Expat health cover can be expensive and with an array of optional extras, it can be tricky to make sure important medical issues are not overlooked.
Understanding how private health cover for expats works is crucial for making sure you buy the right cover at the right price.
The right cover is insurance that meets your personal health requirements – and those of your family.
The right price is not necessarily the cheapest cover, but the one that offers the best value for money.
Most expat private health policies come as a core product offering basic cover.
Planning your health cover
Expats can then choose from a menu of add-on services. Some may come free or with a low price tag, while others are more expensive.
The core policy generally deals with paying hospital bills for emergencies or acute services that need immediate treatment.
The add-ons deal with extras, like outpatient costs, emergency medical repatriation or evacuation.
These are also the services that can bump up the cost of treatment.
For instance, breaking a leg can trigger weeks of physiotherapy and out-patient visits.
Emergency medical evacuation is a must-have for expats living in countries with poor local health services. The add-on covers transferring patients to hospitals in other countries as well as back home.
Other services that are easy to overlook include dentists and opticians.
International private medical insurance
That nagging toothache is a nightmare, while losing glasses and finding a replacement involves time and hassle as well.
Then there’s the run-of-the-mill services that are often taken for granted as they are free on the NHS in Britain.
Simple but important screening such as smears, mammograms and other preventive consultations are important, especially for aging expats.
Private health insurance can also cover for these.
Expats should not even think about travel insurance providing the cover they need or moving overseas with adequate health cover.
International health insurance for expats is designed to cover in-patient incidents, ongoing check-ups and continuing treatment while abroad, while travel insurance offers local treatment and repatriation for continuing treatment at home.
However, expats are excluded from repatriation on travel cover – and that can lead to a bill of thousands of pounds.