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Expat Health Insurance: Global Coverage for Living Abroad

If you’ll be living abroad, you should learn what expat health insurance is, how much it costs, who the best international providers are, and how to apply.

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Expat health insurance is international medical insurance for those that need long-term or short-term coverage as they travel. These global plans can cost anywhere from USD $3,594 to USD $9,817 annually depending on your country of residence and coverage level.

Many countries require expats to have health insurance before you can move in, so securing the right plan is essential. Will you be moving abroad soon? Are you an expat who doesn’t know where to start when it comes to medical coverage? This page is meant for you!

If you’ll be living abroad, this page will help you learn what international citizens' health insurance is, what it covers, how much it costs, who the best international providers are, and how to apply. We’ll also teach you what to look for when picking an expat health insurance plan and how a broker can benefit you.

If you have questions, want to compare quotes, or seek other global insurance advice, contact our experts.

What Long-Term Expatriate Health Insurance Is

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Long-term expat health insurance is worldwide medical coverage designed for individuals, families, and groups that live abroad. Plans are typically renewed annually and provide health insurance no matter what country you are in. A variety of plans are offered by providers with global expertise.

Expat health insurance is also sometimes called international health insurance.

Difference Between Global Insurance and Local Insurance

Where local health insurance is tied to a particular country and its local providers, global health insurance stretches across borders. International health providers have well-established networks with medical professionals and healthcare systems across all countries on the globe.

This allows for expatriates, digital nomads, and global citizens to travel between locations and still have access to high quality healthcare and insurance when they need medical attention.

  • Local health insurance only covers you in a single country. If you leave that country and have a medical emergency, your provider will not cover any of your medical expenses.
  • Global health insurance covers your medical fees no matter where you go in the world.

This is highly appealing to U.S. travelers and travelers from other countries who know they will be living internationally for an extended period of time and who may travel between countries while abroad.

Foreigners Health Insurance Without Worldwide Coverage

While many foreigners' health insurance plans cover you worldwide, there are plans available that only have coverage for the single country you will be living in. If you don’t plan to travel globally while abroad, these plans may interest you because their premiums are often lower.

Our insurance experts can help you find a plan like this if you’re interested in learning more.

Help for Employers Who Need Coverage for Expat Employees

If you are an employer who needs international medical coverage for your foreign employees, Pacific Prime can assist you in finding the right group benefits for your business. Our corporate insurance solutions can help you with group health plans, wellness programs, life and disability, and more!

Discover our employee benefits solutions online.

What Expat Medical Insurance Covers Abroad

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Expat medical insurance plans cover inpatient and outpatient care, emergency services, maternity care, pre-existing conditions, and sometimes vision and dental care. Many providers offer a number of plans with various ranges of coverage to choose from, and you’re usually free to customize your plan.

If you’re not finding what you want, you may need to consider looking at a different plan, a different level of coverage, or a different provider.

  1. International Coverage: It is common for expatriates and their families to be traveling back and forth between their home country and country of residence regularly. Having international medical coverage is a major benefit when this is your situation.
  2. Inpatient Care: Inpatient hospitalization is one of the foundational benefits of expat medical insurance. This can cover overnight stays, lab work and testing, physician and nurse fees, surgeries, medications, emergency care, and much more
  3. Outpatient Care: Many international citizens’ medical plans cover outpatient care such as doctor consultations, lab work and testing, outpatient procedures, prescriptions, specialist consultations, therapies, recovery treatments, and more.

If a plan does not include outpatient benefits, there is usually an optional add-on you can choose or you can increase your coverage level to a more comprehensive plan.

