If you plan on living a nomadic lifestyle, this will come with its own set of adventures and challenges, and one of the key considerations for global nomads is maintaining good health while on the move. A critical factor in securing your healthcare and protecting your finances from an uninsured claim is buying international health insurance when living abroad as an expat or global nomad. Here are five essential tips for global nomads seeking the right international health insurance coverage.
5 International Health Insurance Tips:
Buy the Most Comprehensive Coverage You Can Afford
When selecting international health insurance, expats should try to prioritize comprehensive coverage that goes beyond their basic medical needs. Try to get a policy that covers a range of services, including hospitalization, outpatient care, prescription medications, emergency evacuation, dental and mental health services.
Moving to a new country or from national to nation can involve risks, and local care that is designed for non-expats will probably not be available to you. Like locals, global nomads often face diverse health risks, from routine illnesses to accidents, so having a policy that covers a broad spectrum of medical needs ensures you’re protected in various situations.
You should also think about the local healthcare system and services in your destination country as they may not be up-to-date or accessible.
Additionally, note that individual expat health plans often have medical underwriting, and your pre-existing conditions might not be covered or you could even be declined coverage outright.
If you plan to become pregnant, make sure you buy health plans that will cover maternity care, but note that there is a waiting period of 9 or 12 months. Some plans may have waiting periods for certain conditions, and you should read the fine print.
Worldwide Accessibility & Portability
It is often recommended that Global nomads choose an international health insurance policy that provides coverage worldwide, allowing them the flexibility to travel and live in different countries without worrying about gaps in coverage. Most policies are sold on the basis of covering you worldwide, excluding or including the USA, but some have geographical limits, such as an Africa-only plan or covering you in just one country abroad.
American citizens moving abroad often choose policies that include treatment in the USA. Note that expat plans are generally not renewable if you move back to your home country and stay there for more than 180 days.
Some insurance providers may have geographical restrictions, so carefully review the list of covered countries and regions. Ideally, the plan should offer a global network of healthcare providers or a reimbursement option, ensuring you can access medical care anywhere.
Considering the level of coverage in the countries you frequent or plan to visit is especially important for global nomads who may spend extended periods in regions with varying healthcare standards. A portable global nomad policy is critical as global nomads often move from one nation to another.
Adequate Coverage Limits and Deductibles
When choosing the expat health insurance policy, global nomads must carefully assess coverage limits and deductibles to ensure they align with their lifestyle and potential healthcare needs. Coverage limits refer to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for a particular service or treatment. If you’re in a location where healthcare costs are high, having sufficient coverage limits is crucial to avoid out-of-pocket expenses. The higher the limit, the more you will pay in premiums. If you are going to a country with inexpensive health services, you can consider a lower limit.
Deductibles are the amount you must pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in, so the higher the deductible, the more risk you are taking on and the lower the premiums. Note that you can often request a higher deductible after you get a policy in place, but requesting a lower deductible will be subject to medical underwriting. When considering deductibles, you must strike a balance based on your financial comfort and potential healthcare expenses. Assess your risk tolerance and financial capability to determine an appropriate deductible level.
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Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
Global nomads going to regions where medical services and facilities are limited should prioritize insurance plans that include coverage for emergency evacuation and repatriation. In the event of a severe illness or injury that requires specialized medical care not available locally, medical evacuation coverage can ensure you can be transported to a facility with suitable medical expertise.
Repatriation coverage becomes crucial if a medical condition requires you to return to your home country for treatment or be returned to your destination country after the emergency is over. Note that you can’t choose where to be medically evacuated, and evacuations must be approved and organized by the insurer. Most policies have medical evacuation coverage as an optional benefit.
Flexibility and Renewability
Choose an insurance plan that offers flexibility to adapt to changes in your lifestyle. Global nomads often experience shifts in their travel patterns, and having the ability to adjust coverage or renew policies easily is valuable. Some insurance plans may limit renewability past a certain age or impose restrictions on coverage changes without underwriting questions, so be sure to understand the terms regarding policy flexibility.
Consider the portability of the coverage if you decide to move to a different insurance provider. Having continuous coverage is essential, and choosing an insurer who will be there for the long run is key, especially if you develop a chronic medical condition. If you are planning on retiring abroad, make sure that the policy will renew for life as long as you are a global nomad.
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Final Thoughts on Global Health Coverage
Navigating international health insurance as a global nomad requires careful consideration of your unique lifestyle and healthcare needs. A comprehensive and flexible insurance plan that provides global coverage aligns with your financial capacity and offers essential features like emergency evacuation is essential for your well-being.
Using an international health insurance broker such as Expat Financial is recommended. It doesn’t add anything to your policy, and all claims and premiums are still direct with your insurance provider. Regularly review and update your insurance coverage to ensure it remains relevant to your evolving lifestyle. Insurance can be quite complex and a bit mind-numbing, but Investing time in understanding the terms and conditions of your health insurance is a proactive step toward safeguarding your health and financial security as you embrace the nomadic lifestyle.