Last Updated on by Rodrigo @ OutofYourComfortZone
Moving overseas and want to know what your best options are for international health insurance? Then read on to learn about the 5 cheapest insurance companies for you to choose from.
Moving overseas can be an incredible, life-changing experience. But to make sure everything goes smoothly with your move, there are a few annoying bureaucratic details you need to sort out.
Out of all of them, figuring out health insurance for living overseas might just be the biggest one.
Because of this, today I’ve put together a list with the best international health insurance plans for immigrants and expats. This way, you can compare the advantages of each and choose one that’ll cover you in your new home.
But before we get to the 5 options, there’s some other important info about global health insurance that we need to cover first.
Why do I need international health insurance?
It might seem obvious that, even if you live overseas, you still need to be protected against any health risks to you or your family. But many people forget to prioritize their health insurance or assume that it’s something they can figure out after they’ve moved.
However, I would highly highly recommend looking into your health insurance options BEFORE you move overseas. To help you understand why, here’s a quick list of some of the reasons for getting a good health insurance plan.
Getting a health insurance plan to live abroad protects you
It’s true that not all countries legally required immigrants and expats to have health insurance. However, that’s not a reason to NOT get a policy…especially when it’s your own health that’s at stake.
Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the healthcare system of the country you’re moving to, it’s very important that you’re covered if something were to happen during your stay.
Even if the country you’re moving to has universal public healthcare, you’ll likely need at least temporary healthcare until you’re covered by it.
Ultimately, you want to look into a good policy so you know you’ll have access to good medical care if you need it and you can focus on other parts of your life.
You’ll probably need to have an international health insurance plan to get your residence visa in the country you’re moving to
Most countries in the world require you to be covered by an international health insurance policy for you to qualify for a visa (whether for residency, international student, or work). I know for a fact that many “easy” countries to live in (like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, etc.) ask you to show health insurance to prove your medical coverage.
This is also true for many countries that have public healthcare systems. After you move, you’ll eventually get access to this system. But until then, you’ll need to prove that you have health coverage.
This is exactly what happened with Nikki. She needed to buy an international health insurance plan in order to get her residency in Sweden (she used company #1 below for this!). But once she had the residency, she then had access to the public health system and no longer needed her other health insurance plan.
You’ll have better quality healthcare with an international health insurance plan
Even if the country you’re moving to has a public health system, it’s hard to be sure that it will work exactly as you need it to. Especially if you need a specific treatment.
But by getting an international health insurance plan, you’ll often be able to access higher-quality private care. This way, you can make sure you get whatever type of medical care you or your family need.
You can save on healthcare costs with an international insurance plan
There’s one reason that many countries require you to have insurance coverage when you move there: medical expenses can be very expensive. Especially in a country like the United States where there is no public health system and everything is private…and VERY expensive.
But with an international health insurance plan, it’s not only a guarantee that you’ll have good care, but that you won’t get stuck with a large bill (which literally causes some people to declare personal bankruptcy!).
This is incredibly important if you have a pre-existing condition or if you need an international health plan that covers your entire family overseas.
What to know before getting an international health insurance policy for expats
Before we get deeper into the best health insurance providers for expat and immigrant insurance, it’s important to know how you can choose the best plan for yourself.
So, here are a few points that I’d consider crucial to think about before you reach out to any of the companies recommended below:
- What type of coverage each plan offers
- The number of hospitals and doctor’s offices covered by the international plan
- The reviews for customer service
- You & your family’s previous medical needs
Here’s a bit more about each of those points.
Consideration #1: What type of coverage each plan offers
When we talk about private medical plans for expats or immigrants, the first thing that we need to think about is the coverage.
To decide if the coverage is enough for you or not, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What is this plan’s area of coverage? Can you get treated in other cities? If it’s a health insurance plan for expats in Europe, will you be covered in other countries? Will you be covered in the whole European Union?
- Does this medical plan cover everything you need it to?
- Can I personalize the plan based on what I do or don’t need included?
- How many people does the plan provide coverage for? How much extra will I pay per person?
After going through these questions for each plan you’re looking at, you should have a better idea of if the coverage is enough for you.
Consideration #2: The number of hospitals and medical offices covered by the international plan
Alongside the quality of the hospitals and doctors’ offices, the quantity is important as well. Especially in large cities where lines tend to be longer.
With a large number of treatment options available, you’ll not only be able to choose a hospital with less wait, but also the one that is closer to you or that offers the particular type of treatment you need. This can make a pretty big difference in your quality of healthcare.
And keep in mind that there are health plans for foreigners where you can use hospitals and doctors in your network without having to pay...and then others where you can use any hospital or clinic but have to pay yourself and then request insurance reimbursement (which can be a serious pain). In other words, the more in-network hospitals and medical offices you have to choose from…the better!
Consideration #3: The reviews for customer service
When I say customer service, I’m not necessarily talking about that of the hospitals or clinics you may be going to (especially since they won’t be directly affiliated with your insurance plan).
What I’m talking about is the customer service from the company that you purchased your insurance policy from.
After all, when you’re in a new country and you’re not sure how the health system works, you’re going to want someone you can turn to for help (especially if you have an accident or an unexpected health emergency).
