This type of specialized medical insurance provides coverage for citizens of a particular country who live overseas – commonly referred to as expatriates. For those who do live or work overseas, obtaining comprehensive medical coverage can be difficult and expensive – particularly so in an emergency.
Many people who move overseas experience one or two different problems: Their employer’s existing health insurance may not cover them overseas, and they may not be eligible to be covered under a medical plan that is administered in the country of residence. Unless they take out health insurance specifically designed for expatriates they may find themselves uninsured.
It’s also extremely important to make sure your insurance covers any family members that may go overseas with you. This is especially important if you are moving to a country with poor medical facilities. If you have what the insurance companies call a “dangerous" occupation such as being employed by the army, police or on a sports team, you may not be able to get expatriate insurance – or you will pay a lot more for it. Participating in hazardous sports such as mountaineering or skiing may also not be covered.
Check whether your policy includes coverage for emergency evacuation. This means that if you are taken ill overseas and need to be treated back in the US, the insurance company will fly you back home, by private air ambulance if necessary. This procedure can cost upwards of $50,000 if paid for – a recent publicized case concerned a traveler in Africa who became sick and incurred a bill of over $120,000 for this service, as he had no insurance.
The policy may also include emergency reunion services – flying family members to be with you if you are hospitalized. Again, the cost can be prohibitive if not covered by your insurance. This type of coverage may also include the costs of various extras such as meals, accommodation and phone calls.
And be sure to ask whether your expatriate insurance covers pre-existing conditions and exactly how you would be covered in the event of giving birth overseas, or a pregnancy complication.
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