Are you a digital nomad and want to live in different parts of the world? Do you need an international health insurance plan to get coverage in the countries where you intend to reside? So, it’s important that you know the best cost-effective international health insurance options that fit your budget!
We all know that having health insurance is extremely important to ensure comfort and safety when traveling and when entering a foreign country, whether for tourism or to live. However, many companies raise prices significantly knowing that insurance is an essential need for travelers.
To make your search easier, I’ve compiled a list of the best international health insurance plans for digital nomads – people who work online from anywhere in the world. And if you fit this profile, check out our recommendations!
Canada is often praised for its affordability, quality of education and healthcare, political stability, individual freedom and environmental protection. In addition, the country is considered very safe, which gives digital nomads a sense of tranquility!
The 5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Canada
- Halifax – Halifax has a big-city feel when it comes to amenities and things to do, but also small-town compared to Vancouver, for example. In downtown Halifax you won’t feel so lost.
- Ottawa – Ottawa is a great choice if you like a big city with lots to do. It is a diverse city, with more than 1 million inhabitants and that has a great history.
- Edmonton – Despite having almost a million inhabitants, Edmonton is very cheap and is in the middle of incredible nature.
- Montreal – Although it’s the largest French-speaking city in the world, aside from Paris, almost half of the city speaks fluent English, and with 32% of people of non-European ancestry, it’s an incredibly diverse place to live.
- Calgary – In Calgary, you’re just over an hour’s drive from the Canadian Rockies, where outdoor enthusiasts can do everything from hiking to skiing.
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 around for some time, the number of people working in this way has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people left their offices and were relocated to remote work, leading some to seek a freer routine closer to nature.
A portion of these people chose to work in other countries and live as tourists at the same time, known as digital nomads. These people only use a laptop to perform their tasks and are paid to do so, which allows them to travel around the world while working.
For those who work in creative areas, such as copywriters, publicists, designers or simply those who have a stressful work routine and want to relax, working in front of the sea on a paradisiacal beach may seem like a great option.
In reality, from personal experience, working on the beach is not always pleasant or practical. However, having the opportunity to see the sea while working or enjoying the beach after work is a big advantage.
Several countries began to think about ways to stimulate local tourism to favor the economy and make life easier for travelers. As a result, countries like Costa Rica, Bermuda, Barbados, Portugal, Georgia (the country, not the US state!) and Estonia have started offering visas to digital nomads or people who have worked remotely during the pandemic.
Now that you know what a digital nomad is, a lifestyle that is growing more and more with remote work, it is important to understand the importance of having health insurance before traveling the world, especially in Canada.
Many people planning their trips do not give due importance to health insurance for digital nomads, or do not even consider it. However, if you plan to live in Canada, it is essential that you have your health insurance up to date!
First of all, it is important to know that private health services abroad can be very expensive and that not all countries have a public health system that serves all citizens.
In addition, one must be aware of the risks of living in a new country, in an unknown city, having different experiences and facing possible perrengues, such as food poisoning. It’s better not to rely on luck, agree?
So, pay attention to this quick list of reasons why it’s essential to take out health insurance before you leave your home:
1. International health insurance offers security and comfort
While not all countries require health insurance for expats and digital nomads entering the country, moving to a new country, especially an unfamiliar one, can make you more vulnerable to health and safety issues.
Even though it’s not mandatory, it’s important to take care of your own health and make sure you have medical coverage when you need it. After all, nobody likes to go through perrengues, right?
2. International health insurance provides access to quality medical care
Often we only discover the quality of a service when we need to use it in practice. Even if the country you are moving to has a public health system, it is not possible to be sure what your experience will be like when requesting medical care. This is even more valid if you need specific or exclusive assistance.
With international health insurance, you have the peace of mind that, whatever happens, you will have access to quality medical care. So you won’t have to worry about emergencies abroad, either for you or your family.
Also, in most countries, the private healthcare system is better than the public one. With health insurance, you can easily access the private system in Canada, which can be very expensive without insurance!
3. International health insurance can help you save money
It is no coincidence that most countries require international health insurance. As mentioned earlier, private medical services can be very expensive, even for simple procedures. This is even more true in countries like the United States, where the health care system is almost completely private and extremely expensive.
Even in countries that do not require health insurance, prices are likely to be similarly high.
Therefore, an international health insurance not only guarantees access to quality treatments, but can also help to avoid extremely high medical expenses, which could lead to personal bankruptcy!
