Navigating International Health Insurance: A Guide To Relocating Abroad

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Every year, countless individuals and families set off on international adventures for work, study, or the sheer thrill of experiencing a new culture. However, amidst the excitement, one aspect often neglected is securing robust international health insurance coverage. This oversight could potentially lead to stressful and expensive situations. So, let’s begin our journey to understanding international medical insurance – a vital tool for securing our health and peace of mind abroad.

Understanding International Health Insurance

International health insurance is a policy designed to provide health coverage to individuals living or traveling outside their home country for long periods. Unlike standard health insurance, which typically covers you only within your home nation, international medical insurance offers broader coverage, encompassing medical care in various countries.

Example: Imagine you’re a US citizen living in France for a year-long work assignment. A standard US-based health insurance policy might not cover your healthcare needs in France. However, a comprehensive international health insurance policy would cover medical treatments, hospital visits, and even emergency evacuations, regardless of your location.

International Health Insurance

Essential Components of International Health Insurance

International medical insurance varies significantly regarding coverage, cost, and other factors. Here are some of the essential components to look out for:

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage extends to both minor medical issues and significant health emergencies. It should include routine check-ups, hospital stays, surgeries, and emergency evacuation.

Global Network of Healthcare Providers

Ensure the policy has a vast network of hospitals and clinics worldwide, offering quality medical services. This global network would ensure you receive the care you need, regardless of location.

Direct Billing

Direct billing simplifies the claim process. Instead of paying out-of-pocket and claiming reimbursement, the insurer settles the bill directly with the medical service provider.

Customer Support

Opt for an insurer that provides round-the-clock customer support, preferably with multi-language services. This helps you navigate any issues or concerns, regardless of your time zone.

Selecting the Right International Health Insurance

Choosing the right policy depends mainly on your circumstances. Here are some factors to consider:

Understanding Your Needs

Before shopping for a policy, identify your health needs. For example, do you have a pre-existing condition? Are you planning to participate in high-risk activities? Answering these questions can help you find a policy that best fits your needs.

Example: If you’re a diving enthusiast planning to dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, you might want to look for a policy covering high-risk sports-related accidents.

Comparing Policies

Once you’ve identified your needs, compare different policies. Look at the coverage, limitations, exclusions, and cost. An ideal policy would provide the best balance between comprehensive coverage and cost-effectiveness.

Reading the Fine Print

Insurance policies are complex documents filled with jargon. Take time to understand the terms, conditions, and exclusions. If you’re uncertain about any aspect, seek clarification from the insurer or a trusted advisor.

The Best International Health Insurance Providers


International Medical Group (IMG) is another popular choice for international medical insurance, providing customizable plans and access to quality healthcare worldwide.


GeoBlue (Blue Cross Blue Shield) specializes in international medical insurance for U.S. citizens traveling abroad, providing access to a worldwide network of healthcare providers and comprehensive coverage options.

The Best International Health Insurance Plans
The Best International Medical Plans

Next Steps

International health insurance is essential for anyone planning to live or travel abroad. It assures access to quality healthcare, irrespective of your geographical location. Understanding your needs, comparing different policies, and scrutinizing the fine print is crucial in selecting the proper coverage. Embarking on an international journey can be an exhilarating experience. Let’s ensure it remains that way by making informed decisions about our health coverage. Safe travels!

International Health Insurance Plans

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of international health insurance?

International health plans can cost anywhere from $500 for limited benefits to up to $8,000 for comprehensive coverage, including in the USA. On average, the cost is $5,000 per year.

What country has the best health insurance?

Switzerland has the best healthcare system globally, and its residents must obtain private insurance through government-approved insurance providers.

Is health care cheaper in other countries?

The allocation of resources for healthcare varies by country, and the United States spends more per person than other wealthy countries. This is influenced by political, economic, and social factors unique to each country.

Can you buy just medical travel insurance?

Such insurance is often called “travel health insurance” by travelers and “travel medical insurance” by providers.

Does Medicare cover medical care outside the U.S.?

No, Medicare generally does not cover medical care or supplies obtained outside the U.S. “Outside the U.S.” refers to any location beyond the 50 states of the US, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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