So you’ll want to look at things like how quick their customer service is, how easily they can be contacted, and what their reviews look like (though take these with a grain of salt).
You’ll also want to look into if they have 24/7 (all of the ones I recommend below do) to accommodate for time zone differences and health surprises.
Consideration #4: You & your family’s previous medical needs
You’ll also want to make sure that whatever insurance plan you choose covers pre-existing conditions, whether for you or a member of your family.
Not all plans will offer unlimited coverage for previous health problems nor reimbursement for certain types of treatment (or even pregnancy).
So, it’s very important to research how much extra you’ll need to pay for particular treatments with your international health insurance plan.
The 5 Cheapest International Health Insurance Companies for Immigrants & Expats
Below, you’ll find the companies that I believe offer the best international health insurance plans out there and why.
Cigna is an American company that’s expanded throughout the globe, serving more than 180 million clients since it began. The company’s “goal” is to give everyone uncomplicated access to quality healthcare everywhere in the world.
Nikki purchased a Cigna international health insurance policy when we lived in Sweden to prove her medical coverage and qualify for her residence card.
In other words, Cigna could be a good option if you need to prove health insurance coverage for your visa (though obviously you need to double-check your country’s coverage requirements…especially since the plan we got with a different company before Cigna wasn’t enough!).
Generally, we had a good experience with Cigna and found it pretty easy to get the right plan. That said, we never had to file a claim so I can’t speak to their process there.
Here’s a bit more about what I did/didn’t like about my experience with Cigna.
What I liked about Cigna:
- You can control what you pay upfront with flexible deductibles
- You can pay monthly, quarterly, or annually
- In most cases, you don’t pay the healthcare provider directly (Cigna pays them directly for your consultation so you don’t have to request reimbursement)
- You can choose from 3 plans: Silver, Gold, or Platinum
- The basic Silver Plan covers $100 in ophthalmologist eye care costs as well as for a few types of cancer exams
- You can add emergency or emergency medical evacuation coverage if you need to leave the country for medical treatment
- They have 24/7 customer service
- They have medical coverage for the Middle East (not all international health insurance companies do!)
- You can select plans that include transport for organ transplants or dialysis treatments
- Their website has a complete breakdown of the financial system of the country that you’re moving to, as well as information about the culture and schooling system
- They cover any necessary costs for COVID-19 treatment, based on the recommended protocols by the World Health Organization
What I didn’t like about Cigna:
- You have to add in a lot of personal information before they’ll give you a personal quote
- You have to get a more expensive policy if you plan to have a child overseas since the basic plan doesn’t cover maternity care
IMG is a well-known insurance company that’s been around for 30 years and offers many kinds of international health insurance for expats. With this focus on individuals who move to another country, the company has a few convenient features like global customer service and easy ways to speak to them when you need to.
Nikki and I have used IMG’s “Patriot America Plus” and “Global Medical Insurance” plans a few times before and have generally had a good experience with the company…and have found that the live chat right on their homepage has been great for getting quick answers. But as with Cigna, I also haven’t had to file a claim with them, so I can’t speak to how smooth the process is for this.
What I liked about IMG:
- IMG’s network includes more than 17,000 doctors around the world
- You can choose from 5 different plans based on your coverage needs
- Your deductible can be reduced by up to 50% if you use a healthcare provider ( hospital, clinic, etc.) with your IMG insurance outside the United States
- IMG has a specific health insurance plan for missionaries on religious missions overseas
- You can make your payments with automatic debit
- With their online portal, you can access emergency medical services 24/7
- They offer coverage for individuals and families of all nationalities
- They cover almost all expenses related to COVID-19, including tests if they are requested by a doctor
What I didn’t like about IMG:
- If you’re above 75, there aren’t any plan options for you (however, if you buy a plan before turning 65 and continue it, you can participate in the company’s lifetime subscription plan
- Their plans cover little to no maternity care (with the exception of the most expensive plan which covers births and neonatal care only after you’ve been registered for at least 10 months
Featuring an easy, upbeat website design (nothing like a duck with hands and spaceships to put you in the mood for getting some travel medical insurance!) and insurance policies that cover both medical and travel issues. Plus, you get 30 days of coverage back home for every 90 days you spend abroad (very rare for other insurance companies).
What I liked about SafetyWing:
- You have lots of options for personalizing your plan
- Their website is very easy to use, and makes it very clear how much you’ll pay for your plan and what each plan does and doesn’t cover
- They also cover children up to 10 for no extra fees
- You can add coverage for extra medical services including dental, maternity, deductible expenses, and outpatient services like physical therapy or family medicine
- You get coverage up to $100,000 USD in repatriation after an evacuation
- You receive a daily allowance if you’re treated at a public hospital where there are no expenses or where the treatment is covered by some other insurance (in these cases, you receive $125 USD per night for up to 30 nights)
- There is coverage and full reimbursement for cancer treatment and reconstructive surgeries
- They have 24/7 support no matter where you are in the world
- They offer COVID-19 coverage based on recommendations from a doctor
- They cover visits to your home country for 30 days every 90 days
- Their website is fun and much more entertaining than your average insurance company 🙂
What I didn’t like about SafetyWing:
- The quote you see on the website is given without all taxes and fees…to see the full amount, you need to login and fill out a lot of information
- The coverage for The United States, Hong Kong, and Singapore is quite expensive compared to other countries
Foyer Health is one of the biggest companies in the world when it comes to global health insurance for expats. They are a part of the Foyer Group, a European Giant that offers you many policy options to choose from.
