
In reality, it is difficult to evaluate in advance the expenses that will be covered by your student health insurance abroad. It depends on many factors as your country of residence and the amounts to be paid. The remaining expenses can be exorbitant.
A lot of times, the reimbursements from Social Security are exceptional. It is, therefore, better not to expect too much and to choose another type of coverage.
Affordable Health Insurance for International Students With the EHIC
If you are from one of the European Union countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, it is possible to obtain a European Health Insurance Card. This only applies if you are going to study in one of these territories.
You can request it at least 15 days before leaving. It’s free and valid for one year. It allows you to benefit from the same health care as the inhabitants of the host country, on simple presentation. Often, you will still have to pay in advance before being reimbursed.
However, not all countries offer the same reimbursement ceilings and the same conditions of coverage. In some of them, health care rates may be higher than in your home country, and reimbursements may only concern certain treatments or be partial.
Often, this health insurance for students studying abroad is only valid in the local public medical system. However, not all European countries have the same infrastructure, and waiting times for treatment can sometimes be very long.
To receive proper treatment, students must turn to the private sector and pay for the entire cost themselves.
So, before leaving, you should gather some information on the costs of assistance. And consider taking out additional insurance if needed.
What Is the Best Health Insurance for Students Studying Abroad?
If the host country does not offer sufficient medical coverage, a student abroad has several alternatives for health insurance.
“1st Euro/Dollar” Policies: Good International Student Medical Insurance
These policies are very popular among students and expats. They are a type of private insurance that reimburses all the expenses from the first euro incurred, up to the actual cost of the care received.
These solutions are offered by many companies specialized in international student medical insurance.
They take into account the specific needs of expatriates, which makes it possible to negotiate a contract that is adapted to the individual situation of the student. And to the actual costs of medical expenses in the country of destination.
This type of contract offers worldwide coverage. The student will therefore also be covered if he/she visits another country during the stay abroad. Or if he/she receives care in their home country during a temporary return.
The services that must be included are:
- Routine care
These are normally included in all contracts for students abroad. But they can also be supplemented by more specific coverage adapted to the needs of each insured. Both in terms of medical care and daily life (for example, with loss and theft insurance for identity papers).
This flexibility is one of the major advantages of this type of health insurance, and attracts many expatriate students.
On the other hand, there is a mandatory medical questionnaire at the time of enrollment. And it might lead to an increase in the premium or certain exclusions of coverage. Particularly in the case of a chronic illness or other pre-existing medical conditions.
Social Security With a Supplementary Policy
As we just saw, Social Security is affordable health insurance for international students. But its coverage is not very exhaustive.
The main drawback is the low reimbursements, which are calculated according to your home country’s rates for some services (such as consultations). Or as a percentage of the actual costs for others (notably hospitalizations).
In both cases, the out-of-pocket expenses for the insured are often significant in many countries where health care is more expensive. Social Security presents also a big lack of flexibility. Repatriation services might not be covered.
To benefit from extended coverage and more interesting reimbursements, it is necessary to take out supplementary insurance with another company.
This means an additional fee. And if this coverage is not taken out as an all-in-one package, there will be two contracts to manage and procedures to carry out with two entities.
But Social Security has a significant advantage. It does not require a medical questionnaire at the time of enrollment and covers chronic illnesses.
It can therefore be a health insurance option for students abroad to consider when suffering from medical pre-existing conditions.
Local Health Insurance for Students Studying Abroad
The third option on health insurance for students studying abroad is getting a local plan.
This solution has certain advantages, but it is also complex and risky. To manage your contract and to take the necessary steps, you must master the language of the host country. And understand the health care system.
Even if the local insurance offers interesting reimbursements, it will only work, in most cases, in the student’s country of residence. It will not cover treatment during stays in the home country, nor for coverage in case of repatriation.
It is therefore an incomplete solution that must be carefully considered before being taken out.
In general, it is recommended that you choose a company from your country, that specializes in international health insurance for students abroad.
Not only will the contract be covered by your home country’s laws. But also the assistance and the entire management of the contract will be done in English, for more comfort and simplicity.
To find the best health insurance for students studying abroad, taking into account your budget and specific needs, the easiest solution is to use an online comparison service. This process is fast and free.