Free Choices: International Private Medical Insurance

Free Choices: International Private Medical Insurance

When living outside your home country, it is often better to go with an international health insurance than to find local private health cover in the new country of residence. In any event, it pays to check the available options thoroughly and for the long term.

Many countries run a compulsory health insurance scheme or public health system which provides at least basic cover. Domestic insurers offer different types of private medical insurance, inclusive of coverage for stays abroad. However, if someone moves abroad, their private policy will generally not be continued. On the other hand, particularly for Dutch people living abroad and receiving a pension or an income from the Netherlands, compulsory health insurance may still apply. They are left with finding local private coverage in their new country of residence or turning to an international health insurer.

One of the main reasons that make international insurance policies attractive is that they provide the benefit of coverage independent of place of residence or duration of stay in any particular country. Naturally, it is often somewhat more expensive than a purely local policy, but a few international health plans also offer a restricted-area option for people who prefer to reduce their premiums in this way. In any event, a private, international health policy gives you freedom to choose doctors and hospitals without being restricted by your medical insurance. Thus you can choose to be treated in Belgium, the Netherlands, or indeed in any other country, even in the USA.

There are many health plans to choose from whose benefits and prices vary widely. Policies differ greatly not only in their coverage of optional extras, but also of major eventualities such as transplants and chronic illnesses. When comparing premiums, it is also very important to compare the same geographical area of coverage. All too often, key insurance conditions are hidden in the small print of the policies. It is therefore relatively difficult to get a good overview and understanding of all the features, benefits, exclusions, options, and premiums of the various plans and policies.

Furthermore, people often look at what they currently pay but neglect to consider what will happen when they get older, and what premiums they may have to pay then.

Particularly if you need long-term coverage, you should not only look at the product but also at the insurance company itself. There are many attractively looking policies on the market, some of them at apparently very affordable prices. However, it is advisable to check out the company’s claims handling procedure, and it also makes sense to ask what the situation will be like in ten years’ time and whether the health plan – or even the insurance company – is still likely to be around. The same is of course true for low-end plans which offer poor cover.

It may be advisable to use the help of an independent insurance consultant, who is able to give advice as to what type of policy will best suit your personal needs and what company will be able to provide this type of policy. Furthermore, you can at anytime seek advice on which specialist doctor, hospital or clinic may be best suited for the type of treatment you need.

Overall, the long-term benefits of an international private medical insurance almost always outweigh the costs in the long run. These benefits include:

  • Complete, global coverage regardless of your place of residence
  • Freedom to choose any specialists or hospitals worldwide
  • Guaranteed lifetime renewal of the policy, regardless of age and state of health
  • Full coverage regardless of your occupation, leisure interests, and sports activities

 In international private health insurance, too, you have to read the small print and in the end you get what you pay for. With international health insurance, most people choose more comprehensive and established plans with good coverage that is appropriate to their needs, as the price they pay for this insurance buys them true peace of mind for themselves and their family.