International healthcare, pay attention to all conditions before subscribing
Are you looking for an international healthcare to replace part of your social protection? Before leaving your home country (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Switzerland, ….) to live and/or work abroad, please take to select carefully your international healthcare.
Therefore, we advise you to consider first conditions when you will be back in your home country. Some countries such as France and Belgium offer a link with the social security through CFE and ORPSS / DIBISS. In certain countries, you can maintain your local coverage even if you leave abroad.
This will make the difference for some expatriates. Especially if you are back with pre existing conditions, or if you have been injured during your expatriation (car accident…), …
Take time to read all the documentation of your international healthcare
Pay attention to the following criteria which could make the difference, and which are not always considered as they should. Your Moncey Advisor remains at your disposal to respond to all questions you could have.
Which intervention should I select for my international healthcare?
International helathcare plan or Top-Up plan: La Caisse des Français de l’Etranger (CFE) is the link with the French Social Security for French expats (or eligible persons). L’ONSS Outre Mer is similar to CFE but for Belgian expatriates. Benefits look like a copy/paste of the Social Security’s ones. If you opt for a 100% privateinternational healthcare plan, rules and conditions are defined by the Insurer you susbcribe to. When susbscribing to CFE or ONSS Outre Mer + a Top-Up plan, you keep a link with the social security of your home country and you do not put all your eggs in the same basket.
Do I have to fill in a medical questionnaire to susbscribe to my international healthcare?
Medical questionnaire: you have to fill in a questionnaire, including more or less questions depending of the insurer. When you apply for an individual healthcare plan, this questionnaire will be analyzed a different way by each Company / Insurer. It reflects all your pre existing conditions and past hospitalisations or medical troubles. If a pre existing condition is not mentioned in the medical questionnaire, it can be considered as a fraud and the policy can be cancelled afterwards at its implementation date. Three options are available after the study of your medical questionnaire:
- the Insurer rejects your file (it does not have to justifiy its decision),
- the Insurer proposes special conditions ie extra premium and/or exclusions,
- standard conditions apply.
Keep in mind that the aim of the international healthcare is to cover a potential risk. Pre existing conditions are no longer considered as a potential risk because one can already knows what could happen on a medical point of view (even if several options are possible). For the same reason, maternity cover is not available for someone who is already pregnant.
Where will I be covered with my international healthcare?
Zone of coverage: they are as numerous as insurance products are. They are reflecting the experience of the Insurer and the cost of medical expenses in the different countries. Some coverages cover you only in your home country and country of expatriation (in case of illness or accident). Others cover you “Worldwide excluding USA” or in a specific zone ie. list of countries. In these lists of countries, you can find countries where medical expenses cost almost the same. Most expensive countries all over the world are USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, UK, Singapore, China… Therefore, premiums are often more expensives if you are expatriated in these countries.
Coverage outside the zone of cover: benefits can vary from one product to another, but most of the time emergencies are fully covered. To make sure that you are covered outside the zone of coverage, take time to read all conditions in order to avoid difficult situations (expatriates travel indeed all around the country of expatriation, and take advantage of their new location to visit all countries in the region. Weather as well as insects, viruses, sports… have to be considered as potential risks which could lead to medical expenses).
Is there waiting periods on international healthcare?
Waiting periods: during waiting periods, benefits are not covered. They apply on different benefits such as maternity, psychiatry, dental prostheses. The goal of the waiting period is to avoid the risk that someone susbcribe only to transfer immediately the cost of his/her medical expenses to a Insurance Company.
Example 1: I pay one year premiums for 1 500 Euro because my medical prostheses cost 2 500 Euro, and after one year I will stop the insurance.
Example 2: I am pregnant and I would like someone to pay for my medical expenses i.e. I am fine to pay 3 000 Euro premium vs 20 000 Euro medical costs in Hong Kong. If it was possible to do so, then the mutualization could no longer be possible and the life of insurance products would be significantly reduced. In some very specific situations, it is possible to waive waiting periods; if the previous coverage was equal or higher, and if there is no interruption between the cancellation of the previous international health insurance and the subscription to the new one.
Which benefits should I also consider on my international healthcare?
Hospitalisation / private room : hospital room is much more considered as hotel expenses than medical expenses. In certain countries, private room has a direct impact on your medical expenses’ costs. Therefore, it is important to have a limit to make sure than medical expenses will be fully covered but the room and its potential impact on premiums in the future will be very limited. If you are limited by the insurance for the private room, this does not mean that you can not access the private room you would like to go to. This means that you will have to pay the difference at your own convenience. Please pay attention to the cost of private room before rather than after the hospitalisation because the cost can significantly vary from a country to another. Example: private room which cost 200 E in Paris, will probably cost 400 E in Singapore and 1 000 E in London.
Hospitalisation / organ transplant : this benefit concerns only few members. but will make the difference for them. Check whether if the cost of the organ is included in the coverage. Is there any limit on this benefits? … These questions could be vital one day.
Hospitalisation / coma and long term care : only very few expatriates are concerned by coma. This will be the same for most expatriates – except eventually some retirees – for long term care. For those who are concerned, this will have a huge impact because the cost of such cares are significant, and this is not always fully covered. Some plans do not intervene, and a limit will apply with others. These questions, which are not easy to deal with when you are in your home country, are even more complex in an international context (medical evacuation for a person who is in a coma requires specific conditions and can quickly cost tens of thousands of euros).
What happen if I am already pregnant and I want to apply for an international healthcare?
Maternity : If you are already pregnant, it will not be accepted to be paid by an insurer (see medical questionnaire). To avoid any debate on this issue, remind you that these benefits are always related with a waiting period of 10 months generally. The treatment guarantee and benefits can be packaged or dissociated. There is, however, a trend to package and set a global limit on it. If you can be concerned by these services, look on the benefits details and understand what could remain at your expense, and check if the proposed limit allows to cover the expenses which you may be exposed (ex: the limit is 7 000 Euro. You are an expatriate in Hong Kong but think to be full covered just like in France. The limit of 7 000 Euro will be sufficient in France but will not cover the 20 00 Euro that it may cost in Hong Kong.)
How is my international healthcare plan renewed?
Renewal: depending on the regulation which impact the Insurer (ex: French regulation vs Irish regulation), your policy is automatically renewed every year, or need to be renewed.
Renewal conditions: benefits, terms and conditions and premium may change each year. The main variation remains the tariff. You will find more information on this topic on the page dedicated to renewal and evolution of contributions.
Anniversary date of the contract or January 1st (or other): each Insurer defines and proposes its conditions. The revisions of the conditions are not made at the same time and will have an impact for you. For some contracts valid for 12 months. For others, until January 1st or April 1st, when the conditions are reviewed.
How premiums are expressed on international health insurance?
Premiums: quotes and premiums can be expressed on a monthly or annual basis, to facilitate the comparison. Even if you can often pay quarterly or semi annually, monthly and annual basis are used for the communication on premiums. Premiums are expressed excluding tax (qui are add on the invoice).
Can my international healthcare plan replace the local social security?
Regulation: please note that subscribing to an international healthcare plan does not free you from local regulation, and international healthcare plans are not substitute for local mandatory insurances.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. It is subject to change by Assurances & Conseils Moncey without notice. Assurances & Conseils Moncey makes no warranty as to the accuracy of this content. Furthermore Assurances & Conseils Moncey does not accept liability to any person for the use of the information provided on this website, lack of detailed information or websites’links.