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Navigating the expat health insurance maze - How to decide what’s right for you

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Looking at all the health insurance options available online can be mighty daunting.


Yet with some clear thought processes, good advice from a responsible provider, and practical advice from people who have “been there done that” the choppy waters of finding the right and most appropriate expat health care policy for your needs not be an insurmountable problem.


Much is good common sense, the rest can be gleaned from experienced people both in and on the peripheries of the industry.


Perhaps the key point in deciding what is right for you is the time honored maxim of “know thyself and be that person”.


You need to accept what are your specific needs and then how best to accomplish these goals by tying down the best policy.


Asking basic questions as to whether you wear glasses or need dental care? Are you with a partner or family or alone? Do you use alternative medicine or alternative therapies? All these and more will play into the best coverage that suits your needs.


Choose a coverage of a suitable type. Do you need comprehensive coverage for all eventualities or just for hospitalization? Considering your situation and of course your budget will inform these vital decisions.


Expat insurance can be tailor-made to fit an individual's specific needs. For example do you need to have repatriation coverage, work stoppage compensation or civil liability coverage? Cutting out one and beefing up a more needed other will make your policy realistic for your needs.


Make sure you know the claims process, what caps there might be on health care and in some cases per-deed caps. Knowing the differences with the help of a responsible assessor can save problems further down the line well in advance.


Insurers should be easily reachable; there's obviously no point in having great coverage but no one to talk to to claim it in the event something goes wrong. 


You also need to understand in which countries your policy applies. If you were living in Thailand would you be covered on a family trip to Malaysia or Singapore, or in the event of having to go back to your home country to visit family there?


Regarding Thailand, it is a good idea to do your homework about the healthcare options that are specific to the kingdom. Finding out about the options that exist in the private and government sector, for example, could inform your decision as would understanding how pharmacies, opticians and dental practitioners work. And whether you are happy to use their services outside of hospitals and insurance domains or not.


With a little research policies can be tweaked to save money and not compromise coverage. 


Bear in mind that the more you ask for in medical coverage, the more will be your premiums. Make sure you clearly identify the services included in your Expat Plan and above all else understand about the exclusions. 


Read the small print is a mantra that is still overlooked so trusting a responsible provider who is there for you is key but so is taking personal responsibility for your own decisions before you sign on the dotted line.


So to recap, when choosing an international plan try to focus on finding one that covers your anticipated (and unanticipated!) destinations, pick the right plan and personalize it for your own needs. 


These are clear priorities in the process. 


Know the difference between local health insurance that can be purchased in the country you reside in, travel insurance and the wider solution that enables access to the best hospitals and doctors that is international health insurance. 


All providers offer different levels within their plans to cater to personal and financial restraints and needs. Make sure that you are happy with the coverage and happy with the bottom line cost to you.


Forget the fancy names of the plans - Bronze to Platinum and every other glittery metal in between, words like ‘privileged’, standard or top-class - focus on what each one really means behind the hype and if it is right for you.


The devil is in the details - know the detail and avoid the devil!


It is clear that securing good health insurance coverage for you, your partner and your family is a top priority when planning a trip to live abroad.


No one can predict what might happen if you stayed put in your homeland. And certainly no one can say what might happen once you traverse uncharted new territory. 


Understand that things can and, at some point, will inevitably go wrong. Be prepared well in advance and never wait until you get sick to start thinking about it.


Above all seek out a good provider from the links provided and find peace of mind by getting the best help to negotiate the maze.


And act now rather than later. 


Aetna offers a range of visa-compliant plans that meet the minimum requirement of medical treatment, including COVID-19, up to THB 3m. For more information on Long Stay Visa insurance plans

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