Health on the Go: Finding the Best Health Insurance as an Expat

Moving to a new country always comes with so many difficult decisions, as well as a slew of easy ones, but the portion on your plate can be overwhelming nonetheless. Between the visa application and going through the process of work permits and residence permits, hunting for that perfect apartment that also doesn’t cost a fortune, and navigating the new culture, it can feel nearly impossible to think of the details that sit in the back of your mind, the likes of health insurance. 

Alas, no matter how mighty your immune system might be, catching an occasional cold is more than expected, and not to mention getting used to a new climate which can be challenging for your body as well as your mind. If you’re traveling with a family, all the more reason to be mindful of your healthcare needs when you move. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your insurance provider as well as the actual insurance policy for you. 

Get to know the healthcare system

 

Just like you wouldn’t take a random bus to a random neighborhood but instead research the most optimal public transportation routes, getting to know your healthcare options in your new place of residence is the first step towards making the right choices. There are certain limitations that could apply, it could also depend on your country of origin, and perhaps local healthcare systems work differently from what you’re used to.

Public healthcare differs from private and expat options in many ways, so perhaps you could consider all options before you settle on the decision. Some countries have healthcare agreements in place with other countries, allowing you to have emergency coverage while living abroad for a certain period of time. For example, Australia has agreements with various countries, including Slovenia, the UK, and Sweden. This makes settling in all the easier, but it’s important to get acquainted with the system.

Consider employer-based coverage

 

In case your job is the main reason you’re relocating, and your employer’s business is registered in your new place of residence, you could be eligible for insurance through your employer even though you’re not a citizen, but a resident. 

However, you need to go over that before you sign up for the move. You should ask if your family will have the same health benefits as you, and what steps you should take if they ever need to use those benefits to get treatment or make an appointment with a local doctor. Coverage will also differ from one business and country to another, so ask away before you move. 

Avoid gaps in your insurance policy

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It’s natural to expect certain dissimilarities between the health coverage you used to have in your native country and the care you can get elsewhere in the world. For example, in densely populated regions in Asia, including well-develop places such as Singapore, public health insurance might not cut it for certain health conditions that require specific and often expensive treatments, such as cancer. 

It pays to plan in advance and ensure proper coverage with tailored cancer insurance in Singapore that will not just give you the financial support you need, but the peace of mind to focus on getting well and recovering. Although it might not sound all that appealing to plan for such a grim scenario, the situation would be far grimmer if it were not for proper coverage to help you restore your health.

Consider international insurance

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Public health insurance sounds like the safest, most reliable choice for many expats, especially since you can ask for recommendations from your employer, colleagues as well as natives, to find the best doctor for your potential ailment. In other situations, private insurance can serve as a more optimal way to tend to your needs, especially if you can find a tailor-made solution for your needs.

However, expats who travel often and who know that they won’t stay permanently in their current place of residence could consider international health coverage specifically designed for expats such as yourself. Be very thorough when looking into your international options, since certain benefits might have specific prerequisites to “kick in”, such as maternity coverage. Add to that, learn which countries are included in your policy, as international insurance often doesn’t cover US medical care, due to their high healthcare prices. If your job involves traveling and working in the US, in that case you should consider a different option or a separate local policy.

Living as an expat comes with a slew of benefits and opportunities, but sometimes the choices you need to make are more challenging than others. Use this brief guide as a way to navigate the complex insurance waters abroad, and do your best to choose the option that suits you and your family the best.

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