Global Health Insurance Options for Expatriates


Global Health Insurance Options for Expatriates

By David Tompkins, President of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd., which operates the international health insurance brokerage called Expat Financial. David has spoken and written extensively on global insurance issues and has been interviewed by the NY Times.

Moving arranged, mail forwarded, housing abroad, children enrolled in foreign school, tickets, visas approved, etc… everything has been arranged for your life abroad as an expatriate. You are ready to move abroad with your partner and maybe even your children to an exciting life abroad. But what about health insurance?

When you are moving abroad, you are giving up one of your most important safety nets – healthcare. It is highly likely that your domestic health insurance plan will cease if you move abroad or simply not cover medical expenses outside your home country. For American expats, this is almost always the case and those covered by Medicare will not be covered for medical expenses outside the USA. We have tried to put together some basic information that will assist future and even present expatriates in their health insurance purchase.

The Importance of Global Healthcare

First, why is global healthcare important? The answers are fairly obvious as you want to have access to medical care for you and your family members living abroad. One must also think of the financial costs associated with uninsured medical care abroad. One may think that medical costs overseas are inexpensive, but that’s often not the case if you require private care or evacuation. In some countries medical costs can almost as expensive as the USA – such as China and Hong Kong.

What is Global Health Insurance?

Basically, it is much the same as how healthcare works in the USA or other countries there private health insurance is sold, except that the plans are designed to cover an expat globally. Also, the plans must be able to cover and pay health costs around the world via an international medical network.

How Does it Work?

Most global health insurance plans will have three levels of coverage – usually called Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. Each level will have higher maximums and coverage levels. Many plans will cover hospital in-patient costs as a base policy and you will elect to add out-patient costs, wellness care, evacuation and even dental care. Most plans will cover the expat globally excluding the United States, but you can add access to medical care in the USA for an added fee. Most American expats will want access to medical care in the USA, especially if they become sick with a serious illness. Expat health plans are usually renewable for life, but many are not. Pretty much all the expat plans we have seen in the market are not renewable should you move back to your country of citizenship, especially if you are an American.

How Can I Save on Premiums for Global Medical?

Ultimately you get what you pay for. There are lots of expat health providers in the market. The easiest way to save money are:

  1. Choose a high deductible
  2. Pay annually versus monthly can save you up to 10% in premium costs
  3. Just get the hospital coverage and self-insure out-patient care, especially if you live in a country where such costs are minimal.
  4. Contact Expat Financial for a quote from one or more global insurance providers. We may be able to secure some extra savings and there are no costs or inconveniences for working with a specialist expat brokerage such as Expat Financial.

What About Pre-existing Conditions?

Global health plans for expatriates has to be medically underwritten, which usually involves you applying online or offline and answering medical history questions. The underwriters may request additional information and reports from your doctor as well. The insurance providers will either decline to cover you, cover the condition, cover with a premium loading, offer a lower level of coverage or exclude the condition completely. Many people have exclusions for medical conditions and that shouldn’t preclude you from moving abroad and securing the coverage. Having a broker such as our firm on your side as your advocate can be very useful as we can negotiate with the insurer for a better offer. There are no fees associated with having a broker involved with individual expat health insurance. If a group expat health plan is purchased by an expat employer, then the plan may cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Pregnancy Coverage for Expatriates

Some plans will provide coverage for pregnancy related medical expenses and also cover the child from birth, but all individual expat health plans will have a nine- or twelve-month waiting period. A group expat health plan may cover pregnancy without a waiting period depending on the insurer and number of people covered.

David Tompkins


As noted above, obtaining global healthcare when living abroad is vital. You can easily get a quote and apply online for the right plan after you examine the market and discuss your needs with our firm. We are an independent expatriate health insurance provider and work with expatriates around most the world. Note that there are some countries where the plans we offer are not available, so contact us to learn more. Global healthcare should be a top priority of any expatriate and the right plan can help you and your family. Most plans can be purchase just before you move abroad or after you have already landed.


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