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International Health Insurance
International health insurance provides coverage for travellers, expatriates and international students while they are in foreign countries.
For citizens of the United Kingdom, the NHS does not operate in foreign countries. You can travel back to the UK for treatment, but this is an expensive option. Also, there are rules for people who have been living abroad for certain periods of time. Those who have been in European Union countries for more than six months during a year are not eligible for NHS treatment. The period is more than three months in a year if you have been living in non-EU countries.
Most international health insurance is designed for short trips and for short illnesses. Long-term health care for serious illnesses is often not covered. However, expatriates and foreign students will need to seek more comprehensive, long-term policies. One aspect of this type of insurance, especially travellerís insurance, is that expenses for repatriation back to oneís home country is often included in the policy.
The types of plans and coverage available differ widely, so it pays to read the fine print when choosing a policy. For example, you might want a policy that covers dental treatment or preventive care. Generally, international health insurance is geared more toward emergency care and treatment of common illnesses.
Of course, wider coverage generally means a more expensive insurance policy. There are also specialized packaged designed for specific needs. For example, frequent travellers can purchase annual international health insurance that covers multiple trips throughout the year. There are policies geared toward travellers who work as Au Pairs. If you are engaging in dangerous activities like scuba diving or skiing while abroad make sure your policy provides coverage in this area. Some policies may exclude certain types of activities. Also, if you are travelling through countries that are considered dangerous because of war or political instability, you should also make sure your policy does not have any exclusions for such travel.
International health insurance is often combined together with travel insurance; however you should not depend on the medical coverage provided in travel insurance policies alone. In most cases, this will only cover limited types of treatment, and often requires that you pay first and get reimbursed later.
International health insurance provides you with a safety net and peace of mind while travelling or living abroad. However, make sure your policy provides the coverage your require.