Adjusting to living abroad takes planning, especially when it comes to your finances and health. Healthcare and health insurance, in particular, come with their own challenges abroad. In this article, experts from International Citizens Insurance share the most common insurance challenges and solutions for American expats.
Challenges of Local healthcare abroad
Healthcare in the United States ranks as one of the top worldwide. Depending on where you live now, your new residency’s local healthcare standards can be much lower than what you are accustomed to in the US.
How you can access local healthcare can also be dramatically different abroad. In certain countries, you get assigned one primary family doctor who then gives you a referral to see a specialist, and there might be long waits involved and little choice of provider. Furthermore, depending on the country’s healthcare system, some aspects of healthcare may be free, and some you may have to pay for. It’s imperative to familiarize yourself with these details in advance so that you know how to proceed when you need to access healthcare abroad.
Work insurance packages are often not enough for US expats
Many American expats travel to other countries on work assignments. Their employers overseas might offer some kind of medical coverage in their expat package, but there might be limitations to it. Offering local healthcare, or only emergency care, or coverage for the employee only and not their dependents are some of the common deficiencies in expat employee packages.
English is an international and commonly used language; however, it is not a requirement for medical professionals to speak English in the majority of countries. Local doctors, nurses and specialists might only be fluent in their own language, and as a result, struggle to assist you if they can’t communicate in detail with you.
Insurance at home for American expats
Another drawback some American expats have when moving abroad is that if they cancel their health insurance in the US, they are risking having no coverage in the US. Having access to their usual doctor in the US, even if it’s via telemedicine, is crucial for some people.
The solution: a global health insurance plan
The solution to the mojoarity of health insurance challenges American expats face is to obtain a global health insurance policy. International Health Insurance Plans give its policyholders access to private healthcare, which, in every country in the world, is typically of better quality than the local healthcare.
Global health plans can be designed to suit your individual needs, extended to your family members, and include a wide range of medical benefits to choose from. There are also copay and deductible options for those who prefer to pay initially lower premiums.
Private international health plans are based on the US health insurance system, so American expats using them should already be familiar with private healthcare delivery. On top of that, global medical insurance is portable, you can use it throughout the world. Even if you decide to come back to the US to see your favorite doctor or for a treatment, the plan will continue to cover you (if you choose the worldwide option) for the length of policy terms and limitations. Once you move back and decide to stay in the US, it is then recommended you take out a local US healthcare plan.
The majority of US expats don’t know that they can obtain an international health insurance plan that also covers them while they are visiting the US and that the price of such a plan is not much higher than what they would typically pay for it at home. Having one international health insurance plan with US coverage, rather than having two plans (a US local plan and a plan in your new country of residence), is more cost-efficient.
Since the healthcare you can access is private, there should not be any language barriers, and international health insurance providers offer in their plans medical concierge and medical assistance programs, which are designed especially to help expats receive the best medical care abroad possible.
Expat health insurance advice
For individual advice and personalized health insurance quotation and plan comparison, expats worldwide are turning to health insurance brokers, such as International Citizens Insurance. Brokers will tell you the differences between plans, explain your options and offer impartial advice designed to fit your international medical insurance needs.
About the Author: Joe Cronin, President of International Citizens Group, Inc., is an expert in the areas of global health and international insurance, with specific expertise in advising individuals, expats, digital nomads and groups on international health insurance plans. Whatever your international health insurance requirements, contact International Citizens Insurance today and request a free quote and confidential chat.