Are you a digital nomad who likes to move countries frequently and need international health insurance coverage in your future destinations? Discover the top 7 best cost-effective international health insurance options to suit your needs!
It is widely recognized that health insurance is essential to ensure a comfortable and safe trip, or even to settle down in a new country. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of this and raise prices simply because they know the service will be contracted anyway.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best international health insurance plans for digital nomads – those who work remotely from anywhere in the world. You are one of them?
Living in Vietnam as a digital nomad offers low cost of living, good quality of life, high speed internet connection, vibrant culture and opportunities to explore local landscape and cuisine. Growing digital nomad community, making it easy to connect with other digital travelers. Ideal for people looking for a balance between work and leisure.
The 5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Vietnam
- Hanoi: is the capital of Vietnam, with a vibrant nightlife, good technology infrastructure and a rich cultural history.
- Ho Chi Minh: is the largest city in Vietnam, with a thriving economy, good internet connection and many job opportunities.
- Da Nang: is a popular coastal city with beautiful beaches and a vibrant food scene.
- Nha Trang: is a coastal city, with crystal clear waters and a large community of digital nomads.
- Haiphong: is a major port city with a large business community and vibrant nightlife.
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 budget!
But first…what is a digital nomad?
While digital nomadism has been a practice for some time, the number of people working this way has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people left their jobs at the office and started to work remotely, seeking a freer routine closer to nature.
Some of these people chose to work in other countries while living as tourists – they are called digital nomads in English. These workers only use a laptop to perform their tasks and are paid to do so. Why not travel the world working?
For those who work in creative areas, such as copywriters, publicists, designers or for those looking for a less stressful work environment, there is nothing better than working in front of the sea on a paradisiacal beach. While the reality is that working at the beach isn’t as pleasant or practical as it sounds, it’s still great to be able to see the ocean while working or have easy access to the beach after work.
Many countries began to think of ways to stimulate local tourism to favor the economy and make life easier for travelers. Countries like Costa Rica, Bermuda, Barbados, Portugal, Georgia (the country, not the US state!), Estonia, among others, have started offering visas to digital nomads or people working remotely during the pandemic.
Now that you know what a digital nomad is and how this way of working has grown with the rise of remote work, it’s important to understand the importance of having health insurance before traveling the world. Especially if you are planning to travel to Vietnam!
Why do I need international health insurance as a digital nomad?
Many travelers overlook or forget the importance of having adequate health insurance when planning their travels as digital nomads. However, if you intend to live in Vietnam, it is essential to have up-to-date health insurance.
It is crucial to remember that the costs of private health care abroad can be high and not all countries have a public health system that is accessible to everyone. Furthermore, it is important to be aware of the risks of living in an unfamiliar country, where unexpected situations such as food poisoning can occur. Therefore, it is better to prepare in advance.
Check out this quick list of reasons why it’s important to have valid health insurance before you embark on your trip:
1 . International health insurance offers security and comfort
While not all countries require expats and digital nomads to have health insurance to enter the country, it’s important to take care of your own health and make sure you have medical coverage when you need it. Moving to a new, probably unfamiliar, country makes you more vulnerable to health or safety issues. Nobody likes to go through difficulties, right?
2. International health insurance gives you access to better quality medical care
Even if the country you intend to live in offers a public healthcare system, you cannot be sure what your experience will be like when you need care. International health insurance guarantees that you will receive high-quality medical care in the event of an emergency, no matter what happens. Also, in many countries, the private health system is better than the public one, and an insurance policy can allow easy access to the private system in Vietnam, where it can be very expensive without insurance.
3. International health insurance offers savings
Private medical services can be very expensive in many countries, even for simple services. It is important to be aware that even in countries where international health insurance is not mandatory, prices can be abusive. Therefore, international health insurance not only guarantees access to quality health care, but can also help you avoid incredibly high health care costs that can lead to personal bankruptcy.
Why is it important for digital nomads to take out international health insurance and not just travel insurance?
When you hold a digital nomad visa, you are legally recognized as a “resident” in the country. However, if you plan to spend an extended period of time locally or even gain residency via a work visa, you will need to have adequate international health insurance.
What is important to consider before taking out health insurance for digital nomads?
And now we can talk about the cheapest international health insurance options.