  1. Emergency Services: Another foundational benefit in almost all expatriate international medical plans are the emergency medical services. This can include emergency transportation, emergency treatments and procedures, and emergency evacuation and repatriation.
  2. Maternity Care: Some expat medical policies have coverage for maternity services, such as prenatal, postnatal, childbirth, and newborn care. Some of the best maternity insurance plans for expats abroad are offered by VUMI, Allianz Care, AXA, and Cigna.
  3. Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: It can be difficult to find medical insurance providers that cover pre-existing medical conditions, but there are expat health plans that do. Talking to a global insurance expert, like a broker, can help guide you in the direction of getting the coverage you need.
  4. Dental and Vision Care: It is rare for dental or vision care to be covered by expat global medical insurance except for emergency dental or vision treatments that are medically necessary due to an injury or illness. However, some providers do have routine dental and vision care add-on benefits you can choose to opt into.
  5. 24/7 Customer Support: International providers provide international citizens 24/7 access to medical assistance for claims and general inquiries by phone or email.
  6. Guaranteed Renewability: Expat health insurance plans sold by Pacific Prime offer guaranteed renewability. This means that even if you’ve developed a chronic medical condition within the year, you’ll be able to renew your policy and retain coverage.
  7. Direct Billing: Under a direct billing network, the hospital within the network will bill your medical fees directly to the insurer, saving you the time of having to file a claim afterwards and reducing the out-of-pocket payments you’ll need to make for each hospital visit.

It is important to note that every global traveler plan is unique, so it is your responsibility to become familiar with the entire policy, its inclusions and exclusions, before signing it. If you’d like assistance comparing plans, you can send us a message, and we will help you at no charge.

Most Common Exclusions in Expatriate Medical Plans

Many expatriate medical insurance plans will exclude pre-existing medical conditions, behavioral and personality disorders, sleep disorders, fertility treatment, and 4 other conditions. It is essential that expats pay attention to what will not be covered before they purchase any plan.

Here are the 8 most common health insurance exclusions:

  1. Pre-existing Conditions
  2. Behavioral and Personality Disorders
  3. Fertility Treatments
  4. Sleep Disorders
  5. Specific Scenarios
  6. Cosmetic Surgeries
  7. Obesity
  8. Acquisition of an Organ

Some of the most common excluded specific scenarios include:

  • Injuries or illnesses sustained as a direct result from a natural disaster
  • Injuries or illnesses caused by participation in illegal activity
  • Injuries sustained from participating in extreme sports
  • Treatment arising from war or terrorist acts
  • Self-inflicted injuries and hazardous activities

How Much International Expat Health Insurance Costs

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According to Pacific Prime’s 2022-2023 international private health insurance report, individual expat plans have an average annual premium cost ranging from USD $3,594 in Thailand to USD $9,817 in the U.S. Family plan annual premiums range from USD $10,586 in Poland to USD $28,250 in the U.S.

The cost of expatriate health insurance changes drastically depending on your country of residence. It is also important to remember that healthcare prices and insurance rates increase every year due to inflation around the world, so these are intended only as estimates.

The following chart shows data from Pacific Prime’s 2023 Cost of International Health Insurance Report. It highlights some of the most popular expat destinations. You can use the link to the report to find the average private expat medical insurance premiums in over 70 countries.

Note: All monetary values are in USD.

Average Health Insurance Costs in Popular Expat Countries
Country Individual Annual Average Premium    Family Annual Average Premium
United States $9,817 $28,250
Hong Kong $7,810 $22,067
Singapore $7,028 $20,351
Dubai $5,269 $17,637
Switzerland $5,441 $15,121
Mexico $5,386 $15,303
South Korea $5,171 $14,514
Costa Rica $4,824 $14,328
Portugal $4,591 $12,705
France $4,182 $11,535
Netherlands $4,008 $11,043
Poland $3,847 $10,586
Thailand $3,594 $11,683

What to Look for in an Expat Medical Insurance Plan

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When comparing expat medical insurance plans, you can look for plans that are more customizable, include the extra benefits you want, have flexible deductible options, have the annual maximums you need, and more.

