Are you a global citizen, an international traveler or an expatriate?
Do you like to travel, see more of the world and explore different horizons?
If so, you need health insurance. If you are not convinced, or think you already have adequate health insurance cover – think again! We have identified the 3 most common misconceptions that people have about health insurance policies. Check to see if any apply to you – don’t wait until it is too late!
1. My health insurance travels with me
Maybe, but probably not!
Many people assume that one health insurance provider’s policies are much like another’s, that all policies are basically the same, and that once they have done their cost based research and found insurance that will pay out in the event of a broken leg, a broken tooth or even a major illness, they can just sit back and forget about the intricacies of their policy schedule and meet the annual renewal costs…
However, such an assumption can be particularly costly to those who like to travel and explore, visit new nations or even participate in new experiences abroad – from snowboarding to paragliding, from jet skiing to rock climbing. You see, most health insurance companies do not specialize in providing cover to those of us who like to make the very most of our lives.
For those of us who move abroad permanently or on an extended contract or sabbatical, it can be a real shock to discover that the plan we’ve been paying into for all these years does not want to travel overseas with us. It is at this point that many people really learn how inflexible most health insurance policies are.
Fortunately, such an awakening can be a good thing…it means that going forward the affected individual will be far more likely to look much more closely at any insurance policy’s terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line.
If you travel extensively for work or pleasure, if you live overseas, if you want to try new life experiences or even explore more of the nation you’re living in, you need to ensure that your back is covered. Your basic health insurance plan may literally stop being effective the minute you step across a country’s border, or push the limiting boundaries of your insurance policy’s schedule.
For example – if you’re living overseas in France in mainland Europe, your basic plan may not ensure that your health is protected if you decide to explore countries such as Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain or Luxembourg which back up and border your new nation of residence.
Alternatively, if you’re working in the UK and you want to travel back to the States to visit your family, your healthcare cover may end the second you step on the plane. Then again, imagine you’re travelling through Asia and you believe your insurance policy will protect you in each of the countries you visit, and you decide to take the inimitable opportunity available to you to learn to dive in Thailand – are you still covered?
If you’re an adaptable, audacious, outgoing person who likes to travel, explore and enjoy new experiences, you need to make sure that your health insurance policy is as flexible as you are adventurous, and that it will cover you no matter where you are in the world, and no matter what you’re doing.
2. Health insurance is too expensive – I am fit and healthy and I don’t need it
One thing most of us complain about, apart from the amount of tax we have to pay, is that the amount of money it costs annually to insure our health just keeps on rising…
Complaining about the cost of health insurance can be put sharply into perspective when you discover just how much it costs to travel uninsured. The following are all true stories that you should read if you’re thinking about going to live abroad or to travel the world, and you’re thinking of risking your life by traveling without getting the right insurance in place before you go.
i) An American woman, living in the UK and planning to travel elsewhere abroad for a holiday, was forced to cancel her travel plans earlier this year when an accident one week before travel landed her in hospital with concussion. Whilst her health care needs were covered because she was tax resident in the UK and therefore eligible for National Health Service medical care, the cancellation of her holiday was not. She was forced to pay $2,300 for the cancelled flights, car hire and villa rental. The woman in question ‘assumed’ she didn’t need any form of insurance because she believed all her needs were covered by the state system in England.
ii) An English woman residing on a Greek island recently suffered an horrific accident that left her with extensive and serious spinal injuries. She required repatriation to the UK to a spinal unit, but the cost of travel on a specialist air ambulance was $24,700. Her family was forced to raise the money between them because the woman in question was uninsured.
iii) A Canadian living in Thailand suffered acute appendicitis last year, required surgery twice and then repatriation to Canada for recuperation, and the total cost for treatment and travel came to $21,600 which he had to fund from savings because he was living abroad uninsured.
As you can clearly see, medical bills can be high for even straightforward illnesses like appendicitis – that in reality can affect any one of us at any time. Therefore to take the risk of living or travelling overseas without having the right insurance in place is an expensive risk that your life could one day depend upon.
Don’t take a risk with your health, don’t travel uninsured – if you do the monetary cost can be high, but the cost for your well being can be even higher.
3. Medical evacuation benefits are included as standard in expat health insurance policies
Wrong! This is the one critical requirement that many international health insurance policies fail to cover
When was the last time you got up close and personal with your international health insurance policy’s small print and policy schedule?
The reason for asking this question is that, despite what many people believe, not all insurance policies are the same…not all offer you the same breadth of service and quality of care. What’s more, there is one very common way for some international health insurers to cut costs and corners when offering a policy up for your consideration.
The majority of health insurance plans that expatriates purchase do not include so-called ‘medical evacuation benefits’ as standard, and this fact can place a massive potential financial and physical burden on you in the event that you’re stranded overseas and you need to get to a centre of care.
Now, you may well have heard of ‘repatriation cover’ – this is cover you can purchase that will ensure you are returned to your nation of origin in the event that you are seriously injured when abroad for example. However, medical evacuation is very different, far more effective, much more likely to be required and yet seldom included in your policy as standard.
Many expatriates live overseas in nations where the healthcare facilities are basic at best, rudimentary or even non-existent at worst. Furthermore, even in a country with a relatively sophisticated level of health care service, it is often the case that there is great distance between hospitals specialising in different types of illness or disease for example.
An expat who falls ill a long way from a decent medical care facility will need transportation to get to the treatment they need. Someone admitted to a basic hospital in one part of a country may benefit from specialist care from a hospital in another part of the country…what’s more, someone who has emergency treatment on the ground may need to be transported to a care facility for recuperation reasons. All such expats would need ‘medical evacuation benefits’ as part of their health insurance policy.
This part of a policy is effective if you need to be moved from your place of injury or illness to a place of specialist care. It also comes into effect if you need to be moved from one hospital to another; what’s more, it is essential if you need specialist transportation and the right medical support staff to enable your transportation. This part of your insurance cover could pay for emergency evacuation by air ambulance, it could pay for ‘routine’ transfer to a different hospital by road ambulance, and it could pay for the doctor, nurse or paramedic to support your transportation for example.
Without medical evacuation benefit you may not be able to afford transportation and you may not be able to source support staff to care for you during your transfer. You may also find it very difficult to be discharged from one hospital and readmitted to another – this is because many insurers will not make interim payments for your care, and because you are moving hospital or facility but continuing care, to your insurer it will be seen as an ongoing claim. However, a hospital you are asking or required to leave may want to be paid in full before they discharge you – and even if you can reclaim anything you have to pay at this point back at the end of the claim when your insurer finally settles up, not everyone will have the cash in the bank or the flexibility in their credit card to cover this interim bill.
As you can see, medical evacuation benefits are critical, very useful, often used and therefore required. Does your health insurance policy include them?
If you want peace of mind, complete coverage and access to any doctor, medical care provider, specialist unit or hospital no matter where you’re going to be living, working or traveling abroad, you need to trust your health insurance needs to a specialist provider. And Seven Corners is that provider.
If you are interested in alternatives and a Free Customized Quote, please feel free to contact us.