Living abroad is great. However, there are going to be occasions, like Christmas, Thanksgiving or vacations,
where US expats will want to come home to the States for period of time. Therefore, one decision that every US
expat will need to make is whether to include access to US healthcare in their international health plan.
Generally, international health plans are designed to provide health
cover while you’re away, but not necessarily at home. Worldwide and US coverage is usually separated by most
providers, as the cost of healthcare in the Unites States can be so expensive.
But is it necessary to
include the US in your plan and what elements do you need to consider before making this decision?
The first thing to consider is the cost
of getting cover in the US. Yes, including United States in your plan will significantly increase your premium.
However, the cost of not being insured, and needing treatment while there, could be higher. When getting a quote
for your plan, calculate the difference between including and excluding US coverage to get an idea of how much it
2. Frequency of visits
You also need to consider the likelihood
that you will use your policy in the US. If you’re unlikely to come back to the US during your annual policy,
then consider if it’s important to you to include US protection in your plan. However. if you regularly visit
home, either to see friends and family, or for the holidays, you should be insured in case any health issues
occur during your visit.
3. Current health cover
If you are already on a
local health plan in the US, you need to review whether it’s worth doubling up on your cover. Local plans are
specifically designed to cover US nationals in the US. So if you’re already on a plan, you probably won’t need to
add the US onto your international plan.
4. Ongoing health issues
consideration should be your health history. If you’ve had any health issues in the past that required ongoing
treatment or support, it could affect whether you’ll need healthcare while back in the US. If the treatment for
the condition is expensive or time-sensitive, then having US protection will give you peace of mind. That said,
you shouldn’t rely on an international plan to cover all your needs in the US. The possibility of the need to
return home on a permanent basis for a medical condition requires careful consideration on your part.
Lastly, it’s worth thinking about how comprehensive you’d like your
plan to be. You might be able to cover certain elements of your health with other forms of insurance. However,
these won’t necessarily provide the comprehensive cover and benefits that comes with a full health plan.
If you decide to get an international health plan that doesn’t include access to US
healthcare, but would like to visit the US, you do have a couple of options available to you.
you can purchase temporary health insurance, which provides short-term access to health cover in the US. While
these plans might provide you with most of the health benefits you need, they are generally quite expensive and
less comprehensive than annual plans.
Temporary health insurance plans can last between one to six months
and mostly insure you for doctors visits, emergency services and hospitalization benefits. Pre-existing
conditions are rarely covered.
You can also purchase travel insurance as a temporary solution. Travel
insurance provides you with short-term access to some aspects of health cover in the US, including emergency
medical treatment. In contrast to health insurance, travel insurance is generally very cheap, but provides little
protection for longer-term health needs. And travel insurance often excludes current medical conditions or
provides very limited cover for such. Hence, it’s important to understand for what you are precisely covered
under the travel insurance policy.
Making a decision
Most international health
providers don’t allow you to upgrade or add US cover to your policy mid-term, so ensure that you have fully
considered your options before making a decision. Upgrading to US cover can also trigger a new underwriting
event. Get clear on these matters before deciding on what geographical cover you require.
situation, it’s important to bear in mind that healthcare in the United States is extremely expensive and anyone
spending even a short period of time in the country should be insured in one form or another, or risk exposure to
large out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare.
To find out how much an Integra Global international health
plan would cost you, with and without access to US cover, get an indicative price by clicking here.