How to get started with health insurance for expats

health insurance for expatriates

Living and working abroad is an exciting opportunity for many people, providing experiences to explore the world outside of your home country and immerse yourself in a different country and culture.

Many expatriates would agree on the benefits of living and work in a different country massively outweigh the cons. Just as an example, 41% of expats believe moving abroad has given them a more positive outlook on life!

However, there are important procedures that must be in place to ensure your safety and wellbeing. One main task for expatriates is setting up an International Health Insurance plan.

1. Definition of International Health Insurance for expatriates

International Health Insurance (or International Private Medical Insurance) is a type of insurance that covers the medical expenses of expats travelling, moving, or living abroad long-term, usually for more than 6 months. It covers major medical expenses, such as medical emergencies, In/Day patient care, and sometimes out-patient care.

Most insurers offer the opportunity to either approach your plan in a modular way – where you can select the areas of cover you want – or as a tiered plan. These tiered plans are generally offered by most insurers as three or four standard options ranging in cover levels and price.

All plans can be personalised to fit with anyone’s needs, with easy adjustments to policy benefits, coverage, limits, and excess to match with individual budgets and circumstances.

2. Why is health insurance for expatriates so important?

Although exploring different parts of the world is an exciting opportunity, it can also be confusing and stressful when navigating a culture that is different to home. International Health Insurance does not only just make things easier for expats when abroad but is essential.

Below are some reasons why it is such an important aspect of long-term travel:

  • When facing a different culture, which can include a language barrier or low quality of healthcare, having a healthcare plan can give you the guarantee and freedom to be fully covered – no stress
  • Can save you paying out large amounts of money from your own pocket (when facing extremely expensive private medical care in certain countries)
  • Faster treatment
  • The quality of healthcare can vary around the world – as a foreign national, expats and their families, will not likely be entitled to free / subsidised healthcare
  • For certain entry VISAs / resident permits, it is a requirement to have proof of medical insurance


3. What are the basics that expatriates need covered?

Every Health Insurance plan will have similar basic frameworks, providing the minimum (but most essential) cover, which expats have to view as a must!
These must-haves are:

  • Essential hospital treatment
  • Emergency medical evacuation / Repatriation
  • In / Day patient & Out-patient benefits (same as domestic)
  • A network of hospitals to ensure a direct settlement for In-patient & Day patient treatments
  • Surgeon / Consultation fees
  • Hospital accommodation

At the core of most International Health Insurance plans, the focus is generally on cost and wellness, with the emphasis being on being able to get priority healthcare for the most reasonable cost. Regarding a focus on wellness, the drive for most Health Insurance plans is to reduce stress and negativity approaching a different country’s healthcare system.

4. Starting questions to ask?

Building off the basic core cover offered by most insurers, expats can then personalise and adapt their plan to suit them. But how do you go from this simple plan to more? Below are some basic questions and topics that can help towards making final decisions on what each individual needs.

  • How long will you need cover?
  • Which countries and regions do you need cover for?
  • What specific medical needs do you, or your family, have?
  • What is your budget?
  • Does your visa / resident permit have any requirements?
  • What are the costs of specific procedures in your expat country?

From this point, you can either build on or take off from the basic insurance plan!

5. Personalising your international health insurance plan

After addressing these questions, expats can map out which optional benefits they would need, individual to each person.

Some added benefits could be:

  • Maternity Insurance: pre & post-natal treatments, caesarean section, normal delivery, complications, fertility treatment delivery, hospital / home delivery costs
  • Family cover
  • Private GP & doctor’s visits
  • Accident & emergency admissions
  • Hereditary & congenital conditions
  • Wellness benefits
  • Health screening
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Virtual doctor / telemedicine
  • Prescriptions

There are also ways expats can minimise their plans, reducing costs and adjusting to needs:

  • Restrict access to medically recognised hospitals / clinics
  • Semi-private accommodation
  • Reduce areas of cover
  • Covering only serious medical conditions
  • Choose to pay a higher excess

Personalising your International Health Insurance plan always stems from the basics of healthcare. This guide outlines which parts are an absolute must for expatriates when travelling but also how it can be tailored to fit with everyone. Look here to find out more on International Health Insurance for expatriates.

Contact us through Engage Health Group for our free no-obligation advice and support and discover more on what is on offer for expats.

Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor Chilvers

Eleanor started at Engage in 2021, and is now a Digital Content Writer after studying BA English Literature at University of Sussex for the last 3 years.

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