You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.

Ella Maillart

Dear Traveler,

As an expat, you may have very different options for healthcare than you can find in the US. In fact, you may actually have to identify your health plan in your host country as part of your visa application. I know when I first signed up for insurance, I made some really poor choices about the kind of care I needed and what was covered.

My first insurance policy was highly advertised, priced at a premium, and did not include the day-to-day coverage I needed or wanted. I could only use this insurance for my visa process if I paid for the premium package, but then it only covered major medical. Honestly, I was completely naive about shopping for insurance.

After a few months in my new home, a friend helped me figure out what would work more effectively. I dropped the US-based insurance and took out a policy that was sourced in my new home, and provided 100% coverage with no deductibles. In fact, you’ll find that to be the norm: when you have insurance from other countries, you often with have to pay $0 for doctor visits. (This is just my experience, though, so check it out for yourself!)

As an expat, you might encounter some ideas that are structured differently than what you might be used to seeing. Here’s what I have found to be more common in countries outside the US:

  • Public healthcare. Sometimes this is included in your visa, and sometimes you can pay a nominal amount to use the public healthcare system. Often funded by taxation, and may include free or low-cost doctor appointments, medications, and treatments. You may also have access to public hospitals and clinics for both situational and preventative care. With the public healthcare system, you will probably also have protection agains catastrophic medical expenses.
  • Private healthcare providers. These are more similar to US-related medical plans, where you have access to a network of facilities and doctors. Private healthcare plans vary widely in terms of coverage, premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. When shopping for a policy, think about the kind of doctors and treatments you will need and how things like hospitalization are handled. Some policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions, and you should also think about the costs of medications.

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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