Frequently Asked Questions - International Health Insurance
In order to help you understand how International Health Insurance Coverage works we have listed below the most frequently asked questions we receive. If you have any further questions please feel free to email or call us and we would be happy to help and advise you.
What is an International Health Insurance Plan?
An International Health Insurance Plan ensures you are covered regardless of which country you live in. The plan also provides the benefit of choosing any country to recieve treatment in. These plans are specially desined for people living outside their home country or people who frequently move to new countries, as the plan always stays in force.
Who Can Buy International Health Insurance Plans?
Anyone who lives outside of their home country can apply for an international plan. There are some plans that allow policyholders to be covered even if they are a still residing in their home country, and this can be continued even if they decide to relocate to another country.
Can We Organise International Health Insurance for Our Company?
We welcome companies looking to purchase International Health Insurance coverage for their employees. Purchasing a company plan with 3 or more employees may be offered and a dscounted price; the bigger the group, the bigger the discount. Globalsurance specializes in providing international health insurance coverage to small groups.
How Long Does an International Medical Insurance Plan Last?
Our plans usually last for a one-year contract, which can be paid annually or monthly. Most plans are guaranteed renewable after the contract ends.
Should I Buy an International Medical Insurance Plan or Travel Insurance Plan?
Travel insurance provides coverage for short period of time, normally less than 6 months. The objective of a travel plan is to relocate you to your home country if you need medical attention. Medical expenses in your home country are only covered for a limited amount and limited time. As such Travel Insurance is not 'renewable' and any long term illness will not be covered.
What is the Maximum Age for an International Medical Insurance Plan?
Majority of plans will last up to the age of 80, but this is dependent on each Insurance Company.
What Does an 'In-patient' Plan Cover? What Does an 'In and out patient' Plan Cover?
An Inpatient plan usually covers in-patient or day care treatment (going in to hospital), post hospital treatment, nursing at home, emergency evacuation, repatriation or burial of mortal remains, emergency dental.
An In and Out patient plan covers the above and includes out-patient care and specialist consultations.
What is a Deductible on an International Medical Insurance Plan?
All International Medical Insurance Plans allows you to choose a deductible. This is the initial amount which must be paid towards the final cost of any claim. Deductibles can be as low as USD40 or as high as USD 5,000.
Can I Go Anywhere in the World for Treatment?
Most plans have two areas of covers, Worldwide including North America and Worldwide excluding North America . If you choose the first you can go to any country in the world for treatment, to any hospital or doctor. If you choose the second then you can not choose to go to North America for treatment ( however, in an emergency, unscheduled treatment would normally be covered. i.e. a car accident ). The premium that includes North America for elective treatment is obviously more.
Can US Citizens Buy International Medical Insurance Plans?
If you live outside of the USA for more than six months of the year then you can buy an International Medical Insurance Plan. ( If you are a US Citizen and will be returning to the USA then some plans will allow you to continue your cover, if you need advice on this please let us know.)
If I am a Resident in the USA Will an International Health Insurance Plan Provide Coverage?
If you plan to reside in the USA or emigrate there, you can be covered by an International Health Insurance Plan. US regulations state that you should be covered by a domestic insurance provider, but this can normally be overcome if you have been refused coverage by a local provider. ( International Medical Insurance providers may ask you to confirm that you have been refused coverage by a domestic providers and hence are eligible for International Insurance.)
Can we Cover Maternity With an International Medical Insurance Plan?
Most plans have several difference levels of cover, the most comprehensive normally comes with maternity coverage. Typically there is a waiting period before you can claim which varies between providers but 12 months is normal. The coverage of New born children and congenital abnormalities is also offered by some plans.
Can I Get Dental Coverage?
Under the basic level of coverage most plans offer Emergency Dental coverage in the event of an accident and it is normally possible to add coverage for Routine Dental Treatment for an additional premium.
Can I Choose My Own Doctor and Hospital?
International Medical Insurance Plans allow you to choose which doctor you see and which hospital you go to. Visit our list of worldwide hospitals. If you are in a new country and do not know where to go then feel free to contact us or the insurer. We can advise you on the best private hospitals near you. Please note that if you are going into hospital for an operation, you should contact the insurer as soon as you know to get pre-qualified so that the insurer can arrange direct payment of your expenses, which means you do not have to pay first and then re-claim.
How Can I Claim for Medical Treatment?
Out-patient costs are normally paid first and then you claim the costs back using a claim forms ( these can be downloaded from our website and you will also receive copies when you take out the insurance). In-patient treatment which is planned or scheduled in advance can normally be settled directly between the hospital and the insurer, but you should inform the insurer as soon as you know you are going in to hospital so that this can be arranged. When you receive your insurance package, you will receive a card with emergency contact details. And in the event of an emergency, you will be assisted with evacuation and finding the right medical treatment. If you are unsure whether the medical treatment is covered, please call the help lines for advice before the treatment to be sure.
