What Is International Health Insurance?
What Is It?
Do not mistake international health insurance for travel insurance. You don’t buy international health insurance for your upcoming holiday to Seoul or Tokyo. People who buy international health insurance are planning to, or already have relocated overseas to work or study for a longer period of time.
You will need to find hospitals that your international health insurance policy has pre-approved. Since you are living abroad as a foreigner, you will likely only have access to private hospitals, which means both the medical bills and your premiums will be pretty expensive.
Insurance companies offering international health insurance plans will often offer you riders and options to extend your healthcare coverage – think vision care, dental, health screenings, vaccinations, pregnancy, and General Practitioners (GP) riders.
Best International Health Insurance
|INSURANCE COMPANY||INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE||MAXIMUM COVERAGE|
|FWD||FWD International Health Insurance||S$3 million|
|AXA||AXA International Exclusive Plan C||S$$2.5 million|
|MSIG||MSIG Prestige Healthcare Elite||S$900,000|
|Cigna||Cigna Silver Plan||S$1 million|
|Liberty||Liberty MyHealth International Essential||S$2 million|
What Does International Health Insurance Cover?
International Health Insurance Coverage
You can’t bring your friendly family doctor or GP along when you relocate. Now that you are living overseas, buying the cheapest health insurance policy available is not always the best choice. Here’s what you should look out for in a policy to decide if it suits your lifestyle needs and if it’s good value for money.
The crux of a health insurance plan will be the inpatient benefits – basically your hospitalisation stays, surgeries, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wards, medication, diagnostics tests, and miscellaneous fees.
Your plan will usually also include outpatient treatments – basically medical treatments that may not require you to stay overnight in a hospital, such as kidney dialysis, cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy, immunotherapy.
While local health insurance plans usually serve to provide you with access to healthcare services within a specific country, an international health insurance plan grants you access to medical attention in a region or continent of choice (or globally).
Most international health insurance plans will also offer you riders to extend your healthcare coverage to include non-emergency lifestyle and health needs such as routine dental visits.
Wellness & Vision
Some international health insurance plans may also offer you the option to add on any mental health, behavioural care, or optical care (which includes glasses, prescription lenses, and routine optician visits).
The most common add-on available will be the pregnancy and childbirth rider which covers your routine pre-natal gynaecologist visit, your actual childbirth labour, and post-natal care.
Who Is International Health Insurance For?
In a nutshell, travel insurance is for your short holidays and business trips abroad up to 6 months while international health insurance is for people who are relocating overseas to work or study for a couple of years. So, who should buy international health insurance?
If you are a Singaporean who is relocating abroad to work, you have your local health insurance (aka Integrated Shield Plan) for healthcare coverage while living in Singapore. Likewise, you may want a similar health and hospitalisation plan while living abroad – an international health insurance.
Vice versa, if you are a foreigner – aka not a Singaporean or Permanent Resident (PR) – moving to Singapore for study or work as an expat, you may want to consider getting yourself (and your family) international health insurance. In fact, some countries require you to have international health insurance before issuing you a visa.
Choosing Your Health Insurance Plan
International Health Insurance Tips
Buying your first international health insurance? First things first, which country are you going? Next, what are your lifestyle and medical needs? Finally, international health insurance plans are known to be expensive and have high premiums – but fret not, there is a way to lower your annual premiums if you are generally in good health.
Choose Your Country
There are different areas of coverage for International Health Plans. You can usually opt for "worldwide" or "worldwide (excluding US)" plans, but some insurers provide plans for coverage in Asia too. For instance, AXA International Exclusive and the FWD International Health Insurance both offer Asia-only plans.
Get It Customised
Buy the plan which suits you best. As International Health Plans provide a myriad of benefits, don't be fooled into thinking you have to buy a standard packaged plan. There are some insurers which provide customisable plans, allowing you to pay for what you need. Cigna Health, for instance, allows you to purchase only benefits that you need.
Lower Your Premiums
You have the option of lowering your premium with what is called a “high deductible option”. Most insurers allow you to increase the deductibles and co-insurance you pay in cash, thereby lowering your international health insurance’s annual premiums.
How To Make An International Health Insurance Claim
The process for specific types of claims may differ from insurance company to company. However, international health insurance plans offered by popular insurers such as AXA, MSIG, or AIG generally have similar claims procedures. Here are some things that you should take note of when making an insurance claim.
Call Your Agent
Inform your insurance agent or advisor immediately should you need to make a claim. For full assurance of claims, it’s best to call the insurer's dedicated claims concierge hotline or your broker to get peace of mind for your medical treatment. Some insurers also have online claims applications to make it hassle-free.
Keep Your Receipts
Whatever you are making a claim for, you have to be able to prove its authenticity. This means producing original documents for the following: your attending physician's statements, medical certificates, accident reports, clinic or hospital invoices
Your insurance agent or advisor should be able to assist you to fill up the claims form. Otherwise, look for your insurance company’s claims concierge for help with completing the claims form. Most insurance companies have a claims turnaround payout time of around 5 to14 working days.
How To Apply For Your International Health Insurance Plan
Apply for an International Health Insurance Plan through MoneySmart
Step 1Answer Some Questions
Don't have time to compare all the different international health insurance plans? Answer some questions online and let our intelligent system find the best international health insurance plan for you.
Step 2Speak To An Insurance Specialist
Let our insurance specialists drop you a text and a call to clarify your medical and lifestyle needs. They will also be able to explain the international health insurance plans' offerings to you in greater detail.
Step 3Choose And Apply
Finally, let our insurance specialists offer you unbiased advice and help you complete your application process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is International Health Insurance and how does it help me?
- An International Health Insurance policy provides the choice of seeking medical treatment overseas (outside Singapore). It is available for expatriates of all nationalities and it allows for the flexibility of a wide range of medical benefits all around the world.
What is the difference between International Health insurance, travel insurance and local health insurance?
- While all these policies do have some overlapping benefits, its important to know the key differences and only purchase what's important to you and your family. International Health Insurance - Covers for Hospitalisation and Surgery in country of your choice outside Singapore. Allows for optional benefits like travel, regular doctor visits, dental, optical, health screenings and maternity. Travel Insurance - Even though an International Health Insurance policy may have travel benefits, it doesnt come close to a stand-alone Travel Insurance plan. A typical Travel Insurance plan covers medical expenses incurred overseas, comprehensive travel inconvenience benefits like flight delay and baggage delay, as well as emergencies during your trip. Local Health Insurance - As the name suggests, it only covers for Hospitalisation and Surgery locally (in Singapore). It doesnt allow for many of the optional benefits thats available only to International Health Plans.
I already have a health insurance plan in my country of origin, do i need another one in Singapore?
- It really depends on the nature of your health insurance plan in your country of origin. The most important factor to consider is whether it allows you to cover for areas outside your country of origin - if it doesn't, it's probably important to start looking for a suitable plan in Singapore.
What if i already have a corporate medical plan?
- It's great that you have a corporate medical plan! Do check out the level of benefits and coverage as corporate medical plans are typically not very comprehensive in nature. Also, its important to note that most corporate plans are not portable, which means that when your retire, you will not be insured any more. Hence its probably good to have a solid personal health insurance plan, and treat your corporate plan as additional coverage.
How do I compare International Health insurance policies?
- First, consider the geographical area of coverage that you require. Second, compare the benefits which are important to you across a few International Health Insurance providers. Next, check out the option of changing deductible and co-insurance to make your premiums more affordable. Compare International Health Insurance Plans on MoneySmart to find the one with the best price and coverage level for you!