Would-be expats thinking of moving to their dream destination in 2015 are being urged to make sure they have the right health insurance for the country they are moving to.
Not everyone automatically qualifies for free medical care, even in countries that are popular with expats such as France and Australia.
A large number of Brits are expected to make the move, with research showing that in 2014, over 140,000 will have chosen to do so.
However, research consistently shows that around half of the Brits who move abroad do so without having first taken out international private medical insurance, according to firm Medicare International.
The firm says that it is an oversight some could come to regret, especially if that decision was based on a less-than-clear understanding of the risks and potential costs involved.
‘Very often, when we speak to people who are planning a move abroad, they are surprised by the cost of an annual premium, which can be in the low thousands of pounds,’ said Debbie Purser, managing director of Medicare International.
‘However, once we start to discuss this with them and they realise the cost of treating a minor accident such as a broken limb can easily run into the thousands too, that is usually enough to persuade a budding expat that planning and buying ahead pays off when it comes to expat health insurance,’ she explained.
‘For the younger expat who is confident about their general health, voluntary excesses can be used to reduce premiums by up to 50%, which makes the peace of mind of cover readily affordable for most,’ she added.
Bad luck can and does strike anywhere, as MediCare International points out with two recent examples of clients they have looked after. In the first case, an expat was booked in during January 2013 for an apparently routine umbilical hernia repair. However, shortly after the operation, she started suffering pain and various symptoms, including oozing and discharge from the wound site.
Around a week later, she was diagnosed with a post operation infection which was initially treated with a range of drugs and regular appointments, to ensure the wound was keep clean, with dressings changed regularly. By March, the infection was still present, so the she was readmitted for further surgery, which this time was successful. The total cost associated with all surgery and treatment was estimated at £11,800.
In the second example given by MediCare International, even something as seemingly ‘everyday’ as back pain was shown to have significant financial implications. The client first contacted MediCare International in November 2013 complaining of persistent back pain.
He was admitted for an MRI scan, with the specialists considering the possibility of a facet joint injection. These joints are a key part of the spine, which provide stability and help guide motion. The facet joints can become painful due to arthritis of the spine, a back injury or stress to the back. Eventually, the condition was successfully diagnosed less than a month later and a nerve root injection carried out. Total costs were nearly £32,000.
‘We know from our own research that it is often the case that only one in two expats has a suitable long term international private healthcare policy in place. Yet these cases illustrate clearly the fact that serious illness can strike anyone at any time and hospital medical costs can be considerable,’ said Purser.
‘At MediCare International, we will meet the cost of treating such illnesses and any subsequent rehabilitation, both today and into the future, giving clients immense peace of mind,’ she added.