Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Living abroad can be exciting, rewarding, and exhilarating for you and your family. There are lots of things to consider before and after you have moved abroad, such as taxes, housing, moving your possessions, tickets, visa and last but not least, global health insurance. Your health coverage from home almost certainly will not cover you abroad, so you have to think about insurance for injuries and illnesses that may occur while enjoying expat life.

International health insurance is filled with lots of confusing terms and fine print, which makes deciding on coverage all the more difficult. If you are lucky enough to have your employer provide you coverage under a group expat health plan, then the coverage should be quite comprehensive and, in most circumstances, cover you and your family with no medical underwriting and full coverage for pre-existing conditions. Some smaller expat employers will ask you to secure your coverage.

Levels of Global Healthcare

So, if you have to obtain your global health insurance, you will have to choose a plan that will meet your unique requirements and budget. Most plans will offer three or four levels of overall coverage to meet the budget of most expats by offering more basic to comprehensive coverage. Generally, the more expensive plans will have higher maximums and cover more medical procedures.

Options Available

Global health plans will have a base coverage for anything related to conditions treated in a hospital setting. Expats can then add out-patient care, which is medical care outside a hospital and can include items such as doctors’ visits, scans, x-rays, and physio and prescription drugs. You can then add wellness care, which will cover annual physicals. If you are residing in a county with limited medical facilities, it is recommended that you get optional medical evacuation coverage. Note that a medical evac has to be coordinated and approved by the insurer.

Another option for expats to consider is adding vision and dental to their international health plan. Dental insurance for expats can be a great option if you have children who may need braces as orthodontics may be covered.

Do You Want Coverage for the USA?

The majority of global medical plans will cover you globally excluding the United States, except for emergencies while there for up to 30 or 60 days per year. If you are an expat living in United States, coverage for the USA will automatically be included. Many American expats will choose to include coverage for the USA because they want to be able to seek treatment when back in the States. Some non-US citizens may want to be able to seek treatment in the USA or may live nearby, such as the Caribbean.

Other Considerations

Another consideration is maternity coverage. If you plan to become pregnant while you live overseas, it is important that you get a plan that fully covers pregnancy. Note that individual plans will exclude pregnancy for 12 months waiting period. The rates will be impacted by your age, citizenship, where you are residing and the deductible you choose.

Covering Existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you should disclose this at the time of application and see if the insurer can cover you with or without a medical loading. Sometimes the insurance company will issue an exclusion for the condition or you could be declined outright. Talking to an expat insurance broker such as ourselves can provide some advice on this front. We are your independent advocate in dealing with the insurer and the rates and coverage are the same regardless. Our firm can assist you in your underwriting and after a plan is put in place. 

Choosing Global Healthcare Wisely

Other items to consider are the service and support that the broker and the insurer will provide you both before and after your purchase. We recommend working with a large and respected global health insurer with an extensive medical network that can allow for reimbursement via their medical network.



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