International students may need more health insurance for UK study

by Ray Clancy on February 14, 2017

With the UK set to charge more people from overseas for healthcare, international students are being advised to make sure they have sufficient private insurance cover.

It is that time of year when offers of university places start to drop into electronic mailboxes around the world with students having to make up their minds about where to study. Costs can be a major issue and if there are higher health charges would be students might well take these into accounts.

UK universities are some of the most sought after in the world. These institutions will often charge overseas student annual fees of well over £25,000, so for the parents, ensuring the success of the academic investment is as significant as it is for a company sending key employees abroad.

According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, in 2015 some 436,585 overseas students came to study in the UK. The number of Chinese students far exceeds any other nationality at 89,540, whilst Indian students are the next largest group with 18,320.

It is suggested that parents can learn some valuable lessons from the corporate world’s experience of overseas placements, starting with why international private health insurance is so important.

While social, emotional and cultural factors are likely to be of central importance in determining the success or failure of an academic placement, access to comprehensive international medical insurance is increasingly becoming a key factor for many overseas students.

With a demanding academic workload, it can be vitally important to ensure that the student overseas feels well protected when medical treatment is required. The individual must know their medical insurance is there when needed and that they will have access to private hospitals where treatment can be obtained quickly. This in turn speeds up recovery, so absence from study is minimised.

‘Whilst most universities will ensure overseas students do have access to emergency and local care, in some cases, it can be quite basic. Today’s overseas students, with a significant family financial investment hanging over them, will often need more than this,’ said Joe Thomas, business development director of insurance provider April International UK.

He explained for students some of the most important factors are the speed of access to care and the depth and breadth of the benefit schedules. ‘Whilst access to local state systems is usually possible, issues such as waiting times and the speed of recovery will be more important to a student paying significant fees,’ Thomas explained.

He also pointed out that whilst many parents will think their 18 year old is in the peak of health and unlikely to suffer serious illness, research carried out amongst hospitals may serve as a timely reminder that there are plenty of reasons why an 18 year old could end up in a hospital ward,’ he added.

He also pointed out that health cover might be needed for things such as sports injuries and those who have a chronic condition, such as asthma, may feel insurance is needed.


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