When taking out an international medical insurance plan it is vital to consider all of the aspects of the policy and to fully understand the terms and conditions that are in place before signing on the dotted line. Unfortunately, a lot of people buy insurance plans without putting in the necessary research beforehand, and so they can end up with a policy that isn’t right for their requirements. To make sure this does not happen to you, we have put together ten of the key questions you should ask before choosing a worldwide health insurance plan, whether you are doing this because you are moving abroad or simply going on your travels.
- What are benefits are covered? There is only one place to begin and this is by determining the level of coverage you will benefit from. Generally, global medical insurance plans can be split into three different types of cover – basic, intermediate and comprehensive. You need to decide what type of policy you want. Do you want something that simply covers you in emergencies? Or, are you looking for something that has everything from dental care to well-being check-ups? You need to be fully aware of what benefits are covered and what benefits are not, so you have a complete understanding of what you are getting for your money.
- How much are the premiums and how does payment work? The next thing you need to enquire about is the premiums. How much do you need to pay and how frequently? You may want to do a bit of research to discover the average prices that are being charged by international health insurance providers. But remember, it’s all about value for money, rather than finding the cheapest deal.
- How much will I have to pay for medical care? A lot of people do not realise that they will likely have to pay a little bit towards healthcare, even with an international medical insurance policy in place. This is because different policies come with various conditions. You may be subject to a co-payment, i.e. you pay 20 per cent of all medical bills and the insurer pays 80 per cent of the bill. On the other hand, some policies have an excess instead, let’s say the excess is £500 – this means you have to pay £500 before the insurer will cover any of your medical expenses. By going for a higher excess you will be able to lock in lower premiums, so it’s all about finding the right balance.
- Will I be able to use my current doctors? When choosing your global health insurance plan one of the most crucial things you need to do is assess the network of hospitals, facilities and doctors you will have access to. After all, one of the main reasons for choosing this type of policy is to benefit from a better level of care. It’s also likely that you will want to make sure you can still use your current doctors or hospitals unless you are taking out your worldwide health insurance plan before moving abroad, which is the most advisable approach for expats. As an expat, you should still assess the network of hospitals. Places like Hong Kong, Setapak and other popular expat spots in Asia do have good hospitals but don’t just assume you can access all of them – you need to be certain.
- How do I make a claim? It is a good idea to get an understanding of how the claim process works and how long it will take to make a claim. Any good insurer will provide you with an average time for claims to be dealt with, so long as you supply all of the necessary information.
- Where in the world will I be covered? It is impossible for any international health insurance provider to offer a truly global plan, as there are restrictions in place in certain countries and various regulations that need to be adhered to. Therefore, make sure you get a list of all of the countries where you will be covered for medical care.
- Are there any waiting periods in place for certain benefits? You may be subject to a waiting period before you can take advantage of certain benefits. The most obvious example of this occurs when it comes to maternity care. You will usually be subject to a waiting time of approximately ten months before you can start making the most of this benefit. This is to ensure that people do not simply fall pregnant and then take out a global health insurance plan to cover it. This counts as a pre-existing condition, so you will need to plan ahead and ensure you take out a policy prior to starting a family.
- What restrictions are in place for pre-existing conditions? If you have a pre-existing condition you will struggle to find a health insurance provider that will cover you for health care in relation to this illness. However, there are some providers that will try and help you find a solution. For example, they may cover you, but in turn, you have to pay higher premiums to reflect the fact that you are more likely to require medical care.
- What is the annual limit on the policy? All international medical insurance policies have an annual limit. This is the maximum amount the insurer will cover you over a year. A lot of people make the error of going for an annual limit that is too low because they underestimate the costs that are entailed. However, medical costs can easily mount up, especially if you find yourself needing to be transferred to a specialist hospital.
- How do I manage my plan? Last but not least, you will want to make sure you can manage your policy with ease. The best insurance providers will give you the ability to handle everything online. This means you can log into your account no matter where in the world you are located.
If you ask the ten questions that have been outlined in this post you can give yourself the best chance of choosing the ideal worldwide health insurance plan for your requirements. The worst thing you can do is agree to a policy without fully understanding what is entailed.#