As far as I’m concerned, medical insurance is an essential for all expatriates living in Asia. But all policies are not equal. The premium of a particular policy may be attractive but you shouldn’t be using price as the sole criteria by which to choose your health insurance cover.
When it comes to financial planning – and health insurance, as a wealth protection measure, definitely falls into the financial planning remit – it’s not just about ticking boxes but rather making sure that every element that you put in place to grow and protect your wealth is suited to your own individual requirements.
With medical insurance there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. You need to look carefully at the small print of a policy to ensure that you have all the aspects of cover that you and your family require.
Here are some of the variable elements which I think expats need to consider when choosing a health insurance policy.
Imagine for a moment that you are involved in a terrible car crash which gives you life-changing injuries which mean you can no longer work. Would you still want to live in Asia or would life be a lot easier back in your home country with a more robust support network around you? I know it’s a horrendous thought but situations like this do arise from time to time and it is best to have cover for such eventualities, even while hoping that you will never need it.
Relocating is always costly but repatriation can be prohibitively expensive in emergency situations where special medical aircraft or supervision might be required. These are the kind of situations which wipe out a family’s entire savings. Which is why this is a risk which is worth transferring to an insurer. With comprehensive cover, in the event of serious injury or death, you/your body, your family and your possessions will be transported back to your home country without having to foot the bill.
- Private room
When you’re feeling seriously unwell or recuperating from surgery, the last thing that you need is to have to share a room with other sick and suffering patients. Aside from wanting space to yourself so that you aren’t forced to share potentially embarrassing intimate moments with the person in the bed next to you, privacy is of the utmost importance for undisturbed sleep. Poor sleep due to noise in a shared room will do nothing to speed up your recovery.
- A built co-pay
This is a set amount that a policyholder must pay from their own pocket for each treatment that they claim on a policy, and this applies to anything from a doctor’s appointment or prescription medication to a hospital intervention, although the co-pay amount might differ for different services. Co-pays will vary from one insurer to the next and are usually a relatively small amount. That said, if you have a condition which requires frequent visits to the doctor and repeat prescriptions you’ll want to look for a policy with a low co-pay in order to save money over the long term.
While sometimes confused with a co-pay, a deductible is not the same thing. A deductible, or excess, is the fixed amount that you must pay towards healthcare costs over the course of a year before your insurer starts to pick up the cost. Let’s say your deductible is $500 and you pay $200 for dental treatment. You will have to pick up the full cost of the treatment. You then need treatment for a broken arm costing $1,000. You will pay the first $300 taking you up to the deductible limit and then the remaining costs fall to the insurance company (although co-pays may also apply).
- Pre-existing conditions
Usually these will be excluded on a policy or cover will be restricted so if you, or a member of your family, have a pre-existing condition it is worth finding out about Medical History Disregarded (MHD) policies. These obviously cost more but could be worth it in the long run.
- Direct payment
Direct payment means that the healthcare provider will directly invoice your insurer without you having to pay upfront and claim back the costs. This could be critical if you have something seriously wrong requiring urgent attention. You certainly don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you are refused treatment because you can’t provide the necessary payment guarantees to a hospital.
Medical insurance can be a minefield which is why lots of my clients appreciate having professional assistance to compare the policies on offer and select the most appropriate one for their individual needs. If you’d like help finding the right insurance for you and your family so that all bases are covered and you can relax with peace of mind, do feel free to contact me (Jregan@infinitysolutions.com) for an appointment.
Senior Financial Consultant
When I provide a financial consultation, my approach is to treat my client like a business entity I am in collaboration with to achieve their goals and objectives. Through a combined client/consultant effort I seek to improve their strategies, stressing that actions without positive results are costly and a setback to their financial futures. My priority is always a successful end result.