While living abroad for the next year is exciting, much must be planned for and considered. One aspect that’s often overlooked is extended medical treatment. Most people living abroad will want to return home for treatment and recovery and to be close to loved ones if they become critically ill, and this is where expatriate insurance comes in.
Many mistakenly assume that if a critical illness arose, their managed care plan would take care of things. This couldn’t be further from the case. Your medical insurance plan in the United States isn’t designed to cover you for an extended stay when you are out of the country. Medicare and Medicaid don’t offer coverage for any medical expense that develops outside the United States. HMOs or Health Maintenance Organizations will generally cover emergency room treatment wherever you are, but routine health coverage is offered through the state provider networks of your resident state. If you use a network doctor, PPOs or Preferred Provider Organizations will cover a more significant portion of the expense.
Some may turn to a travel insurance provider as a source of extended medical treatment coverage. This, too, isn’t quite the case. Yes, travel insurance will generally provide you with a certain degree of coverage for illness and injury. The amount and extent of coverage are based on what plan you choose. However, the benefit period is usually only six months. So, if your trip is a year-long, you will only be covered for half of your stay and responsible for any incurred medical expenses after that.
Expatriate health insurance, by its very name, should alert you that this might be the health insurance you’re seeking. In Latin, ex means away from, and Patria means fatherland. This insurance is geared toward those that will be away from their home, mainly stays that extend the past six months. Expatriate health insurance is designed, so you don’t have geographical limitations and restrictions to provider networks in your managed care plan. Coverage is often only half of the problem when navigating a foreign health system. The expatriate health insurance will also help with language barriers, transportation to U.S. health care centers, and currency exchange.
Expatriate healthcare plans are divided into two categories:
The first is the basic expatriate plan. This plan offers coverage for care in-hospital and in-patient, meaning it will cover areas such as a hospital.
Stay, services from several medical providers, and ambulance transportation. Home health nursing care and emergency dental services are also usually covered. Enhancements to the basic plan, such as outpatient services, certain therapy services, and prescription drugs, may be purchased for an additional cost. Many of the basic techniques will also offer emergency medical evacuation coverage for an additional cost, which will immediately transport you from wherever you are to the nearest advanced medical treatment center in the event a medical emergency should arise. Most medical evacuation coverage will also include a return fare.
The second category is the comprehensive expatriate health insurance plan. This is useful if you require more extensive medical coverage, such as dietary, psychiatric, eyes, ears, chiropractic, osteopathy, rehabilitation, labor and delivery, and home nursing care. Certain prescription medications and diagnostic testing may be covered as well.
Like any health plan, expatriate coverage usually has specific exclusions and restrictions. Most carriers will generally not cover preexisting
conditions; injuries from war, rioting, and terrorism; and those with hazardous occupations. Certain pages may underwrite it for an additional cost in cases of preexisting conditions.