This article was contributed by David Tompkins at Expat Financial. David is an expert in sourcing global health insurance plans for multinationals and individual expats around the globe.
Most Americans realize the importance of buying medical insurance in the United States, but what about health insurance when you move abroad? It is unlikely that your domestic American health plan will cover you if you move abroad, and the same goes for Medicare. In this article, we will provide ten tips on buying international health insurance for future and current American expats.
Before we start, it is important to realize the importance of buying international medical insurance if you and your family are moving outside the USA. We all know medical care is extremely expensive in the USA, but many countries around the world also have expensive – and, in some circumstances, inadequate – medical healthcare. As such, going abroad without international medical insurance carries risks.
1. Deal with a reputable & secure insurer
Choose a high-quality international health provider. When buying any insurance plan, it makes sense to check the reliability and reputation of your insurance provider, comparing firms and checking reviews. Make sure you are working with an international health insurance provider that will be there when you need it.
2. Make sure you buy a plan that covers treatment in the USA
Most international health plans cover you globally, but either including or excluding the USA. We find that most American expats prefer a plan that also covers treatment back home, to ensure treatment is possible if it were required when back in the States visiting family, for example.
3. Pay your premiums annually
If you can afford to do so, pay your premiums on an annual versus a monthly basis, as this can save up to ten percent on your premiums. Make sure you pay the premium when due, and advise the insurer of your new email or postal address
4. Buy a global medical plan that covers COVID-19
Most international health plans that our company offers to Americans include pandemics, and as a result will cover someone’s treatment if they catch COVID. Keep in mind though that a previous or recent infection will be treated as a potential pre-existing condition before you apply, especially if there were complications.
5. Fully declare your medical conditions
Individual expatriate health plans are medically underwritten and are provided by offshore insurance providers that are not bound by HIPPA, COBRA or ACA regulations. As a result, the insurer may decline to cover you because of your medical history, exclude a condition, or ask for a medical loading. The more information that you can provide at the time of application, the better.
6. Deal with an independent international health insurance expert
While many global medical plans can be purchased directly from the insurer, there are advantages to purchasing through an independent agency like Expat Financial. You get the same premiums, but with advice and advocacy, both before and after you purchase coverage.
7. Make sure you buy evacuation coverage
If you plan to live in a region with substandard medical care, American expats should consider buying the optional medical evacuation coverage. It is also important if you plan to travel rather than remain in a single, secure destination abroad.
8. Buy a plan with lifetime coverage if you are retiring abroad
We are often approached by American expats who plan to retire abroad. It is very important that these Americans get an international medical plan that will cover them for life (or for as long as they are living abroad). Some plans will cease at age 75 or 80, but the Cigna Global Health Options plan we offer online covers you for life as an expat.
9. Buy your plan up to 45 days prior to leaving
Most international health plans that we offer can be applied for up to 45 days prior to leaving the USA. It may take a few days to a week, depending on your medical history, to arrange the coverage. Note that you can buy global medical coverage once you are abroad as well.
10. Get a quote for international health insurance online
There are many options to consider when buying international health insurance. Expat Financial offers an international health insurance guide for free and can discuss your options in detail. Sometimes, it makes sense to get a quote online as there are so many options to consider – such as deductibles, the region of coverage, coinsurance, out-patient care, dental, evacuation and much more.