Living in a foreign country can be an enriching and exciting experience, but it can also have some challenges. One of the primary challenges world travelers face is regarding health insurance. While many foreign countries have excellent healthcare programs for citizens, you’re likely to find that you don’t qualify.
The most important part of finding an appropriate insurance plan is to understand the insurance itself.
Learn about the basics on global medical insurance:
1. How are the premiums determined? Just like any individual policy, premiums are based primarily on your age, medical history, and the area of coverage.
* Many plans have two separate premiums: worldwide and worldwide excluding the USA. This is due to the high cost of health care in the United States.
* Some policies will give rates for just a particular country, but you’ll only be covered for medical care in that country.
* Most policies are ‘globally portable,’ so you can use them wherever you happen to be when the need arises. However, the policy won’t provide coverage when you return to the United States.
* These policies are usually purchased on an annual basis. If you’re planning on being abroad for a relatively short period of time, a travel medical policy might be a better solution. These policies cost less, but are only in effect for a specific period of time.
2. Examine your needs. If your health is solid, you might be best served by a basic policy with a high deductible and co-pay.
* If you’re prone to health issues, it might be better to get a policy with more comprehensive coverage for the smaller bills. Increasing the coverage will also increase your premiums, but it might be worth it.
3. Consider using a broker. The cost to you is the same, but you’ll get several quotes from different companies. Compare the plans, costs, and policy specifications.
4. Know how the insurance will pay your bills. Not every policy is the same. Some policies will pay the medical provider directly, but some plans only reimburse you for your medical costs. This means that you’ll have to pay the bills with your own money before the insurance company will pay up.
5. Know the difference between a basic and a comprehensive policy. Most insurance companies will offer one or more levels or coverage. Read the information about the specific policy beforehand.
* A basic plan will generally only cover inpatient costs. These are typically going to be your more serious medical conditions and injuries. For example, a trip to the doctor for a sore throat wouldn’t be covered. Emergency surgery, however, would be.
* A comprehensive plan will cover all the items in the basic policy, but will also cover outpatient care.
6. Your pre-existing conditions may be covered. While not all pre-existing conditions are eligible for insurance coverage, in some cases, they may be. With some policies, the pre-existing condition is eligible, provided no treatment has been received in the previous 24 months.
7. Be aware of the exclusions. Unfortunately, exclusions exist and most are related to routine or elective care. Elective surgery and routine physical examinations are two such examples. There are many more, but they vary from policy to policy.
It’s never wise to be without medical insurance and being overseas is no exception. There’s a slight chance that your current policy in the US will cover you while out of the country, so check it out.
Get online, do some additional research, and pay attention to the small print. Talking to a broker is a great idea. It doesn’t increase your cost, and you’ll have an expert on your side.