International Health Insurance

Compare international health insurance policies through Savvy to get protection if you’re an Aussie travelling overseas. 

Written by 
Savvy Editorial Team
Savvy's content writing team are professionals with a wide and diverse range of industry experience and topic knowledge. We write across a broad spectrum of finance-related topics to provide our readers with informative resources to help them learn more about a certain area or enable them to decide on which product is best for their needs with careful comparison. Meet the team behind the operation here. Visit our authors page to meet Savvy's expert writing team, committed to delivering informative and engaging content to help you make informed financial decisions.
Our authors
, updated on July 6th, 2023       

Fact checked

At Savvy, we are committed to providing accurate information. Our content undergoes a rigorous process of fact-checking before it is published. Learn more about our editorial policy.

Health Insurance Banner

We’ve partnered with Compare Club to bring you a range of health insurance policies to help you compare them side by side.

Are you an Australian planning to live or work overseas? If so, you may be looking at insurance that offers health cover for expats or international travellers. We may be able to help you find a policy which offers you the health insurance you need to ensure you are covered whilst living or travelling abroad.  

Savvy can assist with the process of getting your health insurance sorted out quickly and simply right here. Just answer a few questions about the health insurance you need, and within minutes you could have a health insurance specialist call you to help you find appropriate health coverage for your personal needs. Get your international health insurance quotes here with Savvy today. 

What types of international health insurance are available?

If you’re planning on travelling or living overseas, it makes sense to ensure you have adequate health insurance to protect you whilst you’re abroad. The type of insurance you’ll need whilst overseas will depend on: 

  • whether you’ll stay in just one county or visit multiple destinations 
  • where you intend to stay whilst abroad 
  • the intended length of your stay 
  • whether you’re travelling for leisure purposes or work or business 

There is some overlap between different types of insurance for Aussies who are intending to travel or live overseas. Your health needs could be covered either by travel insurance, which may also cover such things as lost luggage and cancelled bookings, or international health insurance, which concentrates on providing cover just for health-related issues. Depending on your situation, you may decide you need both types of cover. 

International health insurance 

If you intend to be overseas for a considerable length of time or live or work in another country (either temporarily or permanently), you may consider international health insurance, which is also known as an expat health insurance policy. This type of insurance is generally geared towards Aussies who are moving overseas (for example, over three months).  

It offers a greater range of cover specifically for your health needs, including routine treatment, diagnosis of health conditions and repatriation back home in case you need to return for a serious health-related issue. It may not just be limited to accident or emergency treatment. For example, if you’re living abroad, you may need to see a dentist for periodic routine tooth cleaning or a physiotherapist to treat an existing lingering injury. 

Travel insurance 

If you’re going on a short holiday (say under three months’ duration) you may wish to look at the health cover that is included with your travel insurance. Typically, travel insurance can offer health cover for single trips that start and end in Australia and can be valid for up to 12 months. However, there are also multi-trip or annual travel insurance policies available for those who intend to make multiple separate trips in a single year. Another option you may consider is one-way insurance, which offers cover just for travel to your overseas destination.  

Travel insurance will also provide you with coverage for other areas where you may need protection, such as lost luggage, cancellations of flights or other bookings, credit card fraud and more. However, it may not always cover you for the routine medical treatment you may need if you’re overseas for an extended period. 

Can I be covered by Medicare while living overseas?

Australia has several agreements with other countries who also offer universal health care. If you're intending to live in one of these countries, your basic health treatment may be covered by Medicare through one of these reciprocal health care agreements.  

A reciprocal health care agreement means the Australian Government has signed an agreement with the other country that allows residents of either country to receive basic medical treatment funded by the government while visiting or living in the other country. Currently Australia has a reciprocal health agreement with the following nations:

  • Belgium 
  • Finland 
  • Italy 
  • Malta 
  • the Netherlands 
  • New Zealand 
  • Norway 
  • the Republic of Ireland 
  • Slovenia 
  • Sweden 
  • the United Kingdom

The level of treatment you can expect to be covered by private health insurance versus Medicare in these countries varies considerably. However, Medicare treatment is generally limited to emergency treatment and medical care that can’t wait until you return home. It won't cover the cost of your routine teeth cleaning, for example. Even if Australia does have an agreement with the country where you intend to live, you will still need an international health insurance policy if you wish to have coverage for a wider range of non-emergency medical treatments.

How do I compare international health insurance policies?

International health insurance policies offer cover to Aussies living abroad for a range of health treatments, depending on which insurer you choose. Compare the number of areas of cover each policy offers when you’re looking at different quotes. Areas which can be offered include the following:

  • Emergency out-patient treatment 
  • In-hospital patient care, including surgery, doctors’ and surgeons’ fees 
  • The cost of hospital accommodation as a private patient 
  • Treatment in a day-care unit 
  • Cancer screening and treatment 
  • Medical imaging and tests such as blood tests, x-rays, CT and MRI scans 
  • Home nursing either before or after hospital treatment 
  • Rehabilitation services 
  • Preventative surgery 
  • Out-patient treatments including dental treatment 
  • Mental health support 
  • Fitness and health coaching 
  • Tele-heath phone services offering advice 24/7 
  • Maternity cover 
  • Repatriation cover

Not all international health insurance policies will offer all of these benefits and benefit limits, terms and conditions may apply. That’s why it pays to compare policies side-by-side through Savvy so you can see exactly what each policy offers for your money. This may help you avoid policies which come with exclusions in areas you consider important to cover. The more areas of cover on offer, the more the policy may cost. 

