International health insurance is a kind of insurance which covers short term, curable illnesses and injuries for those who are going to move or have moved abroad for study, work or retirement.
The international health insurance market is growing with there being many hundreds of international health insurance companies offering a diverse range of policies.
Kinds of international insurance cover
The majority of international health insurance plans comprise compulsory cover and certain options. These are referred to as package policies. This is not the same as expatriate health insurance, where you have multiple policies to select from. Certain policies provide a basic core level of cover and a diverse range of choices as to what you can add or remove dependent on your own individual needs.
Basic international policy
A basic policy normally offers cover for in-patient and day-patient treatment, including medical, diagnosis and treatment fees, accommodation, operating theatre costs, medication, nursing, chronic conditions, rehabilitation, organ transplant, oncology, physiotherapy, air and land private ambulance costs.
Choice of cover
‘Choice of Cover’ international health insurance policies are more comprehensive, also covering out-patient treatment, aftercare, surgical treatment and sometimes psychiatric illness in addition to the cover provided under a basic international health insurance policy.
Additional features which can be added to international health insurance cover include routine and emergency dental treatment, routine maternity care, optical care, as well as any complications relating to pregnancy and evacuation.
A growing number of international health plans include cover for preventative health checks like general medical tests as well cervical and prostate cancer checks.
Lowering the cost of international health insurance cover
There are several ways whereby you can keep your international health insurance premiums down:
Compare cover quotes
You can obtain comparative quotes from several international health insurance companies.
Consider each policy and the level of cover it offers to decide which one gives you the best value for money.
Check your cover level
Just buy the level of cover you need. Prior to signing on the dotted line clarify what cover is included as standard and which features you need to pay extra for.
Purchase limited cover
Certain international health insurers provide low cost policies which purely cover major illnesses. Such ‘limited cover’ plans are usually cheaper; however, it is worthwhile remembering that most medical care is required for minor injuries and illnesses.
Increase the excess
Opting to increase your excess on any claims reduces your insurance premium. Do bear in mind not to set the excess higher than what you are able to pay in case you do need to make a claim.
International health insurance covers expat health insurance products, products for international/multi-nationality people, film stars, professional sports people and products designed specifically for business people, travellers and retirees.
Why is it necessary to get international health insurance?
Should you be living, working or studying overseas it is vital to have sufficient health insurance in place to cover any sudden illnesses or injuries.
Under present laws, British citizens are entitled to receive free health and medical treatment on the NHS. Should they spend a part or all of their time living abroad, they may forfeit free NHS treatment.
Health insurance example
- Should you live in an EU country, you are not eligible for NHS treatment should you spend more than six months away overseas in any given year.
- Should you live outside the EU, you are not eligible for NHS treatment should be overseas for more than three months in any given year.
- Should you be living or working outside the UK for several months per year and you are eligible for free emergency treatment abroad, other non-emergency treatment might not be free.
- Bear in mind that whilst the cost of overseas treatment may not be an issue, you have no guarantee that the local medical care is going to be up to scratch.