Medical Insurance, What Do We Need And How Much Should We be Paying?

hurting walletMedical Insurance is a sore subject with many expats these days.  Gone are the days when all expat contracts included top level medical insurance with all of the bells and whistles.  Many employers have cut back on costs and with it the level of coverage that is offered to their expatriate employees; sometimes offering no coverage at all, coverage with a local provider or only coverage for the employee and not extending cover to the family or dependants.  The cost of coverage also seems to be increasing every year with many insurers increasing the cost of insurance cover by more that the rate of inflation.

So what should you do?

Couple lying in bed and having a cold togetherThe only real option is to get some form of medical insurance in place however the internet is filled with different options; many of which cost a small fortune and quite often the ones that don’t cost the earth have pitfalls that mean that you may not be purchasing the coverage that you think you are.  It really is worth speaking to a professional to ensure that you are getting coverage that is tailored to you and that you are getting value for money.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Obviously if your employer isn’t picking up the bill you are likely to be more cost sensitive and willing to give up some of the unnecessary perks that are provided in some of the top level plans as executive benefits rather than a necessity in order to lower the premium.
  • Do you really need outpatient coverage, annual medical check ups, medical evacuation, vision and dental coverage?  These are questions that you really need to ask yourself as quite often the cost of coverage is equal to or more than the cost of treatment and can drastically increase the premiums that you pay; this is especially the case in most South East Asian countries where the cost of medical, dental and optical services can be surprisingly low and affordable.
  • Deductible and cost sharing options; don’t loose sight of the fact that Medical Insurance is INSURANCE.  It is there to cover for costs that you cannot easily afford to pay yourself.  If you are earning a decent salary and have reasonable savings you can afford to pay for minor treatment and visits to the GP.  Look to reduce your premium by adding in a deductible or cost share option so that you have a maximum out of pocket level that you can easily afford.  Within a year or two you will save a considerable amount on the premium that will probably cover this anyway.
  • Look for a policy with zoning.  Some insurers  simply offer global coverage or global cover excluding the USA.  These plans will have a much higher premium as you are paying for the potential cost of medical coverage in higher cost locations.  If you are willing to go for treatment in your country of residence and you don’t do a great deal of global travel do you really need to pay a premium for elective treatment when you are unlikely to travel for treatment anyway and a zoned plan will usually cover for emergency treatment globally anyway?
  • Consider using a local insurer.  This option should only really be looked at if you are on a budget but many of the local insurers in your country of residence may be able to offer you a good level of coverage providing that you are on a long term visa.  You should however be aware of some of the many pitfalls of these plans:
    • Limited coverage whilst travelling away from that country often with emergency cover only provided according to the cost of treatment in the country of origin.
    • Limited levels of coverage often with low life time or annual allowances that will not cover for the costs of long term care or major medical treatment.
    • Lack of transportability.  Should you move to another country you can’t take the plan with you and may then not be able to obtain coverage for any future medical conditions.
    • No ability to opt for elective treatment elsewhere.

family on beach.jpgIntelligent Investments Limited offer our clients across Asia a wide range of cover options to suit every budget from a range of international insurers.  Through our sister company we also offer a range of local medical insurance solutions for the more budget conscious or for companies and groups.  If you would like to discuss your requirements in detail and look at the different options that are available please contact us.

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