What to consider before choosing an expat health insurance policy
When relocating to a new country, an international health insurance cover is essential, especially when you are relocating with children. There are numerous expat health insurance providers and several things you need to consider before you choose a cover. While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest or the first one you come across, you need to put more thought into it.
The reputation of the insurer plays a huge role in this and so does their financial stability. There would be no point in getting coverage from an insurer that will not be of much help when you need it the most. Let’s look at some other important factors that need considering when choosing expat health insurance cover.
Evaluate your healthcare requirements thoroughly
The plan should be right for you and your family. You need to consider your age, lifestyle, as well as medical history. If you have a young family and don’t suffer from any chronic illnesses, you may consider a policy that only covers emergencies and accidents.
Anyone over 18 years can get individual policies, but if you have young children, you can get one for the whole family. Some health covers may have an upper limit, for example, 70 years old, so if you plan to relocate with a senior, you need to check whether the policy covers them.
Your lifestyle highly impacts the kind of cover you need. If you love sporting activities and any potentially dangerous hobbies, get expat health insurance that will cover any accidents from those activities.
Possibilities of starting or expanding your family
Some people relocate to other countries while still young and eventually decide to start a family. Things can get complicated in terms of healthcare and insurance for those who do not anticipate it. If you feel there is a possibility of starting a family or if you already have a family and plan on having more children while living abroad, choose cover that will offer you pregnancy and new-born benefits. And get this sorted out before you become pregnant. Keep in mind that some insurance companies enforce a waiting period, usually between 10 and 24 months, between the time they issue the policy to the time you can claim any expenses associated with childbirth.
Moving abroad with children is not easy and you also need to think about their dental care, as well as your, or specialised cover for those who play sports.
Before moving overseas, research the implications for expatriates in your host country. Will your family be eligible for public healthcare? Are there any exceptions? The quality of public healthcare varies from country and the differences lie in costs, accessibility, and waiting times for expats. It is imperative that the plan corresponds with the kind of hospital and care you prefer.
Customer services and assistance
Customer support is often overlooked, but it’s still highly important. You need an insurance provider that you can access round the clock because emergencies can happen any time. You need to be confident that when the need arises, you’ll have someone to guide you. Most hospitals will need to get assurance that the payment is guaranteed before offering treatment to an expat.
Does your employer cover you?
Most of the time, expats are sent abroad by employers. Most employers offer employees the company health insurance cover. In this case, find out what the company insurance covers, and whether your family is included. Even though it may be cheaper, ensure that it covers all your needs.
Consider the policy limits
How many claims can you make in a year? Ensure that there is no possibility of the policy running out while still receiving the necessary treatment. One of the best ways to know what your limits are, check how much specific procedures would cost in your host country. Consult a health insurance adviser on the adequate policy limits.
Understand the claim procedure of the policy. Will you be required to present a card or pay the bill then get a refund? Most companies require a pre-authorisation form before a planned treatment to keep medical bills in check. Keep the contact details with you at all times, too.
Evacuation or repatriation
You may be required to evacuate a country due to extreme weather, but repatriation will be done if you need to go home due to an illness. In the case of repatriation, check whether the health cover will offer transport back home or whether they will offer any assistance. This may be quite expensive, especially on an emergency basis.
As you can see, there are many points to take into account when considering an expat health insurance policy. Make sure you get confirmation of all you need, and read the small print. You don’t want to discover something is missing when you need it most of all.