Anyone who is serious about getting their finances in order needs to consider their medical insurance, which comes under the wealth protection umbrella of financial planning. It’s key to have good medical cover which will give fast and efficient access to the treatment you need if you, or a member of your family, suffer from an illness, have an accident or require surgery, hospitalisation or even a visit to intensive care (hopefully not). This is especially true if you are an expat and don’t benefit from any state-provided healthcare in your adopted country.
For those who are self employed or who don’t have health insurance provided by an employer, you will need to sort out your own cover. Although expats are often tempted to skip on this, it’s a huge gamble to have no health insurance and is certainly not worth the risk. It can be the difference between life and death in certain situations, such as emergency hospitalisation, but even if it isn’t, don’t underestimate just how quickly costs mount up for treatment if you or one of your dependents gets something nasty. No-one questions the need for home insurance yet they are willing to neglect protecting their most valuable asset: their health. That’s pretty crazy.
Does that mean that if you have cover through your employer you can rest easy? Well, a work policy is of course, always a bonus, but it might leave gaps in cover so we always recommend taking a look at what you have and working out if you need to take out extra individual insurance.
There are certain differences between group insurance provided through a work policy which covers all employes and individual insurance which you sort out for yourself and your family. Broadly speaking, both cover you for treatment in the case of illness, accident, hospitalisation or surgery, and some will provide a lump sum payout to you/your family if you were to die or find yourself with a permanent disability. Where policies may differ is with regard to certain clauses in the contract, particularly with regard to annual or lifetime limits on claims and the rate you receive for daily room and board if you are hospitalised.
If you have a company plan, it is important to look at the annual limit, which will tend to be lower than for an individual plan. This may determine whether you decide to take out extra insurance. In addition, if your company policy is a local one, you might decide you need the additional security of an international plan which will usually give more extensive cover, higher payment ceilings and worldwide cover. Portability is often a crucial factor for expats who move around a lot to live, work and travel.
The key thing with purchasing your own insurance is to do it as early as you can. Why? Well aside from protecting yourself from the rising cost of medical treatment, the younger you are, the better the rate you will get. Some countries also offer tax relief for medical insurance premiums so this is definitely worth investigating.
There are a lot of factors to consider when you purchase medical insurance including premium, repatriation, deductibles, payment flexibility, claim settlement procedure etc. It can be extremely difficult to compare policies as you will often not be comparing like with like. Professional advice can be invaluable in helping decide which one best suits the needs of your family.
If you’d like assistance with any aspect of medical insurance, we at Infinity can help. We work with all the leading providers and are sure to be able to get you the best possible deal to meet your unique requirements. Do contact us for further information!
A leading provider of expat financial services and wealth management services across Asia.