Few would be expats think ahead about healthcare costs

by Ray Clancy on August 1, 2016

Some 40% of would be expats want to move abroad to achieve a better work-life balance, but many are also concerned about their health with few thinking about it before moving, new research suggests.

Indeed 83% worry about finding a doctor in their new home country and only 42% sort out healthcare before arriving, according to the research by Axa PPP International, which also found that 19% of respondents thought that their travel insurance would cover health care costs.

healthcareEUSo optimistic are expats about their new lifestyle that 88% think they will have a healthier lifestyle abroad and 50% believe that better weather will bring about the biggest health benefits.

The number of people moving abroad to live and work is increasing with the research finding that 56% want a new adventure, 40% want a better quality of life and 19% are seeking better career opportunities.

‘Life as an expat can bring so many benefits and rewards. But in order to reap the rewards expats need to prepare themselves on the many fundamental aspects of daily life, such as financial management and healthcare, which often operate differently in other countries,’ said Tom Wilkinson, managing director of AXA PPP International.

‘For example, those who are used to having a state health service may not realise that in other countries everyday costs, such as medical practitioner charges and prescriptions, are not covered. Likewise in certain countries even emergency services, such as ambulance transport, must be paid for upfront,’ he pointed out.

The firm is concerned that people may be overlooking health insurance cover because they believe that they will be healthier once they’ve moved abroad. ‘We have seen that expats to be forget that healthcare systems and financial management operate differently in other countries,’ Wilkinson explained.

‘It is also important for employers to understand that they too need to support their employees and, by offering them a healthcare package which takes care of all their needs, they can alleviate some of the stresses of moving. Businesses will need advice on how their employees can access quality healthcare in their new country, presenting an opportunity for brokers to help with their healthcare benefit offering,’ he said.

‘Employees might not need medical care for weeks or even months but, when they do, businesses will be glad of the reassurance that both routine treatment costs and complex procedures can be covered,’ he added.

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