Berlin at night
Seeing the world is tempting – staying safe strongly advised.
Image: Flickr.

Because of globalization and low cost airline carriers, travelling or living as an expatriate in another country has never been cheaper. However, the cost of healthcare is steadily rising, even in faraway countries. This is the dilemma of the frequent traveler – being stuck in a foreign land, with debt so high they can’t even bear to move.

Fortunately, there are ways to resolve this problem, one of the most effective being international health insurance. But is it affordable or very comprehensive? It actually has quite a few great benefits and can do a lot for frequent travelers, and sometimes in certain scenarios and situations, even for the more extreme — ex-patriots.

Defining International Health Insurance

International health insurance is a type of health insurance that has multiple partnerships with hospitals and other health facilities worldwide to facilitate the health and well-being of their client. As a non-life insurance product, you can reap the benefits of this type of insurance provided that you’re going to use it for the purpose that it adheres to – to give you as much financial coverage on illnesses, injuries and other conditions that you could encounter while you’re abroad, or in some cases, even in your country of residence.

Features of International Health Insurance

There are a number of ways that international health insurance can cover healthcare costs that occur abroad, namely:

  • In case of Emergency Situations

When travelling, it is often unavoidable that there are times when someone is not in good health and would need medical attention. In cases of injury caused by an activity while travelling, an allergic reaction to food eaten abroad, or because of accidents that frequently happen at every corner of the world, it is inevitable that people would need a type of insurance covering injuries or illness that result from one of these scenarios. The only other option is suffering by paying the high cost of healthcare abroad.

During emergencies, it’s handy to have international health insurance as it can cover the cost of emergency care, admission to the hospital or any other health facility, the tests administered to assess the condition, and even the cost of medication prescribed.

  • In case of Operations or Medical Services Done Abroad

Some people prefer to have their medical needs cared for abroad, and international health insurance can help them do just that. International health insurance companies can cover the cost of tests, operations, doctor’s fees and medications needed when the coverage for medical services is needed. As you enter the country and leave, your medical attention will be provided to you with the help of international health insurance.

  • In case of Maintenance of a Pre-Existing Health Condition is needed

A lot of expatriate retirees do not want to spend more money than they do already living abroad. International health insurance is one source of that much needed savings by giving them coverage for  doctor’s appointments, medication, tests and any other services that they may need. It’s certainly an appreciated insurance product that they can use, and not only does it provide for unforeseen injuries or illnesses, it can be of great help just in the everyday Joe’s quest to maintain their health and well-being even when they’re far from home.

Aside from retirees, international health insurance can also cover people of all ages who have different types of pre-existing conditions that would need medical attention from time to time. This would include — but is not limited to — diabetes, asthma, skin conditions and other respiratory conditions.

Other Health Services

Depending on the policy you purchase, you can buy health services abroad that are not necessarily covered by a health insurance company right away. Women, for example, can have maternity coverage during pregnancy, while giving birth and after giving birth in another country, for a predetermined amount of time.

Aside from this, some international health insurance services can also cover psychiatric care, a beneficial feature for those living away from home. If you’ve paid for a coverage with other types of medical services, you can even have chiropractic adjustments covered by your card just by paying the fee to your insurance company.

The Differences Between International Health Insurance and Local Health Insurance With International Healthcare Benefits

There is a big difference when it comes to international health insurance and local health insurance (ie ‘standard’ US health insurance) with international healthcare coverage built in. International health insurance would generally cover a lot of the medical services you’d find are covered on a local health insurance plan.

Sometimes, for a higher premium, local health insurance plans may cover some medical expenses incurred because of a condition or an incident that occurs while a policyholder abroad. However, the coverage limits of a local health insurance plan that would pay for the covered healthcare expenses incurred abroad are almost always much, much less than the coverage limits provided for the same healthcare expenses performed in the US, so the benefit of this coverage is very small when compared to an international health insurance policy.

The Cost of International Health Insurance

There is no single set cost for international health insurance. Since there are different types of policy holders, with the need for different types of coverage, it is hard to pinpoint an average value that can determine the cost of health coverage abroad.

However, it is fair enough to say that the cost of health insurance coverage is pennies compared to the thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of healthcare costs that you’d incur if you didn’t sign up for health coverage abroad. If you’re a smart traveler or even an expatriate looking for ways to save on health insurance to help ensure health and well-being, you’d be wise to opt for the more comprehensive and less inhibited coverage that you can get from an international health insurance service.

If you do so, that takes care of the ‘business’ part of traveling or living abroad, which means there’s only one thing left to do — Bon voyage!