When you are abroad, the way health care works and the prices are often very different from your home country.
So, choosing the right type of international medical coverage is crucial. It will allow you to leave with peace of mind and save you from unpleasant surprises.
But very often, expats and future expats get confused or overwhelmed when they analyze international health care coverage from different insurers.
It is important to ask yourself the right questions to make the best choice.
Here you will find some tips that will help you to choose yours.
There Are International Health Coverage Plans for Every Situation
International Health Care Coverage Can Be Provided by the Employer
An expatriate can have his medical coverage paid by his employer.
This solution can be very interesting depending on the country of expatriation. But it is important to verify the services provided, as well as the ceilings and deductibles.
It can happen that they do not cover the needs of an expat. Especially if repatriation is not included. Or if the coverage stops when you travel to another country.
It is also possible that the proposed policy is not enough to cover the expatriate’s needs on-site:
- By excluding certain benefits
- By providing insufficient reimbursements
- By not covering procedures in the private sector
- By imposing to be treated in a specific health care network
- By not covering all family members.
International Health Coverage Changes From Country to Country
You must also take into account the country in which you will be expatriated when making your choice.
In some countries, there is a compulsory health insurance plan. And the expatriate may be required to join, even if he or she has already taken out medical insurance with international coverage.
If you are a European Union citizen, and you are expatriating to another country inside the EU, you must apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). It gives you access to the same medical care as the locals, without any prior steps.
This application is free of charge. But it must be made before your departure. The EHIC is nominative: each member of the family must have one.
Be careful, however, because it does not provide international health coverage. You should consider taking out a supplementary policy to benefit from extended guarantees.
For example, repatriation, care outside the host country, or to benefit from higher reimbursements if the local health insurance system is not very protective.
In many countries, compulsory plans do not exist. And it is then necessary to turn to a private insurer.
Without insurance, the entire cost of care has to be paid by the patient. And some countries or institutions require proof of insurance before providing care to a sick or injured person.
International Health Insurance Coverage Solutions
Private companies offer a wide range of policies. And the most suitable one will not be the same for everyone.
International Medical Insurance Coverage With Social Security
Sometimes, Social Security provides coverage to citizens that move abroad. You should check if it’s the case in your country.
Depending on your age, it can be an interesting option. In many cases, the fees are very attractive for young people and retirees.
Social Security is especially interesting for people suffering from chronic illnesses or serious medical conditions.
Unlike other insurance companies, it doesn’t refuse membership applications or apply additional fees.
However, this option alone is not a satisfactory solution for international medical coverage in countries where the cost of care is high.
Most of the time, the reimbursements provided are calculated according to the same prices as in your home country. And this amount can be too low in certain territories. In those cases, the patient needs to pay the difference.
Social Security suffers from another downside: its offer is very limited and not flexible at all. And most of the time even lacks repatriation assistance.
To solve this, many expats take out supplementary insurance with a private company. But this makes it necessary to manage two separate contracts. And the procedures get multiplied.
Medical Insurance With International Coverage From the 1st Euro
International health coverage plans “from the first euro/dollar” are the most popular type of insurance among expats. They provide a good quality-price ratio, they are flexible, and there are many different formulas out there.
Specialized offers exist for certain destinations, for students, or people on temporary work contracts. And it is possible to subscribe to specific guarantees according to the needs of each person.
They can provide very complete coverage, well beyond health expenses.
These solutions cover medical care from the first euro spent. And up to the actual cost anywhere in the world (even in your home country). They are also independent of any other type of coverage.
But you need to take in mind that having international medical insurance coverage with a private company does not exempt you from affiliating with the local system if it is mandatory.
The companies that market these solutions specialize in international insurance.
This allows them to provide their policyholders with optimal coverage in partner healthcare networks. And to benefit from third-party payment for hospitalization, in addition to adapted reimbursements.
The management of the contract and the procedures are done in your language for ease of use. And also the communication with the advisors that will attend you anywhere in the world.
However, there is one main drawback to the first-euro offers. There is a compulsory medical questionnaire to be filled at the time of enrollment. It may lead to certain exclusions of coverage or increases in the fees.
To choose the best international medical coverage according to your situation, it is recommended to request a free quote or to use an online comparator.
It will help you to estimate the price of your future policy or to find a more advantageous contract than the one you already have.
Frequently Asked Questions About International Medical Coverage
In some cases, yes. But not in all of them.
This can be a very interesting solution, although it is important to check the coverage offered, as well as the ceilings and deductibles. It’s important to check for:
– Repatriation assistance
– Coverage for medical care provided in a country other than the country of residence.
The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is used in case of a temporary stay in the territory of a European Union Member State other than the country of origin. It’s valid regardless of the nature of the stay:
– Professional stay
– Linguistic stay
It is also valid regardless of the status of the cardholder:
There are two solutions for international health insurance coverage:
– The “first euro” policies. They have a good quality/price ratio, and reimbursements from the first euro spent, They are often recommended among the expats, despite the medical questionnaire which can lead to exclusions of guarantees
– Social Security. There is no medical questionnaire, and it usually accepts all requests. On the other hand, reimbursements are low, which makes it unattractive without a complementary plan. Also, it’s important to note that is not available in all countries.