Don’t confuse health insurance with travel insurance
Written by Trevor Keidan on June 12, 2017.
In my last post I talked about travel insurance and just how vital it is to be covered when you are away from your home country. For a temporary visit abroad, travel insurance will cover you against a number of different risks, including becoming ill or being injured, but it is not a long-term solution for those who choose to settle abroad.
If you become unwell on a travel policy, the insurance will cover treatment abroad up to a point. But for more serious illnesses, the insurer’s obligation is to get you repatriated. In this scenario, once you are home, the insurer will likely cease all cover and leave you at the mercy of state care (if you have any) or having to foot the bill yourself.
If you relocate to another country for a longer period of time, travel insurance is not suitable cover for you and your family against falling ill or being involved in an accident. You need medical insurance with guaranteed renewability, meaning that if you get ill you can continue to enjoy the benefits of medical insurance, subject to continued payments.
Most expats posted abroad do not have local insurance or access to any kind of state benefits. That means that there is no safety net at all if they get ill. Many argue that local healthcare is affordable and that they are willing to take the risk of relying on it if they were to need treatment but it’s an enormous risk to take. Even less expensive healthcare costs can mount up over time and who wants to settle for care in a hospital which may not be up to scratch in terms of standard of care or quality of equipment?
All the expats I know living in Asia want access to the international hospitals which offer start-of-the-art equipment, a high quality standard of care and doctors trained in the best institutions around the world. That inevitably comes at a price which could easily prove to be beyond even those with relatively robust finances should anything serious happen health-wise.
A health insurance policy protects your finances by insuring you against the risk of having to cover those costs out of your own pocket. It will cover you until you get well, assuming you continue paying your premiums, and is essential for protecting your savings, assets and investments.
Health insurance cover varies dramatically from policy to policy and cannot be chosen on price alone. Remember you get what you pay for and where medical insurance is concerned I advise you to spend as much as you can afford, one day you will be grateful you did!