But, naturally, you might be wondering: how do I know which health insurance plan is best for me?
Don’t worry, here are some points to consider before making your decision:
1. The type of coverage each plan offers
One of the most important points when choosing your international health insurance is to consider coverage. To know if it will meet your needs, you need to consider some questions:
What is the scope of the plan? Can I have assistance in other cities or countries if I am traveling? If I am an expat or a digital nomad, can I use the plan in other countries? Would it cover the whole of Vietnam?
Is this the ideal plan for all my family’s needs?
Is it possible to customize the plan according to my priorities and/or my family’s needs?
How many people are covered by the plan? What is the value for additional members?
2. The number of hospitals and practices covered by the international health plan
Another important factor to consider before purchasing a plan is the number of hospitals and offices you will have available to use, especially if you are moving to a small town.
The more options of hospitals, the easier it will be for you to make appointments, tests or emergencies, and you can even choose the hospital closest to your home or one that offers faster service.
Finally, it is important to know that there are several international health plans in which you can use the network’s medical services without paying anything, but there are also others in which you pay and only then can you request a refund (we do not recommend the latter case, in case can avoid it, as it can be difficult to get insurers to pay what they owe).
Thus, the greater the coverage of the plan, the better.
3. What are your specific health needs or pre-existing conditions for you and your family?
In case you need it, it’s important to know that most health insurance offers specific coverage for pre-existing conditions, and it’s very important to do some research to find out what type of coverage you’re interested in from the company you’re interested in.
Remembering that not all insurance offers unlimited and free coverage for pre-existing illnesses, specific treatments or even pregnancy.
So if there’s a specific type of treatment or medical care you think you might need, make sure the plan you’re considering includes it.
4. How good is the insurance company’s customer support?
Another factor to consider is the quality of service provided by the contracted company, as if you need to claim your insurance, this will be a differentiating factor in the insurance company’s service.
There are some critical and decisive points when contracting the health insurance service offered by the company: I recommend checking their response times, successful filed claims and customer reviews (but one thing to think about here: insurers basically always have low ratings, so accept them with caution).
If you do not speak English or the language of the country where you will be moving, it is advisable to check if the company offers support in other languages, including your mother tongue. We know that unforeseen events happen and it is important to be assured that we can count on an efficient and quality support service – and in a language that we understand well – when we need it.
A crucial factor to consider is whether the company offers 24/7 customer service (all plans listed below do), so you’re not caught out and left without assistance when you need it most.
Who does these international health insurances cover?
The international health insurances listed below provide coverage for the following citizens living abroad as digital nomads:
- British people
- New Zealanders
- And for citizens of almost every other country living abroad
For digital nomads residing in the following countries:
- France (European Union/Schengen Area as a whole)
- China (and Hong Kong)
- And for digital nomads living in almost any other country in the world
In summary, most of these health insurance companies can provide good service, regardless of where you live or where you want to go, as they are companies that serve all over the world.
The 7 Best and Cheapest International Health Insurance for Digital Nomads
It’s time to check out the list of the best international health insurance that we’ve prepared for you to choose the one that best suits your needs and budget!
Tip: I always recommend getting a quick quote with all of the companies listed below. Although it is laborious, at the end of the search you can save a good amount of money.
Established in the United States, the company is focused on providing the American standard of quality and efficiency of health services to users around the world, without unnecessary bureaucracy. With more than 180 million employees and offices in several countries, it is an interesting choice for anyone looking for a plan that meets immigration requirements for a residence visa.
During our stay in Sweden, Nikki opted to take out international insurance from Cigna to meet the requirements and prove the quality of medical care. It is important to emphasize that, although it is an essential item for obtaining a visa, it is necessary to carefully research and evaluate the coverage offered, since it is a paid service.
Our experience with Cigna was positive: we found the right plan easily and canceled the policy once Nikki gained residency and access to the public health system. However, as we didn’t have to file any complaints, we can’t speak to the efficiency 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 an additional option worth mentioning. This company is one of the main players in the international health insurance market and has been serving customers all over the world for many years.
Now Health aims to provide a quality service with clear and efficient communication, which is reflected in exceptional customer service, which is one of its main advantages.
