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International Health Insurance: Global Medical Plans

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International Health Insurance: Coverage Abroad

International health insurance plans offer medical coverage for expats and travelers who plan to live in a foreign country for an extended amount of time. If you experience a medical emergency or an illness, international health insurance can protect you against expensive medical bills.

Additionally, international health insurance can fulfill the health coverage visa requirements put forward by some countries. If you plan on relocating to a foreign country, international health insurance can provide you with the peace of mind you need on your journey.

International Health Insurance Plans

International health insurance covers medical expenses when living or traveling abroad. It connects you to a global network of healthcare providers, ensuring you have access to medical services in most countries worldwide.

International health insurance plans offer customizable and comprehensive benefits. This means you can choose and tailor the plans to suit your own and your loved ones' unique health needs.

Having the safeguard of a private international health insurance policy can offer peace of mind and more choices when looking for treatment. It will grant you access to private facilities and providers, generally offering quicker and more comprehensive care.

Our Recommended International Health Insurance Plans

  • Extensive Network of Providers
  • Direct Billing Options
  • 24/7 Medical Help via Global Virtual Care
  • Lifetime Renewal Options
  • 4 Plan Options
Plan Details

  • Worldwide Coverage (excluding the US)
  • Access to Cigna’s trusted network of hospitals and doctors
  • Numerous Deductible Options
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 4 Core Insurance Plans
Plan Details

How Much Does International Medical Insurance Cost?

Costs for individual international medical insurance plans range from USD $3,594  annually in Thailand, to $9,817 annually in the U.S., according to Pacific Prime’s 2023 Cost of Insurance Report. International health insurance costs vary according to the plan, insurance company, and where you live.

Below we have included a list of the top 10 most expensive countries for medical insurance plans according to individual plan average prices. We have also included average family plan rates.

Rank Country Individual Plan (USD) Family Plan (USD)
1 United States 9,817 28,250
2 Hong Kong 7,810 22,067
3 Singapore 7,028 20,351
4 Dubai 5,687 17,637
5 Tawain 5,532 15,396
6 Israel 5,521 15,303
7 Switzerland 5,441 15,121
8 Mexico 5,386 15,209
9 UK 5,314 14,723
10 Brazil 5,289 15,073

*These figures are taken from Pacific Prime’s Cost of Health Insurance Guide 2023 and are only intended for estimation.

As noted above, the United States remains the most expensive country to purchase a healthcare policy in. The high cost of healthcare services in the U.S. contributes to these high premiums.

If you are living abroad with no plans to travel to the U.S., you may be able to purchase a plan that excludes coverage there. This will save you on your premiums.

What Affects International Health Insurance Premium Costs?

Different factors like age, health status, coverage limits, added benefits, deductible amount, and the geographical scope of coverage determine premium costs. Premiums are the payments you make to your insurance provider in exchange for your medical coverage.

You will likely have a higher premium if you have a low deductible plan. Another cause of high premiums is whether you include certain countries in your coverage, like the United States. The U.S. has the most expensive healthcare services worldwide, increasing your premiums.

Premiums can be paid at different intervals, such as monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. You may be able to save on your premiums if you pay annually. Check out our 2023 Cost of Insurance guide here to learn more about international health insurance costs.

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What Benefits Does International Health Insurance Offer? 

International health insurance provides various benefits, including inpatient, outpatient, medical emergency and evacuation coverage, and more. Here is a list of benefits available:

  • Inpatient and outpatient coverage
  • Medical emergency coverage
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation coverage
  • Direct billing
  • Worldwide coverage (can include your home country)
  • 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Renewable policies
  • Flexibility in choosing providers

You can choose only inpatient coverage to keep your premiums low or customize your own plan

with additional premium benefits and coverage.

Other Optional Benefits and Coverage

Vision, dental, maternity, and preventative care are available in additional benefits for most plans. You can customize your plan to suit your needs, such as purchasing maternity coverage if you plan to try for children soon.

Depending on the provider, you may be able to customize your plan with these additional benefits. Take the time to consider what your health needs are and where you will need more coverage.

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Who Does International Health Insurance Cover?

International health insurance can cover individuals, families, and groups. Different policies with ranging benefits and premiums are available for these specific categories.

Who Does International Health Insurance Cover?

Individuals

Individual expats and global travelers alike can purchase international health insurance policies for themselves as they journey abroad. These plans can vary in coverage from basic inpatient coverage to more premium plans with benefits like dental and vision.

Specific individuals benefit greatly from these plans, like students or business professionals who travel frequently for work.

Families

Families living abroad can purchase a policy to cover all their loved ones. Plans are available to cover all family members, from the elderly to the young. Compare different family plans to fit your unique family situation best.

Groups

Group international health insurance is designed for organizations looking to provide insurance benefits to a group of individuals, whether they be employees or members. Coverage for these plans ranges across providers.

