Health Insurance for Expats: Cheap Health Insurance For Living Abroad

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

If you are an expat, it is important to have health insurance. Health care in most countries is expensive, and if you need to go to the hospital or see a doctor, you will likely end up paying a lot of money out of pocket. In this definitive guide, we will discuss the different types of health insurance available for expats, and help you choose the right policy for your needs.

What’s An Expat?

A person who resides in a country other than their original nation is known as an expatriate. The term generally refers to professionals, skilled workers, and artists who go abroad on their own or are sent there by their employers. ‘Expatriate,’ on the other hand, is used to describe both retirees and others who have chosen to live outside of their native country.

What Is Expat Insurance?

Expat insurance or Expatriate insurance is a type of international health insurance for individuals and families living or working abroad for extended periods (12+ months). The comprehensive global health insurance coverage provides medical care, dental care, and vision benefits for expats(expatriates) and global citizens with dual residencies.

Domestic health insurance plans will not cover your medical, dental, or vision expenses while traveling and living abroad.

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Who Is Expat Health Insurance Perfect For?

  • Health care coverage for expatriate individuals living abroad, working or moving abroad for at least 12+ months.
  • Contract employees living and working abroad in a new country.
  • Seniors (Ages 65+) with dual residencies six months or longer outside the U.S wanting to provide for their health and wellbeing.
  • Visitors & Immigrants traveling outside their home countries.
  • Long-term business travel outside their home country.
  • Travel insurance for ex-pats living in a foreign country.
  • U.S. citizens living or working abroad.
  • International students studying or interning abroad for more than a year at a time.

How Much Does Health Insurance For Expats Cost?

Expatriate’s medical insurance ranges in cost. Our goal is to provide the cheapest travel insurance possible. With that said, coverage can start from $39.42 per month per person (paid annually) on the low end. The cost depends on:

  • Trip Length
  • Travelers Age
  • Trip Cost
  • Individual Deductible Amount
  • Medical Care Coverage Amount 

What Is The Best Health Insurance For Ex-Pats?

The best medical insurance for Expats is global health insurance plans that provide coverage anywhere in the world. These plans offer expatriates and their families:

  • Long-term (1+ year) comprehensive worldwide medical insurance for individuals and families
  • Complete health insurance plan that you can use anywhere in the world.
  • Freedom to Choose Your Health Care Provider
  • Travel Intelligence Services

Global Health Insurance

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What Do Expatriate Health Insurance Plans Provide?

Expatriate health care plans typically consist of:

  • Flexible expat travel insurance plans
  • Choice of Worldwide Medical Coverage Area
  • Freedom to Choose Your Healthcare Provider or Medical Facility
  • Travel Intelligence Services
  • Assistance Services
  • Deductible options from $100 to $25,000
  • Maximum limit options from $1,000,000 to $8,000,000

Medical Treatments

Expat medical insurance provides coverage for the following health issues and medical emergencies:

  • Medical treatment inside and outside the United States
  • Outpatient 
  • Mental health and Nervous Care
  • Hospital Emergency Room Injury
  • Hospital Emergency Room Illness
  • Hospitalization/Room & Board
  • Intensive Care Unit
  • CAT Scans
  • MRI, Echocardiography
  • Endoscopy
  • Gastroscopy
  • Cystoscopy
  • Surgery
  • Assistant Surgeon
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Maternity Insurance
  • Podiatry Care
  • Physical Therapy
  • Transplants
  • Preventive Prescription Drug Coverage
  • Healthy Travel Preventative Coverage
  • Vision Coverage
  • Emergency Local Ambulance
  • Medical Evacuation
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation
  • Emergency Reunion
  • Interfacility Ambulance Transfer
  • Political Evacuation and Repatriation
  • International Transport Insurance
  • Return of Mortal Remains
  • Complementary Medicine
  • Traumatic Dental Injury
  • Treatment Due to Unexpected Pain to Sound, Natural Teeth
  • Non-emergency treatment at a Dental Provider due to an Accident
  • Non-Emergency Dental 
  • Hospital Indemnity
  • Supplemental Accident
  • Adult Preventative Care
  • Child Preventative Care
  • Pre-Existing Medical Condition Limitations
  • Optional Global Medical Coverage
  • Global Term Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
  • Terrorism
  • Sports
  • Dental Benefits
  • Vision Benefits

Buy Expat Health Insurance

Global Health Insurance

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Expat health insurance plan cost?

You can purchase international Expathealth insurance from an insurance broker starting at around $40 a month per person if you buy annually. The global health plan is cheaper to purchase on an annual basis than monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual.

