With the pandemic still fresh in our minds, it's only natural that more of us are thinking about protecting our health. This may be especially true if you live abroad and are unfamiliar with the local health system, or if you travel often and want to know you will be protected wherever you are.
By taking out private health insurance, you can be assured that you will have access to quality healthcare and get access to the treatment you need quickly, without having to wait. For "frequent flyers" or expats living abroad, an international health insurance plan that gives you access to private healthcare worldwide is often the right choice.
But what affects the cost of private healthcare and what should you consider when buying a plan?
It's no secret that as you get older, you become more susceptible to illness. In general, the older you are, the more likely you are to need health care, especially for diseases and conditions related to older age, such as heart disease.
You must therefore take into account that your health insurance premium will increase as you get older. However, you will not receive a letter on your birthday stating that the price of your health plan will increase! Instead, most insurers price plans by age range, such as 31 to 35 or 46 to 50, meaning your premium will increase as you move from one age range to another, but only at your policy's annual renewal date.
Depending on the age category you enter, for example if you exceed the age of 65, your premium may increase more significantly.
An important driver for your health insurance premium is the cost of medical care in the country where you live. The more expensive the local health care system, the higher your premium. If you're an expat, this may explain why your premium can differ significantly when you move from one country to another, depending on where you move to.
If you opt for international health insurance, your premium may also be affected depending on the geographic coverage area you want protection for. For example, most international health insurance policies exclude the US by default, so adding US coverage will increase your premium.
Conversely, you may be able to reduce your premium by opting for a smaller geographical coverage area, for example only regional coverage instead of worldwide coverage. We offer more affordable policies with regional coverage options in some parts of the world, such as Europe-only coverage or Southeast Asia coverage, depending on where you live.
The level of coverage you want
Another important factor that affects your premium is the level of coverage you choose. It should come as no surprise that a more comprehensive plan with higher benefit limits will be more expensive than a plan that only covers you for hospital treatment.
The good news here is that you are in control of the plan you choose and you should always choose the right plan for you and your family's lifestyle. The level of coverage you choose affects two important elements of your plan:
- The limits of your plan benefits (i.e. the value of the treatment you can claim under your plan);
- The specific forms of care that are covered by the insurance (such as dental treatments, maternity care and physiotherapy).
More comprehensive plans have higher benefit limits and cover you for more types of treatments, so you need to consider what's important to you. For example, if you are thinking of starting a family in the near future, you can opt for higher coverage that includes GP visits and maternity care. However, if you are young, healthy and on a budget, you may prefer to opt for an "In-Patient only plan" that covers you for hospital treatment and urgent care if you need it.
It is also important to remember that your current health status affects your health insurance premium and how this affects the premium depends on your health status and the provider you choose.
Most health insurers will have you complete a medical questionnaire as part of the application process to assess your general health and therefore your 'risk level'. You must disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, or any recent health problems or surgeries.
Some insurers may also ask about your alcohol consumption, weight, exercise habits and whether you smoke, to better assess your risk levels. Whatever your circumstances, you must provide honest answers to all questions so that you do not risk having your plan voided at a later date.
If you have an underlying health problem or long-term condition, this does not necessarily mean that you cannot access private health insurance. However, you may face higher premiums or exclusions for certain medical conditions.
How to reduce the cost of your private health plan
Also remember that you can contribute to lowering your health insurance premium by opting for certain options, such as an Annual Deductible or co-insurance.
An annual deductible is the “out-of-pocket” healthcare costs you pay before your coverage begins. For example, if you have a $100 annual deductible, you will pay the first $100 of your treatment costs per year and your health insurance will cover the rest, subject to any exclusions and your plan's limits. The higher the Annual Deductible, the lower your premium.
Remember, if you choose an annual deductible, you should only choose an amount you can afford. A cheaper premium isn't helpful if you get sick and then can't afford to cover your own medical costs before your plan pays out!
Choosing an appropriate health plan
By choosing the most appropriate health plan for you and your family, you can have peace of mind that you will have access to treatment when you need it most.
Remember, if you are an expat living abroad or someone who travels frequently, international health insurance may be a better option for you. Even if you live somewhere with good general healthcare facilities that expats can access, you may still encounter:
- Standard of care lower than you are used to;
- Various processes for diagnosing diseases;
- Overcrowding and long waiting times;
- Communication problems due to the language barrier.
In these circumstances, taking out international health insurance can give you the peace of mind that you have access to the best private medical facilities wherever life takes you.
For more information about the plans we offer and the different levels of cover, please contact us for a no-obligation quote.
Expat Wealth At Work - to help you optimize your finances as an expat. From hints and tips on all things finance to ideas and shared experiences from the global expat community, it's the place to learn and be inspired to create and realize your own financial destiny.
Expat Verzekeringen - Nederlandstalige versie van deze site.