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Expatriate Health Insurance

What is expatriate health insurance?  An expatriate is a person who is temporarily or permanently living in a country that is not their legal residence.  Expatriate health insurance is offered to those living abroad for work, school, or some other reason.  If you are an expatriate seeking health insurance, the information below will help you make an informed decision and understand your choices.

Basics Of Expatriate Health Insurance

In simple terms, expatriate health insurance is a type of traveler’s insurance offered for those who will be making an extended stay outside of their country of citizenship for reasons other than a vacation.  You can get travelers health insurance for vacations. 

Expatriate health differs in the amount of time that you will need the insurance because of an extended stay.  Policies normally offer either $1,000,000 or $5,000,000 in maximum benefits.  With some companies one or the other is standard with others you have your choice. 

Deductibles start at $250 and go up to $25,000 once again depending on the insurance company you go with.  Coverage runs between $80 and $900 a month.  You should also be aware that it can take up to eight weeks to get you and your families information reviewed and your policy in place.  Do not expect to be able to purchase your expatriate health insurance a week before you leave.

How Expatriate Health Insurance Is Different

Health insurance to cover accident and illness while traveling overseas is handled so much differently than a standard health insurance policy.  You don’t have many choices. There are no HMO’s, PPO’s or POS’s in international health insurance.  You will either be covered or you won’t.  There is an international preferred provider list available through most insurance companies that offer international, travelers or expatriate health insurance.  Using these doctors will help save you some money.

So why do you need expatriate health insurance?  When you travel outside the United States any health insurance coverage you have will probably not meet your needs.  Each country handles their medical care differently and you need to be covered for the area that you will be staying in where the medical system there can get paid. 

If you are going to be staying overseas for a long period of time for work, and you have a work permit and are gainfully employed your employer will take money out of your wages to contribute to the national health care system and you will be able to use it.  This is something you will have to talk to your employer about.

When choosing expatriate health insurance for you and your family there are a lot of things to consider such as:

  • How many people do you need to insurance and for how long.

  • Do you need a plan for just Europe (for example) or do you need a world wide policy?  There are many options available and each insurance company offers different ones as well as different extended plans to cover things specifically like scuba accidents. 

  • Dental and vision coverage can also be purchased through some companies.

Prior to choosing a provider search the Internet to learn about the different companies, what they offer, how they pay out (do they pay the provider directly or do they reimburse you?).  Some companies offer a special kind of expatriate health insurance that is available to missionaries at a discounted rate.

Coverage With Expatriate Health Insurance Plans

Depending on the country you are visiting rates and coverage will be somewhat different.  However most plans include the following:

  • Hospitalization

  • Prescriptions

  • Surgery

  • X-rays

  • Emergency room and emergency care

  • Diagnostic and laboratory testing

  • Child wellness visits (routine check ups and immunizations)

  • Maternity Care

  • Mental health care

  • Transplants

  • Intensive Care

  • Physical Therapy

  • Doctors Visits for illness or injury

  • Depending on the company and policy wellness visits for adults that include one routine physical a year, one pap smear and if needed one mammogram a year for women.

  • Anesthesia

  • Ambulance or transportation services

  • Medical Evacuation – not all companies offer this as a standard part of the health insurance plan.  Some make it available as a rider at additional coverage.

Expatriate Health Insurance Companies

Here is a partial listing of some of the insurance companies that offer expatriate health insurance plans:


Health Care International

Expat Financial

New York International Group

Global Insurance

Aetna Global


First Health

Atlas Group

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