Most expats are so worried about local health care standards in the countries where they are on assignment that they have emergency plans to go home if they fall seriously ill.
New research found that 84% of expat men needed health care while living abroad, with 72% expressing concerns about standards and two-thirds ready to return home if they need treatment.
A similar number of women have the same worries, says insurer Axa – Global Healthcare.
Specific concerns for men included:
- The quality of treatment (26%)
- Costs of treatment (26%), including upfront fees (15%)
- The standard of medical facilities (18%)
- Discussing medical matters in a foreign language (12%)
- Having to stay away from family and friends while ill (15%)
Book a health check before you go
Plans to return home for treatment depended on where expats lived.
Fewer would depart France (61%), the UK (55%), Hong Kong (49%) or Canada (42%) than the United Arab Emirates (74%).
But 94% of men in Hong Kong worried about health care standards compared to 84% in UAE, 76% in France, 65% in Canada and 64% in UK.
Andy Edwards, AXA – Global Healthcare chief customer officer, said: “As exciting as it can be to start a new life abroad, getting ill in an unfamiliar environment can be daunting.
“Whether you’re concerned about the facilities or treatment options that are available in your new home, trying to navigate an unfamiliar healthcare system or simply being away from your family, it’s vital that anyone who is considering living abroad takes some time to research the local healthcare facilities and consider options like booking a health check before you relocate to highlight any potential issues to be aware of before you go.”
How to find medical help
Edwards also gave a tip to expats worried about facing health care problems abroad on their own.
““It’s normal to feel nervous about seeking medical attention abroad, and in some cases, it may be necessary to travel elsewhere for certain treatments or to visit specialists,” he said.
“There are plenty of great sources of advice that can help to make your experience more manageable, though. Whether you’re turning to fellow expats or local friends for support, your local doctor or a virtual doctor service, your insurer or even a simple internet search, finding a source you trust is half the battle.”