Group insurance policies often use cost-sharing arrangements between employers and employees, which helps distribute the financial burden of health insurance premiums.

Start by Comparing Insurance Plans Online

Compare Between 50,000 International Health Insurance Plan Options.

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How Does International Medical Insurance Work?

International medical insurance provides coverage for medical expenses collected outside your home country. International plans function similarly to local insurance plans but on a worldwide scale, with a vast global network of providers.

An international healthcare plan lets expats access healthcare services whenever they need it. Members can contact their international insurance providers to help them locate a local provider under their plan, or they can choose an out-of-network provider and be reimbursed later.

Coverage for international health insurance plans includes various medical services, such as hospital stays, outpatient care, emergency evacuation, and prescription drugs. Some plans may also include customizable dental, vision, and maternity care coverage.

Similar to domestic health insurance, international plans often include deductibles and co-payments. A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in and begins to cover costs. Co-payments are a percentage of the covered expenses that you must pay.

Coverage Across Different Countries

With an international health insurance plan, you can have coverage as you travel to different countries. You will be covered almost anywhere in the world in case of medical emergency or sickness. You will also have your choice of medical providers wherever you go.

Some providers allow their members to exclude certain countries in order to lessen their costs. These exclusions are usually done for countries with high healthcare costs, like the USA.

Some plans have networks of healthcare providers worldwide. In these cases, you may be able to receive medical care with direct billing, where the insurance company pays the healthcare provider directly. This can greatly simplify the process for you during a possibly stressful time of emergency medical care.

Buying Health Insurance in Another Country

There is the option to purchase a local health insurance plan in another country and apply for any public health insurance you may be eligible for. Usually, you can only purchase or enroll in a local plan after living in the country for a specific amount of time.

The disadvantage of buying a local health insurance policy is that you will be unprotected if you travel anywhere else, and likely in your home country. Your policy will only protect you within the boundaries of the country you are in.

International health insurance protects you from medical emergencies wherever you go, including your home country. You can choose where you receive care and have the freedom to select your own provider.

Is International Health Insurance Necessary as an Expat?

While an international health insurance plan may not be required for expats as they travel, it is strongly recommended due to its protection from staggering medical bills and emergency medical expenses. Domestic plans from your home country will not cover you during your time in a foreign country.

Without international health insurance coverage, you must completely cover any medical expenses on your own. You should consider your risk tolerance and ability to pay for unexpected medical emergencies. If you cannot, you should not go without an international plan.

International health plans also allow expats access to private doctors and hospitals. Your global insurance provider should have a close relationship with the best hospitals globally and connect you with the best medical facilities during your time abroad.

Another important thing to note is that some countries may require adequate health insurance coverage as an entry or visa requirement. International health insurance plans can grant you coverage for these requirements, preventing you from having to search for coverage from a local provider. This can be especially helpful for expats who may not be familiar with the country’s language yet.

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Comparing International Health Insurance Providers

You can compare international health insurance providers to find the best plan for you. Pacific Prime is partnered with the top international medical insurance providers, and our experts are ready to help you compare their plans and benefits to find a policy that works best for you.

We will discuss plan details on some of our top insurers.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global offers customizable plans and guaranteed lifetime renewal on their policies. Key benefits of their plans are:

  • Extensive Network of Providers
  • Direct Billing Options
  • 24/7 Medical Help via Global Virtual Care
  • Lifetime Renewal Options
  • 4 Plan Options
Plan Details

Cigna

Cigna has Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans with different levels of coverage and limits. These three plans share key benefits:

  • Worldwide Coverage (excluding the US)
  • Access to Cigna’s trusted network of hospitals and doctors
  • Numerous Deductible Options
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • 4 Core Insurance Plans
Plan Details

Allianz

Allianz offers a variety of plans with different levels of coverage and prices. The key benefits shared across their plans include:

  • World-leading Health Insurance Provider for Expats
  • Extensive Network With Over 1.9 Million Medical Providers
  • Quick and Efficient Claims Process
  • Maximum Plan benefit up to USD $5,000,000
Plan Details

AXA

AXA Global offers five categories of coverage with their Foundation, Standard, Comprehensive, Prestige, and Prestige Plus plans. Some examples of shared coverage by all AXA insurance plans include:

  • Experienced Personal Support 24/7
  • Easy Online Access
  • Virtual Doctor Service
  • Mind Health Support
  • Maximum Annual Benefit Limit up to USD $8,000,000
Plan Details

NOW Health International

NOW Health International provides SimpleCare and WorldCare plans with different levels of coverage and premiums. The shared benefits across the plans are:

  • Quick and Hassle-free Claims Filing
  • Customer Service Support in Multiple Language
  • Maximum Benefit Limit up to USD $4,500,000
Plan Details

GeoBlue

Geoblue offers an Xplorer health insurance plan that comes in Essential or Premier. These plans were created for expats traveling from the United States for business, leisure, or study trips. Expats can choose plans that include the United States in their coverage or not.

