New Ecuador visa requirements: Expats must show proof of health insurance

Ecuador visa requirements blog article

New Ecuador visa requirements have now made it mandatory for all long term tourists, temporary residents, and permanent residents including expats to have health insurance that covers them for the entire duration of their stay in the country. It is therefore essential for anyone visiting or moving to Ecuador to be aware of the recent changes to their visa entry requirements in order to avoid having their visas/ entry denied. Read on to find out whether the new Ecuador visa requirements apply to you.

What exactly are the new Ecuador visa requirements?

As of the time of writing this article, those visiting Ecuador as a tourist for less than 90 days during any given year do not need to show proof of travel or health insurance. Visitors from most countries do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days, with some notable country exceptions including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Senegal. Nationals of the following countries can stay in Ecuador for up to 180 days as a tourist: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The new Ecuador visa requirements only applies to tourists who want to extend their stay in Ecuador, temporary residents, and permanent residents. Below are the new Ecuador visa requirements for each visa category:

Tourist Visa Extension

If tourists want to stay in Ecuador for longer than 90 days, they may do so by applying for a Tourist Visa Extension, which will allow them to stay in the country for an additional 90 days. Tourists may also apply to extend their stay for a maximum period of one year by sending a special request to the Human Mobility Authority. This special extension can only be granted once every five years.

Please note here that anyone who wants to apply for a Tourist Visa Extension must secure and show proof of having either a health insurance policy or travel insurance that will cover them for their entire stay in Ecuador.

Temporary Residency Visa

Foreigners who are granted a Temporary Residency Visa will be allowed to stay in Ecuador for up to two years. During this period of time, those with a Temporary Residency Visa in Ecuador are allowed to leave the country up to 90 days in the first year, and again up to 90 days in the second year. Temporary Residency Visas are subject to cancellation if the visa holder fails to comply to the 90 day requirement, in which case they will need to either re-enter Ecuador with a new Temporary Residency Visa and/or new Tourist Visa, depending on their circumstances.

There are thirteen categories under this type of migration status:

  • Worker
  • Independent means
  • Pensioner
  • Investor
  • Scientist, researcher or academic
  • Athlete, artist or cultural agent
  • Religious or religious volunteer
  • Volunteer
  • Student
  • Professional, technician, technologist or master craftsman
  • International convention
  • Dependent (i.e. children, spouse or common law partner, etc.)
  • International protection

Those applying for a Temporary Residency Visa must show proof of having private health insurance or must be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system, commonly known as the IESS or Instituto Ecuatoriano de Seguridad Social. Please note here that the Temporary Residency Visa can only be renewed once.

Permanent Residency Visa

Permanent Residency Visas allow a foreign citizen to remain in Ecuador for an indefinite period of time. To obtain permanent residence status, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have stayed in Ecuador for at least 21 months;
  • Have married or formed a legally recognized civil union with an Ecuadorian person;
  • Be a minor or a disabled person who depends on an Ecuadorian person or foreigner with permanent resident status;
  • Be related to an Ecuadorian person or permanent resident of Ecuador.

For the first two years from the date the visa is granted, those with a Permanent Residency Visa are not allowed to be out of the country for more than 180 days each year. Those who fail to comply with this requirement will be charged a hefty fine.

As with the Temporary Residency Visa health insurance requirements, those applying for a Permanent Residency Visa must also show proof of having private health insurance or be affiliated with the IESS.

Private health insurance or the IESS?

If you’re applying for a Temporary or Permanent Residency Visa, there are two health insurance options available:

  • Membership in the IESS
  • Obtain private health insurance

Here, we provide an overview of the two options:

IESS

Expats can choose to enroll in the IESS, which is paid for through contributions either by yourself, or by your employer (if you are employed). The cost is 17.6% of your income, and an additional 3.41% for your spouse or common law partner, as long as they have a cedula (national identification) number for registration. These percentages, for many expats, can be a considerable amount.

Public medical care is 100% free if you’re enrolled in the IESS, as long as you visit facilities that are contracted with the IESS. That said, sometimes IESS pharmacies may not have the medications that you require, meaning you may have to go to a non-IESS facility to purchase them.

What’s more, the quality of medical care provided by IESS facilities can vary significantly in Ecuador, with most high quality facilities located in large cities like Guayaquil. Healthcare standards in smaller towns and rural areas are often very poor. Combine this with the fact that the IESS can be restrictive for foreigners to be able to afford or utilize (not being Ecuadorian citizens themselves), and it is easy to see why so many expats prefer having private health insurance.

Private health insurance

Those looking for private health insurance can choose to obtain either a local or international policy. If you’re on a tight budget and rarely travel, a local plan may be the best option for you. Local plans are often much cheaper than international health insurance, primarily because it covers a lot less geographically. That said, expats and frequent travellers often prefer international health insurance to benefit from much greater flexibility and freedom in choosing where they can seek care. The cost of international health insurance in Ecuador can range from as little as USD 66 for a basic plan, to USD 942 for a more comprehensive plan with added benefits such as dental and maternity cover.

Looking for more information on Ecuador visa requirements?

To learn more about the new Ecuador visa requirements and your health insurance options, contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime today. Also feel free to have a look at our Ecuador page here for in-depth information on healthcare and health insurance in Ecuador.