Why is it important for digital nomads to take out international health insurance, not just travel insurance?
By obtaining a digital nomad visa, you are recognized as a legal “resident” in the country. However, if you plan to stay for an extended period or even apply for a work visa to settle locally, you will need to have adequate international health insurance.
What is important to consider before taking out health insurance for digital nomads?
Let’s talk about the most advantageous (and affordable!) international health insurance options.
But it is possible that you are wondering: how to choose the best health insurance plan for me?
Don’t worry, here are some points to consider before making your decision:
- The type of coverage offered by each plan
- The number of hospitals and practices covered by the plan
- Your specific health or family needs
- Quality of customer service and support
Let’s analyze each of them:
1. International health plan coverage
One of the most important aspects when choosing international health insurance is the coverage offered. To check if it meets your needs, it is important to consider some questions:
- What is the coverage area of the plan? Can I be served in other cities or countries if I’m traveling? If I am an expat or digital nomad, is the plan valid in other countries?
- Would it cover the entire United States?
- Is this the ideal plan for all my family’s needs?
- Is it possible to customize the plan according to my or my family’s specific priorities and needs?
- How many people are covered by the plan? What is the value for additional members?
2. Number of hospitals and offices covered by the international health plan
In addition to quality, it’s important to pay attention to the number of hospitals and practices available to use, especially if you’re moving to a small town.
The more options of hospitals, the easier it will be for you to make appointments, tests or deal with emergencies, and you can even choose the hospital closest to your home or that offers faster service.
It is also important to note whether the international health plan allows you to use medical services at no additional cost, or if you need to pay for these services and then claim reimbursement (this last option is not recommended, as it can be difficult to get insurers to pay what they owe).
Therefore, the more comprehensive the plan’s coverage, the better.
3. Your specific health needs or pre-existing conditions for you and your family
If you have specific health needs, it’s important to check whether your health insurance covers pre-existing conditions or specific treatments. Not all health insurance offers unlimited and free coverage for pre-existing conditions, specific treatments or pregnancy.
So if there’s a specific type of treatment or medical care you think you might need, make sure the health plan you’re considering includes it.
4. Quality of the insurer’s customer support
Another important factor to consider is the quality of the insurer’s customer service, as this can be decisive if you need to claim insurance.
Some points to evaluate include response times, number of successful claims filed, and customer ratings (however, it’s important to exercise caution when interpreting these ratings, as insurers often receive low ratings, so take them with caution).
If you don’t speak the local language or English, it’s important to check if the company offers assistance in other languages, including your mother tongue, to be sure you can count on a quality and efficient support service in case of unforeseen events.
It is essential to check if the company offers 24/7 service (all plans listed below do) so as not to be taken by surprise and left helpless when you need it most.
Who are the beneficiaries of these international health insurances?
The international health insurances on this list provide coverage for the following groups of people living abroad as digital nomads:
- British people
- New Zealanders
- Citizens of almost all other countries living abroad
The following digital nomads residing in these countries are covered by these health insurances:
- France (European Union/Schengen Area as a whole)
- China (including Hong Kong)
- Digital nomads living in almost any other country in the world
In short, no matter what country you reside in or want to go to, most of these health insurances will be able to offer you a good service, as they are companies that serve all over the world.
The 7 best and cheapest international health insurance for digital nomads
Below is the list we have prepared of the best international health insurance so you can choose the one that best suits your needs:
Tip: I always recommend that you do a quick quote with all the companies listed below. While it may be labor intensive, at the end of your search you could save a good amount of money.
Created in the United States, the company focuses on offering a high quality and efficient service, following the American standard. The goal is to provide access to quality health care without a lot of bureaucracy anywhere in the world. With more than 180 million employees, the company has offices in several countries around the globe.
When we were living in Sweden, Nikki took out international insurance from Cigna to prove the quality of coverage and medical care and meet the requirements for obtaining a residence permit.
Cigna is an excellent choice if you are looking for a plan that meets immigration requirements regarding health insurance coverage. This can help you to obtain a visa or residency permit in another country. However, keep in mind that you will still need to research the plan’s coverage, after all, you will be paying for the service!
That said, we had a good experience with Cigna. It was easy to find the right plan and cancel the policy once Nikki got residency and access to the public health system. However, as we’ve never had to file a claim with them, we can’t speak to 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 an additional alternative worth mentioning as it is one of the leaders in the international health insurance market and has been serving customers around the world for years.
