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How to choose the right health insurance for expats

When moving abroad, the first thing to do is to choose the right international health insurance, fundamental for any expat. Health insurance is important in some countries also as proof for getting an initial residence permit, for others it is mandatory as soon as you legally registered there.

So how do you choose the right health insurance? There is no perfect answer because it really depends on a lot of subjective matters, such as your general health conditions, the country of origin, the lifestyle and so on. But in general, we can follow some simple guidelines in order to be able to find good health insurance for our new expat life.

1. Verify the country health system

The first thing you want to do is to find out what type of health system has the country you are going to live in. As mentioned, some countries have free healthcare and some others have private healthcare systems. Understanding how the system works is extremely important and there is no better place than their official websites to learn from it. Free healthcare in some countries can mean long waiting and also more expensive costs for private services, but also cheaper costs for private health insurance insurance and more tailored for expats.

2. Single or with family

This may sound obvious, but please look at all the options because it does make a difference if you need insurance only for yourself, or if you want to cover the whole family. A lot of health insurance companies have family offers, so get in touch with the company and gather all the information you need. In some situations, your employer may provide health coverage for you, but not your dependents.

3. Make safe bets

While navigating the world of health insurance might be frustrating, there are some companies like Cigna International and Allianz which are used and trusted worldwide by many expats and have tailored offers for expatriates which might ease the search.

4. Global coverage is important

If we travel want to go back home, but you are not covered there anymore, it is a good idea to consider also the possibility to be covered while abroad and what is exactly the services covered. Your European insurance might not cover everything you need in the United States and might not work anyway in some countries, or the other way around.

Always look at the coverage that you have while abroad and consider the time you will spend outside of the country.

5. Consider the deductible

Before the health insurance starts paying there is usually a deductible that will have to come out of your wallet. Depending on your lifestyle and health conditions (or of the family who lives with you) you might choose to pay less monthly but with a high deductible. Considering this part is extremely important as for many insurances you might not be able to change it during the year. So, think at least one year in advance.

A sporty person who likes practicing extreme sports, for example, might be more at risk of injury of someone who smokes regularly (in the short term), so consider your lifestyle when making this decision.

6. Add extras if you can

How about the dentist? Is it at least a 6-month visit allowed? How about mental health and therapy? Many expats experience culture shock when moving. What about, again, a sports injury and the need for some physiotherapy? You might have kids who practice some sports, health is important so consider spending some small extras, also considering the many different and unknown factors that will come with the new moving and life.

For example: in my first year in the Netherlands, I experienced a shift in the weather which brought me more often to the doctor than I thought, so I was spending more money which was not initially covered by the insurance.

7. Final tips

If you can get a face to face or voice to voice talk is better, especially for asking questions and understanding all those complex terms used in their contracts. Make a list of all the questions that you want to ask and try to take notes.

As said above, understanding the terminology used in the health insurance world might be hard. These links will help you navigate all the terms and understand exactly what they mean.

8. Leave us a comment!

Let us know your experience with global health insurance in general, you can leave a comment here on our website or in one of our social channels.