Categories: Traveling

International Healthcare For Expatriates: An Introductory Guide

The big move

If you’re thinking about going abroad to work or for your retirement, it’s likely to be one of the biggest decisions that you’re ever likely to make. Relocation isn’t something that can be done overnight either, and will involve research into a lot of areas such as

  • Accommodation: to rent or buy? And in which town or city neighbourhood to live?
  • Cost of living – will the new place of residence allow a similar standard of living as home?
  • Finances – what will the tax implications be?
  • Education. If the whole family is going to live abroad, where will school age children be educated?
  • Language – will training be necessary before leaving?
  • Culture – some places can seem incredibly different from home. By researching before you decide on your destination you might find yourself more attracted to a place or in some cases decide that it’s not for you. If possible it’s worth visiting the place before you make your final decision.

Staying healthy

Which brings us to another important area of investigation while you’re doing your preparatory research: healthcare. Different countries have vastly differing healthcare systems in terms of provision, quality and waiting times for treatment. You will need to know if the country you’re intending to stay in has private medical facilities as well as state ones – and also what the cost of treatment will be should you need it.

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For most places it’s likely that you’ll require international health cover. If you’re an EU citizen moving to another EU nation, you can get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) but these don’t always mean that your treatment will be free as some countries healthcare systems charge for treatment. When purchasing health cover it’s important to make sure you understand what you’re covered for, and get the level of cover you require. A recent UK news story reported that around a half of travellers were unsure about whether dental treatment was included on their policy – while a large number went abroad without any form of dental cover.

There are a lot of good guides available online with info on international health care systems. An excellent example is the Foreign & Commonwealth office web site, which has a section entitled “travel advice by country”. Updated regularly, this UK government resource provides information not just on health care but also has useful advice on everything from local laws and customs to visa requirements and so on.

About the author: Jen Jones writes for a number of blogs and websites on the subjects of international medical insurance, health, and nutrition.

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