Living abroad comes with a lot of preparation and sometimes extra cost. Your health insurance plan is one of the vital things you need to consider before going abroad. Your health insurance plan may not cover you oversea and this can pose a very big threat to your activities in your new country. We have outlined 3 important steps to enable you get health coverage while living abroad.
1. Keep your existing health coverage
Most insurance plans in your home country may cover your health insurance abroad, but it will come at an extra cost for being out-of-network or a limit to what can be covered by the insurance will be stated (for instance, only cases of emergencies will be covered). Some government health plans do not cover the oversea cost. If such is the case, you should consider going back to your home country as a viable option to avoid incurring extra expenses.
You may need to pay upfront and get reimbursed upon your return to the country if your primary insurance plan will cover you while staying abroad. Find the cost of certain packages in your present destination, for example, doctor visits, therapies, or medications you may use on a daily basis. It may be more or less than you are used to. Also, check if the insurance plan covers services through international travel assistance such as 24-hour toll-free assistance for emergencies or pre-payment or prior approval for treatment, which can be required in some countries. If not, it will be wise to secure your own travel assistance insurance plan.
2. Purchase individual travel/health coverage
Most travel insurance plans cover health insurance while traveling outside your home country for a short-term duration. Basically, the services covered in travel insurance include:
- Medical treatment in cases such as accident or illness
- Referrals to hospitals and pharmacies worldwide
- Medication information about your new country
- Bedside visits for family members in the event of an emergency
The health insurance offered is usually a supplementary coverage to your already existing medical insurance plan. But in some cases where there is no pre-existing medical insurance, a participant can use it as the only health insurance while abroad.
Pay rapt attention to what is covered in your plan. Most plans may seem to have a high coverage but contain dollar-amount caps on specific common benefits, which creates a misapprehension of coverage. (Example: $100,000 coverage but surgery cap of only $5,000.).
If the supplementary plans offer little coverage, you can look out for health plans that are suitable for people working and living abroad as it might cover a broader range compared to what you have now. Also, find out if the exchange program offers any group travel/health insurance plans with more coverage.
3. Qualify for health plans in your new country
International students who directly enroll in a host university in their destination stand a better chance of being eligible for health services received by local students of that country. Requirements may differ depending on the kind of treatment is to be conducted, Students with disabilities should investigate whether they will need additional coverage, such as pre-existing condition coverage. This also applies to workers employed during a work exchange in another country, they may be provided with group insurance through an employer or may qualify for national health plans.
Your university health plans must be in accordance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) regardless of your citizenship, once you are a student to the U.S. in the same line, foreign visa holders, there are requirements for insurance coverage and repatriation that must meet (and may exceed) the ACA requirement for essential health benefits, such as:
- Ambulatory patient services
- Emergency services
- Maternity and newborn care
- Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitative and habilitating services and devices
- Laboratory services
- Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
- Pediatric services, including oral and vision care
Foreigners lawfully coming to the U.S. can have access to the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace. It has ACA regulated plans and patient protections such as non-discrimination for pre-existing conditions and the minimum essential health benefits.
Make the necessary research and consult your insurance advisor on your insurance coverage abroad before travelling. Let us know you what you think about health coverage overseas in the comment box below.