Are you a digital nomad and like to travel to different countries? Need international health insurance coverage? Discover the 7 most cost-effective health insurance options that suit you perfectly!
Looking for international health insurance that suits your needs as a digital nomad who loves to travel across countries? We understand the importance of the security and peace of mind that health insurance offers, especially when entering a foreign country, whether for travel or residency. Unfortunately, many companies take advantage of this need and charge high prices.
To make your search easier, we’ve prepared a list of the top 7 best cost-effective international health insurance options for digital nomads like you, those privileged online workers who can work from anywhere in the world. If this is your profile, check out our recommendations!
Costa Rica is an ideal place for digital nomads because it offers a mild climate, stunning landscapes, a friendly international community, good internet connectivity, low cost of living and a hospitable culture. Additionally, Costa Rica has a healthy lifestyle and balanced work/life mindset, making it a popular choice for digital nomads.
The 5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Costa Rica
- Manuel Antonio: is known for its beautiful scenery, white sandy beaches and wildlife.
- San Jose: is the capital of Costa Rica and offers a wide range of opportunities for digital nomads, as well as good internet connectivity.
- Tamarindo: is a small coastal town known for its lively nightlife and stunning beaches.
- Santa Teresa: is a bohemian beach known for its surfing community and laid-back lifestyle.
- Nosara: is a small town with a strong community of digital nomads, as well as beautiful beaches and rich wildlife.
That said, the options of insurance I’ve separated below will help you find the best health insurance policy that fits your needs and your pocket!
But first…what is a digital nomad?
Digital nomadism has become an increasingly popular trend since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people seeking a freer life connected to nature. These individuals only use a laptop for work and travel the world, enjoying the best of both worlds – work and play.
Several countries, such as Costa Rica, Bermuda, Barbados, Portugal, Georgia and Estonia, are encouraging the arrival of digital nomads by offering visas to remote workers, which contributes to local tourism and boosts the economy.
However, before embarking on this journey, it is essential to remember the importance of having health insurance, especially when traveling to other countries. With the possibility of unforeseen events and accidents, health insurance is essential to ensure safety and comfort during your trip.
In summary, digital nomadism is an increasingly popular option for those looking to balance work and leisure, but it is important to remember the importance of taking out health insurance before starting a journey around the world, especially when it comes to destinations like to Costa Rica.
Why do I need international health insurance as a digital nomad?
Many travelers plan their trips without giving much importance to health insurance for digital nomads or even forget about it. But when living in Costa Rica, having up-to-date health insurance is essential!
It is worth remembering that private medical care abroad can be very expensive, and not all countries have a public health system available to travelers or digital nomads.
You also need to consider the risks of living in a foreign country, where you could be exposed to new situations and dangers, such as food poisoning. Don’t go soft and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
Here is a quick list of reasons to be concerned about your health insurance BEFORE you travel:
1. You’ll probably need an insurance policy to get a resident or digital nomad visa
I know that not all countries require health insurance for expatriates and digital nomads entering the country. However, as I already explained, you will be moving to a new and probably unknown country, which makes you more vulnerable to health or safety issues.
Even if it’s not about the law, it’s important to take care of your own health and make sure you have medical coverage when you need it. No one wanna move to be in a pickle, right?
2. An international health insurance policy protects your health & well-being
Almost everyone knows that we only really know a service when we see or use it in practice, don’t we? As much as the country you will move to offers a public health system, you can’t be sure how your experience will be when you need it. Even more so if you need some specific service or exclusivity.
An international health insurance gives you the assurance and peace of mind that no matter what happens, you will receive high-quality medical care. That way, you won’t have to worry about emergencies abroad (yours or your family’s).
Also, in most countries in the world, the private healthcare system is better than the public one. And with an insurance policy, you can easily access the private system in Costa Rica (which can be very expensive without insurance!).
3. A health insurance policy gives you access to better quality medical care
Not by chance, the international health insurance is a requirement in most countries. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the expenses for private medical services can be VERY high, even for the simplest services… even more so if you are doing telecommuting in the United States where the health system is almost entirely private and costs a fortune! !
It is important to be aware of the fact that, in countries that do not have this requirement, prices are likely to be abusive as well.
In this way, international health insurance is not only a guarantee of access to quality health care, but it can also help you avoid incredibly expensive health costs – which could even lead to personal bankruptcy!
Why is it important for digital nomads to take out international health insurance and not just travel insurance?
Yes, with a digital nomad visa you are legalized in the country as a kind of “resident”. But, if you intend to spend a long period in the place or even get the residency through a work visa, you must have an international health insurance itself.
