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HAVING your health, no matter what else happens in your life, is the most important thing in the world. You only have to think about times when you, or those close to you, have had a health scare or needed hospital treatment to realise just how an illness can affect the entire family.
Living as an expat brings its own concerns when it comes to healthcare, because where you are will most certainly have an impact on the type of treatment you can expect. In many countries, you will not be able to rely on state-funded healthcare, you will have to buy cover yourself, and that is a decision you most certainly do not want to get wrong.
It may be tempting to get healthcare that covers you just for where you are currently living. It is OK if you are not planning to move on, it may be slightly cheaper, it may not. But realistically, expats often find themselves heading to a new country for work, or even to retire, and that can mean having an uncomfortable time re-buying your medical insurance policy when you are likely to face higher charges thanks to advancing age or moving to a more expensive country.
But trying to ‘go it alone’ when you are getting cover is a dangerous game – not only could you find you are paying more than you need to, you may also end up paying premiums for cover that will not give you what you need when the time comes. For example, if you have a spouse and children, you need to ensure the entire family is covered for healthcare – and that means getting the right policy.
Yet this is a lot harder than you might think. Healthcare has so many elements – out-patient and in-patient care, peripheral healthcare treatments such as physiotherapy, diagnostic tests – you must also try to compare the cover of various policies so that you can find out whether the premiums you are being offered are reasonable. The trouble is, the policies differ in some small but vitally important ways, and to the untrained eye it may seem like all is well when it really is not.
The value of a medical insurance policy can only be judged when you come to claim – and without taking advice when you are buying the policy, you may find that you are unable to claim when you need to. Yes, this would be a travesty after paying years of premiums, but worse than that it could be a tragedy if it means a loved one goes untreated. This is why talking to an expert at the start is vital to ensure you get the cover you need.
First published in Asia Life.
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