According to industry figures, only around 50 percent of expatriates hold international health insurance coverage. This means the prospect of an unexpected medical bill is a real threat to the uninsured.
International medical insurance can help expats concerned about chronic or long-term illnesses avoid costly health bills. It is equally relevant for expatriates who fall ill or are injured unexpectedly, even those who are young and generally in good health.
Medical insurance premiums reflect many elements, not just the cost of treatment, drugs and the wages of the local doctor or surgeon. It is an established fact that medical inflation tends to run higher than normal consumer inflation, something which is reflected in premium rates.
Health insurers are very focused on controlling the cost of premiums, in what is a very competitive market. Insurance companies often work with local providers who can supply accurate pricing information for the country, this way premium increases can be controlled as insurers are in touch with the “on the ground” costs.
This is important as the prices of treatments and procedures can vary widely across regions. An appendectomy, for example, should cost around US$12,800 in the United Arab Emirates, and as much as US$40,000 in the United States. In the UK such a procedure might cost US$19,000, whilst in India it would cost US$8,000, and in Spain, US$16,000.
Against this background of varied costs, having a good international health insurance protects expats from hefty medical bills, and annual health premiums represent good value. Backache, a simple, but very common complaint, can run up thousands in treatment costs, especially when physiotherapy or X-rays are needed.
With only half of expats carrying an international health insurance policy you wonder why so many run the very real risk of unexpected medical bills.
Debbie Purser managing director of Medicare International explains, “It’s easy to see how in the rush to get abroad and to get settled into the new job, health care insurance can seem like a low priority.
“Starting work, finding a house and if children are moving, finding a school will all seem more urgent, yet one visit to the hospital can wipe out a year’s savings, wrecking plans. It is never too late to apply – cover can be bought online in minutes to protect for years.”