What is important to consider before taking out health insurance for digital nomads?
And finally, we can address the most advantageous (and economical!) options for international health insurance.
However, you may be wondering: how can I determine which health insurance plan is best for me?
Don’t worry, here is a list of factors to consider before making your decision:
- The type of coverage offered by each international health insurance plan.
- The number of hospitals and clinics the plan covers.
- Your personal or family needs.
- The quality of customer service and support.
Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail:
1. The coverage offered by each international health insurance plan
One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing international health insurance is coverage. To assess whether it is suitable for your needs, you need to take into account some factors, such as:
- What is the scope of the plan? Does the plan offer coverage in other cities or countries if you are traveling? If you are an expatriate digital nomad, will the plan be valid in countries other than Costa Rica?
- Is the plan adequate for all of your family’s needs?
- Is it possible to customize the plan according to your priorities and your family’s needs?
- How many people are covered by the plan? What is the value for additional members?
2. The number of hospitals and clinics covered by the international health insurance plan
Another important factor to consider before purchasing a plan is the availability of hospitals and clinics to use. It’s critical to check the amount of options available, especially if you’re moving to a smaller city.
The greater the number of options, the easier it will be to make appointments, tests or deal with emergencies, and you can even choose the hospital closest to your home or the one that offers the fastest service.
Finally, an important tip is that there are several international health insurance plans in which you can use the network’s medical services at no additional cost, but there are also others in which you must pay first and then request reimbursement (we recommend avoiding these plans whenever possible, as it can be difficult to get insurers to pay you what they owe you).
3. Your personal health needs or pre-existing conditions for you and your family
Most health insurance offers coverage for pre-existing conditions, but it’s critical to research and understand the type of coverage offered by the company you’re interested in.
However, it is important to point out that not all insurances have unlimited and free coverage for pre-existing illnesses, specific treatments or even pregnancy.
So if there’s a specific treatment or medical care that you believe you might need, make sure the plan you’re considering includes it.
4. What is the quality of the insurer’s customer support?
Another important aspect to consider is the quality of the insurer’s customer service, as this can make a difference in your experience if you need to claim insurance.
There are some essential and decisive points when hiring a health insurance service, such as the company’s response times, the number of successful claims filed and the ratings of other customers (but it is important to remember that insurers often receive low ratings , so you need to consider them with caution).
If you don’t speak English or the language of the country where you will be, it’s interesting to check if the company offers service in other languages, including your native language. After all, unforeseen events happen and, in moments of desperation, it’s good to have the tranquility of being able to count on efficient and quality support – and in a language that you understand.
Another essential aspect is to check if the company offers 24/7 support (all plans listed below do), so that you are not caught off guard and left without assistance when you need it most.
Who does these international health insurances cover?
The international health insurances on this list provide coverage for these citizens who live abroad as digital nomads:
- British people
- New Zealanders
And for citizens of almost every other country living abroad
For digital nomads residing in:
- France (European Union/Schengen area as a whole)
- United Kingdom
- China (and Hong Kong)
And for expats living in almost any other country in the world
In short, no matter where you live or where you want to go, most of these health insurances will be able to offer you a good service, as they are companies with global services.
Tip for Cheap International Transfers: if you are a Digital Nomad and need to send or receive money from abroad, take a look at our article with the 7 Best and Cheapest Apps and Websites for International Transfers.
The 7 Best & Cheapest International Health Insurance Plans for Digital Nomads
Tip: I always recommend that you get a quick quote with all the companies listed below. Despite the work, at the end of your research, you can save a lot of money.
As an American insurance company, Cigna follows the American standard when it comes to customer service and efficiency. They seek to provide you with access to quality health care without too many bureaucracies, from anywhere in the world. It already has more than 180 million employees and has offices in several countries around the world.
When we were living in Sweden, Nikki got an insurance policy from Cigna to have sufficient coverage and medical help, as well as meet the requirements to get her residency permit.
Because of this, Cigna is a great option if you’re also in search of a health insurance plan to meet your visa or residency requirements.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the questions above…and I’d still recommend checking out all the companies on this list to make sure you’re getting the best plan!
That said, we had a good experience with Cigna. It was easy to find the right plan, and it was easy to cancel the policy once Nikki received her residency and got access to the public healthcare system. However, since we never filed a claim with them, we can’t speak on the ease of this process.
