For Brits living abroad, one of the perennial worries is likely to be health care. After all, when you have been living in the UK, it is likely to have been tempting simply to take the National Health Service for granted – whether you have needed to use it or not.
But who is going to take care of any illnesses, developing medical conditions or emergency once you are living abroad? Things are unlikely to be quite so comforting or straightforward.
That is, unless you have international health insurance.
Meeting the challenges
Why is international health insurance important? Because there is a whole raft of possibilities you might not have considered when you could take them for granted back in the UK. Just think about some of the following:
- even if it is available in the country where you are living as an expat, any free health care is unlikely to be available to foreign nationals;
- besides, the quality of that care varies hugely from one country to another – depending, of course, on where you have chosen to live and work;
- how accessible are potentially life-saving facilities such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, health care help and assistance, or dental and ophthalmic services;
- if the worst came to the worst and you were gravely ill or suffered a serious accident, what is going to be the likely cost of medical evacuation and repatriation to the UK;
- there is a huge gulf between other countries’ healthcare systems and the difference between the best and the worst are often surprising –any healthcare is notoriously expensive in the USA, for example, and currently leaves some 26 million people without medical insurance,whilst Switzerland is often hailed as the best country in the world for healthcare provision; and
- it is not only the healthcare, but what happens to the life, accident and serious illness insurance you arranged for the financial security and protection of your loved ones – it might have been invalidated by your decision to move abroad without arranging adequate.
International health insurance
International health insurance is designed to take care of all these worries and concerns. It aims to give you the security you enjoyed back in the UK – thanks to the NHS and any private medical insurance you had – wherever in the world you have decided to move.
The majority of international health insurance policies are written to provide cover in the country or countries in which you are living as an expatriate – so that the cover may be tailored to the particular circumstances you are likely to find there. Nevertheless, some policies may be more relevant for expats who are constantly on the move by providing worldwide cover wherever you are at any given time.
The benefits are likely to be extensive, but, as with medical health plans in the UK, these may be tailored to suit your likely needs and circumstances.
In addition to periods of annual cover, short-term international health insurance plans may also be available for less than a year, covering either the countries which you know you are going to be visiting or providing global cover for any part of the world.
Some providers and insurers may also provide the multilingual helpdesks likely to be helpful in the country in which you are residing.