It seems growing numbers of expats are returning home due to the high cost of healthcare in their adopted countries. Jelf Employee Benefits is hearing increasing anecdotal evidence of British expats being unable to afford the healthcare they need abroad, and so returning home.
The company is warning expats to educate themselves on the cost of healthcare in the country they are relocating to, before they move. This is particularly true for people retiring abroad who aren’t covered by a company insurance policy and may require greater healthcare support than younger expats.
Sarah Dennis, international healthcare director said, “There are a rising number of cases where people are forced to return to Britain to receive treatment. In some cases people return immediately as they need treatment quickly or in other cases the return is delayed but eventually inevitable, as people are paying an unsustainable cost for their healthcare locally.”
Jelf Employee Benefits claim the reasons behind why expats are forced to move home are:
- Too many expats relying on the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to cover them, when it is designed for short-term stays.
- Little or no knowledge of the cost of specific treatments or emergency care.
- A lack of awareness of their own mortality when people move abroad before they are elderly or infirm.
- Poor financial planning – particularly among retirees who overestimate how far their pensions will go, or who expect healthcare for over-65s to be state funded.
- Rule changes when governments reassess their social systems and implement new systems for expat healthcare.
While many expats are forced home due to high healthcare costs, it isn’t surprising to think they also move home to be closer to their family and extended support network. Accidents and illnesses do strike without warning, and many expats feel the pull of “home” more keenly when in such a situation.
Sarah Dennis continued, “I can’t stress enough that outside of the UK there is no such thing as free healthcare.By not adequately investigating local healthcare systems, expats are potentially jeopardizing their dream of living happily and healthily aboard.”