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Getting the most value out of your international health insurance plan

Pacific Prime looks at five ways you can get the most value out of your international health insurance plans.

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 by

With the ever increasing cost of health care and therefore health insurance in almost every country, health insurance to either offset, or cover, the cost of medical care has become a ‘must-have’ for every person. This is especially true for expats and HNW individuals who may not have access to their country’s public health system, or struggle with the in-place health care system due to factors like a large language barrier, long wait times, or poor facilities.

As such, they prefer the service offered by local, or regional, private hospitals and facilities. For many, this is not cheap therefore an international health insurance plan is often purchased in order to offset costs. While these plans offer often superior coverage and options, many policyholders often fail to fully recognize the value that these plans have to offer. To help ensure that you get the most out of your plan, here are five tips.

1. Before you buy or renew: Consider who you will need to cover

If you are looking for a new health insurance plan, or are in the process of renewing your plan, one of the first things you should do is identify how many individuals you will be looking to cover with your plan. For example, if you are renewing a plan and have recently been married, it would be a good idea to talk to your advisor to learn more about coverage options for your new spouse. This is also important because many plans have limits or moratoriums regarding maternity: Some won’t cover many costs associated with birth, while others have a set time limit that must pass before any claims can be made regarding pregnancy.  

Similarly, if you are currently running a business that is quickly growing, it would be beneficial to have a rough estimation of growth and expected employees that will need to be covered by either an existing plan, or a new one.

By knowing who you want covered by your plan, you can more easily narrow down potential options, thereby reducing the time spent finding a plan that meets your needs.

2. Before you buy or renew: Assess your medical needs

There are a wide number of international health insurance providers offering a number of different plans, each with different levels and types of coverage. For example some plans will cover inpatient, outpatient, and maternity related procedures, while others will only cover inpatient procedures. Other plans will fall in between, or offer even more coverage, not to mention the fact that some will have no deductibles, while others have select exclusions or cover pre-existing conditions. The point is: there are so many different plans out there.

To narrow the field down, it will help to take time and consider the medical needs of you, or the individuals you will be purchasing the plan for. If you have pre-existing conditions, then it may be a misguided idea to select a plan that excludes them.

Don’t just stop at existing conditions however, and try to look into the average cost for health care in the location and at the facilities you are likely to use. If you know, roughly, what it would cost for a visit to a private clinic or a surgery, you can better judge whether any deductibles will be worth it or not. Selecting a high deductible will mean lower premiums, but if you need medical attention, you will have to pay up to the deductible first, which could be an issue.

Generally speaking, putting in some thought at the beginning can help you develop a budget and find a plan that meets it.

3. Be aware of extra coverage elements offered by plans

International health insurance plans are often developed to offer some of the best levels of coverage on the market. As such, they often come with extra benefits - especially with higher levels of plans.

For example, some of the newer plans cover extras like physiotherapy, mental health, extended dental, full emergency evacuation, private rooms, etc. It would therefore be a good idea to know exactly what your plan covers and the extra coverage elements available.

4. Don’t be afraid to use covered wellness and preventative services

While knowing about what is covered is a great first step in getting the best value out of your plans, actually using them could really help you get the most out of your plan. For example, if your plan covers a yearly cancer screening, then it would be a good idea to schedule a visit with your dermatologist - especially if you live in countries like Thailand, or Australia. Afterall, this form of preventive care could help you reduce doctor visits in the long run, while also potentially identifying health issues that can be dealt with while you still have coverage.

Of course, a balance does need to be struck here: Going for every type of health checkup covered, even if you don’t necessarily need to, could lead to overuse and higher premiums. Instead, combine your knowledge of what is available to claim to strike a balance where you feel you are getting the best value out of your plan.

5. Talk with an advisor before renewing or purchasing

One of the best ways to maximize value is to talk to an advisor before renewing plans, or purchasing new ones. At Pacific Prime, our international health insurance experts know the various plans inside and out, and are able to explain exactly what you are getting, while also working with you to help uncover what exactly you need.

From individual plans, to plans for the largest companies, we can help simplify your insurance. Contact us today to learn more.

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