Local Cover versus International Health Insurance: What's the Difference?
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
If you are living and working overseas, you will be aware that buying health insurance is a good idea for your time in another country. However, health insurance is a complex product, and it’s important that you understand the level of cover you are purchasing. Using a health insurance broker is the easiest way to navigate the medical insurance market at no extra cost.
With lower premiums and the attractive addition of insider knowledge, you may be tempted to purchase a plan that is local to your new country.
However, what you may not realise is that if you rely on a local plan, you will not be covered when you travel outside the country in which it is based. You should purchase an international health insurance plan for a more complete sense of peace of mind, particularly if you travel a lot.
Think Long Term
If you have a local health plan and are treated for any conditions, these health issues then become what insurers call ‘pre-existing conditions’ when you leave the country and are forced to leave behind a local plan. Any conditions previously treated will now be pre-existing conditions to a new insurer and that could mean higher premiums, exclusions or even refusal to cover at all.
What are the benefits of more extensive cover?
With an international health insurance plan, you are covered outside of country you are based in – the plan travels with you. So, if you are travelling, whether for work or leisure, outside of your host country, you will still be protected.
If you only have a local health plan you are restricted in the facilities and hospitals in which you can receive treatment.
With an international plan, you can elect to have treatment where you want it. If you wish to return home, you will also be covered.
Similarly, it’s wise to think about what will happen when you leave the country in which you hold a local plan. If you move on to your next expat destination or return home, you will not be covered. You will then need to purchase another plan on top of your local cover, or face the costs of treatment without insurance. With an international plan, you avoid these unforeseen costs.
This is a particularly important consideration for British expats who may return to the UK for a holiday or repatriation, in light of the recent NHS crackdown on health tourism. You can read about how British expats can protect themselves upon returning to the UK with international health insurance here.
If there is any chance you could become pregnant when you are overseas, you should also purchase an international health plan that covers pregnancy and childbirth.
Peace of Mind
With an international plan, you can rest assured that you won’t encounter language barriers at a time you need communication to be clear.
You may be unsure about many things in your new life abroad, but you shouldn’t be unsure about who is taking care of your health and money. An international plan comes with international customer support.
Ease of use
Most international health plans provide policy holders with direct billing systems which entails that any hospital or medical fees will be settled directly between the hospital and the insurer. This is particularly important if you don’t have spare cash to pay medical fees upfront and then be reimbursed later.
Medibroker International can help you find an international health insurance plan that meets your individual needs and covers you wherever you go. Our expert advice is completely free and we are also impartial, meaning we don’t work on behalf of the insurer. We recommend the best plan for you.
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