Nowadays, more and more people are choosing to become an expat in a foreign country. Whilst many do extensive research about their future adopted home’s culture, customs, education and lifestyle, a worryingly high number neglect to consider their health needs and are unaware that the healthcare systems in other countries often very different than what they are used to at home.
Whilst standard travel insurance covers holidays, it does not encompass extended stays in foreign lands. Therefore, expats should ensure that they and their families have appropriate medical insurance in place before they make the move abroad.
Despite the risks, research from Medicare International suggests that around half of all new expats fail to secure international medical insurance – a decision that they and their families could live to regret.
The story of British couple Katie Amos and Lee Johnston that hit the news earlier this year highlights the difficult situation that families can sometimes find themselves in when faced with a medical emergency in a foreign country.
Lee and Katie were enjoying a short trip to New York when baby Dax decided to make a premature appearance. Born 11 weeks early and weighing just 3 pounds, Dax obviously required lots of special care and the couple had no choice other than to follow the advice of the medical professionals. Stranded in a foreign country and facing a possible medical bill of $200,000, Lee and Katie were left wondering whether their insurance would cover any of the costs.
While their story relates to an unexpected event occurring during a holiday, it ultimately highlights the way in which medical costs can quickly soar unexpectedly. Therefore, the importance of private medical insurance, especially when emigrating, should never be underestimated.
Another recent piece that appeared on The Guardian website further emphasises just how difficult Brits sometimes find the healthcare system in the United States. A change in healthcare providers made by his employer meant that Scottish-born David Gray was left literally out in the cold when suffering from a chest infection. In fact, some British expats even take the decision to return to the UK for medical treatment on the NHS rather than face the confusion that can arise in the U.S. when it comes to healthcare. A fact that further underlines the crucial nature of private international medical insurance.
While President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction for Americans, it has left many British expats bewildered and confused about the plethora of options available. Moreover, the associated costs are something that Brits often find hard to comprehend.
With more and more individuals and families leaving the UK to live and work overseas, it is essential to consider the health care provision of your chosen destination country and ensure you take the right advise and have the right healthcare insurance in place, before you go.
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