Let’s discuss a list of features you can look for in a strong U.S. expat insurance plan:

  • How extensive the provider’s network is
  • How quickly claims are reimbursed or completed
  • What extra benefits are offered (such as dental, vision, maternity, and repatriation)
  • How customizable the plan is
  • What deductible options you have
  • If there are any fees in addition to your premiums
  • If direct billing is an option
  • How high the annual maximums are
  • If there are pre-approval requirements
  • How much the plan costs
  • If a provider has a reliable history of delivering worldwide healthcare
  • If you can pay claims in your own currency
  • If there is a healthcare professional referral service
  • If the benefits are comprehensive and broad
  • If you will have 24/7 access to assistance and medical advice

How to Apply for International Citizens Insurance

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To apply for international citizens health insurance, you can either go directly to the insurance provider or use an intermediary, such as a broker. Each provider may be a little different, but often you can select and pay for an insurance plan online or over the phone.

If you decide to use a broker, you can contact them online or over the phone. Brokers will assist you in many ways, including helping you compare plans from a variety of providers until you have found the one that is right for you and assisting you in the application process from start to finish.

Here are the steps to applying for medical insurance for foreigners:

Step 1: Find your plan, either on your own or with the help of a broker.

Step 2: Either fill out the application process online or talk with a representative over the phone.

Step 3: The insurance provider may need to ask you a number of questions to determine your medical history and qualifications.

Step 4: You may be required to get documentation from your current medical provider to send to the insurance provider.

Step 5: When your plan is approved, your premiums will be set, and you’ll begin paying monthly for your coverage.

Step 6: After a year, you can choose to renew the plan or switch to a new one. Your broker can assist you with this as well.

Best Health Insurance Providers for Global Expats

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Cigna, GeoBlue, IMG, and Allianz Care are among the best health insurance providers for global expats seeking coverage. You can also consider Bupa, AXA, Aetna, NOW Health International, MetLife, William Russell, MSH International, and Globality Health.

You can see a full list of the top health providers for expats here. We will introduce you to just a few below.

Cigna Global Expatriate Insurance

The Cigna Global expat health insurance plans for long-term stays are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Close Care. The annual medical limits range from $1,000,000 - unlimited. The Gold and Platinum plans include maternity benefits.

The Close Care plan is only for coverage within your country of residency and your country of nationality, and its annual limit is $500,000.

 

GeoBlue Expatriate Insurance

GeoBlue offers two long-term expat health insurance plans: Xplorer Essential and Xplorer Premier. The Essential plan is best for expats who do not need coverage in the United States, and the Premier plan is best for American expats who want coverage within the U.S. and their global home.

 

IMG Expatriate Insurance

IMG’s long-term expat health insurance plans are called Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The annual medical maximums range from $1,000,000 to $8,000,000 per individual. The Platinum plan includes maternity benefits.

 

Allianz Care Expatriate Insurance

The long-term expat health insurance plans by Allianz Care are the Care, Plus, and Pro plans. Annual medical maximums range from $2,500,000 to $5,000,000. The Care Plus and Care Pro plans include maternity benefits.

Short-Term Health Insurance for Foreigners Living Abroad

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Expats and travelers who will be abroad for less than a year will want short-term health insurance, also known as travel medical insurance. These types of plans specialize in comprehensive health coverage for short-term trips around the globe. IMG and GeoBlue offer the best travel medical plans.

Plans can cover single trips or multiple trips within the same 12 month period, and trip coverage can last for several months if needed.

IMG Travel Medical Insurance

Patriot Platinum

There are three travel medical insurance plans by IMG for single trips: Lite, Plus, and Platinum. These plans vary in their levels of coverage, but all include hospitalization coverage, emergency medical evacuation, and lost luggage coverage. Maximum annual limits range from $1 - $8 million.

Patriot Multi-Trip International

IMG’s Patriot Multi-Trip International plan offers coverage for an unlimited number of trips within a 12 month period with your choice of trip duration for 30 or 45 days. The maximum annual limit is $1 million.

