Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Miriam Beard

Myth: Public healthcare abroad is a magical land of free bandaids and rainbows for everyone, including expats.

Reality: Public healthcare is sometimes available for expats, and sometimes you can even pay to enter the system. However, every country decides what services are available and who can enter the system.

Many expats find that a mix of public and for-pay private insurance meets their healthcare needs.

Hi, Traveler!

I’m often asked about healthcare by potential expats. These types of conversations are often challenging because every expat has potentially very different needs. I was recently speaking with a friend who had a number of existing conditions that prevented him from receiving private insurance in his host country. Another friend was looking for an insurance company that would cover him for his extended trips to other countries.

The reality of public healthcare systems is much more interesting, because for some people, it works incredibly well. For others, it has serious shortcomings. In some countries, you receive public healthcare upon arrival, while other countries require you to purchase private healthcare to obtain a visa.

However, if you are able to obtain private healthcare, then here are some things to consider in your own situation:

  • Are you eligible? Like private insurance, you may be denied public healthcare in some countries for various reasons. In others, you may be able to pay a monthly fee to access public healthcare.
  • Will your coverage be limited? Not every service is covered in the public healthcare system. You may still need to purchase private insurance to get the services you need. I’ve seen the comparison that public healthcare is like a buffet of typical services, while private insurance is for add-on services or care.
  • Are you ready to discuss your health in a different language? In public healthcare, you will find less access to English than in private healthcare. This can be quite overwhelming in situations where you are not comfortable or don’t know the terminology. In these cases, I have written out an overview of my medical needs and then had Google Translate help me communicate with the doctor.

Clever expats know that healthcare is a key research topic before moving abroad! Learn about the public healthcare system, eligibility, coverage details, and costs before you move. I would also look at the availability of supplemental or private insurance.

Finally, I suggest you network with other expats. They may have more information or serve as cautionary tales about your own healthcare plans. Remember, others’ needs and experiences will be different from yours.

True, there may be free bandaids and rainbows available in your new country, but expats often have to work a little harder to get them!

You’ll definitely find that the US method of healthcare is different from almost every other country’s approach. While you will have to figure out your own plan for healthcare abroad, check out this book from the Clever Expat Bookshelf. Once you read it, you’ll be MUCH more prepared to make the healthcare decisions necessary for a successful expat experience!

Medical Emergency Preparation Manual: Healthcare Planning for the Adventure Lifestyle: Expat, Nomad, Retiree, Homebody by Miriam Drake

Description (from publisher): What’s Your Adventure Lifestyle? Are you staying at home, or traveling the world or retiring overseas, raising your family or living abroad as a solo nomad? Don’t forget to plan for medical emergencies and possibly end of life. No one wants to talk about these, yet you would be surprised how stressful it is to walk into healthcare issues blindly, especially while abroad.
Formats: SoftcoverKindle

Keep exploring!

The Clever Expat

We can help with your expat healthcare planning!

As you embark on your expat journey, prioritizing your health and well-being is paramount. Adapting to a new healthcare system, navigating cultural differences in healthcare practices, and maintaining your mental health in an unfamiliar environment can be challenging. This LIVE Expat Healthcare course equips you with the knowledge and resources to confidently manage your health and well-being as an expat.

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