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Expat health insurance checklist

A quick checklist for how to choose the health insurance that’s right for you as an expat

Written by Kylie McSimons on 30 September 2016

In the UK, the NHS provides healthcare services to every one of the nation’s more than 64 million residents. Although some people choose to purchase additional private health insurance in order to get a wider choice of doctor and healthcare facility, or to speed up their ability to receive certain services, the truth is that no one needs to purchase insurance in order to see a doctor.

As a British expat living overseas, the healthcare situation is different. UK citizens in Europe can still access healthcare services using their European Health Insurance Card (for the time being), but when they leave the borders of the EU, it becomes much more difficult – and a whole lot more expensive – to access all kinds of healthcare services. Both day-to-day and emergency care can cost a huge amount for expats who don’t have the right coverage plan. So, how to choose the health insurance that’s right for you?

Here are our five essential tips to keep in mind when searching for a health insurance plan:

Thoroughly evaluate your healthcare requirements

To find the plan that’s right for you, take a closer look at your age, your lifestyle, and your family’s medical history.

If you are fairly young, do not regularly take prescription drugs and aren’t expecting to face any chronic health conditions in the next 5 to 10 years, you might consider an insurance policy that only covers accidents and emergencies. This basic coverage plan will keep you and your wallet safe if an unexpected medical situation arises – however, it won’t pay for care related to chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, or serious illnesses such as cancer.

If any of these conditions run in your family, or if you foresee any major non-emergency surgeries in the near future, choose a more comprehensive health insurance plan.

Understand the full needs of your family

If you are moving abroad with your partner and/or your children, it’s essential to understand their healthcare needs as well as your own.

It is nearly always less expensive to buy a single coverage plan that offers health insurance to you and your dependents, so have an honest talk about your current and future requirements. If a new baby might be added to the mix while you’re abroad, consider and insurance plan with good pregnancy and newborn add-on options. Or, if you already have children, think about the care they might need during your time overseas – be it dental, orthodontic, or specialised care for kids who play sports.

Familiarise yourself with key health insurance terms

In order to find the right insurance plan, you’ve got to understand the lingo. Keep in mind that a premium refers to a regular payment you make every month, regardless of whether or not you’ve made an insurance claim.

A deductible, on the other hand, is the money you need to pay for any given medical procedure before your insurance plan kicks in. In general, higher premiums mean lower deductibles – so patients who visit the doctor often will prefer to pay a higher premium and reduce their per-visit cost, while those who only expect to make a claim on accident/emergency services may choose to lower their monthly bill and run the risk of a higher deductible in case a healthcare need arises.

Research the healthcare system in your new country of residence

To help you decide what level of coverage you need, do some research on the healthcare standards and facilities in the country to which you’re expatriating.

In the USA, for example, your employer is required to cover your basic healthcare costs – but many expats still purchase supplementary private insurance due to the nation’s very high costs of care.

In countries like China, there can be a sharp divide between public and private medical facilities, so it’s important to choose a plan that corresponds to the type of doctor and hospital you prefer to visit.

Get professional advice from an insurance adviser

An insurance adviser can offer more tips, suggestions and need-to-know information to expats who aren’t sure which insurance option is right for them.

By speaking with an independent adviser, expats can ensure that they’re getting objective insurance assistance from people who understand insurance and healthcare around the globe.

If you are planning to move overseas for employment, then speaking to a licensed global health insurance broker, such as Pacific Prime, is crucial. As an international insurance broker they can help you identify and secure a plan that will cover all of your needs, including yourself and your family.


In association with

Pacific Prime