When Renewing or Switching Expat Health Insurance, Watch Out For:
- In most cases your new international medical insurance policy will not cover on-going medical conditions that began prior to your new policy effective date for the plan you are switching too.
- For certain areas of expat medical insurance cover you will have to wait a certain amount of time before you can claim under that section of the policy. Waiting periods are common for: pregnancy/maternity cover, dental cover, annual health checks, mental and nervous disorders.
This refers to the overall policy limits, and could be the difference between $500,000 or $5 Million, in addition some policies have annual limits and some may have a lifetime limit. Adjusting these policy limits, whether up or down, will usually have an impact on your premium.
Sub-limits refer to the limits within a particular section of your expatriate medical insurance cover. For example, ‘Out-Patient Treatment’ might have a maximum amount you can spend on a doctor visit or how many times you can see a physiotherapist.
Excess/Deductible and Co-insurance:
An excess/deductible is the amount you first contribute out of your own pocket towards the cost of a claim before the expat medical insurance policy will pay out. An excess/deductible can vary from a zero excess/deductible up to as much as $10,000 US dollars. These excess/deductibles can be per year, or per condition, so always check which type applies to your plan. This may also very depending on the section of expatriate health insurance cover. By choosing a higher excess/deductible, and therefore agreeing to pay more of your claim yourself, you will help reduce your premium. Alternatively, choosing a low, or no, deductible/excess may result in significant increases in your premium.
Co-insurance is similar to an excess/deductible but it is typically a percentage value of the claim cost instead of a fixed monetary amount.
It can often be significantly cheaper for you to pay your premium annually upfront in one lump payment compared to paying monthly or other instalment schedule. In fact it can sometimes be cheaper to pay your annual premium upfront by credit card compared to the additional charges for you paying via instalments.
Area of Cover:
Depending on your geographic location, you may be able to save money on your expat health insurance by excluding certain geographic areas. There is not point paying for high cost areas if you are never going to travel there.
Some policies may have an ‘out of area’ cover that would give you limited duration, or limited sums insured, for unexpected illness or accident when travelling outside of your chosen area of cover. This can be useful for short leisure or business trips - but always check you are comfortable with the level of cover provided.
Choice of Medical Provider and Medical Networks:
Some international medical insurance polices will restrict you to a specified list of hospitals and medical providers. Other policies may give you freedom to choose any hospital/doctor/clinic in your area of cover. And some plans will also provide direct billing between the expat medical insurance company and the hospital so that you do not need to pay large amounts up front out of your own pocket and have to claim them back later from the insurance company. Some policies will even incentivise you to go into their medical network, they may do this by reducing your excess/deductible (or co-insurance contribution) when using their medical network.