Expats facing higher health care costs

by Ray Clancy on May 20, 2011

Healthcare coverage cost increases for expats worldwide

With the cost of health care increasing globally health insurance companies that specialise in providing care for expats are increasing the cover that is covered by their policies.

Expats in some parts of the world, including the Middle East, China, South America and France are facing higher health care costs.

A surgeon’s fee to remove a thyroid gland in China comes in at $9,000 but the same procedure would cost approximately $1,000 in the United States. Laparoscopic pelvic surgery in South America costs around $13,000, almost double the cost in North America.

In addition, many foreign practitioners generate supplementary income by selling prescription medicines directly to patients and think nothing of recommending more expensive alternatives over older, proven therapies.

One company, ALC Health, said it has increased the annual limits of it Premier, Classic and Ibérica plans and has also increased the cover for organ transplants and out of area cover.

Prima Premier Plan will have a new annual policy limit of £2,000,000 from June, representing a cover increase of 100% over the previous limit.

The company’s Prima Classic and Ibérica plans also see an increase to their annual policy limit from £750,000 to £1,000,000.

Under all three plans the emergency treatment outside of area benefit limit has been increased from £30,000 to £50,000 in addition to cover for organ transplantations increasing from £150,000 to £200,000.

‘With the cost of health care increasing globally, we are continually keeping a close eye on the scope of cover offered by our programmes to ensure that they meet the exacting needs of our policyholders,’ said Andrew Apps, director at ALC Health.

‘As a result we have increased a number of key benefits thereby helping to ensure that our members can be safe in the knowledge that should the unexpected happen and a major medical incident occurs, they have the right cover in place to look after the costs associated with their treatment,’ he explained.

‘We are particularly delighted to have been able to increase these important cover benefits so continuing our philosophy of providing our policyholders with comprehensive but affordable cover no matter where in the world they may be living or working,’ he added.

Expats often find that once they move the healthcare costs can escalate. Some even report that if premiums rise their employers might not meet the cost and others who are retired report that they cannot afford higher premiums.

Currently a lot of expats in the United Arab Emirates are concerned about reports that health insurance premiums are set to increase between 10 and 15% this year.

Health care costs have also been increasing in France. This year the cost of a visit to a GP has increased to €23.

Anyone worried about the cost of their health insurance or about what is actually covered by their policy should ask.

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