Expat health insurance is essential for those living abroad due to their unique health challenges and uncertainties. Expats may find themselves navigating unfamiliar medical systems, facing language barriers, and encountering varying levels of healthcare quality.

Comprehensive health insurance ensures that expats have access to the best possible medical care without incurring prohibitive costs. This is particularly important in countries where healthcare is expensive or where certain treatments may not be available. Additionally, health insurance for expats often includes coverage for medical evacuation, which is vital in emergencies when treatment is not available locally.

It also provides peace of mind to expatriates and their families, knowing they are protected against the financial impact of unexpected illness or injury. This protection allows expatriates to focus more on their overseas assignments and less on potential healthcare difficulties.

What is it?

expatriate medical insurance healthcare cost global citizens international travel add ons pre existing condition key benefits family access global health best health insurance expatriate health insurance plans medical cover Global expat health insurance is a policy designed to offer complete medical coverage for expatriates who reside and work outside their home countries.

This insurance is particularly important for individuals who spend a significant amount of time abroad, as it guarantees that they have access to high-quality healthcare services globally, regardless of the varying standards of healthcare systems in different countries.

The key features of global expat health insurance typically include:

Worldwide Coverage: It offers medical protection across different countries, making it ideal for expats who travel frequently or live in multiple countries throughout the year.

Flexibility: Policies can often be customized to fit the specific needs of the expat, including options for maternity, mental health, dental care, and emergency evacuation.

Direct Billing: Many global plans have networks of hospitals and doctors around the world that can bill the insurer directly, simplifying the process for policyholders during medical visits.

Emergency Services: Coverage usually includes emergency medical evacuations, which is essential if the expat is located in a region with limited medical facilities.

Repatriation Coverage: In case of severe health issues, the insurance can cover costs for returning the expat to their home country for treatment.

Global expat health insurance is tailored to offer peace of mind and stability, allowing expatriates to focus on their international assignments without worrying about the adequacy of their health care coverage in a foreign country.

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How does it work?

portugal-golden-visa-healthcareExpat medical insurance works by providing health coverage specifically designed for individuals living outside their home country for extended periods. It ensures that expatriates have access to necessary medical services while abroad, covering a range of health-related issues that might arise during their stay.

Expatriates should choose a medical insurance plan based on their health needs, location, and length of stay abroad. Plans’ coverage scopes can vary widely, ranging from basic emergency care to comprehensive health services that include routine check-ups, maternity care, mental health services, and more.

Like any insurance plan, expat medical insurance requires policyholders to pay premiums. The payment can be made monthly, quarterly, or annually, and the cost usually depends on factors like the insured’s age, chosen coverage, deductible amounts, and country of residence.

Many plans have deductibles, which are the amount expats need to pay out of pocket before the insurance starts covering medical expenses. Co-pays, where the insured pays a part of each service, might also apply.

Most insurers provide a global network of hospitals and doctors that accept their insurance, easing the process of finding compatible healthcare services.

In cases of severe medical emergencies or when adequate care isn’t available locally, expat insurance typically covers the cost of transportation to a facility that can provide the necessary medical care. Repatriation for treatment in the expat’s home country or for the remains in the event of death can also be included.

Insurers usually offer 24/7 customer support to assist with medical emergencies, finding appropriate medical care, and dealing with claims and payments.

Expat medical insurance provides crucial support, ensuring that individuals working or living abroad can receive appropriate medical care without worrying about high healthcare costs in foreign countries.

What does it cover?

International health insurance offers comprehensive coverage tailored to the needs of those living or traveling abroad for extended periods. It typically includes coverage for inpatient care, which covers all aspects of hospital stays from the room charges to surgeries and the medications administered during the stay. Outpatient care is also covered, encompassing visits to doctors, diagnostic tests, and any prescribed treatments that don’t require hospitalization.

Additionally, emergency medical services are a crucial component, ensuring that policyholders receive prompt care in urgent situations. This can include emergency evacuation and transportation to a facility equipped to handle severe medical issues. Many plans also offer maternity and newborn care, which is vital for expatriates planning families during their stay abroad.

Mental health services and rehabilitation support are often included, recognizing the potential challenges associated with living away from one’s home country. Dental and optical care, though less frequently covered, can be included in more comprehensive plans.

