International Health Insurance
Protecting your health outside the UK...
What does International
The scope of the cover provided can vary significantly depending on the options you select and the countries you require cover in:
• Diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and scans;
• Consultations with a medical practitioner;
The exact process may vary depending on the type of treatment you require but the usually process is as follows:
Stage 1: You suffer an illness or injury that requires medical attention.
Stage 2: You contact the insurer for pre-claims authorisation.
Stage 3: The insurer will provide the medical facility with a guarantee.
Stage 4: You receive the medical advice and treatment you need.
Stage 5: The insurer will usually pay the medical bill directly to the facility.
Do I need
Depending on where in the world you live or travel the quality and availability of free healthcare can vary considerably. It is a huge risk living overseas without any healthcare back-up.
It is important to consider the potential cost of healthcare in countries where you are not able to access a social health system, if one even exists. In many countries anything from a trip to the doctor to an operation is fully chargeable.
Those with private healthcare cover benefit from speedier diagnosis and treatment, the highest quality care and lower infection risks. Global health insurers are also able to help with arranging suitable medical treatment, which can be difficult to do alone in a foreign country.
1. Outpatient optionsVarious outpatient options are available. Complementary treatments, dental and optical benefits as well as additional scans can sometimes be included.
2. Maternity coverThis option provides cover for the costs incurred during pregnancy and childbirth which includes hospital charges, specialist fees, midwife fees as well as midwife fees.
3. Excess optionsThe amount you agree to pay towards the treatment before the insurance company will start paying any medical expenses, opting for a higher excess reduces your premium.
For expatriates and others individuals who spend significant time abroad a UK only health insurance plan will not provide the level of cover required to ensure treatment can be received in countries outside of the UK.
With over 30 million expatriates living or working around the world many of the UK insurers have developed a range of international medical insurance products. These policies provide similar benefits to those provided on a UK only plan.
Global health insurance provides additional benefits including emergency and maternal benefits and cover for chronic conditions.
Given the international nature of the plan and the fact that those living abroad typically do not have access to State funded healthcare, additional benefits that may also be covered include:
When considering worldwide health insurance it is important to understand the local health service customs in the areas you are to reside in or travel to.
Across Europe alone there are many different state funded health services from the French Universal Health Coverage Act (CMU) to Germany's GKV scheme and Italy's Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN).
Each country has their own way of providing services and it is important to be aware of how these schemes work to ensure you are prepared should you require treatment.
All good international health plans and should take these differences into account as should your adviser when making any recommendations. Take the French system for instance, where it is based on the State paying a proportion of the total cost of treatment.
Like any health insurance product you tend to get what you pay for with a range of options available to both increase and reduce the scope of the cover provided. Given the global nature of the cover the products tend to have different pricing structures dependent upon the countries covered as health insurance costs can vary considerably across the world.
The most common categories are as follows:
Country specific premiums
Some specialist international insurers and some of the mainstream providers offer regional or country specific rates which can help to contain premiums. Given the global nature of the plans the insurers are also often quite flexible in the currency they receive payment in offering a range of options to policyholders.
Policy limits and excess
Many are familiar with the term excess through their car or home insurance plan, a global health insurance policy also offers the option of including an excess.
Most commonly the excess is set up as a simple deductible, where the policyholder pays the first £x of any claim, it is more common on an international plan than a UK plan to pay the excess per claim rather than per policy year.
The alternative to a simple deductible excess is a co-payment option, with this option the insured agrees to pay x% of each claim. The risk imposed on the insured in the co-payment option is very different to the simple deductible excess and it is important to take these risks into consideration when deciding on the right worldwide health cover.
When taking out a travel insurance policy many focus on the issues that can come with taking a holiday, lost or stolen luggage, delays and cancellations however a key element of any good travel insurance policy is to cover health treatment abroad while travelling.
The key difference between the medical cover provided by a travel insurance policy and that provided on a global private medical insurance plan is that the travel insurance is focused on accidents and emergencies only with no cover provided for elective treatment or chronic conditions.
With travel insurance you are usually required to return home to continue treatment when fit enough whereas an international health insurance plan would allow you to receive ongoing treatment overseas.
As with any insurance product it is important to truly understand what the product covers and any potential pitfalls. If you do not feel comfortable trawling through the insurer's terms and conditions then speak to an expert, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake when it comes to your health.
If you require any guidance, further information or quotes from the leading international health insurance providers then please do not hesitate to pop us an email or give us a call.
02/11/2014 M Dorais
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