Here are a few of the things that I did and didn’t like about Foyer.
What I liked about Foyer Global Health:
- You can personalize your coverage based on many factors: your age, country of origin, dental coverage, eye coverage, vaccines, maternity care & children
- You can choose a level of coverage (from nothing to the maximum) for each of these factors
- You can choose an insurance policy for just one person, for a family with no children, or for a family with children
- Even if you don’t get coverage for the United States, you’ll still get emergency medical coverage in the country
- It’s easy and quick to get a quote (you don’t need to put in a lot of personal info like most other insurance website)
- You can choose from many deductible options
- They have short-term plans if you’ll only be in another country temporarily
- You can compare plans to decide which is best for you
- They offer health coverage for expats in all of Europe
What I didn’t like about Foyer Global Health:
- The basic plans don’t offer maternity or newborn care
- While the customer service does the job, it’s not quite a simple as with the other companies I’ve recommended
- Their website is a little unclear about the coverage limits
- Their website offers a lot of information about the coronavirus, but it doesn’t make clear if they cover tests or COVID-19 complications
- They charge a €5 fee for emergency support
- They don’t offer medical insurance for expats in the United States, just medical coverage in case of emergencies
5. Allianz Care
German company Allianz is another big player in the world of insurance. So naturally, we can’t leave them off when talking about your options for international health insurance.
Here are a few of the things that I liked and didn’t like about Allianz.
What I liked about Allianz Care:
- They have 24/7 customer support
- In most cases, you don’t pay the healthcare provider directly (Cigna pays them directly for your consultation so you don’t have to request reimbursement)
- They offer coverage on all the continents
- You get access to a medical app that can help in the prevention and treatment of health problems (it’s available after 6 months of your contract and expenses up to €50 are covered)
- They have a specific program for expats, where they help you in a number of ways that extends beyond medical care
- Their expat insurance includes tips for living better on your own, with a small family, or how to deal with a country’s specific challenges
What I didn’t like about Allianz:
- They don’t have many options for plans
- Their website isn’t very clear about their COVID-19 coverage
Table comparison of the 5 best international medical insurance companies
To help you make the most of all the information I gave you above, here’s a table comparing all the companies I talked about. With the help of the table, hopefully you can have a better idea of which insurance company is right for you for your move overseas.
|Medical Maximum||Unlimited (for the Platinum plan)||$8,000,000||US$1,000,000 per year||The site doesn’t specify||Depending on the plan, can be up to €2,250,000|
|U.S. In-Network Coinsurance||You choose – from 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||100%||Yes, for higher fees||Only in emergencies||Yes|
|U.S. Out-of-Network Coinsurance||You choose – from 70%(100% thereafter) to 100%||90% up to $5,000 (100% thereafter)||100%||100%||100%|
|Mental Health Availability||No waiting period||12-month waiting period||No||10-month waiting period||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||None||Inpatient and Outpatient: 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||Full reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Outpatient Prescription Drugs||None, unless you buy the International Outpatient Option||Up to $8,000,000||Full reimbursement||Yes||Yes|
|Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||No||Up to €10,000||Up to €10,000|
|Accidental Death & Dismemberment||Depends on the plan||Rider available, limit depends on age||N/A||N/A||Up to €10,000 (only for the Care Pro plan)|
|Emergency Dental||Paid in full||Up to $8,000,000||Yes, however you need to pay an extra fee on top of your plan||Depending on the plan, it’s unlimited||Up to €2,050 if you get a plan add-on|
|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||N/A|
|Amateur Sports||Unlimited||Rider available up to $10,000||No||No||N/A|
|COVID-19 Coverage for Expats & Immigrants||Yes||Yes||Yes||Website isn’t clear||Website isn’t clear|
|Routine Nursery Care of a Newborn Child with 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||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||No||10-month waiting period||No|
|Neonatal Intensive Care Unit||Check website for updated information||$250,000 maximum for first 31 days||Up to $250,000 for the first 31 days||Up to €20,000 with a 10-month waiting period||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 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||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||Full reimbursement||Unlimited depending on the plan||Unlimited depending on the plan|
Worldwide Medical Insurance / Comparison Chart*
Part of the table courtesy of Tokio Marine HCC
*Note: this table is just for informational purposes and subject to change. It was accurate as of the time we wrote it here, but please check each company’s individual website for updated info.
Here are the best and cheapest international health insurance for living overseas that we talked about today:
- Cigna Global
- Foyer Global Health
Hopefully, my review of the cheapest health insurance companies for expats and immigrants above has helped you figure out where to start your search.
If you have any final questions about international health insurance, expat insurance, digital nomad insurance, or anything about living overseas in general, just leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
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