Exciting as it is moving abroad, it can also be nerve-wracking. Finding accommodation, settling all the bureaucratic aspects, relocating all your belongings and – arguably the most important – getting the best international health insurance plan.
If you are already researching health insurance companies, you likely know the importance of a solid insurance plan. Admittedly, purchasing a policy can be confusing, and it is going to take a lot of browsing, detailed reading, and comparing insurance policies before you decide on the right one.
International Health Insurance Companies
Here are some of the best international health insurance companies:
- Generali Global Assistance.
- Allianz Worldwide.
- Aetna International.
- Bupa Global.
- Expacare Global Healthcare.
- A Plus International
IMG is a health insurance company, focusing on international and travel health insurance for individuals, families, and companies.
Their three most popular plans include Global Medical Insurance, Global Mission Medical Insurance, and Global Crew Medical Insurance.
Headquartered in France, AXA is one of the leading life and health insurance companies, with operating bases around the world. It offers five different international insurance policies: Foundation, Standard, Comprehensive, Prestige, and Prestige Plus.
Generali Global Assistance
Founded as far back as 1831, the Generali Group is part of Europ Assistance, and aimed mostly at health insurance for businesses with globally mobile employees and employee groups.
There are three different “core plans”, Select, Classic and Premier, and three additional outpatient options. Compliant worldwide, including North America.
Cigna is one of the earliest insurance companies, dating back to 1792.
They offer different levels of coverage for individual health insurance: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. They also offer group health insurance as well as other insurance services across Europe, Asia, and North America.
Another capable, experienced, and well-known insurance company, Allianz offers three different coverage plans, Essential, Classic and Premier, with optional add-ons, such as maternity and dental coverage.
They operate worldwide and are based across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Americas and Africa.
Aetna International is the international subsidiary of the US-based company Fortune 100, which boasts a 160-year experience.
Aetna International offers the MHP Classic Plan and MHP Exclusive Plan for US citizens moving abroad, and Aetna Pioneer Plans for non-US citizens.
Bupa is a health insurance provider headquartered in the UK, with other bases of operation across Australia, EU countries, as well as Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.
Its partner GeoBlue offers health insurance coverage for US citizens travelling abroad or anyone moving to the US.
GeoBlue insurance offers international medical insurance plans for U.S. employers sending their employees on assignment abroad as well as to individual travellers.
There are five different types of plans to choose from, with different levels of coverage. GeoBlue Xplorer is one of the most popular plans.
Expacare Global Healthcare
This company has more than 35 years of experience and offers policies underwritten by insurers within Lloyd’s of London.
Mostly suited for expats who intend to live in one of the EU States. Their policies are personalized for individuals and families, international students, and groups and companies.
A Plus International Healthcare
A Plus International is an Asian company partnered with AXA to provide international medical coverage.
A Plus offers four different worldwide insurance plans, Hospitalisation, Global 80, Global 100, Global 100 Plus, as well as the option to include add-ons. Its Southeast Asia Plans are exclusively for residents of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Which Company Should You choose?
Well, this is where it comes down to individual preference, nationality, and geographical location – aka, where you are moving to. Health insurance is not something to be taken lightly, because, in the gravest of cases, it may literally make the difference between life and death.
So, you must do your research, read reviews, carefully read each policy and get acquainted with the company’s claim procedures before making a decision.
How Does International Health Insurance Work?
International health insurance works the same as the health insurance you have in your country. You decide on a plan, decide on the coverage you want, and then you pay monthly or annually premiums (sort of like a subscription).
Then, if you get sick or into an accident and receive medical treatment, the insurance provider will cover a part (or all) of your medical bill.
The difference is that an international medical insurance policy will also cover your medical expenses abroad, whereas a local insurance scheme will not. This is why it is also commonly referred to as expat health insurance.
Choosing the Best International Health Insurance Plan
When shopping around for health insurance, you should have an idea of what you are looking for, so you know what the best international health insurance plan for you looks like. All policies have coverage for the following basic items:
- Hospitalization and the intensive care unit
- Surgery and anaesthesia
- Lab tests and X-rays.
- Physician visits
- Urgent care and emergency room visits
- Prescription medication
Then, different plans will also offer coverage for the following, sometimes as an optional “add-on”:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Dental care
- Vision care and prescription eyeglasses
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractor visit
- Mental health
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Hazardous sports
- Nursing care services
- Evacuation or repatriation (to your home country)
- Alternative medicine
- Terrorism coverage
- Preventative care, such as routine checkups.
The more coverage you have, the more expensive the policy will be.
Other factors to consider when searching for the best insurance policy for you are:
- How will you pay? You will be able to pay the policy on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and an annual basis. If you pay annually, you usually save up on around 1-2 months’ premiums, but not always.
- The coverage limit. The insurance policy can state that you have a $1,00,000 limit, but is that limit per year, per policy, per claim, or a lifetime limit?
- The deductible. This is the amount of money you will pay yourself before the insurance provider steps in and covers the rest. The deductible can be once per year or per claim. It can be $20,000, $1,000, $100 or even $0. The lower the deductible, the higher the cost of the policy.
- The exclusions. Make sure to read the exclusions section of your insurance policy so you are not taken aback in case of an emergency.
- The coverage area. g. you may be covered in “Asia”, but are all Asian countries covered or only Pacific Asian, for example?
- The PPO Network. Does your insurance company have a PPO Network? Are there any hospitals or clinics near your location that fall under their PPO Network?
- Whether you already have coverage. Your employer may offer an insurance plan, or you may move to a country with national health insurance. Double-check these with your employer, if you are moving abroad for work.
How to Purchase an International Health Insurance Plan?
You can purchase international health insurance online:
- Through the website of the insurance company directly.
- Through health insurance comparison websites, such as Insubuy. These websites allow you to compare different insurance plans side by side and choose which one suits your needs best.
After purchasing health insurance, save the insurance certificate, any ID number or insurance card you receive. Also, save the emergency phone numbers and email information in case you need to contact them.
Cost of Health Insurance for Expats
There is no set price for international health insurance. It can be anywhere from $150 per month to $1,000+ per month. The price depends on the following factors:
- Your age. The premiums you have to pay for health insurance increase the older an individual is. Many companies do not sell their policies if the client is past a certain age (e.g. 80 years) since the risk of serious complications rises.
- Amount of coverage. All insurance companies will offer several plans, with different amounts of coverage and thus different prices. If you have a higher policy maximum (e.g. $1 million) you have to pay higher premiums than if you had a lower maximum (e.g. $100,000). If you have optional add-ons, such as dental or maternity coverage, the policy cost will be higher as well.
- How many people are included in the policy. g. a couple or a family will pay more than an individual. The more family members, the higher the price.
- The deductible. The deductible is the amount you pay yourself before the company steps in. if the deductible is higher, the monthly or annual premiums will be lower. If the deductible is low (or zero) the premiums are higher)
- Area of coverage. Most insurance companies will charge you a higher price if you wish to be covered in the US. That’s due to the high cost of healthcare in the United States.
- Method of payment. You have to choose whether you want to pay monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Usually, paying once a year will be less expensive in the end than paying every month.
- Your medical history. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you want to include, it will bring up the prince of the policy.
Making a Health Insurance Claim
Any good company will have a 24/7 helpline which you can call in case of an emergency. They also have established procedures on how you can make a claim if you need to – usually online. Make sure you learn how you can make a claim before you purchase the insurance plan by asking directly or reading brochures.
You will need proof you received medical attention or treatment, such as prescriptions, a hospital bill, pharmacy receipts, etc. so make sure you save them.