Why international health insurance?
As reflected in International Federation of Health Plans’ 2013 Comparative Price Report, which noted the prices of medical services and drugs in nine countries, there can be a huge disparity internationally.
The United States, for example, charges $6,214 for the cancer drug, Gleevec on average when it only costs $989 in New Zealand. A night’s stay in a hospital there is almost nine times more expensive than in Spain.The pricing also varies – while it can be cheaper for a particular treatment, it may be way more expensive for another treatment in the same country. To put it in context, the cost of a hip replacement in Hong Kong more than doubled that of United Kingdom’s. However, it costs five times more to remove an appendix in the United Kingdom than in Argentina.
As an expat, there is no telling where your next assignment is and when you will need medical help. To alleviate high costs and price fluctuations in countries, obtaining an international private health insurance plan is recommended.
With an international plan, you also enjoy the following key differences from a local one:
- Receive treatment back in home country or any hospital around the world, rather than being restricted to a network of local facilities
- An international insurer usually offers a variety of languages for their assistance hotlines, upon requests. Most of their staff also speaks English. However, a local provider puts their language first and may have limited foreign language available.
- Most international plans offer direct settlement between the insurer and provider, avoiding out-of-pocket expenses
- Second opinion services for serious illnesses
- Continuous cover with no geographical or duration limitations
- Ensuring you have emotional support during hospitalisation by covering repatriation costs or costs of transporting a family member or friend
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