Health Insurance for Expats

Angkor Wat, Cambodia An important issue that many Expats tend to overlook when doing their initial retirement planning is whether or not their health insurance is going to be accepted in their new home.

While most policies will provide coverage, or at least reimbursement, for policyholders who are traveling in a foreign country, all bets could be off once you take up residence.

Of course, your first step should be to simply call your health insurance company and ask if your coverage will remain in effect once you retire to your beach or mountain paradise. If the answer is "Yes", then you're 50% along the way to being in good shape.

The other 50% of the problem is whether or not your insurance is accepted by the in-country hospitals and doctors that you want to attend you. Usually, the larger insurance companies will have listings of medical professionals and facilities that accept your policy on a country-by-country basis but, even then, that information is not always current. That's why you should contact some hospitals and doctors directly to see if they accept your coverage.

If you find that your health insurance coverage will not go with you into retirement, all is not lost. There are insurance companies that specialize in providing Expat health insurance on a country-by-country basis. All you have to do is Google the term "Expat Health Insurance" and start visiting the web sites.

If you are going to be switching companies in order to accommodate your retirement plans, your #1 health insurance concern is to make sure that the company you are choosing will cover your pre-existing conditions.

While it is normal for many insurance providers to require a reasonable waiting period before pre-existing conditions are included, you should seriously consider staying away from any company that refuses to cover them at all. Of course, if you are 100% healthy at the moment, then this is not an issue.

Another consideration is prescription coverage. It is common for prescription drugs to be very expensive in many of the countries in Southeast Asia, and a good prescription plan will help you keep more of your retirement money in the bank.

Make sure that the co-payments and annual deductibles are affordable, and keep in mind that often-times there is an overall deductible limit as well as an individual family member deductible limits. Deductibles tend to be hidden expenses that raise the actual cost of Expat health insurance coverage beyond what those costs appear to be on paper.

The final issue is the reliability and size of the health insurance provider, Even the most affordable plan is worth nothing if the insurance company goes out of business. Always check the insurance industry rating on a company before you sign anything.

Unless you have unlimited wealth, the time is going to come when you will need health insurance. Don't let a lack of planning steal your retirement income. Find an Expat health insurance plan that meets your needs before you move.