Here are some of the positive and negative points about Cigna.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Cigna:
- They have flexible deductibles (in other words, you can control what you pay in advance)
- You have flexible payment options (monthly, trimester, or annual)
- You don’t need to request a reimbursement/file a claim since the company will pay your health provider directly
- You have 3 types of plans to choose from: Silver, Gold, Platinum
- The basic plan covers some types of cancer screenings and up to $100 in ophthalmology annually
- They have 24-hour customer service, 7 days a week
- They offer medical coverage in the Middle East
- They have plans that include the transplanting and transportation of organs as well as kidney dialysis treatments
- The company’s website has information about the financial system, culture, and schooling system of the country you’re going to
- COVID-19: Cigna covers all potential costs in the treatment of this illness, in compliance with the protocols recommended by the WHO
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Cigna:
- You have to put in a lot of personal info to get a personalized quote
- If you plan to have a child during your stay abroad, you’ll need to invest in a more expensive policy since the basic plan doesn’t cover maternity help
2. Now Health
Now Health is a bonus option worth mentioning, this company is one of the leaders in the international health insurance market and has been serving clients around the world for years.
Now Health’s main mission is to provide a quality service with clear and efficient communication. Therefore, their customer service is exceptional and one of their main qualities.
Another advantage of this company is its varied plans with customizable options available to its customers with the most varied profiles and needs.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Now Health:
- Provides coverage in over 190 countries and territories
- Flexible plans with many customizable options
- Options for plans with maternity coverage
- 24/7 service focused on agility and efficiency
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Now Health:
- Some exams and services need to go through the company’s reimbursement system
- To use maternity coverage, you must meet the 12-month grace period of the plan
Considered to be one of the best health insurance companies for digital nomads, IMG has been working with insurance for more than 30 years.
One major advantage of IMG is that they have global customer service and it’s very easy to get in contact with them. With their live chat feature, you can ask questions about the plans and get answers quickly when you need them.
Nikki and I have personally used the “Patriot America Plus” and “Global Medical Insurance” plans and had a good experience. But like Cigna, we also didn’t need to file a claim with IMG so we can’t speak to this part.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with IMG:
- They have extensive coverage with more than 17,000 doctors and clinics around the world
- There are 5 different plans for you to choose from
- If you use your IMG policy with a health provider outside the United States, you can get a 50% reduction on your deductible
- There are special health insurance plans for overseas missionaries
- There’s an automatic debit payment option
- They have an efficient online portal with access to emergency services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- They have coverage for all nationalities
- The company considers COVID-19 as any other illness and injury, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy
Cons of digital nomad insurance with IMG:
- There’s an age limit with no plans available for adults above 75 (however, if you get an insurance policy when you’re 65+, you can sign up for IMG’s lifetime plan instead)
- Only the most expensive plan offers maternity care coverage (and it only offers it at a minimum of 10 months after your policy has begun)
Our final health insurance company on the list today is German insurance company Allianz.
One of the best features about Allianz is that they have a specific program made just for expats.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Allianz:
- You don’t need to request a reimbursement/file a claim since the company will pay your health provider directly
- They have 24-hour customer service, 7 days a week
- They have a medical phone app that’s available to you 6 months after the start of your contract
- Beyond your plan, they also have a specific program for expats (including info about the specific country you’re moving to)
- They have coverage on all 7 continents
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Allianz:
- You don’t have very many plans to choose from
- Although their website has a lot of info about COVID-19, it doesn’t clarify whether or not they offer COVID coverage
Global Underwriters is another great insurance option for digital nomads, that’s because this company has been in the market for years, always offering plans with different alternatives for travelers around the world.
The most recommended plans for digital nomads are Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International, in both cases the coverage is very complete and meets the needs of foreigners residing in other countries relatively well.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Global Underwriters:
- Coverage of up to $1,000,000 in medical care and accidental or dismemberment deaths
- Plans covering medical evacuations, repatriation of remains and emergency dental treatment
- Provides assistance in cases where there are interruptions during your trip due to health reasons or loss of luggage
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Global Underwriters:
- The Diplomat Long Term plan does not have coverage in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iran
- Diplomat International does not provide coverage for covid-19
- The Diplomat Long Term plan does not serve residents of New York, Maryland, South Dakota, Australia and Iran
SafetyWing is a modern insurance company that has quickly adapted to the innovations in the industry – and has today earned a spot as one of the best insurance providers for digital nomads.
All you have to do is look at the website to see how different they are from other insurance companies – featuring a modern, colorful, and intuitive design…plus policy options that cover medical and travel expenses.
They also have a few exclusive and innovative options, such as offering 30 days of health coverage in your home country for every 90 days that you spend overseas.