Prescription medication costs are typically covered, providing relief from the high cost of medicines. Finally, repatriation benefits are available in many plans, covering the costs of returning home for treatment or, in unfortunate cases, the repatriation of remains.

Overall, international health insurance is designed to provide a broad safety net, covering a range of health services to ensure that expatriates and long-term travelers can receive quality medical care wherever they are in the world.

International expat insurance costs

taxes for foreigners international medical insurance expatriate health insurance plan travel insurance expat health insurance cost pre existing medical history emergency medical evacuation continuous coverage insurance company affordable care act x rays radiation therapy calendar yearThe cost of international expat insurance can vary widely depending on several factors. These factors include the age of the insured, the scope of coverage, the chosen deductible and co-pay levels, the geographical area of coverage, and any additional benefits included in the policy. Here’s a general breakdown of how these elements can affect the cost:

Age and Health of the insured

Older expatriates typically face higher premiums because they are more likely to require medical services. Health status can also play a role, where pre-existing conditions might lead to higher costs.

Coverage Scope

Plans that offer comprehensive coverage, including outpatient care, maternity benefits, dental and vision care, mental health services, and medical evacuation, are more expensive than basic plans covering only emergency medical treatments.

Geographical Coverage

Insurance premiums can also depend on the location where the expat will reside. Areas with higher medical costs, such as the United States or certain parts of Europe, tend to have higher insurance premiums.

Deductibles and Co-pays

Plans with higher deductibles – where the insured pays more out of pocket before the insurance kicks in – typically have lower monthly premiums. Similarly, plans with co-pays, where the insured shares a portion of the costs of services, can also be less expensive in terms of premiums.

Additional Benefits

Adding extra benefits like coverage for adventure sports, comprehensive dental and vision care, or higher limits for medical evacuation can increase the cost. To give a rough estimate, the annual premium for basic international health insurance might start from a few hundred dollars and can go up to several thousand dollars for a comprehensive plan in high-cost areas. For instance, basic coverage could range from $500 to $1,200 per year, while extensive coverage in a high-cost country like the USA could easily exceed $4,000 to $8,000 per year.

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Pros and cons of expat health insurance

Expat health insurance is specifically designed to provide coverage for those living outside their home country. This type of insurance can be essential for protecting your health and finances while living abroad, but like any insurance product, it has both advantages and drawbacks to consider.

On the positive side, expat health insurance typically covers a wide range of medical care, including emergency services, hospital stays, and prescription medications. However, it can also have limitations, such as exclusions for pre-existing conditions, high deductibles, and limited coverage for certain procedures or treatments.


Coverage: Expat health insurance typically offers extensive medical coverage that includes hospitalization, outpatient services, emergency evacuation, and sometimes even maternity and dental care. This broad coverage is crucial for ensuring access to quality healthcare in foreign countries.

GCS-ICONS-04Global Network: Most expat insurance plans provide access to a wide network of hospitals and clinics worldwide. This global network ensures that expatriates receive timely and quality medical care wherever they are located.

Billing: Many international insurance plans offer direct billing arrangements where the insurer pays the medical provider directly. This feature removes the hassle for expats from having to pay large medical bills upfront and then seek reimbursement.

Emergencies: The inclusion of emergency medical evacuation, which can be a lifesaver in areas with inadequate medical facilities, is a significant benefit. This coverage is essential for serious illnesses or injuries that require specialized treatment not available locally.

GCS-ICONS-61Peace of Mind: Having reliable health insurance provides expatriates with peace of mind, knowing they are covered in case of medical emergencies. This can make the challenging transition to living abroad easier and less stressful.


GCS-ICONS-41Cost: An international expat health insurance plan can be quite expensive, especially comprehensive plans that include coverage in countries with high medical costs, such as the United States. The premiums can be significantly higher compared to local health insurance options.

Complexity: Understanding the terms, coverage limits, and exclusions can be complicated. Expat health insurance plans often come with various clauses and conditions that can be difficult to navigate, particularly in emergency situations.

GCS-ICONS-48Coverage Limitations: While comprehensive, these plans often have exclusions and limitations. For instance, pre-existing conditions, routine check-ups, and preventive care might not be covered, or there may be waiting periods for certain benefits like maternity care.

