International Health: in which countries are you covered with your international healthcare insurance?
At this stage, you’ve already checked and analyzed if you prefer to subscribe to a 1st Euro plan or to a Top Up plan (CFE or ONSS), you compared benefits, level of reimbursement for outpatient expenses (100%, 90% or 80%), procedures and exclusions, and you know quite precisely the content of your health plan.
The next step is to define your area of coverage. The zone of coverage is usually defined by considering your home country and your country of expatriation (it can be different if you live in two or three different countries during the year or you planned a world tour). In the zone of coverage, Insurers often propose a list of “similar” countries i.e. where medical expenses are approximately the same:
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United States of America, Bahamas, Canada.
Depending of the private Insurance Company, several areas of cover can be proposed (3, 4, …).
Each Insurer defines zones of coverage based on his experience and choices, and there is no common rule on this matter. Except for the United States of America, which is considered as the most expensive country by all Insurance Companies all over the World, you will notify differences between Insurers which can have an important impact on premiums. Example: Canada is most of the time linked to the United States of America, and corresponding premiums are often high. Nevertheless, some Insurers consider that medical expenses do not cost as much as in the United States of America and propose lower premiums to those who are expatriates in Canada. As you can notice, premiums do not only take into account benefits and general conditions, but the area of coverage will have also a significant impact.
International Health: outside the zone of coverage and emergency treatments
Expatriation does not mean that you will stay in the country of expatriation, but you will probably travel for business or go on holiday. Expenses outside the zone of coverage and emergency treatment can be expressed different ways, and it is important to check on the Table of Benefits / General conditions how this is defined.
Example: “you are also covered outside …/… in case of accident and unforeseen illnesses only” or “Emergency treatment outside area of cover: full refund” (+ definitions)… Most of the time, these benefits are capped (ex: 30 days for each trip).
Please pay attention to the local regulation
Please note that subscribing to an international health insurance does not free you from the local regulations. If you are eligible to contribute to the local healthcare system in certain countries and do not have local cover in place, you may be subject to paying a tax levy