International health insurance

International health insurance

WHAT is international health insurance?


Whether it’s called international health and medical insurance or expat medical insurance, it all refers to the same thing. They serve the same purpose which is to provide the insured person with access to more choices and a high level of medical advice, treatment, and facilities wherever and whenever required. The main objective of international medical insurance is to pay for the cost of active treatment, which is the treatment for acute conditions (a short-term illness, disease or injury) and for other costs such as hospital accommodation, nursing, emergency dental treatment, etc. Depending on the type of insurance, it can include the cover for other treatments such as out-patient, dental, optical or maternity.


when to buy international
health insurance?

There are many situations that suggest taking out insurance while abroad. However, it is essential to differentiate between travel insurance and international health insurance that will accompany you throughout your expatriate life.
Thus, the following reasons for staying abroad are a good reason to cover your health with an international health insurance:

  • Expatriation
  • Professional mission
  • Internship
  • Studies

What are the international health insurance solutions?

In order to be optimally covered, we recommend in many cases an international health insurance. There are two types of international health insurance:

1. Private insurance or insurance at the 1st € or $.
2. CFE (Caisse des Français de l’Étranger) complementary insurance.

Please note that some countries require a minimum level of coverage or a contract with an approved company before granting a residence permit. You will find more information in this article which explains the difference between a 1st euro insurance and a complementary CFE insurance, which is only available for EEA members.

Why purchase private health insurance for your expatriation?

Expatriates don't always think about health coverage when they think about going abroad. However, it is essential to cover the financial and administrative risks that could be caused by an accident or a serious illness.
Being covered by an international insurance policy allows you not to be alone in the sometimes stressful and difficult to manage procedures and especially to cover yourself financially in case of unforeseen events. An accident can happen quickly.

When you are an expatriate, it is often difficult to get the best prices. Indeed, in most cases you will be treated in private hospitals, which are a much more comfortable choice.
Depending on where the health problem occurs, the conditions of care in local hospitals can be problematic and lack comfort:

  • Lack of staff
  • Lack of staff who speak at least English
  • Waiting times are often very long
  • Lack of equipment or infrastructure
  • Sanitary problems

This is why it is very often necessary to turn to the private sector or even to international clinics where the level of care is often much higher but where the prices are much higher.
Let's take the example of a bill for hospitalization in China, with an average of 10 000 €, it is wise to be covered to offset this kind of exorbitant cost.

When it comes to insurance, not all countries have the same legislation. Depending on the country of expatriation, as in the Emirates for example, local health insurance can be :

  • Mandatory
  • Optional
  • Public, such as social security


In addition to a good price/quality ratio and direct billing, local insurances have some weaknesses:

  • The procedures must in some cases be carried out in the language of your country of expatriation
  • You must be in compliance with the medical and administrative specificities of the country's health system
  • Repatriation or care received in other countries is not always covered, so be careful with the coverage area of your insurance
  • In some countries, the local health plan is not suitable for expatriates and therefore does not cover sufficient expenses.

In other words, even if affiliation to the local plan is mandatory, it is recommended to examine the guarantees and compare them with those of international insurance.

How to choose international
health insurance?

With over hundreds of insurers and thousands of products available, how do you ensure that you have researched thoroughly and made the right decision for you and your loved ones? A decision that will give you peace of mind and relieve you of any financial burden in case of unforeseen illness or accident.

First, if you are employed, find out if your employer has included medical insurance as part of your staff welfare benefits. If not, and if you decide to cover yourself, you have to understand your needs and what is available in the market.

It is important to keep in mind that you should go for value versus cost. Choose the insurance that best suits your needs at the most affordable price. Do not choose insurance with low coverage because it has the cheapest premium

international health insurance

What are the key points of an international private health insurance choose international?

It’s not easy to navigate through all the terms and features of each insurance and insurer. We advise you to turn to insurance professionals like Expatmedicare, who can help you understand each plan, as well as save you time and sometimes money.
To make it easier for you, here are the key points to look at when purchasing international health insurance: 

  • What types of care are covered
  • What are the annual and per-procedure coverage limits
  • Are there deductibles or not? per year or per procedure?
  • Are there any exclusions from coverage
  • Limits adapted to your country of expatriation
  • Assistance service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • A contract that also protects your family members.

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