Why Do Expats Need International Health Insurance?
Article courtesy of:
Carlos Perez: President, CEO
Global Insurance Net.com
You are sure that it will never happen to you or anyone in your family and if
it does you will be able to cross that bridge when you get there. Besides, there
is the state run health care system to fall back on, right?
Most people prefer not to think about unexpected catastrophes
or illnesses - that always happens to some other unlucky soul. But, what
if you or a family member DID have that accident or come down with that
serious illness? Where will you go? How will you pay for medical care
that you can rely on? Do you really want to spend days or weeks in a
crowded public hospital ward where most of the staff can't speak English?
There are many popular misconceptions regarding health care abroad
Public hospitals in some areas ARE good and they will always
be inexpensive. Sometimes the quality of medical and surgical care is
reliable due to proper training by the medical staff, but the other ancillary
services may not be as good. Usually they have large public wards with
no privacy, long waiting lists for non-emergency treatment and very few
English speakers among their staff. If you want to have a private or
semi-private room, or choose your own surgeon, or not wait several months
for a routine operation, you must have a private health insurance plan.
It is impossible to predict the sum total of your medical
bills if you or a family member are the victim of an accident or serious
illness. If all of you are healthy and fortunate, your annual costs could
be very low or even nil. But, if any of you do require medical care,
your bills could be enormous. If you do not have proper insurance cover
then will be forced to endure the public health system (assuming that
your current country of residence allows you access) or you will have
to deplete some or all of your savings to cover the costs. It is commonly
known that in the U.S., the #1 reason for personal bankruptcies is the
debt accumulated by the unfortunate victims of an accident or serious
illness. The same can happen abroad.
What if you and your family are covered by your employer's
plan? That means that everything is taken care of and you can stop worrying
about it right? Guess again - unless you find out exactly what is, and
more importantly - what isn't covered, you could have a very unpleasant
surprise when you need your employer's plan to save the day.
Questions for HR:
Here are some questions you should ask your HR manager:
- What is the maximum coverage amount for you and for each family
member? Are there maximum coverage amounts for specific conditions
such as maternity, transplants, etc.?
- Does it offer full coverage for hospitalization? Is
there a coverage limit on basic expenses such as your
hospital room, etc?
- Does it provide full coverage to all of your family
members as well?
- Does it cover you only in your current country of residence,
or can you return to the US for treatment if you choose?
Be careful with this one - most local plans do not cover
treatment in the US, or severely restrict cover and benefit
amounts if they do.
- Does it provide emergency medical evacuation services,
otherwise know as "air ambulance"? This can be the difference
between life and death in some cases. If they do not
cover it, you will have to pay (typically, this runs
from $10,000 -$15,000 per incident).
So, what do you do?If
you do not have a private international medical plan, or your
employer's plan does not pass muster, you have many options
available. Among them:
- Full major medical plans with coverage up to $ 5 million lifetime
per family member.
- Full coverage for maternity, transplants, air ambulance
and many additional options such as dental cover and
term life insurance.
- Freedom of choice outside the US to visit any doctor,
clinic or hospital you choose (inside the US provider
networks do exist).
- Full coverage in the US as well as abroad.
- Guaranteed approval options for applicants with significant
- Surprisingly affordable rates (a fraction of what "US
only" plans charge)