Are you a frequent traveler working remotely in different countries? Are you looking for international health insurance that meets your needs? Discover the seven best international health insurance options that offer great value for money for you!
It is widely recognized that health insurance is essential to ensure a safe and smooth journey, or even settling down in a new country. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of this and charge exorbitant prices, knowing that customers will buy the service anyway.
To help digital nomads like you, I’ve compiled a list of the best international health insurance plans that offer fair prices and great benefits.
Living as a digital nomad in Panama offers many advantages, including a pleasant tropical climate, relatively low cost of living, good internet infrastructure, easy access to beaches and lively nightlife in Panama City. In addition, Panama offers tax incentives to foreign residents and is considered a financial and business center in the region.
The 5 Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Panama
- Panama City: The capital of Panama is the largest city in the country and offers a good internet infrastructure, a variety of cafes and shared workspaces, as well as many options for entertainment and nightlife.
- Bocas del Toro: Located on the Caribbean coast, Bocas del Toro is a popular destination for digital nomads looking for a relaxed atmosphere and stunning natural landscapes.
- Boquete: Located in the mountains of Panama, Boquete is a quiet and picturesque city with pleasant temperatures all year round, making it a great choice for those who prefer a cooler climate.
- Coronado: This beach town is known for its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts, but it also offers plenty of shared workspaces and cafes for digital nomads.
- Santa Catalina: For those who like to surf and be close to the beach, Santa Catalina is a great choice, with a welcoming community and plenty of shared workspaces and fast internet cafes.
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 have been relocated to remote work and, as a result, have sought a freer routine closer to nature.
Some of these people chose to work in other countries and live as tourists, becoming digital nomads. These professionals only use a laptop to perform their tasks and are paid to do so. So why not travel the world working?
For those who work in creative areas, such as copywriters, publicists and designers, or simply for those who seek a less stressful work routine, there is nothing better than working in front of the sea, on a paradisiacal beach.
However, I must confess that, from personal experience, working on the beach may not be as pleasant or practical as it seems. But still, it’s great to be able to see the seawhile working or easily go to the beach after hours.
Several countries began to think about ways to stimulate local tourism to favor the economy and make life easier for travelers. So countries like Costa Rica, Bermuda, Barbados, Portugal, Georgia (the country, not the state in the US!) and Estonia started offering visas to digital nomads or people who were working remotely during the pandemic.
Now that you know what a digital nomad is and how this lifestyle is becoming more and more popular with remote work, it’s important to understand the importance of having health insurance before traveling the world. In this case, let’s talk about the need to have health insurance before traveling to Panama.
Why do I need international health insurance as a digital nomad?
Many travelers neglect or forget the importance of health insurance for digital nomads when planning their trips. However, if you intend to live in Panama, it is essential that you have up-to-date health insurance.
It is crucial to remember that private healthcare services abroad can be costly and that not all countries have a public healthcare system that is accessible to everyone.
Also, you should be aware of the risks of living in an unfamiliar country, where unexpected situations like food poisoning can occur. Therefore, it is better to prepare in advance.
Check out this quick list of reasons to have valid health insurance before you embark on your trip:
1. International health insurance provides security and more comfort
While not all countries require expats and digital nomads to have health insurance to enter, you will be moving to a likely unfamiliar country, making yourself 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 if you need it. Nobody likes to go through health problems, right?
2. International health insurance gives you access to better quality medical care
Many people only realize the quality of a service when they need to use it in practice, don’t they? Even if the country you are going to live in offers a public healthcare system, you cannot be sure what your experience will be like when requesting care, especially if you need specific or unique care.
International health insurance ensures that, no matter what happens, you will have access to 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. With an insurance policy, you can easily access the private system in Panama (which can be very expensive without insurance!).
3. International health insurance can help you save
It is no coincidence that international health insurance is required in most countries. As mentioned earlier, private medical services can be extremely expensive, even for simple treatments… particularly in the US, where the health care system is almost entirely private and costs a fortune!
It is important to be aware of the fact that, in countries that do not require health insurance, prices can be similarly abusive.
