Health Insurance Headaches

Imagine the joy of learning you are pregnant being tempered by the realisation your health plan does not cover newborn complications. Or the horror of finding that, upon turning 65, your health insurance will expire, putting your retirement at risk. With insurance, the devil is in the details – understanding a policy’s fine print is a headache you should not be confronting alone.

To say purchasing international health insurance can be a confusing and intimidating process would be an understatement. However for those not covered by their employer, buying insurance is critical for safeguarding both your healthcare and financial future, as well as lessening stress on the family. To better understand what to look out for when buying international health insurance, TALK sat down with the husband and wife team of Damien and Margaret Ferté from insurance broker Expatmedicare for free advice on navigating the insurance minefield.

“Choosing the right health insurance plan is an important duty. In Shanghai you have the extra complexity of having people from many different backgrounds with many different needs,” says Damien. “There are numerous companies here from various countries around the world trying to provide coverage. It’s simply too diverse of a market for having any simple solutions.”

“Insurance coverage is very challenging to compare as well,” Margaret adds. “There are no industry standards – many companies have different definitions for various terms like waiting period, pre-existing conditions or congenital diseases – and there is no international standard to make sure everyone plays by the same rules.”

Premiums, deductibles, exclusions, waiting periods, claim processes, maternity coverage, annual renewal, medical evacuation and area of coverage are just a handful of the confusing aspects that you will need to familiarise yourself with before making a choice. Insurance plans’ lack of clarity for the average person is so great that the Fertés' strongly advise individuals to work with an independent, experienced professional to help them through the decision-making process.