According to HSBC 29% of all those surveyed had real worries about healthcare – i.e., the quality of it and accessing it once they had moved abroad. For those of us who herald from the UK where the NHS is always available to us no matter how large or small the issue or emergency, worries about medical care comes from the fact that we’ve always had it relatively good (and free) and we worry about how it will work now we have to pay for it!
Those who retire abroad also worry about the long-term affordability of healthcare, and then there are those who move to countries with an unsophisticated medical system who worry that they may not get the care or support they need, should the requirement arise.
The good news is that there are ways you can prepare yourself in advance of your move so that you’re not as concerned about this issue.
Firstly you can do extensive research into the facilities and medical amenities available in-country. Once you know what’s not available you can have a think about how to plan to access anything you may need. For example, if dentistry is not good in-country, you can arrange private appointments in neighbouring nations you can easily access, or your own home country whenever you fly in for a visit.
Alternatively, if rudimentary care is available you can ensure you have a nest egg put away so that in the event you need better or more extensive or complex care you can pay to be flown or transferred to a facility where you can access that care.
You can look at health insurance ahead of your move too – with international providers offering insurance globally based on your requirements - and many nations having local insurers who offer excellent packages often for much less.
You can speak to other expats about their experiences of the healthcare facilities available locally, and to get advice about which insurances they have, how affordable that is year-on-year, and to gain valuable insight into this particular issue. Use forums and social networks in advance of your move to get the information you need – and even consider visiting your new nation and examining the infrastructure including the medical facilities so that you are forewarned, forearmed and well prepared for what you will have to deal with.
With regards to affordability – expats being relocated by an employer should see whether they can factor in private medical insurance as part of their remuneration package. If you’re making the move yourself then it’s worth knowing that local insurers are often cheaper than international insurers such as Bupa or AXA PPP – however a local insurer’s policies are often restricted to the borders of the nation you’re living in, whereas an international policy can be much more flexible. Look at the policies closely…and know that if you increase your excess or restrict cover to the basics you can often keep costs down.