Its main objective is to offer a quality service with clear and efficient communication, making its exceptional customer service one of its main qualities.
In addition, the company offers a wide variety of customizable plans, adapted to the needs and profiles of its customers, which is another great advantage.
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 one of the best insurance for digital nomads, IMG is a consolidated company with more than 30 years of experience in the market. It is worth noting that they offer global customer service and are one of the easiest companies to contact.
Nikki and I have both “Patriot America Plus” and “Global Medical Insurance” plans previously and have had great experiences. The IMG website currently has a live chat to answer questions and get quick responses, which has received positive reviews.
Like Cigna, I didn’t have to file a complaint, so I can’t give my opinion on that 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)
The last health insurance company we have on our list today is Allianz, a German insurance company.
What sets Allianz apart is their dedicated program designed exclusively for expats. This program is one of their best features.
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
For digital nomads seeking insurance coverage, Global Underwriters is an excellent option. With years of experience in the industry, this company provides plans with a variety of options for travelers worldwide.
Their most highly recommended plans for digital nomads are Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International. Both plans offer comprehensive coverage that meets the needs of foreigners living in other countries exceptionally 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 an innovative company that has adapted to market changes, becoming one of the best options for digital nomads, and is currently gaining ground among health insurers.
Right from the start, you can see the difference in relation to other companies, starting with the website. With a modern and intuitive design, it offers insurance plans that cover medical and travel expenses. In addition, SafetyWing offers unique and innovative opportunities, such as 30 days coverage in your home country for every 90 days abroad.
With a smart website that values self-service, the company makes it easy for its customers to quickly resolve any issues they may have.
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 premium insurance coverage with top-notch service? Look no further than GeoBlue!
GeoBlue strives to provide personalized service to its insured clients, offering various coverage options and short- and long-term plans to make their lives easier.
Moreover, GeoBlue caters to a broad range of customers, including missionaries, teachers, students, yacht crews, immigrants, and digital nomads, with insurance plans tailored to meet their specific needs.
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
As one of the biggest insurance companies in Europe, Foyer is a major player in the health insurance industry.
With a diverse range of plans available, Foyer is an excellent option for digital nomads seeking 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)
Aetna has been a prominent player in the insurance industry for over half a century, offering not only quality service but also accessible health solutions.
As one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, Aetna offers some of the most affordable international health insurance plans suitable for digital nomads.
Furthermore, their customer service team is available 24/7 and is known for their exceptional support.
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 to 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.
Visas for Digital Nomads in the Canada
Canada is a great country for digital nomads in terms of infrastructure, food and culture. But, so far and unfortunately, the country still does not offer a specific visa for digital nomads.
However, there are visa alternatives you can use to legally live and work remotely in Canada. The three options you can choose from are:
- Autonomous Program
- Startup Visa Program
- Provincial Nominee Programs
The self-employed program is aimed especially at self-employed people and allows the candidate to immigrate to Canada permanently if they so desire! However, the eligible candidate must have experience in cultural activities or athletics.
You need to have the ability to contribute to Canada’s cultural life or sports industry. In addition, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family, if any, comfortably in Canada.
Startup Visa Program
This visa is intended for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that contribute to economic growth. If you are an entrepreneur with a qualifying business, you can immigrate to Canada and start a business there on a start-up visa (SUV).
The start-up visa program is primarily designed for entrepreneurs who can run businesses in Canada and help the country’s economy. If you have a business that can generate job opportunities and compete on a global scale, you can apply for this visa.
The candidate only needs to present financial proof and meet the language requirements.
Provincial Nominee Program
Canada’s provincial nominee program is for workers with related skills and work experience who can contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory.
All provinces in Canada except Quebec and Nunavut operate the provincial nominee program (PNP) to welcome sheltered workers.
The application process, selection process and conditions may vary from province to province, as each province has its own PNP flows. The advantage of this program is that applicants also receive federally approved Canadian permanent residency.
Here are the 7 best (and cheapest!) international health insurance companies for digital nomads:
- Now Health
- Global Underwriters
So, did you like the article? I hope that you are now able to find the perfect health insurance for you and take advantage of all the fun parts of being a digital nomad!
Remember the importance of analyzing the options well and always hiring a plan BEFORE you begin your adventure.
If you still have questions about international health insurance or being a digital nomad and living abroad in general, let me know in the comments area below. I will do my best to help you in your search! See you later!
Planning your next trip?