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What Is International Health Insurance?

  • Jun 23, 2021
  • Health Insurance

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International medical insurance provides cover for emergency and routine healthcare while living, studying or working abroad over a prolonged period (usually more than one year). It gives you access to private healthcare in your country of residence. International health insurance is available to individuals and families as well as companies wanting to provide health coverage for their employees while they are working outside the UK.

International medical insurance will typically cover you for the following:

  • Medical treatment for acute conditions if you are admitted into hospital (this can be inpatient or day patient)
  • Cancer treatment
  • An emergency visit if a family member is critically ill whilst abroad
  • MRI, CT and PET scans
  • Surgery when not admitted in a hospital
  • Repatriation
  • Emergency dental treatment requiring hospital admission

The above cover is what we offer as part of all our Freedom Health Insurance Worldwide plans and other levels of cover are also available. What an international medical insurance policy will cover may vary across providers so make sure you understand what you are entitled to before purchasing a policy.

What are the benefits of international medical insurance?

International medical insurance takes the guesswork out of foreign healthcare costs

The way you can access public healthcare in different countries and the costs associated with this vary across the world. Some countries may have a free public healthcare system similar to the NHS while others might require you to pay all or part of the cost of any medical treatment you need. It’s very common that foreign nationals don’t automatically have access to free public healthcare in their new country of residence.

With international medical insurance you get the peace of mind that your eligible private hospital bills are covered by your insurance company so you can focus on what matters the most, your health. In an emergency, your international health insurance policy may also cover transport costs and even repatriation if it is necessary. Find out more about our Worldwide health insurance.

International medical insurance covers your healthcare wherever you are

Wherever life may take you, international medical insurance can cover you in most countries around the world and the cover is usually not restricted to only one country either. With many international health insurance policies you can choose a specific area of the globe where you will be covered such as Europe or even worldwide. Please bear in mind that travelling overseas for the purpose of receiving medical treatment is not likely to be covered in your medical insurance plan. 

International medical insurance gives you a choice

Another benefit of international medical insurance is that it provides flexibility when it comes to your healthcare. You can often choose which doctor you want to see, the type of treatment you have and the hospital you want to have your treatment in. Moreover, many comprehensive health insurance plans can give you the option to return home for treatment, or to another country which you spend a significant amount of time in should you wish to. 

Your international medical insurance may include additional cover

Nowadays, most international medical insurance policies cover medical evacuation and repatriation to your home country in case you cannot be treated in your country of residence. Other optional benefits can include maternity cover, dental and optical cover. You may also be able to increase the level of cover of your existing benefits in exchange for a higher premium.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the benefits of international medical insurance can vary across providers, so it’s always worth taking some time to compare their policies so you can find one that best suits your individual needs. 

Who needs international medical insurance?

Although usually not mandatory, an international medical insurance plan can help expats find their way round the local healthcare system, knowing they are covered if they become ill or injured while in a foreign country. International medical insurance could be taken by:

  • Individuals and families relocating overseas permanently,
  • Individuals wanting to retire abroad,
  • Individuals studying, volunteering, or working overseas for a set period of time,
  • Remote workers,
  • Multinational employers,
  • Frequent business travellers,
  • Groups and global businesses.

What is the difference between international medical insurance and travel insurance?

International medical insurance offers long-term protection when living abroad for at least one year and it usually covers your emergency and routine healthcare and medical treatment costs. On the other hand, travel insurance is a short-term insurance plan (less than a year) that only covers health emergencies and accidents during a holiday or business trip and it also includes non-medical benefits such as cover for lost luggage or cancellations. Travel insurance won’t cover costs related to medical care that can wait until you have returned to the UK.

How much does international medical insurance cost?

  • The cost of international medical insurance can vary greatly depending on a few factors and it is generally more expensive than the UK health insurance plans. The most common aspects that health insurance companies take into consideration when calculating your insurance premium are:
  • The age of the people covered. With any type of health insurance, including international medical insurance, the premium is higher the older you are.
  • The country you are moving to. Your premium will be higher when relocating to a country or region where healthcare is generally more expensive.
  • Your medical history. Some companies may provide international cover for your pre-existing conditions, but this is likely to make your premium more expensive.
  • The level of cover. The more options you have selected and the higher the level of cover, the higher the premium will generally be.

How does international health insurance work? 

Many international health insurance policies will cover you for a year at a time and you’ll have the option of paying for your policy in monthly or annual installments. 

If you become ill or suffer an injury, you can make a claim with your health insurance provider to cover the costs of medical treatment and healthcare. In some cases, you may be required to pay an excess towards your treatment but this will depend on your policy and your insurer. 

How to get international health insurance

International medical insurance is a specialist product and can either be bought directly from a health insurance provider or indirectly from a health insurance broker. A broker offers their customers advice and support when choosing and setting up their policy.

In most cases you can complete your international medical insurance purchase online or over the phone. You can get a free health insurance quote today for our Freedom Worldwide international health insurance, with no obligation to buy and great flexibility when it comes to your cover.

To request your international health insurance quote, choose one of the options below to contact us:

  • Call us on 0800 999 2013* or 01202 756 350*
  • Email us on [email protected]
  • Click on the ‘Chat with us’ button at the top of the page.

We hope that we’ve answered your questions on what international medical insurance is and how it can support you whilst overseas. If you have any further questions then please do get in touch.