International Health Insurance for Expats

If you are an expatriate living abroad, then your most important financial decision is obtaining an international health insurance policy. While your employer may supply you with a global health plan as part of a group benefit package, many expatriates are left to fend for themselves, often because they are retired, traveling abroad for an extended period, on contract or their employer simply asks them to obtain the coverage themselves. A few lucky employees will be able to expense the expat health policy costs to the employer, but others can’t.

Unfortunately, some expats don’t purchase health insurance because they think “I’m young and in good health, nothing will happen to me!” Well, that is simply gambling with your financial and physical health. A medical emergency can bankrupt you very easily and your inability to pay for adequate medical treatment can even lead to your permanent disablement or death. Many expatriates will have to sell their assets or turn to family members, all to save a few hundred dollars a month for a global health plan.

Many expatriates think that medical costs very are low if you are outside of the USA, so will self-insure. Well, wrong again. Medical expenses, while generally lower outside of America, can still be very substantial, even in the third world as you may have to be evacuated to a center of excellence in Europe or Asia where medical costs can be comparable to North America.

So, now you know that having an international health insurance policy is vital. The key is to try to get a policy that meets your needs and fits your budget. There are a variety of global health insurance providers that can offer many different levels of coverage for almost any budget. Most plans will offer you a base level of coverage that will cover medical expenses incurred inside a hospital. The plans will also offer out-patient care such as wellness visits, prescription cover, paramedical expenses and the like. Dental and vision are additional add-ons. Medical evacuation is either included or an option, but most advisors consider this benefit a must, especially if you reside in a developing country.

International health insurance premiums range widely depending on the level of coverage, gender, age and your location. If you want a policy that covers you globally, including the United States, this can often add at least 40% to your rate. Most plans exclude pre-existing medical conditions, but some companies will underwrite most conditions if disclosed and approved for an additional premium. Of course, this depends on the severity of the condition along with other factors. If you plan to become pregnant, then make sure you check the waiting period for the maternity benefit.

You can obtain your global medical insurance plan from a variety of sources, such as Expat Financial or Global Travel Insurance. It is important that you state your requirements and find the right policy that suits your needs. A cheap plan is not usually the best plan, as you usually get what you pay for.

David Tompkinsis the President of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd., an international insurance brokerage with clients around the world. Feel free to contact David via or 1-604-628-0426 or via

Important Note: Some of the products and services described above may not be available to residents of certain jurisdictions, depending on regulatory constraints, including Canada and the U.S.

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