When you're planning a trip abroad or even relocating to another country, you might be wondering 'why is health insurance for abroad important?'. As insurance experts, Medibroker has seen cases of people going abroad without expat health insurance go catastrophically wrong.
Here, #ExpatHour participant and blogger Alec Peebles tells us about how he thought he could get away with going to another country without insurance - and explains the costs he incurred because of his mistake.
Alec graduated from university in the Winter of 2013 and knew that jumping into the daily 9-5 USA grind wasn't for him. He had always loved to travel, so he figured it was as good a time as any to take the plunge and try living in a new country. Years later, he's still enjoying every day of his expat life, living and working in Thailand.
Alec thought that medical health insurance would cover him for his move abroad until he found a job and was able to benefit from employee health insurance. But what happens when your protection from travel insurance ends before your employee health insurance starts?
Health insurance for travel abroad is essential, and it'd be a major risk to travel without it. When I first began my travels I was on a tight budget. I had a policy from a reputable travel health insurance for abroad supplier that was supposed to last me until I found a job in Thailand, the country I’d chosen to relocate to. However, the problem came when I found a job and discovered that my employee health insurance wouldn't come into effect for another month, thus creating a lapse in my coverage. I had two choices – spend the month hoping I wouldn't have any medical issues, or shell out more money to prolong my travel insurance coverage. At this time, money was tight, and I figured that because in all my time travelling I’d never even used my insurance, surely I’d be okay for a month, right? Huge mistake.
The problems began just a few days after my coverage expired with a bit of an upset stomach. It’s Thailand. It happens. A trip to the doctor, and she said I was fine. Luckily doctor visits like this are cheap in Thailand and only cost me $20 (which is not something I’d even bother with getting reimbursement for, really). However, this was only the beginning. Within a few more days, I had a fever that was reaching over 100* F at times, and I felt like death. After two days of battling this with over the counter medicines and home remedies, I finally relented and went to the hospital. Of course, the news I received was not good – I was going to need to be admitted, put on an IV, and watched overnight. Healthcare in Thailand is cheap, but I knew this was going to cost quite a bit.
After my treatment was finished, I was released, feeling much better. I cautiously made my way to the payment window to see what the damage was going to be. For the room, medicine, and all other fees my total was $400. Compared to prices for private medical treatment at home, the health insurance for living abroad seemed like a bargain, but when you’re young and in the midst of relocating halfway across the world, it’s a fairly substantial amount of money. Of course, had I not let my travel insurance lapse, I would have been fully reimbursed.
Since starting my job, I’ve been involved in two motorbike accidents and had to make numerous small trips to the hospital for various ailments. Now that I have a comprehensive international health insurance plan from my employer, it’s a walk in the park. Just get a receipt and certificate, take it to my employer, and the money is given back to me in my following paycheck.
So take a lesson from my mistakes – illnesses, accidents, and many other things CAN and WILL happen to you at some point. Make sure you have the proper coverage lest you want to risk an unfortunate health hiccup derailing all of your plans.
View Terms Reset Demo