International health insurance

If you're an expat living or working abroad for extended periods, you'll want to consider international health insurance.

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If you’ve decided to move overseas for work and plan on staying for a while, you might want to consider your healthcare options. As you’ll likely need to pay for any medical treatment, unlike with the UK’s free NHS, international health insurance could offer you the peace of mind that you won’t be left out of pocket if you require medical assistance. We’ve compiled a guide on the benefits of international health insurance and how it works.

What is international health insurance?

International health insurance is aimed at expats living or working abroad for an extended length of time. In some cases, a policy might also be extended to any family members that are living with you overseas.

While policies will vary wildly, a policy typically covers both routine and emergency comprehensive medical treatment, with the added flexibility of offering the policyholder the choice of doctor and healthcare facility. In some instances, it could even offer medical treatment anywhere in the world where the insurer operates or repatriation back to the UK to receive treatment if what you require isn’t locally available.

What does international health insurance cover?

The cover that is included in an international health insurance policy will vary depending on several factors including the level of cover you choose and the insurer willing to cover you. Typically, international health insurance policies might include:

  • Routine checkups and tests
  • Hospital stays
  • Cover for chronic or long-term conditions
  • Cover for pre-existing conditions
  • Repatriation for treatment back in the UK

As well as standard cover, most insurers will offer a number of optional extra protections to enhance a policy. These might include:

  • Out-patient treatment
  • Dental care
  • Maternity care

It’s important to shop around for the best policy for your needs. You might also want to check to see if there are any restrictions or any annual or lifetime policy limits.

How much does international health insurance cost?

The cost of an international health insurance policy will vary depending on a number of factors. These include:

  • The level of cover you choose. Choosing a more comprehensive policy over basic or mid-range cover will mean your premiums are likely to increase.
  • How old you and your spouse are. If you and your spouse are relatively young, with young children, you can expect to pay much less than a much older couple and their children. Age is often coupled with greater medical risk. And with greater medical risk comes increased premiums from the insurer.
  • You and your family’s medical history. If you have a pre-existing condition that runs in the family, your premiums are likely to be higher due to the increased risk.
  • You and your family’s lifestyle. If you and your family eat well, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and rarely drink alcohol, you can expect your premiums to be less than a family that does smoke and regularly drinks alcohol.

Do I need international health insurance?

Whether you need international health insurance or not really depends on your own circumstances. You may find that your own employer will actually cover healthcare as part of your salary package but be sure to check to avoid doubling up on your healthcare cover and spending money that you don’t need to.

If you find that the salary package from your employer doesn’t include healthcare, you really need to weigh up the options of whether you can afford to pay for routine and emergency medical treatment for you and your family and the possible repatriation costs. Medical treatment overseas can be extremely expensive so an international health insurance policy may offer you the peace of mind that you and your family will be cared for without having to worry whether you can afford it or not.

Benefits of international health insurance

There are many benefits to international health insurance, such as:

  • Peace of mind you and your family will be treated without delay
  • Choice of doctors
  • Choice of treatment
  • Choice of medical facilities
  • Transport and repatriation costs
  • Value for money

How to find the best international health insurance

Finding the best international health insurance policy will very much depend on your own circumstances as what might work for you might not work for someone else.

International health insurance will differ depending on the type of policy you choose, the level of cover offered and the provider that is offering it.

It’s worth remembering to do some research to compare policies in order to find the cover that matches your specific requirements.

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