In today's world, many multinational corporations deploy their employees to a foreign country on a long-term assignment. Providing international health insurance aids recruitment and retention of top talent vital for their international business. With international health insurance, expatriates can have the exciting experience of living and working a foreign country, without having to worry about the health insurance expenses.
International Medical insurance is designed to provide long-term coverage, typically one year or longer, to people working or living outside their home country. You may also see International health insurance plans called International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI), international medical insurance and expatriate health insurance.
Travel Insurance Coverage Compared to International Health Insurance
The available coverages in travel insurance plans are suitable for some types of travel, but not for long stays abroad. For expatriates living in another country, travel insurance coverage is insufficient for their needs.
- Travel insurance typically provides emergency medical coverage while traveling outside the home country for short durations that range from a few days to one year; after the maximum duration is up you may not be able to repurchase the same coverage.
- Travel insurance typically does not cover pre-existing conditions (except acute onset of pre-existing conditions in some plans), whereas most International Medical Insurance plans are designed to include varying levels of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- In addition, travel insurance would not allow traveling to another country simply to receive medical treatment.
- Travel insurance also does not cover maternity, wellness checkups, dental work and other routine healthcare expenses that are important when you and your family live outside your citizenship country.
International health insurance typically provides the choice of numerous coverage areas:
- Worldwide excluding US
- Worldwide excluding US and Canada
- Worldwide excluding US, Canada and Far East Asia
The price for international medical insurance does vary based on the coverage area chosen, among other factors such as age, benefits, policy maximum and selected deductible.
American expatriates living abroad should highly consider choosing the "Worldwide" coverage area because it includes the U.S.; with this coverage area, U.S. expats can return to the USA for treatment where they have the support of family and friends, along with the greatest health care in the world.
Eligibility for purchasing international health insurance really varies between different insurance companies. Many insurance companies provide long term health insurance to expatriates living outside their home country. Some of them provide USA coverage, while others don't. There are also insurance companies that have limitations stating that the insured must not spend more than 6 months out of a year in the US - in other words, they cannot be U.S. resident.
Some insurance companies will insure local residents living in their own country, and not just expatriates, as long as they don't live in the US.
For these reasons, it is very important to look at the eligibility details and make sure you are applying for an insurance plan that you are indeed eligible to purchase.
Many insured persons incorrectly assume that all international health insurance plans are the same; therefore, they should choose the one that has the lowest premium. That is not necessarily the best idea because different insurance plans provide varying levels of coverage. Rather than making a decision based on the price alone, you should look at the details of each international health insurance plan to make sure the one you choose would indeed meet your expectations.
Additionally, several countries such as Switzerland, UAE and Australia require expatriates to purchase international health insurance plan that meets their minimum mandated requirements. Therefore, such expatriates should definitely consider looking into the specific requirements of these countries to ensure their insurance plans meets the requirements.
You can apply online on this website, along with completing the medical questionnaire - be sure to answer all the questions correctly. Your application will go through a quick underwriting process, and then a few days after submission you will receive confirmation of coverage along with your ID card and the policy documents if you are approved.