Have you figured out how the healthcare system works in your chosen destination? How will you, as an expat, gain access to health services in your new home? Have you considered the possible language barrier? Do you know what to do in case of a medical emergency?
Understanding everything about your new home can be a daunting process, and deciphering the way in which a country's national health system works is no exception.
As you leave your home country, you will realise you also leave certain comforts that were available to you as a national. But what will life be like now? What are the implications of being an expat in your new country? You better make sure – before you go.
As a foreign national, you may not be entitled to any free or subsidised healthcare. In some cases you may need permanent residency before you can enter the system – and that could take years. It is therefore important to consider an expatriate health plan to provide for the healthcare needs of you and your family.
Individual private medical insurance (IPMI) policies can often be advantageous for expats, as opposed to local policies, as many of the benefits within these policies have been tailored specifically to suit expatriates.
Why go for international coverage?
Globally mobile citizens often require an international plan to cover them in a number of different countries. Some private plans offer coverage abroad, although for a limited time only. If you have private insurance in your home country, speak to your provider before your move; check if the plan will cover you in your new host country and for how long.
You may have travel insurance in place, but bear in mind these policies are designed for short stays and to cover only for a medical emergency. Depending on the length of your stay, you may want to ensure a more sufficient health plan with an international policy.
Understanding your policy documentation and being able to talk to a customer service representative is vital when dealing with your health queries – another reason why many expats choose an international health insurance company, so that they are able to get support in English or another familiar language.
What to consider when purchasing a policy
Researching the implications for expatriates in your host country and understanding the local regulations will set a foundation for you to make an informed decision.
If you are eligible for subsidised healthcare, keep in mind that most public healthcare systems are not all-encompassing. It's important to make sure there are no gaps in your coverage – a private policy may complement your basic cover and grant you complete access to the best healthcare services in the country.
If you are employed, find out if your employer provides coverage. If you are covered under a company's health insurance plan, find out exactly what your insurance plan covers and if it is the right policy for your particular situation.
When purchasing a private policy, try to choose a plan specifically tailored to your needs. Keep in mind these basic factors: Does the policy fit the specific needs of you and your family? How are pre-existing conditions handled? Are there age restrictions? Does it provide international coverage? What are the exclusions?
Benefits vary from supplier to supplier, but some include unlimited annual benefit limits, Inpatient care, day-patient care, cancer care, and maternity care.
Research, compare, and consider the costs. Be sure to ask your insurer the right questions before making a decision, and you will surely find the right policy for you and your family.
Find out more about international healthcare coverage at Cigna Global.
This article was sponsored by Cigna Global.
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