If you intend to move to a foreign country for an extended period, one of the essential things you need is international medical insurance. You may be wondering, do I need US health insurance if I live abroad?

Although it is not mandatory, having international medical insurance as an American expat gives you peace of mind knowing that your healthcare is catered to in your new country of residence.

Depending on the provider you choose, it gives you the flexibility of choosing where to seek treatment, the type of treatment, and the doctor if you fall ill or get injured in a foreign country. Since international medical insurance differs from one provider to another, we have put together some tips to choose one.

Do you have any preexisting conditions?

This question is essential when deciding the international medical insurance to choose. The plan you pick should cover any preexisting medical conditions you have and need treatment for. Many global medical insurance companies will not cover preexisting medical conditions but may charge you a higher premium to cover them.

Most importantly, understand what the international medical insurance cover you consider covers so that you are not surprised by unexpected costs when seeking treatment in a foreign country. Moreover, you should not change from one international health insurance cover to a different one without finding out if it can cover ongoing treatment of a certain medical condition.

Consider the network of doctors and hospitals.

You must evaluate the network of global doctors and hospitals that participate within the international health insurance and the premium you choose. It is vital to ensure that the plan you choose has a broad network of doctors and hospitals in the area you will reside in to access a specialist when the need arises. Some of the global health insurance providers have the best medical networks globally, and it is advisable to pick one with an extensive network.

Evaluate the out of pocket costs

There are always some out-of-pocket costs with international health insurance plans in deductibles, coinsurance, and copays. Ideally, you want a more comprehensive insurance cover with fewer out-of-pocket costs, which comes in exchange for a higher premium.

If you don’t have major health issues, you may opt for an international health insurance plan with a lower premium and higher out-of-pocket costs. Even deductibles and coinsurance are a great way to minimize your monthly or annual premiums, although the effect may not be that significant.

Inpatient care for expat healthcare

Regarding inpatient care, different international health insurance plans have different levels of coverage. Here you must consider your personal preferences; for example, if having a private room when seeling inpatient care is vital to you, consider a plan that guarantees that. Besides the base policy, you can consider adding riders who can adjust your coverage depending on your needs.

Emergency evacuation costs

When looking at different international healthcare plans, it is vital to check the differences in coverage and out-of-pocket costs from one plan to another. For instance, a medical evacuation or an ambulance ride from one country to another can be expensive; therefore, it is best to pick a plan with a benefit level you are comfortable with.

Ideally, if your new country of residence has substandard medical care, it is best to choose an international health plan with medical evacuation coverage to cater for medical care in the country you are evacuated to. Note that you may not be able to choose where you are evacuated to as the insurer approves and coordinates that. But most insurers facilitate evacuations to countries with exceptional medical care that doesn’t exist in your current country of residence.

Consider the reputation and services of the insurer.

Before choosing a global health insurance provider, take your time to make international healthcare comparisons. Some global health insurers are well known, capable, and more secure than others. Like most things in life, quality international health insurance cover comes at a premium price, and it is best to pay more for a medical care cover that suits all your needs and wants.

It is also essential to go through client reviews and see what other expats say about the global health insurance provider. If you have friends living abroad, ask them about their experience using a specific global insurer before making a choice.

The plan premiums

Last but not least, consider the international health insurance plan premiums. Note that the premium you pay depends on the level of coverage you get, and your health can impact it. Generally, lower premiums have higher out-of-pocket costs and vice versa. You may also pay additional costs if you add riders to extend your coverage to add more benefits.

The bottom line

All in all, get international medical insurance that you can afford while living abroad. Although you may be healthy, you cannot underestimate the benefits of global health insurance as an American expat.

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