Things work differently from country to country. One thing that is common to every country is the fact that people living there need to have some form of insurance in case of an illness or to prevent one in the first place.
Where things get complicated is that an expat or foreign resident of many of these countries has to have a special type of insurance. Since many countries have insurance schemes in which citizens pay into it their whole lives, like health insurance in UK, it makes sense that somebody just arriving won’t have access.
New residents need to have their own insurance at least temporarily until they can join the public option. In some cases, they are not able to join the public option at all and must always have their own private insurance. Knowing what kind of insurance is difficult to assess.
In this article, we will go over how to know if you have enough coverage and what to do to pick the right policy.
Insurance Basics When Abroad
Many countries center their insurance on the government. Some have the government provide and pay for the coverage and others simply have the government pay for it. In either scenario, the majority of countries using these systems fund their healthcare through taxes.
As an example, in Italy, the health care providers are all in the private sector. A doctor usually has their own practice and is not a government employee. When a patient is seen and treated, they send the government the bill for these services rather than a private insurance company. The patient sees no bill or has to pay a small fee for a specialist in some cases.
In the UK, the doctors are in the NHS which is a government agency essentially making them public employees. Patients also see no bills there as the government pays for their treatment.
There is a middle ground in Germany where people pay for their own insurance but it goes by affordability. A person is only charged according to their salary. And their employees also pay a percentage of their insurance. Insurance companies are private institutions and are non profit. The costs stay low since the government bargains for prices with the insurance companies.
How to Find Insurance Coverage When Living Abroad
There are many ways to get insurance when you are moving abroad. The most common thing for recent expats to do is to buy private insurance before the move so they can be covered as soon as they arrive. Some expats will be able to get insurance on the public system but it takes time so having coverage in the meantime is necessary for a visa.
How and why you are moving to another country is the biggest factor when coming up with insurance and what kind of coverage you need. For instance, when being transferred abroad by your job, there will likely be employer provided healthcare. What type and how deep the coverage depends on the individual countries requirements for the basics. Your employer will handle buying the appropriate policy that satisfies the host country’s requirements.
When moving abroad on your own, then it is up to you to research what the minimum coverage needs to be. Secondary to that is what you are comfortable with as far as what the minimum requirements are. In other words, you may opt for more comprehensive coverage than what is required.
Avoid travel insurance thinking that it covers you as health insurance would when aborad. Many policies are focused on emergencies abroad and not on taking care of your health. For instance, the coverage includes missed flights, rental car accidents, and an emergency room visit. But, they don’t cover doctor’s visits or elective surgeries.
Consider the Location
Besides the requirements for individual countries, there are local factors that weigh in on what kind of policy you need and how much coverage is a good idea. Some countries have a healthier environment than others.
Living in a big city in India has health complications such as air pollution that contributes to respiratory problems, drinking water issues that cause digestive tract issues and even accidents from the lack of traffic enforcement. The kind of policy needs to align with these issues so that you have the coverage you need for those types of scenarios that are unique to a place like that.
Those moving to Switzerland will have none of those issues so sticking with the basic requirements won’t prove to be too little coverage since it is a healthy and safe place to live. The key is to do some research about the country where you plan to move to understand what the unique health challenges are there.