Health Insurance Options for U.S. Expats

The thrill of experiencing new cultures and diving into the international business sector has U.S. citizens choosing to become expatriates in countries around the world. Here are some health insurance options to consider before you make the move.

Dec 20, 2017, 16:23 PM

Millions of U.S. citizens choose to move abroad every year. Some want to travel the world and experience new cultures, while others are attracted to the many opportunities in the international business sector. Whatever your reasoning, it’s important to realize that the U.S. health care system is somewhat unique, and the country you choose to reside in will likely have different health regulations and insurance plan options.

When researching health care options in your destination country, you could face several scenarios, but they can generally be categorized in three ways: You either (1) fit into the country’s universal health plan, (2) are required to purchase private insurance or (3) a combination of both.

Universal Health Care: Expats Included

It’s possible that your country of residence has universal health coverage for its citizens and working residents. In this case, you would pay mandatory contributions through your taxes and be covered under the government plan. No private health insurance would be needed unless seeking out supplemental coverage (i.e., dental). While there are a handful of countries in the world that fit this narrative (i.e., Spain), it is rare.

Private Health Insurance Required

Not all countries have universal health care, or if they do, expats may not be covered under it, which means you’ll need to purchase a private health insurance plan or be liable for all out-of-pocket medical expenses. The United Arab Emirates is an example of a country that requires private health insurance plans for all expatriates. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as international health insurance plans often provide better coverage options than local plans, allowing access to quality providers and health care services through the insurance company, which can help you receive treatment and navigate a foreign health care system.

Public & Private Options: The Choice is Yours

China is an example of a country with a mixture of both public and private options. There is a universal health care system that, as a working resident, you may be eligible to enroll in. However, private health insurance is highly recommended to receive higher quality care and limit out-of-pocket expenses. Also, many countries that allow expats access to their universal health care system only do so for the individual working. If you have a family, you’ll need to invest in a private health insurance plan for them.

As mentioned above, these are just a few of the scenarios you may encounter, so proper research is a necessity before making decisions on your health care. In general, an international health insurance plan can provide quality primary care insurance or even supplemental insurance on top of a government health plan. Getting a quote for IMG’s Global Medical Insurance plan is a great place to start and offers the best combination of coverage and service.

Ready to purchase coverage? Get a quote for IMG’s Global Medical Insurance plan.

These materials are for informational purposes only and do not contain legal advice. The laws and regulations regarding healthcare and the need or requirement to have health insurance in foreign countries are diverse and their application to your situation depends upon many facts. You should contact your attorney to obtain legal advice on any particular issue.

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