The Importance of Employee Health Benefits for Expats

30 May 2019

Many companies provide their expatriate assignees with some form of employee health insurance, especially in countries such as the United States and Singapore, where the cost of medical treatment can be extreme. When the opportunities for international reassignment come up then, it’s a good idea to look at what the options are with your employer and have some input if you’re able.


What’s available?

The definition of ‘benefits’ when it comes to international health insurance can be quite broad and often vary significantly between businesses and insurance providers. Most corporate health insurance will include hospitalisation and surgery benefits to their employees, and in some cases, their families too.


This will, of course, depend on your own situation. If you require coverage for more specific injuries or illnesses, the extra cost may mean that you end up paying for much of the coverage yourself. Take careful note of what is and isn’t included in your corporate plan, as you will probably need to find your own insurance provider for smaller medical costs, such as GP visits, scans, and tests.


Going international

An important consideration is whether you require global coverage while on assignment. If your work is in one office for your entire time abroad, this most likely will not be necessary. Those who will be travelling as part of their position should undoubtedly be looking for international coverage.


Additionally, take note of which countries are included in your ‘international’ plan. Many don’t include the United States, so if you’re going to be travelling there on business, make sure it’s covered. Also, look for an insurance provider that is registered in multiple countries, as they will be better equipped to handle the local laws and regulations.


The problem of pre-existing

Pre-existing conditions can be a significant issue for many seeing international health insurance, more so for those later in their careers. This is where group health insurance plans really come into their own as its much easier for them to cover the increased costs associated with pre-existing medical conditions. Speak to your employer to see what they have to offer in this regard as underwriters can be much more forgiving with premiums when the risk can be spread out over a whole company’s policy.


Choosing the right plan

Finding the right plan for your international assignment can be tricky, but with employee health benefits from your employer, the process will be much more comfortable than as a single expatriate. Make use of their in-house knowledge and group medical plans where possible. Finding an insurance broker who understands the international health insurance market inside and out can also be a great help. Whatever way you choose to go, do some of your own research beforehand, so you have a good idea of what coverage you need for your next assignment. 




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