Expats Ignore Health Risks When Relocating

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

No one really likes paying out for insurance – but the latest research from an international medical care provider shows why expats should rate their health as more of a priority.

Around 500 expats with children were asked about the most important factors of relocating to another country and their health came a poor fourth.

Top of the list for more than half was finding a job and settling in with a new employer (52%).

Next was sorting out finances (35%), which came out equal with arranging schooling for children.

Axa International Healthcare revealed only one in three expats considered health a relocation priority.

70% wait months to arrange cover

Most wait until after relocating – 54% within two months of arriving at their new home, while 17% wait until they need to access local health care and only signed up for cover after experiencing the local service.

Another 5% had no private medical cover.

Despite this, almost two-thirds of expats (60%) told the healthcare firm’s researchers that they needed non-routine healthcare since their move and more than a quarter (27%) found using local healthcare difficult.

Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates demand expats have healthcare insurance in place before entering the country.

What does a private health policy cover?

Tom Wilkinson, CEO of AXA’s international healthcare business, said: “Starting a new life in another country can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have a family to consider. From my own experience as an expat, I understand the sheer amount of planning that is required to make a move a success.

“Accident and illness can strike at any time and in some parts of the world, access to the appropriate treatment can be both logistically difficult and expensive. I would urge expats to research their local healthcare system thoroughly to plan how they will access healthcare with as much priority as their finances or employment status before they move, to protect both their wellbeing and their families.”

Private healthcare insurance not only covers accessing doctors, hospitals and dental care, but also provides emergency evacuation and treatment by professionals who speak their language.

Personal cover can also plug gaps in policies provided by employers.

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