The Importance of International & Expat Health Insurance for Overseas Workers

Medical costs across the globe are increasing at a faster pace than the living costs. Health care expenses such as costs for doctors, hospital stays and even medicines go through the roof and have become immensely unaffordable. Accidents occur all around us, and avoid you may, but one always ends up being a victim of one.
Finding yourself working overseas without the usual ‘safety net’ of the NHS could bring about a sudden rash of insecurity. However, most employers with staff based abroad ensure some kind of international or expat health insurance plan is in place, offering their staff (and families) peace of mind. This helps to keep sickness absenteeism to a minimum and strengthen the company’s credibility as a caring organisation.

Ensuring quality medical care for people working abroad is essential, since local medical facilities could be very basic, expensive or even inaccessible.

Private healthcare plans offer varying levels of medical cover (often including the family), usually with an overseas repatriation or evacuation service as standard. Most international healthcare packages also provide access to a 24 hr confidential advice line as well as a foreign language interpretation service.

Overseas employees who are covered by private healthcare are able to receive prompt access to expert medical attention. This reduces absence due to sickness and helps to maximise corporate productivity. Where non-emergency treatment is needed in hospital, the patient will be notified of the date in advance, allowing their employer to make arrangements to cover their absence.

As with employees based in the UK, companies that provide a quality private healthcare package for their overseas staff are seen to be caring organisations that respect their employees’ well-being. This in turn helps with staff recruitment, retention and loyalty.

For individuals arranging their own international healthcare package, the wide-ranging choice of products on offer can be daunting. Many people prefer to seek advice from a specialist to help them narrow the field.

It is essential to secure enough cover for all possible contingencies, remembering to include cover for chronic conditions. If pregnancy and childbirth are also a possibility, these must be taken into account too.

Medical costs across the world are increasing at a faster rate than the cost of living. Consequently, many insurers will try to defer increases in premiums by either reducing the range of cover or introducing penalties, making it even more important for the purchaser to read the small print.

Naturally the quality of care is highly important. A healthcare package provider with an established network of clinics and hospitals is the most sought after, as this makes for higher standards of care. This strong network also means that invoices can be settled directly between the provider and the hospital, leaving the patient to recover in peace.

It can also be a great advantage to find a international health insurance provider who has a local presence in the area where you are staying. Local knowledge is always extremely valuable when it comes to resolving difficulties overseas and even more so when there is an illness to deal with.

Whilst nobody really likes to dwell on the issue, evacuation and repatriation should also be taken into account. Again, it’s essential to scrutinise the small print.

Cigna Global is one of the largest health service organisations in the United States. Their mission is to help the people they serve improve their health, wellbeing and sense of security. Cigna operating subsidiaries provide an integrated suite of medical, dental, behavioural health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group and individual life, accident and disability insurance, to millions of people throughout the United States and around the world.

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