Determining necessities in expat healthcare cover

Published:  2 Oct at 6 PM
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For prospective expats whose home countries provide state-supplied healthcare, it’s tricky to determine the level of medical insurance necessary in the new country.

Those moving overseas on a fixed contract which includes health insurance as one of its benefits are fortunate, as their new employer will be aware of local medical costs. For retirees, however assessing future medical needs and their costs may be more complicated.

For older expats, chronic heathcare costs should be built in to private medical insurance, as packaged expat insurances may only cover hospital care such as diagnostic procedures, operations and minimal aftercare. Often, hospitalisation is just the beginning, and aftercare and other treatments need to continue after discharge.

Another essential is full coverage of all medical and surgical charges without any excess payment, especially if the retirement pension is the only means of support. Rolling annual renewals should be built in, and employees are in the best position here as, if the scheme has more than 20 members, the renewals disregard the insured persons’ medical history.

A recent survey noted the growing trend of passive war zone cover as an optional extra, due to heightening tensions around the Middle East, in Africa and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expat contractors and those working in the overseas offices of major Western companies are more aware of the risks since the start of the Arab Spring.

Passive war zone cover includes evacuation, emergency surgery and even, in the worst scenario, prosthetics and plastic surgery. The average expat in most favourite destinations isn’t likely to need this cover, but the recent terrorist attack in Kenya may be seen as a wake-up call for those in possible target areas.
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