Blog Expat Health Insurance — Choosing and Staying Protected

Expat Health Insurance — Choosing and Staying Protected


Your Health Matters — Are you Insured?

Your health is important, and having Expat health insurance helps you protect it. We are here to provide you with various considerations to help you plan for Expat health insurance needs.

Before taking the plunge to move to a new country, it’s important to have a roadmap for all aspects of your new life abroad. Every country or location has the potential for interruptions or disaster. Also, if you wait until you are sick, your business has challenges, or your family has a crisis, it is often too late, and the burden will directly affect you or your business!

Arranging healthcare and good expat health insurance is vital and particularly critical for those with pre-existing health issues. Organizing business liability insurance is also essential for those of you with business products, operations equipment, and consistent travel. But today, our focus is your health and any medical challenges you might face on your global journey.

Unexpected things happen and when it comes to your health, having insurance coverage should be a top priority. Ensuring that you and your family can access healthcare abroad is absolutely essential to your safety. 

Our current global health situation has taught us that no one can predict when an emergency or health issue might arise. It does not matter what your status is — digital nomad, expat employee, global freelancer, or entrepreneur overseas; health challenges can happen and you need to be protected.

Good expat health insurance is critical no matter where you live. Certain factors change when you live outside of your passport country. For example, is local public or private health insurance available to you, or do you need to consider an expat health insurance plan?

Here are some tips to help you understand and choose an insurance policy and process that fits your situation. It’s vital to research the implications for expatriate healthcare in your new country; healthcare access can be quite different from what you’re used to.

Which insurance coverage do you need: local, private, or expat insurance? Globally, mobile citizens typically require an expat health insurance plan if they want to be fully covered in the many countries they frequent. If this is the case, you may consider an expat health insurance policy rather than a local one.

Health/Medical Insurance Factors

The initial step is to learn if you are eligible to access public healthcare in your location. There may be exceptions depending on your nationality or the length of time you plan to stay.

Some countries legally oblige you to purchase a local health insurance plan, based on your status or length of stay in-country. This means that you have to pay a monthly fee towards a government-regulated health plan, regardless of whether you have another form of expat health insurance.

Take the time to learn about the quality of government/state-provided healthcare, as it will vary from country to country. It will determine if you will use the public system or the private system for your medical needs.

Understanding local regulations and their implications will also allow you to make informed decisions about local health insurance coverage. Some countries have very specific rules about who can access public health services. However, it is necessary to take into account that not all public healthcare systems provide full coverage. 

In some cases, there may be restrictions on accessing certain local healthcare services up until a certain period has passed. For example, you might not get free X-rays or maternity services.

It’s important to make sure you understand the insurance offered by your employer. Even if you have an employer plan, you might need to add a supplementary plan to cover family members, or treatments not included, like dental or coverage when you return for visits to your home/passport country. For example, many policies often exclude the USA because it drastically increases the cost of a plan.

No matter where or how you are purchasing your plan, either with a local agency or online, you might want to have a chat with a trusted local or expat who understands the healthcare system. Knowing someone who understands the system and is fluent in both the local and expat language, can help with any nuance. There is nothing worse than signing a policy and missing a key feature because you didn’t understand the language when it was explained.

Remember, you should compare the various private expat health insurance coverage options. To close any gaps in coverage, you typically need to take out a private or expat insurance plan.

But what if you have travel insurance? It’s important to note these policies are usually designed for short stays, and typically only cover medical emergencies. Depending on the length of your stay in countries abroad, a private expat health insurance policy can ensure a more sufficient healthcare option.

Keyboard, Eyeglasses, Cup with coffee, tip of pen and highligher and document with header insurance on a yellow clipboard witting on a white background.

Questions for determining your insurance needs

Be sure to ask your health insurer the right questions before making a decision; in this way, you ensure that you find a policy that covers you and your family. These general questions can apply, whether you have an employer policy or you select an independent policy.

Here are some basic factors you should keep in mind:

  • Does it fit the specific needs of you and your family?
  • How are pre-existing conditions handled?
  • Are there age restrictions? Check if the company cuts coverage after a certain age.
  • What international coverage does it provide?
  • What are the exclusions for making a claim?
  • Is the company licensed?
  • Does the policy include your family?
  • Do you have any pre-existing conditions not covered by the policy?
  • Does your insurance plan cover you when you visit home?
  • What are the processes to access health services abroad, and how do you make a claim? This is vital if you’re traveling often, and should be easily accessible no matter where you are.

Individual private medical insurance policies can often be advantageous to expats. The benefits of these policies have been selected and tailored specifically to suit their needs.

Here are five of the most common options.**

Safety Wings

Aetna Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Global

Geo Blue (Blue Cross Blue Shield)


What Do Expat Health Insurance Plans Typically Cover?

Most expat insurance plans will provide the following:

  • Routine check-ups and visits
  • Hospital stays and treatments
  • Some outpatient care
  • Some pre-existing conditions
  • Treatment for ongoing health conditions
  • Selected list of public or private medical providers
  • Dental and vision can be optional add-ons

It’s important to research, compare, and consider the costs. You can find many websites that provide an expat health insurance comparison. Make sure that you get a good glance at what different insurance companies offer and at what cost.


* This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the link, I get a small percentage at no additional charge to you. See my disclaimer policy for more info. 

Karla or Roseapple Global are not insurance brokers or agents, so, please contact an insurance specialist to plan your coverage and to learn the most updated information.

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Also published on - 2023


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