Navigating the healthcare system in the U.S. can be challenging, but dealing with medical care in other countries is even more complicated. International health insurance can help those living abroad or spending an extended period of time in another country cover medical care.
In many cases, your health insurance from your home country will not cover treatments abroad. However, those not officially residents of a country are often not eligible to purchase a healthcare plan there. International health insurance is the best way for people in this situation to obtain the coverage they need.
Here is a look at how international health insurance works for expats.
Types of Coverage
International health insurance is typically offered with several levels of coverage, from standard care that covers basics such as emergency care to more comprehensive plans that cover inpatient and outpatient expenses as well as medical transportation and emergency evacuation costs.
Optional benefits such as vision and dental are often offered as well. Some types of international health insurance are geared more toward travelers and cover medical expenses while traveling overseas.
Using International Health Insurance
When an individual becomes ill or injured abroad, they should check with their insurance company to find out which doctors or hospitals in their area are covered. Most insurance companies have an emergency hotline or website listing this information. The insurance company will help clients find providers who meet their standards of care and speak their language.
Of course, those who are experiencing emergencies should seek care immediately. Then, they should contact their insurance company when they are stable to let them know about the incident and find out what to do next.
Getting Routine Care
Many international health insurance plans offer coverage for wellness care and routine checkups to help prevent illnesses. This may include regular physicals as well as vaccinations. Some plans also include blood work and screening tests to help identify illnesses before they become serious.
However, it is important to ensure that your plan includes preventive care services if this is important to you as not all international health insurance plans offer this feature.
Communicating With the Insurance Company
When you need to use your international health insurance coverage, it is useful to bring your insurance card, documents, and identification, as healthcare providers will want to confirm that you have active coverage before extending treatment. It is best to carry your insurance card with you at all times, along with the phone number of any emergency assistance hotlines operated by your insurance company.
You should call the insurance company to notify them of any potential claims after receiving care, particularly in the case of emergency care. Make a note of the contact information for those working in the hospital or doctor’s office in case someone from your insurance company needs to reach out to them.
Filing Claims With International Insurance Companies
If you received medical care and paid for it out of pocket, you may be able to file a claim with your insurer to obtain reimbursement if the care was covered. Your insurance company will have a specific procedure to be followed to receive reimbursement.
It is essential to inform your insurer as soon as possible and file the claim quickly as some insurance companies limit the amount of time following the incident during which you can file a claim.
Many international health insurance companies have implemented online processes for uploading claim requests and providing supporting documents so adjusters can assess the claim faster.
You can also download forms and send them to the company through the mail, although this can be slower and more time-consuming. After you have filed your claim, stay in contact with your insurer in case they need additional information to process your claim.
One of the most common problems that expats may encounter when filing a claim is a mismatch between their official name and the name on their medical bill. Language and cultural differences, such as different conventions for last names used in different countries, can lead to confusion about your first and last name, which can delay the processing of your claim.
If possible, verify that your medical bills have your name printed on them accurately, along with your insurance policy number, before you leave the hospital or doctor’s office to facilitate claims processing.
Reach Out to the International Health Insurance Brokers at Business Benefits Group (BBG)
Whether you are a government contractor working abroad or a digital nomad spending time in a different country, the international health insurance brokers at Business Benefits Group (BBG) can help you obtain the health coverage you need. Contact us today for more information.