Expat private health insurance overburdened with red tape

Published:  21 Feb at 6 PM
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Expats taking up jobs overseas and including the purchase of international private health insurance in their plans are being increasingly burdened with red tape and confusing choices.

One of the least-understood and most important issues is the policy itself, especially for expats heading for Abu Dhabi, China and Russia. Is your chosen policy ‘admitted’ or ‘non-admitted’?

Accepted definitions of the two terms state that an admitted expat health policy is from a provider who has been licensed by the state to sell the insurance via an agency or partner company. This covers individual and group applications.

A non-admitted policy is one which has not received approval for sale within a specific country and which may not conform to local law. However, ‘admitted’ policies, although sounding as though a stamp of authority has been given, can be no better in their provisions than non-admitted policies.

Key questions which should be asked include whether the policy will be recognised in the new country, and whether emergency medical bills will be covered. In fact, in most cases, non-admitted policies are used as successfully as admitted policies, although it helps to be sure.

Exceptions such as the Netherlands and Switzerland are rare, with both countries making it tricky to purchase an international health insurance plan. Abu Dhabi, however, has introduced legislation forcing all expats to purchase a compliant health insurance product.

Employers can fall foul of the confusion as well with, in some countries, fines for companies who fail to ensure their expat employees are on admitted policies. For expat employees setting up their own plans, reading the small print and taking notes of all explanations given by the insurance company’s representative is the way to go.
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