Health insurance for British citizens living abroad often raises many questions. Every country is different and it might be difficult to understand what coverage you will have in the country of expatriation.
Several solutions exist, and not all have the same advantages.
Local Systems Are Rarely Advantageous
UK citizens living abroad may wonder whether it is in their interest to use the local system for their health insurance.
It is only mandatory in a minority of countries, mostly European. And the health coverage offered is sometimes very limited. Given the often higher costs of care abroad, the bill can quickly rise for the insured.
However, this solution can be advantageous when good health coverage is provided by the employer. But in any case, local systems do not cover care received during stays outside the country of residence.
And it is necessary to look for other options for better coverage, more adapted to the needs of expatriates.
This is why most expats turn to international offers designed for their needs. The most recommended medical insurance for UK citizens living abroad is the one known as “fist euro insurance”.
Medical Insurance for UK Citizens Living Abroad Through the NHS
Something important to note is that the NHS (National Health Service) will only cover you during short stays abroad. If you leave the UK permanently, you will lose the right to be covered by it.
And even to be covered during your short trips, you will have to get a UK GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) before leaving.
This card will give you the right to receive medical care in the European Union and Switzerland in the same conditions as their locals.
No Medical Questionnaire
A big benefit that the NHS offers is the absence of a medical questionnaire at the moment of enrollment. This is present in most private insurances, and it can lead to coverage exclusions or an increase in the fees.
If you have pre-existing medical conditions, the NHS is a very advantageous insurance.
There are other important limitations with the NHS. The health coverage offered lacks flexibility. And the cost of membership can be quite high compared to the price of private health insurance for UK citizens living abroad.
Reimbursements are based on the British scales. Which will not correspond to the high rates of care practiced abroad, particularly in the United States or in private establishments in Latin America.
In some cases, you might be able to get supplementary insurance to increase the level of coverage. This can be a solution, but it implies managing two contracts with two entities. And paying a second contribution.
“First Euro” Health Insurance for UK Citizens Living Abroad
A Flexible Health Insurance for British Citizens Living Abroad
Taking out a “first euro” insurance policy is often the most interesting choice for British people living abroad.
These contracts are offered by many private companies. As their name indicates, they cover health expenses from the first euro spent.
However, it is important to know that these companies ask you to fill in a health questionnaire when you subscribe. It can lead to an exclusion of guarantees or an increase in the fees in case of medical pre-existing conditions.
This type of health insurance for British citizens living abroad is very flexible. It’s possible to add or remove services, to adapt them to each person’s situation, budget or needs.
A More Comfortable Solution
These insurance solutions allow you to centralize the procedures with a single contact entity. And they are generally based on partnerships with local health networks. This grants you efficient coverage and reimbursements. Preferential rates are also offered sometimes.
For reasons of comfort and security, it is always advisable to turn to a British insurance company. All communications and procedures will be carried out in English. And the contract will be under UK laws.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are different possibilities to expatriate abroad:
– Local insurance companies in your country of expatriation
– The host country’s public health system
– The NHS (only in case of short stays abroad)
– The “first euro” insurances, offered by many private companies.
The health coverage offered by the NHS is only valid for short stays in the EU or Switzerland if you get a UK GHIC before departure.
Reimbursements are made based on British scales, which do not correspond to the cost of care abroad.
To find out the different prices and to compare them, you can do a simulation on the international insurance comparator set up by Expat Assurance.