Do Expats need health insurance?

If expatriates want to be covered medically and have peace of mind, they need to get international health insurance; otherwise, any medical expenses are out of pocket.

Will my health insurance work in another country?

In most cases, no. Private health insurance plans typically cover medical conditions within your home country only.

What is the definition of a “Qualified Expatriate”?

To qualify as an “expatriate health plan,” substantially all primary enrollees must be “qualified expatriates.” A “qualified expatriate” is a primary insured meeting all of the following:

Qualified Expatriates in the U.S.:

  • The individual’s skills, qualification, job duties, or expertise is of a type that has caused the employer to assign him to the U.S. for a specific temporary purpose or assignment tied to employment; and
  • In connection with such transfer or assignment, the plan sponsor reasonably determines that the individual will require access to health insurance in multiple countries and is offered other multi-national benefits periodically (e.g., tax equalization benefits, cross-border moving expenses, compensation to enable the expatriate to return to his home country);

Qualified Expatriates Outside of the U.S.:

  • The individual is working outside the U.S. for a period of at least 180 days in a consecutive 12-month period that overlaps with the plan year. For purposes of the definition, “U.S.” includes the 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • There are also special provisions for members 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations who are traveling or relocating internationally for the organization, including students and religious missionaries.

Expatriate Health Plans are Minimum Essential Coverage

Expat health insurance plans qualify as minimum essential coverage, which means that this international medical insurance plan will satisfy the employer mandate and the enrollee’s individual mandate.

Employers are Still Subject to §6055/§6056 Reporting and Cadillac Tax on Certain Expatriates.

The exemption from ACA requirements does not apply to the new health information reporting requirements for the beginning of 2016.
However, the information statements (primarily the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C for employers) may be provided electronically to individuals covered under an expatriate health plan even if the individual has not consented to electronic distribution (as long as the individual has not explicitly refused electronic distribution).

Expatriate health plans will be exempt from the §4980I excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage (generally referred to as the “Cadillac tax”) scheduled to take effect in 2018, except for expatriates assigned work in the U.S.

Effective Date

These provisions related to expatriate health plans apply to expatriate health plans issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2015

What is the definition of an “Expatriate Health Plan”?

“Expatriate health plans” are defined as a group health plan or health insurance coverage offered in connection with a group health plan meeting all of the following:

Substantially all of the primary enrollees are “qualified expatriates” (see below). Primary enrollees do not include individuals who are not U.S. nationals residing in the country of their citizenship;

Substantially all of the benefits provided by the plan are not excepted benefits (e.g., not limited-scope dental/vision, health FSA, fixed indemnity);

The ex-pat insurance plan provides coverage for inpatient hospital services, outpatient facility services, physician services, and emergency services;

The plan sponsor reasonably believes that the expatriate health insurance plan’s benefits provide minimum value (i.e., the percentage of the total allowed costs of benefits provided under the plan is no less than 60 percent);

If the plan provides dependent children coverage, such coverage is available until the adult child turns age 26;

The expatriate insurance plan is administered by an administrator that has licenses to sell insurance in more than two countries, maintains several related international standards specified in the law, and offers reimbursement for items or services in the local currency in eight or more countries; and

The international health insurance plan satisfies several coverage requirements outlined in the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), Internal Revenue Code, and ERISA, other than those added by the ACA (e.g., NMHPA, MHPAEA, WHCRA, Michelle’s law).

This definition includes both fully insured and self-insured plans. Prior transitional relief had applied only to insured expatriate plans.

What is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” commonly known as PPACA, was first introduced as a measure to deal with rising healthcare costs and numbers of uninsured.

The heart of PPACA consists of three provisions: guaranteed issue (insurers must offer coverage regardless of the applicant’s health status or pre-existing conditions), community rating (insurers must offer policies within a given territory at the same price regardless of health status, age, gender, or other factors), and an individual mandate. The individual mandate assures that everyone has a minimum amount of coverage: those above a certain annual income are required to purchase coverage or incur a tax penalty; those who cannot afford it will have their coverage paid for by the government.

As PPACA is implemented and challenged throughout the country, understanding the issues and implications for the international insurance industry and your business becomes more important.

Am I getting the best deal on these Expat Health Insurance Plans?

The government regulates expat insurance prices – you won’t find a better price on IMG international health insurance policies anywhere else.  

Does global health insurance cover COVID?

Under the terms and conditions of global health insurance, travelers who purchase coverage may be eligible for benefits directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.

Global Health Insurance

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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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