  • Diagnostic lab work and X-rays
  • Surgery
  • Inpatient medical emergencies
  • Emergency evacuation and repatriation
  • Yearly physicals
Plan Details

If you’re interested in comparing more plans, check out our quote comparison tool here.

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Choosing the Right Plan For You

You should choose a plan that works for your budget and specific healthcare needs. The right international health insurance plan will ensure protection wherever you are and for whatever you need.

Don’t choose a plan based only on the premium listed; take the time to read the benefit package thoroughly to make sure you have your medical needs met. Choosing a plan can be overwhelming, which is why insurance brokers are a valuable help.

As a world-leading insurance broker, Pacific Prime can help match you with the right international health insurance plan by evaluating your lifestyle and designing a medical insurance policy that suits you best.

Top-Up Plans

If your company insurance policy doesn’t cover you for everything you need coverage for, top-up plans are available to make up the difference. You can take out individual top-up plans for dental insurance, optical insurance, maternity insurance, and more.

Other Plan Considerations

It is important to consider the following when choosing a plan:

  • Where you are planning to visit
  • How dangerous the area is
  • The quality of healthcare in those countries

These factors can affect your desired level of coverage and benefits in your chosen plan. If you plan on living in a low-quality healthcare area, you will likely want a plan covering medical evacuation to a different hospital. 

Start by Comparing Insurance Plans Online

Compare Between 50,000 International Health Insurance Plan Options.

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Applying for International Health Insurance

After determining your eligibility, you can apply for a plan by completing an online application and sending the insurance provider any necessary documents. It is important you research the eligibility requirements for each plan, as they vary across policies.

Eligibility Requirements for International Health Insurance

A common eligibility requirement for international health insurance is living in a foreign country for at least three months of the year. Some other things that can affect your eligibility are where you currently live, your age, and your medical history, including any pre-existing conditions.

Some plans will not allow anyone over the age of 74 to apply for new plans, but not every provider has this requirement. As always, you can contact a trusted insurance broker with any questions on plan age requirements.

Pre-existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions can affect your eligibility for some plans, but solutions are still available. Some of these solutions include selecting a plan with a pre-existing condition exclusion, a moratorium, or coverage with loading.

  • Exclusion: Choosing a plan with an exclusion means the insurer won't reimburse the policyholder for medical bills related to the pre-existing condition.
  • Moratorium: In this scenario, the insurance company provides health coverage but excludes pre-existing conditions. Instead, there is a waiting period, typically around 24 months, during which the company assesses the pre-existing condition before deciding on coverage.
  • Coverage with loading: Some insurance companies may offer coverage for pre-existing conditions but at higher premiums. Not all pre-existing conditions qualify for this type of coverage, and not all insurance providers offer this option.

The Underwriting Process and Expat Healthcare Plans

Medical underwriting is a process insurance companies use to determine your health status and is required when applying to an international plan. This process helps the company decide whether they can offer you coverage and within what limits.

When you apply for international health insurance, you may be required to fill out a detailed health questionnaire. This will gather information on your medical history that will be used during the underwriting process.

The underwriting process takes around 3 - 5 business days but may take longer if there are special circumstances. All family members will need to supply their medical history if you are applying for a family international plan.

Why Choose an Insurance Broker to Help You Secure a Plan?

Insurance brokers can help you find a plan that works best for you by comparing quotes from a long list of providers and policies. Brokers do not work for one specific insurance company, allowing them to give you unbiased advice over what plan would work best for you.

They can help you compare the pros and cons of each plan and provider and tailor-make a plan suited to your needs. Working with a broker does not cost you extra, as they are paid by the insurance companies instead of by the customer.

Pacific Prime has developed long-standing relationships with several major health insurers, allowing for reduced rates compared to directly dealing with the insurer. Reach out to our team of insurance experts today with any questions you may have, or begin comparing plans directly by using our free tool.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does travel insurance differ from international health insurance?

Travel insurance was created for short-term travel, such as vacations, while international health insurance was created for long-term travel. Travel insurance usually covers basic emergency medical treatment, and international health insurance covers a more comprehensive list of medical benefits.

Will Medicare cover me outside the U.S.?

Medicare does not cover anyone outside the U.S. or its territories. Unless you purchase an international health insurance plan, you will be unprotected during your time abroad. This means you must pay any medical bills you acquire in full.

What is the best expat health insurance?

The best expat health insurance plan will offer inpatient coverage, emergency coverage, 24-hour help, and any other premium benefits you may need. Contact an insurance expert today to find the best expat health insurance for your specific needs.

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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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