In this way, international health insurance is not only a guarantee of access to quality health care, but it can also help you avoid absurdly high health costs, which 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 have a digital nomad visa, you are legalized in the country as a “resident”. However, if you intend to spend a long time in the country or even obtain residency through a work visa, it is essential to have international health insurance.
What is important to consider before taking out health insurance for digital nomads?
Let us now discuss about the most affordable international health insurance options.
However, it’s natural for you to ask yourself: How do I choose the best health insurance plan for me?
Don’t worry, here are some points to consider before making the decision:
1. Coverage offered by the international health plan:
One of the most important aspects to consider when choosing international health insurance is the coverage offered.
To assess whether the plan is right for you, you need to consider a few questions, such as:
- What is the geographic area covered by the plan? Does the plan offer coverage in other cities or countries if you are traveling? If you are an expat or a digital nomad, does the plan cover your healthcare in other countries, such as Panama?
- Does the plan meet 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 cost for additional members?
2. Number of hospitals and practices covered by the international health plan:
Another important factor to consider before taking out a health plan is the availability of hospitals and offices that you will be able to use, especially if you are moving to a small town.
The more hospital options, the easier it will be for you to schedule appointments, exams or emergencies, and you can even choose the hospital closest to your home or with the fastest service.
Last but not least, there are several international health plans that allow you to use the network’s medical services without paying anything, but there are also others where you have to pay first and only then request a refund (we don’t recommend the latter case, unless absolutely necessary, as it can be difficult to get insurers to pay you what they owe you).
Your specific health needs or pre-existing conditions for you and your family:
If you have any pre-existing conditions, it is important to check if most health insurance companies offer specific coverage for pre-existing conditions and research what type of coverage is offered by the company you are interested in.
Keep in mind that not all insurance offers unlimited and free coverage for pre-existing conditions, specific treatments or even pregnancy. So if you think you need a specific type of treatment or medical care, make sure the plan you’re considering includes this.
3. Quality of insurance customer support:
Another aspect to be considered is the quality of customer service offered by the insurer, because if you need to trigger your insurance, this factor will make all the difference in the service provided by the company.
There are some critical and decisive points in hiring the health insurance service offered by the company. I recommend checking response times, the history of successfully filed complaints, and customer reviews. However, it’s important to keep in mind that insurers often receive low ratings, so you need to look at these carefully.
If you don’t speak English or the language of the country you’re moving to, it’s interesting to check if the company offers service in other languages, including your mother tongue. We know that unforeseen events happen and, in these situations, it is important to be sure that we can count on a quality and efficient support service – and in a language that we understand well.
An essential factor is to verify that the company offers 24/7 service (all plans listed below do), to avoid surprises and ensure that you are not left helpless when you need it most.
Which citizens are covered by these international health insurances?
The international health insurances on this list provide coverage for citizens living abroad as digital nomads, including:
- British people
- New Zealanders
- And for citizens of almost all other countries who live abroad.
For digital nomads residing in the following countries:
- France (European Union/Schengen Area as a whole)
- China (including Hong Kong)
- And for digital nomads living in almost any other country in the world.
In summary, no matter where you live or where you want to go, most of these health insurance companies can provide you with good service, as they are companies that serve all over the world.
The 7 Best and Cheapest International Health Insurance for Digital Nomads
The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: check out the list we’ve prepared below for you to find out about the best international health insurance and choose the one that best suits you!
Tip: I always recommend that you make a quick quotation with all the companies listed below. Even though it is laborious, at the end of your search you can save a good amount of money.
Founded in the United States, Cigna values the quality and efficiency of the American standard service in its proposal. Its objective is to provide access to quality healthcare without bureaucracy anywhere in the world. With more than 180 million employees and offices in several countries, the company is a reliable option for those looking for international health insurance.
During our stay in Sweden, Nikki took out international insurance from Cigna to meet her residency visa requirements and ensure quality medical care. Cigna can be a good choice for anyone who needs proof of health insurance coverage for immigration. However, it is important to remember that it is necessary to do research on the coverage of the plan before purchasing it.
We had a good experience with Cigna, easily finding the right plan and canceling the policy once Nikki received her residency and access to the public health system. While we haven’t filed any complaints, we can’t speak to the ease of the reimbursement process or medical care.