How Will My Claim Be Processed?
Insurers normally require completed original claim forms. Upon receipt it normally takes ten working days for claims to be paid. The most common reason for delays in processing claims is incomplete claims forms (unsigned by the doctor).
What Conditions are Not Covered By International Medical Insurance Plans?
It is always important to read the plan details carefully before proceeding, as required we can provide to you a complete set of plan details and policy wording. The following list summaries most of the major exclusions: war or civil war risks, self inflicted injury, drug addiction and abuse, HIV/Aids, Infertility, Normal Pregnancy (unless option taken), Cosmetic Surgery, preventive treatment, chronic conditions, mobility aids, sexually transmitted diseases, untried or experimental treatment, injuries arising from professional sports and some dangerous activities. Most pre-existing conditions are excluded for two years, thereafter they are covered. Please note that if during this exclusion period further treatment is required then the exclusion period may be longer.
Will Pre-existing Conditions Be Covered?
Most insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions for up to 24 months and most Chronic conditions are normally excluded from coverage even after the 24 months period. Some insurers will allow pre-existing conditions to be covered from the inception of the policy but this is on a case by case basis and may be subject to a premium loading. Alternatively the insurer may propose a 'moratorium' whereby the condition will be excluded for a defined period after which on submission of further medical evidence the condition can be covered. When completing the insurer proposal form you will be asked to complete a Medical History Declaration, it is very important that this is filled in accurately such that there is complete clarity about coverage and possible disputes about future claims.
If I Return to Live in My Home Country Will I Still Be Covered?
Most International Medical Insurance Plan will cover you on your return to your home country for a specified period and some will allow you to retain the policy indefinitely.
When Do I Have to Pay for the Plan?
After submission and acceptance of the application most insurers allow you 21 days to pay, payment can be made by Credit Card or Bank Transfer. We normally request that you pay the insurer directly so that you are sure the payment has been made on time. Furthermore most insurers allow you to cancel the plan in the first 30 days without charge if you are not happy with the coverage.
Am I Covered While Playing Sports or Doing My Hobbies?
Most non professional sports are covered by International Medical Insurance Plans. However, some hazardous sports and activities may not be covered. The following is a list of sports and activities which are typically not covered: mountaineering with ropes, hang gliding, parachuting, bungee jumping, racing other then on foot, diving other than recreational. We would advise that you read the plan details carefully If you wish to be covered for one of the following activities then this can be declared to the insurer and on a case by case basis this can be included.
How Will My Premium Increase Over Time?
Your medical insurance premium will increase overtime due to your age and the inflation costs for medical expenses. An extremely important point about International Health Insurance Coverage is that your premium will never be increased because of the claims you make, this means that even if you are ill for an extended period with very high medical expenses then your premium will be the same as everyone of your age with the same coverage.
What is the Difference Between a Chronic Condition vs an Acute Condition?
There are various definitions of the differences and this explanation does not seek to be an authoritative work dealing with the best definition of the difference.
However a working definition is that a chronic condition represents a health problem that persists through time requiring various degrees of ongoing health care. Any treatment can only alleviate the symptoms, as curative treatments have yet to be found, An acute condition, on the other hand, is limited in time as the treatments provided have the potential to fully cure.
So conditions like arteriosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, eczema, renal failure, obstructive lung disease, sarcoidosis, congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, leukaemia or cancers amongst many other health impairments are classified as chronic conditions and the treatment resulting from the maintenance of these conditions is therefore excluded under the terms of many international healthcare plans.
The cost of the premiums will be greatly reduced if you choose a healthcare plan with out the cover of chronic conditions.
However it is not such a good idea to exclude such conditions. If there is no public healthcare system to provide treatment, where will the expatriate, or his/her family, obtain the funding for treatment if such conditions are excluded from their international health plan?
If you have a good employer they may decide to pay for your medical treatment, but if you are retired, you may have to sell up your dream home and return to the UK, because you cannot afford the treatment you need.
The absence of chronic condition coverage also poses difficulties in respect of those conditions, which start life as acute, but which then progress to becoming chronic conditions. The most obvious example is a cancer where the oncologist initially anticipates a cure and applies treatment accordingly. Where this curative treatment proves to be unsuccessful, and the cancer then by definition becomes incurable, the condition description would move from acute to chronic. It is a clear but concerning fact that for a very significant percentage of people with international healthcare, this change in definition from acute to chronic would coincide with the removal of insurance cover.
Therefore, it does not take much imagination to visualise a situation where an insured member and his/her family is informed at more or less the same time that not only is the condition incurable, but also the patient is now on his own as far as the treatment costs are concerned.
Although health insurance is essentially a simple product, you get sick, the bills get paid; in practice the details of the scope of coverage from one insurer to another do warrant considerable analysis.
There is no discretionary buying decision required, you either have cover or you have to pay big bucks for treatment yourself.