Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

Fitzhugh Mullan

Dear Traveler,

As an expat from the United States, I’m still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the healthcare system in my new country. The services, the costs, and the ability to manage your own healthcare can be difficult to configure.

While I lived in the US, I have only been able to choose (and afford) healthcare options provided by my employers. I was at the mercy of the insurance companies and the costs that had been determined by my employers. I also had to plan to pay for healthcare, with insurance, as a copay any time I saw the doctor or paid for medication.

As an expat, I have different options for healthcare. These options vary by country and available healthcare resources. So, if you’re like me, where do you start looking at healthcare options.

Happily, you can start with what you already know:

  1. Your health history: If you have any pre-existing conditions, ensure your expat healthcare plan covers these conditions. You may also need to declare certain conditions before you are accepted by an insurance plan. Make sure your plan covers mental health as well, as you may need this as you experience the stressors of expat life! What medications and services (like dental or vision care) will you need?
  2. Your activity level: If you engage in outdoor activities or sports, consider a plan that includes coverage for injuries. If you travel frequently for activities, you may also want to look for a plan that can also be used outside of your host country.
  3. Your budget: Evaluate the premiums and out-of-pocket costs of different plans to find the best fit for your budget. Some visas require plans with 100% deductible expenses, while others enroll expats automatically into the public health care as part of the visa. As a third option, you may be able to “pay into” the public healthcare system to use those resources as well.
  4. Your lifestyle: If you travel frequently, ensure your plan includes coverage for international medical emergencies. Just like with #2 above, your travel expectations should be factored into the healthcare you select.
  5. Your visa or residency status: Check with your consulate or embassy to determine any specific healthcare requirements for your visa or residency status. Make sure you understand what the requirements mean, because “full coverage” in the US means something very different from “full coverage” in other countries!
  6. Research and compare: Compare plans from different providers to find the one that best meets your needs and budget. The internet is your friend on this one. Finding effective healthcare may be time-consuming, but will save you so much stress when you actually need the healthcare.

If you still need help, there are usually “insurance brokers” in most major cities that can help you make your decisions and provide you with options. I would also suggest seeking those services out before you start the visa application process.

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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