August 13, 2021

International health insurance for expats in Europe

For expats and global citizens, Europe is one of the most attractive places to relocate because of its high standard of living, security, and stability. From North to South and from East to West, Europe offers various places with unique experiences and benefits. The warm climate in Spain, an outstanding healthcare system in Switzerland, adventurous landscapes in the North, tax optimization in Monaco. For a seamless continuation of life after relocating, adequate preparation is critical. Within that, planning one’s health insurance coverage is a small but essential part of this preparation since it may have lifelong financial and health-related consequences. With the increased globalization in the late 20th century, international health insurance solutions have been specifically designed for expats and global citizens to provide financial security and peace of mind. Since then, health insurance companies have taken a giant leap forward and offer excellent products for every individual situation.

What is international health insurance?

International health insurance products (also called International Private Medical Insurance, or short IPMI) are private health insurance solutions that offer global coverage and worldwide free choice of doctors and hospitals. While state-provided health insurance is often limiting people in the possibility to choose a doctor or hospital of preference, with IPMI, you may even freely decide to receive medical care in the UK, Switzerland, or Germany where the healthcare system and quality are known to be outstanding. You may also choose to travel back to your home country for treatment because you have a family doctor back home whom you trust and who knows your medical history. Also, no matter where you are traveling, you will have security to be taken care of by the best specialists in an emergency without paying colossal upfront fees at hospitals to be admitted and treated.

Further to that, the right international health insurance always offers a renewal guarantee for life. When selecting insurance, this is crucial. The insurance company shall not have the right to cancel your policy for any reason. For example, because you passed their internal age limit or because you developed chronic conditions that are expensive for the insurance company. Especially global citizens must also watch the continuation terms of an insurance policy. It should be possible that upon your next move, you can seamlessly continue the insurance – without further medical assessment and the risk of losing parts of your insurance. 

Top-up your statutory health insurance for enhanced coverage and global flexibility

In some European countries, it is mandatory to be subscribed to the local statutory health insurance scheme. In the UK it is known as the NHS (National Healthcare System), in France known as CPAM (Caisse primaire d’assurances maladie), in Switzerland, it is called KVG or LAMal. These health insurance schemes usually offer basic insurance solutions that cover the essential healthcare costs, but not anything beyond that. A private hospital room, alternative medicine, free choice of doctors, and other critical coverage aspects of health insurance for expats are missing and must be purchased in addition – in the form of private insurance. It is essential to know that whenever you leave a country with statutory health insurance, this insurance policy will be canceled, and you need to apply again for insurance in the next country of residence. If you develop health problems during that time, this will mean that you will no longer be accepted at any private health insurance after the first diagnosis. If you are accepted, coverage exclusions may apply. Contrary to that, once subscribed to international health insurance, you can proceed with the same insurance policy when moving abroad. 

International Private Medical Insurance is often slightly more expensive than supplementary local insurance solutions. However, due to the enhanced global flexibility and broad coverage, many expats decide to top-up their statutory insurance with IPMI.

International health insurance is a MUST in countries without mandatory local health insurance

Other European countries do not oblige their residents to subscribe to mandatory state-provided health insurance. People are entirely free in selecting a health insurance company or to be self-insured. Self-insured means that one does not hold health insurance and that a person pays all medical costs out of his / her own pocket. Being self-insured is not recommended in today’s world. The recent pandemic has surprised many with outrageous bills after leaving the hospital. Apart from that, state-of-the-art medical treatments are becoming more and more expensive. A phenomenon that is also well described under the term “medical inflation”. It is highly recommended for all expats and global citizens to have adequate health insurance as a long-term investment into one’s health and health security. 

When there is no legal requirement for state-provided health insurance, international health insurance is the single best option for everyone. For more than 20 years, the SIP Medical Family Office is consulting expats all over the world to find the best private health insurance solution. As an independent broker, we work with more than 15 insurance companies and have the required practical experience to consult you based on your very individual situation and needs.  

Residence through Golden Visa and other immigration programs

Many European countries offer immigration programs for wealthy people, entrepreneurs, or talents to attract value-adding individuals and families into their country. Immigration programs allow to obtain the residency status faster and eventually also receiving the country’s passport. The so-called Golden Visa programs in Spain or the Malta Residence Visa Program belong to some of the most popular across Europe for investors and businessmen to establish themselves in the European Economic Area. These programs often require the applicants to hold adequate health insurance. For each jurisdiction, Swiss Insurance Partners has developed exclusive solutions to leverage a second residency to its fullest capacity when it comes to long-term health security and access to the best medical care. 

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