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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.
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:
- the Netherlands
- New Zealand
- the Republic of Ireland
- 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)
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
This can help you pay for medical treatment if you need to be admitted to hospital. It can help cover the cost of your admission or accommodation and the fees charged by doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists. It can also cover other costs associated with a stay in a private hospital.
This helps cover the costs of health care treatments outside a hospital setting which aren’t covered by Medicare. This can include major and minor dental treatment, orthodontics, hearing aids, physiotherapy, glasses, contact lenses and podiatry (in most cases with annual limits).
This is a standard health insurance policy designed for a single person, rather than being tailored to cater to the needs of a couple or family. It may include hospital cover plus extras, or either of these types of insurance on their own, depending on what you're after for your health cover.
A family health insurance policy is designed for a family unit including dependent children who may reach up to 31 years of age with some insurers. It offers private health insurance suitable for the whole family and may include shared limits for all members included in your policy.
A health insurance policy aimed at seniors is designed to appeal to people who are in the second half of their life. These are often specific Silver Plus policies that offer the same cover as other health insurance policies, with the exception that pregnancy and childbirth cover may not be included.
Visitors who are in Australia on a temporary basis for travel, work or study may be able to take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). Many visas issued in Australia come with a requirement to take out this type of insurance, which covers visitors who may not be covered by Medicare.
Ambulance cover is generally available either packaged into your private health insurance or on its own as a separate policy or subscription. By having this protection, you could be covered for all eligible ambulance travel in Australia (subject to your insurer's terms and conditions).
The cheapest and most barebones form of private hospital insurance, this can include cover for rehab, in-hospital psychiatric services and palliative care. Having this policy will enable you to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading.
Bronze hospital cover is a step up from basic insurance, including 18 further clinical categories such as ear, nose and throat, bone, joint and muscle, digestive system, joint reconstructions, gynaecology and chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer.
Silver hospital cover is the second-most expensive type of policy and offers the second-most clinical categories. On top of what's offered by basic and bronze cover, it also includes heart and vascular system, lung and chest, blood, hearing device implantation and dental surgery.
The highest level of private hospital insurance available in Australia, gold policies can offer cover for pregnancy and birth, weight loss surgery, assisted reproductive services and insulin pumps on top of all the categories provided by silver, bronze and basic hospital insurance.
Why compare health insurance through Savvy?
Frequently asked questions about international health insurance
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