International health insurance, also known as expatriate health insurance, provides long term medical coverage for individuals and families that spend most of their time outside the U.S., such as expatriates, retirees, global employees or local nationals.
Need and Advantages
Domestic health insurance plans in many countries provide a limited coverage and may not provide any coverage outside that country. Healthcare quality can also vary in many countries.
Expatriates and employees of multinational companies may be assigned to another country with little notice. If insurance is purchased from a local insurance company, it is likely that the coverage can't be used in another country. If you move or were transferred to another country, you would have to purchase a new insurance plan, which would exclude any pre-existing condition.
Moreover, if the treatment you need is not available in your local country, you should be able to go to another country where you can be treated. For example, many US citizens retire in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and other popular retirement countries, they spend the majority of their time there but return to the US for short durations. If they have a major health issue, they likely prefer to fly to the US to receive the best medical care they can. Local health insurance plans simply can’t provide such flexibility.
On the other hand, international health insurance provides flexibility to receive the best treatment wherever it is available (within the geographic area you selected at the time of application), no matter where you are transferred.
Buying one insurance plan for all of your global employees, even if they work in different countries, is relatively painless for an employer to administer.
International health insurance plans provide substantial medical coverage for anyone living or working outside their country of citizenship. The plans are not Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant, this means the plans are medically underwritten and pre-existing conditions may or may not be covered. Some plans may cover pre-existing conditions with a higher premium, or altogether exclude them. Other plans reduce your pre-existing conditions coverage waiting period with proof of prior creditable coverage.
International medical insurance plans are different from travel medical insurance plans, which are simply short term medical insurance plans.
International health insurance plans may also provide various benefits such as maternity, wellness checkups, preventive care, dental, vision, life insurance, and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, as well as many other coverages.
Of course, international health insurance plans include coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains, which domestic health insurance plans would simply not cover. These benefits are extremely helpful when in need of medical treatment, wherever it is available and getting the body back home in case of death abroad.
Even though international health insurance plans provide a lot of coverage, each plan has exclusions. It is a good idea to read the details of each policy carefully to make sure that it would meet your needs.
In order to purchase international health insurance, employers don’t need to be a large company. Any employer, of any size can qualify to purchase such plans.
International health insurance plans are renewable as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Even though the premiums would generally be higher with every renewal, such increases are not specific to each insured but to the entire class of people.
Even though a primary insured, spouse and dependent children can apply using one application, each person will be provided with a separate insurance ID number and ID card. The policy maximum is also per person.
Anyone spending 6 months or more outside the U.S. should consider purchasing international health insurance plan for major medical coverage and great flexibility.