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 choice worth mentioning, being one of the leading companies in the international health insurance market, serving customers around the world for years. Its main mission is to provide a quality service with clear and efficient communication, standing out for its excellence in customer service.
In addition, Now Health offers a wide range of customizable plans that adapt to individual customer needs and profiles, providing greater flexibility in choosing coverage.
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
IMG is one of the best insurance options for digital nomads and is an established company with over 30 years in the market. One of the strengths of this company is its global customer service and ease of contact.
Nikki and I have both “Patriot America Plus” and “Global Medical Insurance” plans previously and have had good experiences. The IMG website offers a live chat to clarify doubts and get quick answers, which has been highly praised by users.
As with Cigna, we didn’t have the need to file a complaint, so we can’t rate that part of the service.
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)
Allianz, a German insurance company, is the last health insurance company on our list today. One noteworthy aspect of Allianz is their tailored program exclusively designed for expatriates.
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 a top choice. With years of experience, they provide a range of plans with various options for travelers worldwide.
The most highly recommended plans for digital nomads are the Diplomat Long Term and Diplomat International, both offering comprehensive coverage that effectively meets the needs of foreigners living 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 a modern health insurer that has adapted to market innovations, becoming one of the best options for digital nomads, and is gaining ground in the industry.
Its website has a modern and intuitive design, offering insurance options that cover medical and travel expenses. The company also has some unique and innovative opportunities, such as offering 30 days of coverage in your home country for every 90 days spent abroad.
SafetyWing is a company focused on self-service, which makes it easy to resolve any issues that may arise. With a highly intuitive website, it’s easy for customers to find the information they need and resolve issues quickly and with few obstacles.
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 exceptional insurance coverage with top-notch service? Look no further than GeoBlue! With a commitment to providing tailored service, GeoBlue offers a range of coverage options and both short- and long-term plans to simplify your life.
In addition, GeoBlue caters to a diverse clientele, including missionaries, teachers, students, yacht crews, immigrants, and digital nomads, with insurance plans tailored to their unique 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
Foyer is a major player in the health insurance industry and ranks as one of the largest insurance companies in Europe.
They provide a wide range of plan options and are particularly well-suited 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, with over 50 years of experience in the insurance industry, is known for offering quality service and affordable health solutions. As one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States, Aetna also offers some of the most affordable international health insurance options for digital nomads.
Moreover, Aetna has a reliable customer service team that is available round the clock, 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
If you are still don’t know which 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 Panama
Digital nomads can work remotely in Panama through Executive Decree No. 198 of May 7, 2021. However, it is important to have a stable job and a good internet connection to apply for the visa. It is recommended to do your research and purchase a valid international health insurance policy to cover possible emergencies in the country.
After meeting the requirements, digital nomads can enjoy many benefits of working remotely in Panama, including excellent internet connection and a vibrant community of travelers and remote workers. In addition, remote work allows you to experience new cultures and gain different skills and perspectives.
In Panama, there is a wide variety of activities and unique experiences, from exploring lively Panama City to relaxing on tropical beaches.
There are two options for applying for a digital nomad visa in Panama: directly in the country or through the consulate in your country of origin or residence. However, it is important to comply with the requirements, regardless of the option chosen.
- application form with commitment to cover expenses for returning home after visa expiration
- three passport size photos
- certified copies of passport
- clean criminal record certificate
- certificate of good health
- copy of valid medical insurance
- personal history statement
- declaration of non-acceptance of jobs in panama
- labor certification for a foreign company
- and a letter signed by the legal representative of the company.
The process costs US$300 and usually results in a 9-month visa, but it is possible to apply for an extension or renewal depending on the purpose and length of stay in Panama.
Here are the 7 best (and cheapest!) international health insurance companies for digital nomads:
- Now Health
- Global Underwriters
What did you think of the article? I hope it was helpful for you to find the ideal health insurance and make the most of life as a digital nomad!
Don’t forget the importance of carefully evaluating the available options and always taking out health insurance before embarking on your adventures.
If you have any questions about international health insurance or life as a digital nomad abroad, please leave a comment below. I will be happy to help you in your search! To the next!
Planning your next trip?