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Our complete guide to understanding the importance of international health insurance

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Health Insurance for Living Abroad



Health insurance while living abroad can be a complex issue. There are many details that depend heavily on your country of origin.

In some countries, you get coverage from your national Social Security. While in others, this system doesn’t even exist.

To make sure you are protected while you are expatriated, it’s crucial to know about the most common possibilities.

Here, we are giving you a few keys to help you find your way among the different options of medical insurance for living abroad.

International Medical Insurance for Living Abroad

The most common health insurance for citizens living abroad is the international medical insurance, often called “first euro” or “first dollar”.

Insurance for Expatriates

This type of policy is specifically designed for expatriates who wish to have health coverage adapted to their situation.

They cover health expenses from the first euro spent, hence their name.

These insurances cover health expenses incurred in the country of residence as well as in other countries, especially during stays in the home country.

In addition, they include repatriation insurance in case of serious or long-term illness or serious accident.

Expertise Abroad

Generally, this type of health insurance for living abroad is offered by companies specialized in medical coverage overseas.

They allow you to benefit from their expertise in the field and from favorable conditions.

For example, these insurances often have partnerships with local health networks.

This allows them to offer preferential rates and reduced reimbursement times. And also a waiver of advance payment in case of hospitalization.

Health Insurance for Living Abroad through Social Security

In some countries, when you leave to relocate yourself overseas, you are still covered by Social Security.

This is usually the case if you are sent abroad to work in a company from your home country that has presence in foreign territories.

Health Insurance for Citizens Living Abroad

In the countries where it’s available, Social Security has the condition of public service for the citizen. It insures all the nationals who so wish.

And unlike private insurance companies, it cannot refuse any member or charge any additional premium.

This solution can therefore be useful for people suffering from pre-existing conditions, i.e. serious chronic diseases or having undergone major surgery.

Inadequate Reimbursements to the Cost of Care Abroad

On the other hand, the major issue when using Social Security as medical insurance for living abroad is the amount of its reimbursements.

They are often calculated taking as a reference the cost of care in your country.

Consequently, these reimbursements are largely insufficient for people living in countries where this cost is higher, such as the United States, Switzerland, or many Latin American countries.

Complementary Insurance to Social Security

This is why some companies offer “complementary Social Security insurance”. These allow you to benefit from better reimbursements or even extended coverage in your health insurance for living abroad.

However, this solution implies subscribing to two insurance policies, which is expensive and does not facilitate the administrative procedures.

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This is also interesting:

What countries should I move to? The best countries to move to are not the same for everyone! Finding the ideal destination depends first of all on what is expected on a personal level.


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