If you are a U.S. citizen residing in a foreign country, your selection of an international health insurance policy may be one of the most important decisions you make. Choosing the right insurance company can determine the level of benefits you receive in the event of a medical emergency and the quality of treatment you are able to receive. There are several companies offering this type of insurance, both within the United States and abroad. Finding the right company with whom to trust your health care may be a challenging task. In this section, we have listed some important things you might consider in making your choice.
Most international health insurance policies are purchased from a plan administrator. The plan administrator will review your application, collect your premium, handle your questions, manage your claims and provide you with other customer service assistance regarding your health care needs. A plan administrator that is easily accessible and available 24 hours a day is a big plus. This is especially true when the plan administrator operates in a country other than the one in which you are residing. Make sure that your selected company has a toll free number that accepts foreign calls or that they accept collect calls worldwide.
Although most of your communications will be via this plan administrator, the actual claims reimbursement may be made through an affiliated insurer. In the event of a major medical claim, you will want to choose an insurer that has financial stability and security. Independent research companies, such as A.M. Best, can provide financial information about insurance companies worldwide. It may also be important to choose an international health insurance plan with an insurer that has name recognition in the country where you will be residing. In addition, some insurance plans may work with an international network of physicians on a referral basis. Find out if your prospective policy has availability to the physician and hospital referrals in your foreign country. Physicians on the referral program may offer you pre-determined negotiated rates for medical services which can lower your share of cost.
When applying for the best international plan for your needs, you will be given options of deductible choices. This deductible must be met before you will be eligible for reimbursement for most covered medical expenses. The higher your selected deductible, the lower will be the premium charges associated with your policy. This deductible will apply per period policy, which is typically 12 months from the initial effective date of coverage. In addition to the policy period deductible, there may be coinsurance payments required for certain medical expenses, such as treatment within the U.S. or maternity-related expense, which could also be excluded in the international health insurance plan’s exclusions, so familiarize yourself with that portion of the policy.