The website is very “smart” and focuses on self-service. That said, it makes it easy for you to solve any issues you might have quickly and without much hassle.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with SafetyWing:
- As with the other companies, you can personalize your plan based on your coverage needs
- The website is very functional and gives you a clear idea of how much your plan will cost and how the coverage for each plan works
- They cover children under 10 for no extra charge
- You can add extra services to your policy like dental, maternity care, physical therapy, family medicine, deductible expenses, and outpatient services
- They offer $100 in coverage for repatriation after an evacuation
- If you’re treated at a public hospital free of charge OR if your treatment is covered by another insurance, SafetyWing will give you a daily allowance of $125 per night for up to 30 nights
- They offer full value coverage for cancer treatment and reconstructive surgeries
- They have 24-hour customer service, 7 days a week
- They offer total COVID-19 coverage when recommended by your doctor
- Their website has a fun, playful design which is much easier to use than most of its competitors
Cons of digital nomad insurance with SafetyWing:
- The quote you see on the website doesn’t include all the fees (to see the final price, you’ll need to create a login)
- The plans that cover the United States, Singapore, and Hong Kong are much more expensive than those for the other countries
In search of high-quality insurance with extended coverage and class A service? Then GeoBlue is a great option for you!
In an effort to make life easier for those it insures, GeoBlue tries to offer customized service, including a variety of coverage for you to choose from and short- and long-term plans.
Beyond this, GeoBlue also has insurance plans for a wide range of customers such as missionaries, teachers, students, yacht crews, immigrants, or digital nomads.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with GeoBlue:
- They have 24-hour customer service, 7 days a week
- They have a wide range of options for plans
- They have plans that cover accidents from extreme sports
- They don’t charge deductible fees for standard services or cancellations, and have unlimited medical service
- They have plans designed exclusively for digital nomads, immigrants to the U.S., and Americans who live overseas
Cons of digital nomad insurance with GeoBlue:
- They don’t offer coverage for individuals who live in New York or Washington
Bonus #1 – Foyer Global Health
Foyer is a large player in the health insurance world and is one of the largest insurance companies in Europe.
They offer many different types of plans and is an ideal company for digital nomads in search of international travel insurance.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Foyer Health:
- As with the other companies, you can customize Foyer plans based on your characteristics and medical necessities, such as age, country of origin, dental care, vaccines, maternity, young children, etc.
- You can also personalize your level of coverage for each of these elements from nothing to the maximum coverage
- You have the option of selecting an individual plan or a family plan with or without children
- Unlike many other companies, the process for getting a quote is very simple and you don’t need to give much info
- They have multiple options for deductibles
- They have short-term plans for those who don’t plan to spend a long time overseas
- You can easily compare plan prices and coverage to find the one that’s best for you
- They offer travel insurance for digital nomads anywhere in Europe (and the world)
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Foyer Health:
- As with the other companies, Foyer’s most basic plan doesn’t include maternity or newborn care
- Their customer service gets the job done, but isn’t as practical as the others on this list
- The website isn’t very clear about the coverage limits
- Although they have a lot of info about COVID-19 on their website, they don’t make it clear if their plan covers COVID treatments or not
- They charge a 5 euro fee for emergency support
- They don’t have health insurance for digital nomads in the United States (only medical help for emergencies)
Bonus #2 – Aetna (acquired by Allianz)
Beyond the quality of the service and its accessible health solutions, Aetna has been in the world of insurance for more than 50 years.
It’s one of the biggest health insurance providers in the United States and has one of the cheapest international health insurances that can be used by digital nomads.
They have a pretty decent customer service team that’s available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pros of digital nomad insurance with Aetna:
- They have plans personalized for digital nomads based on your destinations and coverage needs
- They have 50 years of experience and offices in more than 15 countries
- They have 24-hour customer service
- They’ve been named the “Best International Private Health Insurance Provider” and “Health Insurer of the Year” by various magazines
- Most of their plans include coverage for hospitalization, cancer treatment, repatriation, and emergency evacuation
Cons of digital nomad insurance with Aetna:
- Their site doesn’t offer a lot of explanation about what’s actually included in their plans
Table comparison of the 7 best international medical insurance companies for digital nomads
To help you make the most of all the information I gave you above, here’s a table comparing all the companies I talked about. With the help of the table, hopefully you can have a better idea of which insurance company is right for you for your move overseas.
