The top reason for hospital admittance for many expatriates is accidents. This is followed by cancer, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary diseases. The fact that most expats are within the 30 – 55 age range also means that this is the period in their lives where major health issues are often discovered. For these reasons, it’s important to keep these potential issues in mind when searching for international health insurance. Taking out a policy which provides insufficient coverage for your needs could land you in trouble when you least want it.
1 – Seek professional advice
If you’re finding the available options difficult to understand then go and find a professional for help. There are many international health insurance brokers out there who will be able to study you and your family’s situation and give you advice on the best insurance products for you. Just ensure you’re working with an independent advisor who won’t force you towards a single insurer.
2 – Decide where you need coverage
It’s important to ensure that your international medical plan provides you with coverage for where you need it. If you’re only going to be staying in one place then a local plan may be good for you. However, if you will be travelling extensively or would like to be treated back in your home country, then you need to be looking for global coverage options.
3 – Choose your hospitals
In general, many local plans will require you to visit government-run clinics and hospitals for treatment so you may want to check if your plan carries these restrictions. In some cases, you can still have coverage for private care facilities, although with a much higher co-pay. Likewise, does your health insurance plan allow you to choose your own family doctor or specialists? With most schemes restricting treatment to a specific list of panel doctors, you may need to find a provider who will not restrict your healthcare access in such a way.
4 – Pregnancy
If you need an insurance plan to cover maternity benefits then it’s important to look around and find a scheme which can offer high maternity limits, as giving birth at a private hospital can be expensive. Also, in many cases these benefits are subject to a waiting period of between 10 months and 2 years, so make sure you have your insurance in place well before your pregnancy.
5 – Cancer and chronic illness
Coverage of these types of illness is often heavily limited or even excluded from international health insurance plans. Therefore, it can be a wise investment to find a policy which offers a high limit or even unlimited medical expenses, especially if you have a family history of these types of diseases.
6 – Additional healthcare
You will find that most international health insurance policies do not cover items such as general health check-ups and travel vaccinations etc. Along the same lines, other medical benefits such as physiotherapy and osteopathy, and non-traditional treatments such as visiting a chiropractor or acupuncturist are not generally covered except for in the most comprehensive policies. These top policies also can contain other benefits such as virtual doctor visits, providing ultimate convenience, so it’s certainly worth shopping around.
7 – Direct billing
Purchasing a plan with direct billing can be a great help for those who require frequent visits to the doctor, such as those with children. Simply show your health insurance card at the time of your visit and the clinic will settle your account with the insurer directly.