Using your international health insurance while abroad
Before you go abroad, it is essential to learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If an emergency does happen, will your health insurance plan cover medical emergency evacuation overseas? Are you familiar with the payment method overseas in your destination country? Does your insurance cover preventive health checkups while you are working and living overseas? You don’t want to be making phone calls at the last minute to locate medical services if get hurt or sick abroad. In this article, we will discuss the importance of obtaining international health insurance, and how to use your insurance while abroad.
What Does International Health Insurance Plan Cover?
Most expats living and working overseas are not covered by free medical care. Some expats may rely upon the local government medical plan due to the low cost; however, these plans typically do not provide private medical coverage which typically provides a much higher level of care. As the standard of medical care varies greatly from country to country, most expats will want the peace of mind of consistently having private healthcare facilities with English speaking medical staff and overseas trained doctors. These private clinics and hospitals usually cost much more than public medical facilities. Therefore, a guarantee of payment provided by insurers is critical to protecting your financial wellbeing.
An international health insurance plan will provide coverage on hospital outpatient & inpatient treatment (depending on your individual policy), extensive cancer coverage, maternity care (see more detailed information at Maternity Benefits for Expatriates), global medical evacuation coverage, as well as dental & vision care, and wellbeing care. The plan can also let you choose the medical provider such as the hospital and doctor to suit your needs.
Medical Emergency Evacuation Coverage is Vital
You have to prepare for the worst while living abroad as an expat. When visiting some rural or remote area with a serious medical emergency caused by injury or virus, the assistance of air ambulance consists of transporting to the closest medical facility or a nearby country is the only choice. However, the cost of such medical transportation service is often expensive. The decision to evacuate is not dependent on the patient’s will – it usually rests with the ability of local medical providers to treat your illness. Suitable methods of transportation including ambulance, commercial flight, helicopter and air ambulance.
Most local health insurance plans won’t cover the cost of medical emergency evacuation. Therefore, it is important to obtain an international health insurance plan with a medical evacuation policy. Depending on your policy, you will be able to access one or different degrees of medical evacuation coverage.
Preventive Health Checkup and Routine Physical Exams
To prevent you from serious health problems, it is advised to take steps to keep yourself healthy when living overseas. Preventive health checkups such as screening, lab tests and other medical tests will help you stay healthy and avoid any illness before you notice. The medical cost of preventive healthcare at private medical facilities is usually expensive as well. In fact, most local healthcare plans do not include preventive medical checkups. Therefore, a tailored international health insurance plan for preventive medical checkups is recommended in order to keep you healthy.
Please keep in mind that individual expat health insurance plans that offer maternity coverage will only take in effect after a 10 to 12 month waiting period, which means an existing pregnancy will not be covered. Due to the rising costs and risks of giving birth overseas, travel insurance plans do not cover pregnancy-related expenses.
It is important for expats to obtain international health insurance with maternity coverage while residing overseas. Remember Plan ahead to avoid devastating medical expenses.
Obtain International Health Insurance Plan before Departure
Finding the right international health insurance plan is an important decision as you want to be protected and covered when living and working abroad.