Other comparison areas to consider include: 

  • Policy costs 
  • Waiting periods 
  • Benefit limits for each area of cover 
  • Co-payment and excess requirements 
  • Exclusions for pre-existing conditions 
  • COVID-19 exclusions and provisions

How much will my international health insurance cost?

The cost of an international health policy will depend on: 

  • which insurance company you choose 
  • the type of policy you require 
  • the level of cover you choose 
  • whether you choose a moratorium policy, or one that has full medical underwriting (FMU) 

Moratorium Underwriting 

This type of policy is a simple ‘one type fits all’ policy which may either exclude existing medical conditions or require long waiting periods before a claim can be made on such a condition (up to two years in some cases). It doesn’t require a medical to be undertaken and can be purchased quickly with very little paperwork involved. This may be a cheaper option than a FMU policy but may offer fewer covered benefits. Claiming on such a policy may take longer as an investigation may be undertaken to determine if the condition you’re claiming for was pre-existing in the past five years or not.  

Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) 

This type of policy is based on an assessment of your medical history. It will involve you disclosing your full medical history to your insurance company, including declaring any existing medical conditions. It may require you to undergo a medical examination and the application process can’t be completed in one day.  

However, it may offer you cover for pre-existing medical conditions, although this is not guaranteed. Such a policy may be offered at a higher price than a moratorium policy if your medical history is extensive. It may be quicker to make a claim on this sort of policy, as your pre-existing conditions have already been declared and identified.  

Cost of health insurance if you’re living overseas for work or business 

If you’re intending to live overseas for a work contract or other business reasons, the cost of your international health insurance may be covered by your employer. 

You may also possibly be able to claim back the cost of your health insurance on your tax return. However, you should seek professional advice from a tax specialist to find out exactly what you can or can’t claim as an Australian living overseas.  

Types of health insurance

Why compare health insurance through Savvy?

Frequently asked questions about international health insurance

What is the process for getting an international health insurance quote?

The process for getting an international health insurance quote involves answering a few simple questions through Savvy, selecting the policy which best suits your needs and getting a call-back from a health insurance specialist who will guide you through the rest of the quote and application process.  

Is there a cooling-off period after I buy international health insurance?

Yes – most health insurers offer either a 21 or 30-day cooling-off period, during which time you can cancel the health insurance that you had previously purchased and receive a full refund (assuming no claims have been made on the policy). 

Am I able to suspend my normal health insurance whilst I’m living overseas?

Yes – it's possible to suspend your standard domestic health insurance while you are living overseas. Most health funds will allow you to suspend your insurance for between two months and two years. However, be aware that a suspension may affect your Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading and could also mean you have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge (if you earn over $90,000 p.a.). 

Is there international health insurance available for overseas students or visitors studying in Australia?

Yes – just as there is private health insurance available for Australians travelling or working overseas, so too are there policies available for students or visitors who intend to live in Australia. 

Helpful health insurance guides

Health Insurance Banner - A young woman receiving a neck and back massage from a physio

Health Insurance Claim

Find out about the process of making a health insurance claim and how it works through Savvy.  There are multiple...

Health Insurance Banner - Man smiling while looking at his laptop in an office

Best Health Insurance

Compare some of the best health insurance quotes from a trusted panel of insurers with Savvy.   Compare quotes now...

Health Insurance Banner - Older couple looking at a laptop and tablet before cancelling their health insurance

Health Insurance Cancellation

How to Cancel Your Health Insurance Find out how to cancel your private health insurance and learn about some of...

Health Insurance Banner - Man with glasses looking at his laptop and choosing a health insurance policy

Choosing Health Insurance

Learn some important tips for choosing your health insurance policy right here with Savvy. With more than 35 health insurance...

Health Insurance Banner - Young woman sitting at her desk looking at customised health insurance on her laptop

Customised Health Insurance

Compare policies and insurers which allow you to customise your health cover with Savvy.  Compare quotes now Instant quotes in...

Looking for health insurance to cover your condition or treatment?

Read one of our helpful guides on a range of different ailments and potential hospital or extras treatments to help you find out if they're covered.

Disclaimer:

Savvy is partnered with Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd (AFS representative number 001279036) of Alternative Media Pty Ltd (AFS License number 486326) to provide readers with a variety of health insurance policies to compare. Savvy earns a commission from Compare Club each time a customer buys a health insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via Compare Club.

Savvy’s comparison service is provided by Compare Club. Compare Club compares selected products from a panel of trusted insurers and does not compare all products in the market.

Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.

For any further information on the variety of insurers compared by Compare Club or how their business works, you can read their Financial Services Guide.