Another great advantage is the variety of plans offered, with customizable options available to meet customers with different 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
Recognized as one of the best insurance options for digital nomads, IMG is a consolidated company that has been operating in the market for over 30 years. Notably, it stands out for offering global customer service and being easy to contact.
Nikki and I have opted for the “Patriot America Plus” and “Global Medical Insurance” plans on previous occasions and have had positive experiences. IMG also has a live chat on its website to answer questions and provide quick responses, which has received good reviews.
As with Cigna, I didn’t have to file a complaint with IMG, so I can’t comment on that aspect.
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)
The last health insurance company we’ll be discussing today is Allianz, a German insurance company. One of its best features is that it offers a dedicated program 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 an excellent insurance option for digital nomads due to its long-standing presence in the market and its range of plans tailored to travelers around the world.
For digital nomads, the Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International plans come highly recommended, as both provide comprehensive coverage that meets the needs of foreigners residing in other countries.
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 an up-to-date insurance company that is attentive to market innovations, and is especially suitable for digital nomads. Its presence has grown considerably among health insurers.
It is already possible to see the difference in relation to other companies from the website, which has a modern and intuitive design, in addition to insurance options that cover both medical and travel expenses. SafetyWing offers unique and innovative opportunities, such as the ability to offer 30 days of home country coverage for every 90 days spent abroad.
The company stands out for its self-service and for having a “smart” website. This means that it’s easy for you to quickly resolve any issues you may have without facing too many hurdles.
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
Looking for quality insurance with broad coverage, excellence in medical services and first-class care? GeoBlue is an excellent option!
To meet the needs of its policyholders, the company offers personalized service and various types of coverage, including short-term and long-term plans. In addition, it has a wide variety of plans aimed at different audiences, such as missionaries, teachers, students, yacht crews, immigrants or digital nomads.
Below I share my impressions about the company.
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 one of Europe’s leading insurers with an established reputation in the market. It offers several plan options and is an excellent choice for digital nomads looking for international health 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)
Aetna, with over 50 years of experience in the insurance industry, is known for providing quality service and affordable health solutions. As one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, it offers some of the most cost-effective international health insurance plans for digital nomads.
Moreover, Aetna’s customer service team is available 24/7 to assist with any inquiries or concerns.
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
If you are still in doubt, take a look at this table with a comparison of international health insurance for Digital Nomads. That way, you can better visualize and know which one is ideal for you.
|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.
Visas for Digital Nomads in the Vietnam
Although Vietnam is an attractive option for many digital nomads, there is no specific visa for remote workers. However, this does not mean that there are no alternatives for these workers to visit Vietnam for extended periods.
Vietnam offers several types of work visas for foreigners who want to work in the country, including:
- Temporary Work Visa (VITAS): This is the standard visa for foreigners who wish to work in Vietnam for up to 12 months.
- Long Term Work Visa (VLAP): This visa is intended for foreigners who wish to work in Vietnam for more than 12 months.
- Investment Visa (IV): This visa is intended for foreigners who want to invest in a company or business in Vietnam.
- Training Visa (VT): This visa is for foreigners who want to do training or research in Vietnam.
- In general, to apply for a work visa in Vietnam, you must have an employment contract with a Vietnamese company, provide information about your employer and occupation, and fulfill other requirements, such as a criminal background check and medical examination.
To apply for a work visa in Vietnam, you will need to present the following documents:
- Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Vietnam.
- Completed visa form: You must complete an online visa form and print the final copy.
- Passport Photo: A recent passport photo must be attached to the visa application.
- Proof of Employment: A letter from the Vietnamese company that hired you or a letter from the foreign company that hired you to work in Vietnam.
- Proof of financial resources: You must prove that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses during your stay in Vietnam.
- Health insurance: You will need to present a letter from your health insurance, proving that you have health coverage during your stay in Vietnam.
These are the basic requirements to apply for a work visa in Vietnam. There may be other specific requirements or fees that must be paid.
Here are the 7 best (and cheapest!) international health insurance companies for digital nomads:
- Now Health
- Global Underwriters
So, did you like our article? We hope you have found useful information to choose the ideal health insurance as a digital nomad!
Always remember the importance of carefully evaluating the available options and taking out health insurance before starting your trips.
If you have any questions about international health insurance or living as a digital nomad abroad, feel free to leave a comment below. We are here to help you in your search!
To the next!
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