What your company can do to tackle health insurance fraud

health insurance fraud article

Health insurance fraud is a serious problem for insurance providers and the greater health industry in general, amounting to “tens of billions of dollars” in losses every year. As discussed in our recently released Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, healthcare fraud plays a significant role in driving up the cost of healthcare, and also leads to a subsequent rise in health insurance premiums. Here, we look at health insurance fraud and what can be done to minimize its impact.

What is health insurance fraud?

Medical insurance fraud can be defined asfalse or misleading information [that] is provided to a health insurance company in an attempt to have them pay unauthorized benefits to the policyholder‚ another party‚ or the entity providing services.

Simply put, insurance fraud is the act of misrepresenting facts or outright lying to make money from the health insurance system; potential offenders can be anyone – patients, doctors, hospitals, or even pharmacists. Popular examples of health insurance fraud include falsifying claims, misrepresenting the provider of service, and billing a non-covered service as a covered service.

There’s also abuse, which involves practices that are not deemed medically necessarily, or are outside acceptable standards of professional conduct, thus leading to unnecessary costs being paid (e.g. over-prescribing medications, ordering unnecessary tests, keeping patients at the hospital for longer than necessary).

The impact of health insurance fraud

There are many ways in which health insurance fraud can have an impact on employers and employees, including:

  • Increased health insurance premiums: Continuing challenges related to fraud is one of the main drivers behind increasing health insurance premiums. As premiums continue to increase, health insurance will quickly become unaffordable for both employers and individuals.
  • Cutbacks on benefits: As premiums become more costly, it is more likely that there will be cutbacks on the benefits included in employer-provided health insurance policies (e.g. the removal of dental cover, limits on who is covered, etc.
  • Increased copayments and deductibles: Copayments and deductibles are on the increase, as employees find themselves footing the bill for a higher proportion of their healthcare costs despite having insurance.

What can my company do to tackle fraud?

One of the most effective ways an employer can tackle health insurance fraud and abuse is by educating their employees. Employees should be aware of:

  • What is and isn’t covered by their group plan
  • What constitutes health insurance fraud and abuse
  • How fraud impacts employees and their benefits
  • How to spot fraud and abuse

Below is a checklist of what employees should keep their eyes on to protect themselves, their company, and the healthcare system at large from insurance fraud and abuse, and keep healthcare costs down for everyone:

  • Report any lost or stolen health insurance cards immediately
  • Fill out, sign and date one claim form at a time. Never sign empty or incomplete forms.
  • Always confirm the diagnosis and make sure it correlates with the information on the form
  • Question free offers (e.g. free tests, screenings, and treatments), especially when the healthcare provider asks for your insurance information
  • Know what’s covered and what is not covered by your health insurance
  • Alert the insurer of any suspected fraud or abuse

Partner with Pacific Prime today

By partnering with an insurance specialist like Pacific Prime, you’ll find that we not only help you source the most optimal group health insurance plan, but also answer any questions your employees may have regarding their benefits, or how to spot fraud. To learn more, contact our helpful advisors today, or check out our brand new corporate site.

Pacific Prime signs partnership agreement with Bahrain-based broker Protection Insurance Services

Pacific Prime and Protection Insurance Services logos

(Hong Kong, November 28, 2016) Pacific Prime, a leading global insurance advisor, is proud to announce a new strategic partnership with Protection Insurance Services, a leading insurance and reinsurance broking firm headquartered in Bahrain. This agreement will see both companies extend their operations within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and in other regions across the globe.

Providing mutual benefits to both parties, this exclusive partnership, finalized on November 17, 2016, now enables Pacific Prime to provide their services in the territories covered by Protection Insurance Service’s licence, and vice versa. For Pacific Prime, this means that they can now write business in KSA, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, markets that they were not licensed to quote for business in, up until now.

“In partnership with Protection Insurance Services, Pacific Prime will expand its footprint across the GCC. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship between the two companies” said Maria Loughran, Corporate Account Manager at Pacific Prime’s Abu Dhabi division, Medstar Insurance Brokers LLC. “Protection Insurance Services is a client centric brokerage, and as such, make for an ideal partner for our business. The values and ethical behavior of both brokerages align perfectly and both companies operate with the core value that; The client is at the heart of everything that we do.”

Protection Insurance Services has over 20 years of significant expertise in a comprehensive range of marine and non-marine insurance broking, consulting and claims-handling services, and as such, Pacific Prime sees this partnership as a unique opportunity to acquire deep insights into the industries that they operate in.

CEO of Protection Insurance Services, Samy Aziz, commented: “We at Protection Insurance Services are very excited about this partnership with Pacific Prime Middle East as it will strengthen relationships with our clients and insurance companies. We’re thrilled to be Pacific Prime’s partner while building upon our extensive experience, and bringing that robust expertise into the Employee Benefits insurance market.”

About Pacific Prime

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Pacific Prime International Limited is a leading international health insurance advisor that leverages its close relationships with over 60 leading insurance companies to provide the best value insurance services and products to individuals and corporations. With offices strategically located in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UAE, Pacific Prime principally offers advice on international health insurance, business insurance and life insurance. For more information, visit: https://www.pacificprime.com/

About Protection Insurance Services W.L.L

Founded in 1996, Protection Insurance Services W.L.L is a leading insurance and reinsurance broking firm with sound reputation among the insurance community in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The company provides international specialized insurance, reinsurance services (including takaful and retakaful), and advisory services across the region of MENA, parts of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia. For more information, visit: http://www.protectionre.com/index.html

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