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Scope in the Expatriate Health Insurance Industry

Individual International Medical Insurance is the general choice of people who are not insured under a group health insurance program. These plans offer worldwide health protection, having global healthcare networks and direct-pay setups with hospitals. The cost of expat insurance is dependent on a number of factors like age, coverage country, medical history of the insured, resources available in the country and even the industrialization level of the country in some cases. Despite the huge number of influencing factors, the cost of international insurance and healthcare can be less than the cost of domestic insurance and healthcare in the States.

International Health Insurance providers like Now Health International typically take into consideration the age of the policyholder, their medical history and the coverage area to calculate the premium, rather than the insurance claim history. At present, the insurance policies have two kinds of coverage:

  1. Worldwide Coverage
  2. Worldwide Coverage Excluding the United States (this may include other countries too)

The primary reason for this is that health care is the most expensive in the US and most international insurance providers assign ranks to countries based on their medical costs and adjust the premiums accordingly.

Most expat health insurance policies are portable globally. This allows foreign nationals living overseas to move around countries easily without any periods of absence of cover. However, this can cause premiums to escalate rapidly. Another gap people find troubling is that many policies do not cover the policyholder when they return to their residing country. Thus, expat insurances are beneficial only when the insured plan to stay overseas for elongated periods of time. The few policies that do offer such coverage often provide it for a limited time period.

Alternatively, when traveling overseas for a short period of time, people can rely on travel health insurance plans that can support them during an emergency situation abroad. Being time specific, these policies are less expensive. Most of these policies permit the policyholder to receive treatment in the nearest medical center in the case of injuries or illness. Obtaining coverage for repatriation is also possible.

Apart from a few heavy travelers, most expatriates opt to have their families based in a foreign country even though they need to travel. Further, a majority of them choose to stay in their work country. This creates a scope for dual-country health insurance policies where one is the work country and the other is the home country. This will:

  1. Reduce high premium burdens
  2. Reduce individual risk factors through comprehensive coverage across the world
  3. Allow insurers to offer comprehensive cover at a reasonable price
  4. Allow many low wage foreign workers to be covered by the expatriate insurance umbrella

Another key area that is overlooked quite often is the underwriting criteria. Following this, the pre-existing medical conditions of the holder may or may not be covered under the policy. It is thus, necessary to review the inclusions and exclusions of a medical insurance policy before purchase. The insurance segment has vast potential for democratizing, offering the right coverage to people at affordable prices.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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