Many retirees are reasonably concerned about their health insurance when traveling for longer periods or even residing abroad. Medicare works well in the U.S. and most Medicare Insurance plans have emergency services that will cover the beneficiary for world-wide emergencies. But for the routine or planned services abroad such as cataracts, hearing, physical therapy or the like, you will need a more comprehensive solution. That’s why we are going to look at the 3 best international health insurance providers for longer term solutions.
When do you need health insurance abroad?
Many expats and retirees are surprised to learn that their domestic health insurance plans may not follow them while living or working internationally. International health insurance options include plans that have been designed specifically to serve the needs of expatriates and their families, and can provide invaluable peace of mind for globally mobile citizens. Even if you are living in a country with a national health system, like many Latin American, Asian, or European countries, the options of care might be more advantageous with private payer solutions.
While most medical care is expert and conscientious, the bureaucracy of health systems may not be. If you find yourself stuck with a month long wait to discuss your aches and pains, you will be glad that you opted for additional coverage to skip the line. This is true even in the most efficient health systems, because in the event you want a second opinion, the national health systems might not serve you well.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing you are well protected should trouble occur will allow you to more fully enjoy those experiences that lured you to your chosen destination. Don’t let stress cast a shadow over your dream lifestyle by choosing one of the options below.
What to look for in a company?
- Financially stable and sound. The options below are all financially stable companies, in many cases backed by multi-billion dollar insurance conglomerates. This allows the companies to weather any storm financially so that they can deliver on their commitments to you.
- Customer support. The following options all have excellent reputations for customer service, however it should be noted that our first option, IMG is the only one with a 24/7 multilingual support line that is staffed to handle medical emergencies.
- Built for long-term international health insurance. The companies below are all specialized in the international health insurance industry with regional and country specific knowledge. The first option, IMG is the only company that is solely focused on the international expat. From missionaries to the shipping industry, IMG has been at the forefront of expat health insurance.
1. International Medical Group (IMG)
We like IMG not only for its affordablity (the most competitive out of these three), nor the ability to customize your coverage with deductible choices, travel regions, and unlimited coverage amounts. But most importantly, the highly trained staff at IMG headquarters are experts in the various global health systems, and the staff include country, region, and provider experts. They are multilingual and can work with you in communicating to any provider you may be seeing. There is nothing scarier than being in a health situation abroad without a way to clearly communicate with the medical staff. With a 24 hour onsite staff at their headquarters, it becomes clear that IMG’s sole focus on international travel and medical insurance has elevated it to the top in terms of service.
You will also receive healthcare through UnitedHealthcare’s PPO network, which is the largest in the United States, as well as a cash incentive and waive 50% of your deductible for choosing to receive treatment from some of the best medical facilities outside the U.S.
For more information and a free quote from IMG you can go here:
Texas Residents Only: Quote/Purchase Global Medical Insurance®
California Residents: Quote/Purchase Global Medical Insurance®
All Other States: Quote/Purchase Global Medical Insurance®
2. Cigna Global
While not the most affordable, Cigna is a very large and capable global insurance company with offices and operations around the world. It has over 86 million customers in over 200 countries and near-unlimited resources for servicing their expat health clients. Cigna has a very large and capable medical network that expat healthcare clients can access once they are covered. Their service is excellent, and you can obtain a quote for their Global Health Options Plan.
Their policy comes in three main levels – Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Maternity is available after a 12 month waiting period for the Platinum and Gold levels. Evacuation, wellness care, and dental/vision insurance options are also available at an extra cost. The global health plan will cover you globally excluding the USA, but you can add the USA coverage option for an extra charge. You can’t spend more than 6 months in your country of citizenship.
The Cigna plan is ideal for expats who want health insurance from a very well known, capable and first-class insurance company. The policy is not the cheapest plan but is quite competitive for an expat who wants excellent coverage for his/her family.
3. Allianz Care
Allianz is a very large and well known European based health insurance service provider, that has been in business since 1890. They are a very capable insurer with an excellent global medical network that is ideal for expats who want a high-quality insurer. Allianz offers three levels of care – Essential, Classic and Premier.
A nice thing with Allianz is that you can just be covered for hospital-related care or additional options such as out-patient care, dental & repatriation. You can obtain a quote from Allianz here.
At SeniorSouth we like IMG’s plan the best, however if you have trouble qualifying or just want to explore your options, the second two are our other finalists. Given IMG’s customer service, U.S. health network, and competitive rates, IMG stands out among it’s competitors.
Do you have any experience with long term international health insurance providers? Let us know in the comments below!