|Medical Maximum||Unlimited (for the Platinum plan)||$8,000,000||The site doesn’t specify||Unlimited||US$1,000,000 per year||The site doesn’t specify||Depending on the plan, can be up to $1 million|
|U.S. In-Network Coinsurance||You choose. From 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||100%||No||60% for maximum coinsurance and then 100%||Yes, for higher fees||Only in emergencies||Yes|
|U.S. Out-of-Network Coinsurance||You choose. From 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||90% to $5,000 (100% thereafter)||Yes, for higher fees||100%||100%||100%||100%|
|Mental Health Availability||No waiting period||12-month waiting period||Co-payment of $25 per visit, waived deductible||75% up to 40 visits / 60% after that||No||Waiting period of 10 months||Yes|
|Mental Health Benefit||Inpatient and Outpatient: $5,000 lifetime maximum to paid in full depending on the plan||Inpatient and Outpatient: $50,000 lifetime maximum||Co-payment of $250 after deductible||100% up to 60 days||International and ambulance: limit not specified||Inpatient, outpatient, and therapy: limit not specific|
|Inpatient Prescription Drugs||$500 to paid in full depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Yes||Complete reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option||Up to $8,000,000||Complete reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||Yes||Up to $25,000||No||Up to 10,000 euros||Yes|
|Accidental Death & Dismemberment||Depends on the plan||Rider available, limit depends on age.||$50,000||It has limitations depending on the plan|
|Emergency Dental||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||Optional||1,000 per year, $ 200 per tooth||Yes, however you need to pay an extra fee on top of your plan||Depending on the plan, it’s unlimited||It has limitations depending on the plan|
|Treatment Necessary as Result of Terrorism||Up to the amount of the coverage||Rider available up to $50,000-lifetime maximum||Clause available up to maximum of $50,000 in lifetime payments||N/A|
|Amateur Sports||Unlimited||Rider available up to $10,000||No||Yes||No||No||N/A|
|Routine Nursery Care of a Newborn Child of a Covered Pregnancy||$25,000 to $156,000 depending on the plan||$1,000 additional deductible, $50,000 lifetime maximum, $200 wellness benefit for first 12 months||Yes||Depends on the plan||Can be unlimited depending on the plan||Depends on the plan|
|Children born as a result of fertility treatment (such as IVF or surrogacy)||Only after the baby is 90 days old||Excluded||Depends on the plan||Excluded||No||No|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Unit||Check website for updated information||$250,000 maximum for first 31 days||No||Up to $250,000 for the first 31 days||No||Depends on the plan (Bloom or Bloom Plus)|
|Pre-existing condition exclusion period||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness||Conditions that are fully disclosed on the application and have not been excluded or restricted by a rider will be covered as any illness|
|Pre-existing condition look back period||Any time prior to effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date||Any time prior to plan effective date|
|Pre-existing annual maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan|
|Pre-existing lifetime maximum once covered||Unlimited depending on the plan||Up to $8,000,000||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan|
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
*Note: this table is just for informational purposes and subject to change. It was accurate as of the time we wrote it here, but please check each company’s individual website for updated info.
Here are the 7 best (and cheapest!) international health insurance companies for digital nomads:
- Now Health
- Global Underwriters
Visas for Digital Nomads in Costa Rica
The Costa Rica Digital Nomad Visa is an electronic permit that allows remote workers to stay in the country for longer periods of time.
With a duration of 1 year, it is possible to renew for another year if you stay in the country for at least 180 days.
People of any nationality can apply for this visa, as long as they are doing remote work for a company located outside Costa Rica. In addition, freelancers and foreigners with their own companies that work with international clients can also apply for this visa.
To apply, you must have a stable monthly income of US$3,000 (for solo travellers) or US$4,000 (for family travellers). If you are traveling with children, you will also need to complete the registration forms for them.
You can apply online by completing the online visa application form. You will need the following documents to obtain this Costa Rica visa:
- Valid passport – Copies of the first and last pages of your passport.
- Proof of Stable Monthly Income – Bank statements must prove a steady income of $3,000 per month for a single person, $4,000 monthly income when applying with your family.
- Proof of Health Insurance – Must cover you or your family members during your stay in Costa Rica.
- Proof of payment of the US$100 government fee for issuing your permit.
- Consular or Restricted Visa – Allows you to enter the country to present the necessary documents or to complete the residence permit procedure.
- Obligatory documents for dependents, if applicable, marriage certificate issued or proof of civil union, child’s birth certificate.
All documents must be in Spanish or have an official translation. Once your application is accepted, you must present the documents in Costa Rica within three months.
I hope this article was helpful for you to find the ideal health insurance so that you can enjoy your journey as a digital nomad with peace of mind and security.
It is important to stress the need to carefully review all available options and purchase health insurance before embarking on any trip, especially if you plan to live abroad.
If you have any questions about international health insurance, being a digital nomad, or anything else related to living abroad, feel free to leave a comment below. I will do my best to help you in your quest! To the next!
Planning your next trip?