By: John Fernandez | CRP, GMS, SSB

August 17, 2021

What Is Expatriate Health Insurance?

Relocating employees is not necessarily the easiest process. There is a lot that goes into moving a candidate to fill a role, from home-selling assistance to transportation of household goods to tax gross-ups, companies have to assure that the many needs of their relocating employees are covered. Typically, health insurance is something that is discussed in the negotiation stage of hiring. But what if the candidate is moving from another country? Each country has different health care systems and requirements for health insurance coverage, and employees’ existing insurance plans may not provide complete coverage when the employee is moving internationally. Newly hired employees moving internationally might have a concern about their coverage for the period before the new job’s health plan goes into effect. 

When hiring international applicants, it is recommended that companies have expatriate health insurance options in their relocation benefits packages. Expatriate medical coverage (also known as expat insurance) is temporary insurance that is provided for people living outside their home country. Many plans are designed to cover employees who are staying in one country or will be traveling to multiple countries during their work assignments.

Why Is Health Insurance Important for Expatriates?

Expat insurance comes into play when a relocated employee is considered a foreign national and does not qualify for plans offered by local insurance companies. An easy example would be a Canadian citizen who is living in the US for an extended period for work. Does their home health insurance provide the same level of coverage and cost-benefit when they are outside of their home country?

For the Employer

Companies may want to consider covering expatriate insurance benefits because it can help attract and maintain talented employees. When trying to fill a seat in the company, having the option of being able to interview, and ultimately hire, international applicants opens up more options.

For the Employee

International relocators should take advantage of expatriate insurance when offered due to the varied health coverage in different countries. As each country has its own healthcare system, it can be very confusing to know how the system works and what is and isn’t covered. Uninsured individuals who seek treatments could end up with massive bills later on. 

Expatriate health coverage also gives the moving employee peace of mind, not only knowing they’re covered for unexpected healthcare needs but in knowing they are protected financially as well. If an emergency or sickness were to pop up, that employee knows their coverage will help with medical bills.

What Type of International Health Insurance Plans Are Available?

When it comes to expatriate insurance coverage options, the line does not stop at just medical. There are plans offered by providers which also include: 

  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Group Insurance
  • Evacuation and Medical Evacuation Insurance
  • Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Property and Liability Insurance
  • Travel Insurance

All of these different insurance types can help attract the best possible candidate for any job opening. Again, people who travel internationally for work assignments might desire these types of insurance because in their home country they may already be covered by them.

Considerations to Take When Choosing Expatriate Insurance

While there are a few providers who specialize in expatriate insurance plans, it’s always a good idea to look into which plan will work best for any given person. Is the favored policy set up for travelers or locals? Does the insurance company have a good reputation? Are the brokers and employees of the company certified for their specific field/job? Can the company pay claims from abroad? How do claim payments affect taxes or reimbursements? Does the employee have a choice of local healthcare at public and/or private hospitals? Does the policy cover a range of conditions, or is it limited to medical emergencies only?

All of these questions are fair to ask when inspecting a provider. But the big question to ask is if pre-existing medical conditions are covered and how they’re handled. Pre-existing conditions in the employees’ medical history could be the make-or-break deciding factor in choosing a provider. Companies should be sure their employees can get treatment coverage for conditions that are disclosed at the beginning of their health insurance policy.

Incorporate Expatriate Health Insurance into Your Relocation Program

Providing relocation benefits is one of the best ways to assure a company that they have the best shot at hiring the right person for the right seat. Global Mobility Solutions has been assisting companies in setting up their relocation programs for over 30 years now. If your company is ready to implement expatriate health insurance coverage into their policies then reach out to us today. Making sure employees are covered in case of an emergency medical situation is important. Our qualified team can help set up relocation benefits with expatriate health insurance included.

Executive Vice President John oversees global operations, marketing, business development as well as reporting and analytics. John’s 23 years of mobility experience include excellence in varied positions such as Relocation Counselor, International Assignment Manager, Manager of Latin American Operations, Director of International Operations, Global Account Executive, Vice President of Sales and Vice President of Global Services. The depth of John’s mobility experience also includes multiple assignments and domestic relocations of his own. He has lived and conducted business around the globe and speaks multiple languages.

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