International health insurance is a smart investment if you are planning to live outside of the country for a long period of time.
This type of healthcare will cover you while you are living abroad for medical assistance you receive in another country.
Coverage ranges from simple well check-ups to serious medical emergency assistance. Sometimes, healthcare in other countries may be very costly.
Or, you may have difficulty obtaining a health insurance plan as a non-citizen of that country.
You may even be required to purchase international insurance if you are applying for a visa.
Thus, an international plan will not only help defray the cost of medical care outside of your country, but it will also help fulfill visa and residency requirements.
You will most likely need international health insurance if you are an expatriate, global nomad or an international citizen traveling abroad for most of the year.
In any of these circumstances, it is important for you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of international insurance and how it compares to standard healthcare plans in your current country of residence and the country in which you have citizenship.
Additionally, you may consider comprehensive worldwide coverage if you live abroad for more than one year.
A comprehensive health insurance plan may cover just you or you and your family, regardless of where your family are located.
In addition, you may receive quality benefits, including inpatient and outpatient care, routine check-ups and screenings, dental care and vision care.
You may renew comprehensive plans each year in most cases.
What is the cost of international health insurance?
Customers often do not know what to expect when it comes to international health insurance, because they do not know whether it will be more or less expensive than insurance in their current country.
Ultimately, the price for this insurance will vary depending on an applicant’s age, how many other family members will be on the plan, which country they plan to stay in, the medical history of each family member and more.
Once an insurer receives all this information, it will determine a quote.
Most insurance companies that cover care in the country or out of the country will ask for this information.
In general, an insurer may give you two different coverage options.
This includes worldwide coverage including the United States and Canada, or worldwide coverage excluding the United States and Canada.
However, you may also be able to exclude certain other countries as well.
For instance, you may choose to exclude a whole country, such as Canada, or a section of a country, such as the Hong Kong region in China.
Areas of the world in which medical care is expensive are often excluded.
This is often why the U.S. and Canada are excluded, as healthcare prices in these countries are extremely expensive.
Fortunately, you will not be required to pay the same amount for coverage in different countries.
Some international medical providers in the U.S. will list countries in order of least to most expensive for health insurance.
Then they will adjust your premium depending on which countries you exclude.
What benefits do you receive with an international health insurance plan?
If you are studying abroad or plan to be away from home on business and will be gone for more than one year, you ought to consider international health insurance.
You may receive more benefits than you think.
Additionally, you may have the freedom to choose any hospital, doctor or clinic in the country, because an international does not operate through provider networks.
All international plans will cover you for emergency assistance 24 hours per day, including evacuations, repatriations and hospitalizations.
They may also have helplines available in case you do not know where to go for treatment.
Different plans will offer a variety of different benefits. Some plans may offer coverage that is considered supplemental in the U.S., such as vision and dental care.
They may also offer maternity and prenatal care and prescription drug coverage.
Other insurers may also give you the freedom to choose the insurance benefits on your plan.
For instance, you may not need prescription coverage if you do not have regular prescriptions, or if the country where you will be staying does not supply the prescriptions you need.
Be sure to ask your provider about which drugs are offered in the countries where you will be staying, including effective generic alternatives that may be available.
If you cannot obtain specific prescriptions in those countries, you may need to request a bulk supply from your doctor and prove to your pharmacy that you need the drug in bulk.
International medical insurance plans often get purchased because a family knows that they will need medical care while they are abroad.
For instance, expecting mothers may need pregnancy care. In these cases, insurance companies will often try to limit additional risks with underwriting.
Underwriting means that companies will measure a patient’s risk exposure and determine how much to charge him or her in premiums in order to insure those risks.
As a result, payment for the risk is guaranteed, but a patient’s premium may increase.
This is why companies ask for the medical history of each family member who will be on the plan.
What to Expect After You Apply for International Health Insurance
Once you submit an application for international health insurance, you must wait for the insurance company to notify you of its decision.
Generally, the underwriters for a company will issue one of the following decisions:
- An approval without interference
- An approval with limitations or exclusions due to one or more pre-existing conditions
- Approval with a premium surcharge, which will pay for the additional risk of approving you if you have A pre-existing condition
- A denial
Exclusions and Limitations of International Health Insurance
Even if you purchase a comprehensive international insurance plan, you will still be subject to certain exclusions.
As a result, you will not be insured under certain extreme conditions, such as acts of war, nuclear explosions, nuclear fallout, hostilities, military actions, terrorist acts and civil commotion.
Your plan may also have certain other limitations, which will vary depending on pre-existing conditions and the country where you will be staying.
Thus, it is important to research as much as you can about your international healthcare options in order to make a well-informed decision.
You may even consider working with a licensed international health insurance broker, because he or she will be able to guide you through the process.