How to choose an international student health insurance when you are a student going abroad?
Many criteria must be taken into account: length of stay abroad, host country, cost of health care at destination, etc.
International health insurance for students in Europe
If you are going to study in a European country for a maximum of one year, you are entitled to the same reimbursements as the country’s inhabitants. To do this, you must request the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your student health insurance company, at least 15 days before your departure.
It is valid for one year in all European Union countries, as well as in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.
This way, you do not have to do anything else in your host country. There is even an application for the EHIC, which allows you to easily find out about social security coverage by country and the steps to take in order to receive care.
However, be aware that in some countries, it is necessary to advance the amount of your health expenses before being reimbursed.
The services covered and the reimbursements provided with international health insurance for students in Europe are not identical in all countries, and health expenses incurred in the private sector are rarely covered. It is therefore important to find out how much your health care will cost you abroad, for example, by finding out the rates and reimbursements for consultations, routine tests and pharmaceutical costs.
International student health insurance outside Europe
If you are going to study outside of Europe, the issue of health coverage is more complex.
The particular case of students under 20 years old
If you are under 20 years of age, certain urgent medical expenses are reimbursed by your parents’ social security health insurance fund (or equivalent), within the limit of the current fixed rates from your native country (if applicable). You must meet 3 conditions:
- Go to an institution that prepares an official degree
- Provide a school certificate
- Return to your home country at least once during the academic year
Urgent and unforeseen medical expenses must be paid on site. When you return to your home country, you must present the invoices and proof of payment.
However, it is difficult to know exactly what urgent care is reimbursed. In addition, current health expenses (treatment of allergies or asthma, contraception, etc.) are not covered. It is therefore strongly recommended to take out international health insurance for students in order to benefit from adequate coverage when studying abroad.
Cheapest health insurance for international students
There are two ways to get health coverage while studying abroad.
Local health insurance
In some countries, you can join the student or general social security system. In this case, you should contact the local authorities to find out the procedures to follow and the level of coverage.
In many cases, it is recommended that you also subscribe to a complementary health insurance plan to benefit from sufficient reimbursements adapted to your personal needs and health status.
Private international health insurance
These insurance plans cover health expenses from the first euro/dollar spent. They do not require any membership or affiliation to your home country Social Security or to a local plan.
However, be careful: if membership in a local plan is mandatory, you will still have to pay the corresponding contributions, even if all your health care costs are covered by the insurance from the first euro/dollar.
Generally, these insurance plans offer good value for money and provide quality reimbursements, as well as coverages and services adapted to the situation of an international student abroad (repatriation insurance, waiver of advance payment in case of hospitalization, etc.).
There are many plans on the market, and some have been designed specifically for students. Depending on your budget and your needs, you can add covers to the package you have purchased and thus benefit from an à la carte insurance.
The companies that market this type of coverage to students have often developed useful tools such as mobile applications that provide access to lists of practitioners or health facilities, translators of names of drugs or illnesses, or advisors able to provide medical or administrative information.
The main drawback of this type of international student health insurance is the requisite to fill out a medical questionnaire upon enrollment.
This is rarely a problem for young people in good health, but in the case of pre-existing medical conditions such as chronic illness, it can lead to certain exclusions of coverage or an increase in the premium.
Online insurance comparators are available free of charge on the internet. They allow you to choose the cheapest health insurance for international students free in a few clicks and compare the rates and coverage of the different offers on the market.