Pregnancy and childbirth in one of the last things factored into the costs of medical cover by expats – but even a straightforward birth can lead to huge medical bills.
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For European expats who have free or low-cost medical services at home, the cost of having a baby is often overlooked, according to a study by research firm Mintel.
For instance, more than half of British expats (55%) take their families with them on overseas postings, but many do not have private medical care unless the cover is part of their company benefits package.
Many are shocked to find out that a normal hospital birth could cost them £10,000 – and that many insurers exclude pregnancy from their policies.
Because of the problems that are related to childbirth, it’s unlikely a private medical insurance provider will take on an expectant mum unless she has had ordinary medical cover for at least a year.
Trouble with cover
To make financial matters even worse, if a mother has fallen pregnant before leaving for the overseas posting, she probably won’t have the option of buying medical cover for her pregnancy or childbirth.
Mums falling pregnant by accident are unlikely to find cover under these circumstances, and many expats find they have to carefully plan when to have a baby.
The solution for many is an uncomfortable trip home for the expectant mother and the prospect of a new family split by sometimes thousands of miles at a time when mum and dad want to be together when their child is born.
Where an expat is posted has a huge impact on both the standard of medical care an expectant mother and newborn child can expect to receive.
Location also affects the cost of medical care.
Risks for first time mums
Private medical insurance firm Medicare International reckons a straightforward birth in the Middle East costs from £2,500, but rises to £10,000 in the USA. For a birth with complications, expect to add anything from £8,000 upwards to the bill.
Managing director Debbie Purser said: “Most childbirths are without problems, but for parents planning a first child research shows a heightened risk.
“If you are an expat couple planning a child, we advise that thinking about the medical care well ahead of the event is a good idea. We would suggest expats put this cover in place before they leave the UK and don’t leave such vital cover to chance.”
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