GCS-ICONS-08Language Barriers: Dealing with foreign medical systems while having insurance can be challenging due to cultural and language barriers, which complicates treatment and insurance claims.

Private Facilities: Expat insurance typically relies on private healthcare providers for quality treatment, which can limit options in areas where private healthcare is scarce or localized.

Best Options for Expat Healthcare

When selecting one of the international health insurance plans, it’s important to consider factors such as the level of coverage, cost, quality of service, and insurer reliability.

Several insurance providers are highly regarded for offering extensive international health insurance plans that cater specifically to expats. These providers are known for their comprehensive coverage and excellent customer service.

Cigna Global

Cigna is a reputable company in the international health insurance industry, providing comprehensive global coverage. They offer various plans that can be customized to include vision, dental, and other specific health requirements. Cigna is well-regarded for its outstanding customer service and extensive network of healthcare providers.

Aetna International

Aetna provides comprehensive health insurance solutions for expatriates worldwide. Their plans include preventive health checks, mental health services, and emergency evacuations. Aetna is known for its user-friendly online services and efficient claims processing.

Bupa Global

Bupa offers comprehensive international medical insurance, including coverage for chronic and hereditary conditions, which is not always provided by other insurers, for individuals, families, and businesses.

Allianz Worldwide Care

Allianz provides comprehensive international health insurance that covers both daily medical expenses and major medical costs. Its plans are highly flexible and can be easily adjusted to meet expats’ changing needs, making it ideal for those who frequently move between countries.


GeoBlue is one of the health insurance providers that are highly favored by US expatriates. They offer a comprehensive health insurance plan that gives you access to a network of elite doctors from various specialties across more than 190 countries. Their coverage is customizable, and you can choose to include or exclude the US in your plan.

AXA Global Healthcare

AXA provides a wide range of global medical insurance options, including emergency coverage and comprehensive health plans with routine care. Their exceptional customer support and customizable plans are highly regarded.

Integra Global

Their health plans are tailored to meet the needs of expats and provide extensive coverage without requiring a detailed list of every condition or medication. They are recognized for their personalized customer service and health insurance policies that offer comprehensive coverage for a broad range of medical conditions.

How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments. 

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Expat Health Insurance

What does expat health insurance cover?

Expat health insurance typically covers a broad range of medical services including emergency medical treatments, hospitalization, outpatient services, prescription medications, and often maternity care, dental treatment, and mental health services. Coverage can vary greatly between policies, so it’s important to check the specifics of what each plan offers.

Is expat health insurance mandatory?

In many countries, having some form of health insurance is mandatory for expatriates. The requirements can vary by country; some may require you to have a local plan, while others accept international expat insurance. It’s crucial to check the regulations of the host country before moving.

How does expat health insurance differ from travel insurance?

Expat health insurance is designed for long-term stays abroad, providing comprehensive health coverage similar to what one would expect from a domestic health insurance plan. Travel insurance, on the other hand, is intended for short trips and typically focuses on emergency medical treatment along with travel-related coverages like trip cancellation and lost luggage.

Can I visit any doctor or hospital that I choose?

Many expat health insurance plans come with a network of preferred healthcare providers that policyholders are encouraged to use. These providers often have direct billing arrangements with the insurance company. However, most plans do allow you to visit out-of-network doctors, though you may face higher out-of-pocket costs or need to pay upfront and seek reimbursement.

How do I claim my expat health insurance?

The claiming process can vary depending on the insurance provider. Generally, for planned treatments, you may need to get pre-authorization from your insurer. For emergency treatments, you might have to pay upfront and claim reimbursement later. Always keep detailed receipts and medical reports to support your claims. For direct billing, the healthcare provider will bill the insurer directly, minimizing your upfront payment.

Is travel insurance the same as international private medical insurance?

Travel insurance and international private medical insurance (IPMI) are designed for different purposes, and while they both offer medical coverage, the scope and duration of that coverage vary significantly. For example, while both types of insurance include provisions for medical emergencies, travel insurance is suitable for short trips and handling immediate unforeseen emergencies. In contrast, IPMI offers extensive health coverage suitable for individuals and families living abroad long-term, providing stability similar to regular health insurance.

Does the insurance cover emergency situations?

Coverage usually includes emergency medical evacuations, which is essential if the expat is located in a region with limited medical facilities.