Health Insurance While Abroad: How to Make Sure The People You Love Are Covered

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By Marie Miguel

As years pass by, it is becoming more common for people to live abroad, in search of better work and life conditions. At first glance, living abroad sounds like a galmosours and fun dream, until all the bureaucratic paperwork catches up with you. 

The worst-case scenario is that, amidst visa restrictions and forms to fulfill, you or your loved ones living abroad also get caught in a difficult health situation. Especially now, in times of COVID-19, it has become a common worry for families around the world to feel uneasy about who is not living with them anymore. 

So, how do we make sure we and the people we love are safe? 

On one hand, working through your feelings and worries with a professional might be a good option. There are many websites, such as BetterHelp, that can help you connect with a therapist in just a click. 

On the other hand, having global health insurance is a practical way to make sure you and your loved ones are covered while abroad.

Why having global health insurance matters

Have you ever heard about global citizens? Those are people who identify themselves as being part of a global community, and not exactly one country only. As exciting as that might sound, the person needs to be well prepared, both physically and emotionally, to deal with that reality.

Unexpected events do happen and you need to be as prepared as possible. Living abroad might sound scary during these times, especially if you are far away from your family, friends, and familiar health care. You won’t need to worry as much if you are fully covered, which means having global health insurance.

In fact, when leaving your country of origin, depending on where you move or travel, you might have access to public health services, but only if you have health insurance first. Every country is different, but some do have this prerequisite.

It is best practice to check the country’s rules, but regardless of being mandatory, having health insurance is the best option you have to prepare for unfortunate health events in advance.

What are the benefits of having global health insurance?

Each insurance company will have its specificities, but basically, there are five benefits you should consider:

Multi-country coverage

International health insurance will give you the possibility of using it in different countries, as you need it. Even if you come back to your home country for a visit, if it is still in the region of coverage, you are entitled to use the services as if you were abroad.

Higher level of coverage

Global health insurance offers better and higher coverage than a simple local or national plan. For example, some of them even offer the possibility of evacuation or repatriation. That means that if you need a specific treatment and it is not available where you are, your insurance might have the option of transferring you back to your home country (repatriation) or to another country where the treatment is available (evacuation).

No language barriers

Living abroad can be challenging in many ways, but when it comes to complex medical terms, anything less than mastery of the local language can be a problem. 

Imagine having to deal with an excessive language barrier while needing medical assistance? Having international insurance guarantees that their helpline, documents, and any support you need will be offered in many different languages.

Domestic or state coverage is not an option for you

Sometimes you are just passing through a country and not exactly becoming a permanent resident there. Because of that, maybe you are not entitled to access their public health services, so you cannot have a domestic or state cover. The best option then would be having international health insurance.

Planning to keep moving

Many travelers do not plan to stay in any one country for too long. You might plan to keep moving around, going with the flow and opportunities that appear. By having international health insurance, you don’t need to worry about it every time you move to a different country since you will be covered anyway.

Global health insurance versus travel insurance

While living abroad, you need global health insurance. However, when traveling for a limited amount of time, be it for vacation or work, having travel insurance is also important.

The basic difference between global health and travel insurances is that the former guarantees you have access to health services everywhere that your plan covers, while the latter is intended to protect you against travel-related unwanted events, such as:

  • Flight cancellations
  • Loss of luggage
  • Emergency medical treatment

While travel insurance does guarantee medical treatment, it is only for short-time emergency medical treatments that occurred during the time of your travel, in the specific area you traveled to. It aims at guaranteeing you will recover and be well enough to return back to your home country, where if needed you can follow up on any additional treatment.

Once you are back in your home country, the travel insurance doesn’t work anymore. In that case, if you need any further treatment, global health insurance would have been more likely to cover it.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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