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How to arrange your international healthcare insurance when moving abroad

Apr 07, 2021 by Monica Garcia

Are you going to move and work abroad soon? What an exciting and life-changing adventure you are about to experience! Of course, it’s essential to be optimally prepared for this new adventure, as it will save you from a lot of unnecessary trouble during and after your moving process. One aspect that is extremely important to check before you move (especially during pandemic times) is your healthcare coverage. In this article, you can find everything regarding international healthcare insurance options, what to keep in mind when choosing one and what to do if you already have one in your current home country.

hospital sign

What is international healthcare insurance and why is it so important?

International healthcare insurance provides much broader coverage than standard travel insurance. It is specially designed for expats to have additional access to healthcare services in their new country, such as a wider choice of hospitals, dental care, access to 24/7 multilingual assistance... Furthermore, it is much more flexible than domestic coverage as international healthcare insurance covers you wherever you go, including your new country of residence, your home country, and your travels.

What does it cover?

Although it is possible to find different options in the market, the core package offered by insurance companies usually includes hospital care, surgeries, dental treatment, emergencies, and general consultations. 

However, it is good to mention that you can customize your international healthcare insurance by adding extra features to ensure your needs are covered. Some of the add ons can be psychological support, vaccinations, optical care, maternity/paternity covers, repatriation... 

Your domestic health insurance plan and switching policies

A question that many (soon to be) expats might have is for how long they can rely on their domestic healthcare plan or state healthcare cover after moving abroad. In the first case, it’s essential to check the cancelation policy of the insurance company. Some policies may have restricted cancellation dates or a cost involved, particularly if you have outstanding payments or a fixed-term contract. In the case you are only covered by state healthcare, your coverage usually ends once you cease your employment. However, when changing your residence to your new country, there may be restrictions on when you start being eligible for state healthcare. 

For this reason, make sure that you avoid a coverage gap when switching policies by taking out international health insurance before you move. This will also let you focus on other aspects, like finding an apartment or other practical issues!

Your international healthcare insurance and EHIC card

As a citizen of the European Union, you are entitled to apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in the EU country you have settled your residence. This card gives you access to state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in EU/EEA and Switzerland under the same conditions as people insured in that country. However, the EHIC is not an alternative to your international healthcare insurance, as it doesn’t cover any long-term treatments and is valid as long as you work in the country where it was issued.

man in the nature

How to choose international healthcare insurance

When taking out international healthcare insurance, it is necessary to consider, apart from your budget, all aspects of your lifestyle and your health needs. You probably want to practice a sport that involves some risks, or you have a medical condition that might modify the conditions of the policy. Besides checking what the insurance actually covers, some other aspects to keep in mind are:

  • The co-payment and deductible amount (the frequency and how much you need to pay)
  • Claim Policy - make sure you exactly know what the eventual limits and restrictions are
  • Documentation needed - you might need to provide an accurate medical history with all your medical health conditions. 
  • Cancellation period
  • Network size of hospitals, doctors, or other medical facilities
  • 24/7 support and in which languages
  • Countries where the insurance is effective, and what the medical evacuation and repatriation conditions are. 

All in all, make sure that all your questions are answered so that there will never be unpleasant surprises. To be extra safe, ask your insurance company to inform you about optional insurance enhancements and look if your policy will include everything you need. You don’t want to take any risks when it comes to healthcare, especially not as an expat!

How much does international healthcare insurance approximately cost?

The international healthcare insurance cost is usually determined by different factors such as the area of coverage, the limits, the amount of deductible, your medical history, your age, the add-ons, and the policy's duration.  Therefore, it is difficult to estimate an average amount that could fit all cases. For example, a large price influence is to include the United States within the area of coverage due to the high cost of healthcare in the country. Another factor can be the deduction level. The higher the amount you are willing to pay for your healthcare reduces your insurance payments. In general, most insurance companies include the option on their website to get a free quote so that you get an idea of the cost before actually taking the insurance out.

healthcare tools

International healthcare insurance and Covid-19

Another aspect to check during these times is whether or not the international healthcare insurance you want to take out includes the treatment costs for Covid-19 in the same way as it would for other viral infections, or if it has exclusions in place for pandemics. The conditions may vary between insurance companies, and it’s essential to read in detail every policy regarding this matter. 

Covid-19 test

If the international healthcare insurance plan covers routine screenings, you might be eligible for reimbursement of the Covid-19 tests you might need to take in the future. Keep in mind that it might only be covered if you present symptoms and not for other purposes like traveling. 

Medical evacuation and repatriation during Covid-19

In case your international healthcare insurance includes medical evacuations and repatriations, they will still be arranged if suitable treatment for Covid-19 is not available where you are. However, note that this benefit might be affected by the mobility restrictions to contain the pandemic, and it might be excluded from your policy if you have traveled against the governmental or institutional recommendations.

woman wearing facemask during covid-19

Workwide Recruit’s selection - International healthcare insurance from Expatriate Group

Indeed, choosing the right international health insurance can be a bit challenging and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Most people start with reading reviews and checking insurance coverage. With this search, they get an idea of the customer service quality and which one fits their needs better. As an expat, you can find plenty of options being Expatriate Group one that Workwide Recruit highly recommends. They are experienced in delivering international healthcare insurance to expats worldwide - they have covered over 225,000 expats in 182 countries in total for the last 25 years. 

With Expatriate Group, you can get international healthcare insurance for the long or short term (3-11 months) and are guaranteed to get instant healthcare (no need to wait), 24/7 Emergency Medical Assistance, and Comprehensive protection. Moreover,  some of their key features included in all their plans are considered like add-ons in other insurance providers, such as pre-existing medical conditions coverage, no hospital restrictions, dental and optical care, complementary medicines/therapies, etc. 

Certainly, Expatriate Group makes sure that expats don’t have to worry about access to healthcare anywhere their lives take them by designing plans that specifically meet their needs. Not sure which international healthcare insurance plan is more appropriate for your case?  Request a quote today to know more!