 

GeoBlue Travel Medical Insurance

Voyager Choice

The Voyager Choice plan by GeoBlue is for single trips up to 12 months in length. You can choose for the annual maximum limit to be $50,000, $100,000, $500,000, or $1,000,000.

Trekker Choice

GeoBlue’s Trekker Choice plan is a multi-trip plan with coverage for an unlimited number of trips within one year and covers the first 70 days of all trips. You can choose between a maximum annual limit of $500,000 or $1,000,000.

Why Use a Broker to Get Expat Medical Insurance

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When expatriates use an insurance broker to get medical insurance abroad, they gain an intermediary who negotiates with the provider on their behalf, who knows the international insurance market, who can compare plans with other top providers, and who works with them at no charge.

Are you considering going directly to the insurance provider? Here’s why a broker might better serve your needs:

  • Brokers are not loyal to any particular insurer: Going directly to an insurer means they’ll recommend only their products and services, which may not necessarily be the best plan out there to meet your needs and budget.

On the contrary, brokers work with a range of different insurers and can give you a tailored plan comparison of all your options on the market.

  • Brokers provide a number of value-added services: In addition to helping you find a suitable plan, brokers also tend to help you fill out insurance forms, liaise with insurers, and negotiate the best terms, as well as file claims for reimbursement and renew a plan. 

This level of support and assistance is particularly important if you’re new to the world of international insurance and don’t understand global insurance jargon.

  • Brokers don’t charge extra: The cost to you is the same as going directly to the insurer! Many insurers rely on brokers to help them sell their insurance products so they don’t tend to offer any extra discounts or lower premiums if you go directly to them.

As such, it makes sense to go to a broker as you’ll pay the same amount AND benefit from the previously mentioned impartial advice and value-added services!

Pacific Prime is a leading global insurance broker that has helped over one million global travelers secure insurance. We have a robust global presence and solid partnerships with dynamic insurance providers.

We know insurance, and we know expats.

Learn more about how Pacific Prime can benefit you and help you secure the best insurance for your needs and budget.

Compare Insurance Quotes

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You now have a strong foundational understanding of what expat health insurance is, how it works, what it covers, what to look for in a plan, and who the top providers are. Now you’re ready to start comparing insurance plans! If you’d like our assistance, reach out to us anytime.

We highly encourage you to use our online insurance quote generator since it can help you compare hundreds of plans side by side from dozens of different providers. It truly is an invaluable resource!

If you found value in this page, you will also want to learn about international health insurance and family health insurance.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What type of health insurance is for expats?

Expatriates use expat health insurance, also known as international health insurance, because these medical plans are designed for international travel. Many of these plans include coverage worldwide so that you have medical protection no matter where you go.

How much do expats pay for health insurance?

Expats who live in Thailand can pay as low as $3,594 annually for health insurance while expats living in the United States can pay as high as $9,817 annually. Your average cost of health insurance largely depends on the country you’ll be living in.

Can an expat use Medicare while abroad?

Expatriates cannot use their Medicare insurance while living internationally because the United States only covers its states and territories. You must instead pick a global insurance plan designed for individuals, families, and groups who are living abroad.

Do expats get free healthcare?

Healthcare is not free anywhere in the world. Each country has its own healthcare and insurance systems, and expatriates should expect to get a public or private health insurance plan, to contribute their income to a national insurance fund, or to pay for their medical expenses out of pocket.

Do expatriates need health insurance abroad?

Whether or not expatriates need health insurance is directly correlated to what country they are moving to. Some countries require foreigners to have health insurance by law and others don’t. All countries will expect expats to pay their medical bills, however, whether directly or through insurance.

Simplifying Health Insurance

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Cost of Health Plans 2022

Cost of Health Plans 2022
Read about the average cost of international health plans in 100 locations, as well as unlock analysis on the latest health insurance trends.

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