News quiz
Current affairs quick quiz
Property in the Republic of Turkey
Saundra Satterlee and the house market in Turkey
Free trial

World health insurance

Thursday February 8, 2007

The destinations typically chosen by the expatriate have changed over the last decade, with more people moving to what were once considered exotic destinations such as Asia and the Middle East.

As a result of this, there are many factors that need to be taken into account when purchasing a health insurance policy, apart from just the level of benefit provided. It?s important to understand how the healthcare system in your new home country operates, as each country varies greatly in terms of what?s available to you through the state.

In Dubai, for example, health cards are required for residents who need non-emergency treatment at a government hospital. In addition, some British prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines are illegal in the United Arab Emirates. If you have any concerns about taking medication with you to the UAE, you should contact your doctor for further information.

In Japan, you need an Alien Registration Certificate to access the national health insurance programme; however, these can only be obtained if you are resident for a year or more. You are expected to pay the whole cost of any treatment you receive.

A further example of understanding the importance of local healthcare systems can be seen in Morocco. Some initial emergency insurance may be provided for free, but British nationals are likely to be charged for the majority of medical expenses that are incurred. As a result of this, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling.

In Singapore, foreign nationals can expect to pay up to 30% more than locals for government-run medical treatment.

Finally, unless you are a pensioner, employed or officially a resident in Spain you will not qualify for free healthcare and you should ensure that you are covered by PMI if not eligible.

In addition to considering local healthcare systems, it is also important to consider more general factors. For example, to consider whether you will be travelling for business or pleasure. Some policies may differ on the level of cover provided in the case of medical emergencies while you are away from home, which might mean that you will have to buy additional insurance prior to travel, just to be safe.

Most insurers also offer varying levels of geographical cover for you to choose from. Geographical regions will usually be broken down into three main categories: Europe, Worldwide excluding USA and Canada, and Worldwide. However, some insurers may have smaller, more limited areas, so it is always important to choose the option most suitable for you.

Out-of-area cover is an additional benefit provided by many insurers, giving you the reassurance that you will have some cover in countries outside your chosen area of cover. For example, you can receive treatment in Thailand even if you have European cover, whether you are travelling on business or for pleasure.

While there are limits to the amount of benefit you can claim, out-of-area cover usually provides you with both in-patient and out-patient cover for emergency treatment of sudden illness.

Before choosing your insurance, it is advisable to contact your local embassy in your new country of residence. They will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information on healthcare and what your insurance needs will be.

Finally, find out the local emergency numbers and hospital details when you arrive, so if you need them, they are readily available to you.

This article was provided by AXAPPP, International Health experts. To find out more about AXAPPP healthcare?s International Health Plan and request a quote, click here.

Inspired? If this strikes a chord with you, why don't you share your experiences with other Guardian Abroad readers? Visit our talkboards and spark up a conversation. Or if you're interested in submitting an article, look at our editorial policy to find out how.

View more articles in the Health category

Advertiser Links