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Expat Investor : October 2007
HEALTHCARE expatinvestor.com 14 EXPAT INVESTOR October 2007 Fast Facts 88012 AXA PPP Healthcare 88410 BUPA International 88411 InterGlobal 88412 MediCare International 88413 William Russell 88414 For more infor mation just enter the above numbers on the Reader Reply Ser vice coupon on page 20 or visit www.expatinvestor.com FAST FACTS Many expats are opting to put together a comprehensive healthcare insurance package piecemeal. That is, picking a core plan with comprehensive cover for inpatient hospital treatment and then selecting areas of cover for other eventualities. And the number of healthcare insurance providers making such a tailored plan possible is increasing. Basically, the concept is that once inpatient care is covered you only select the other benefits you believe you will require. What you aren't buying into is a whole package which will contain many essential areas of cover, but also areas which will perhaps be pertinent as a benefit only to someone else. For instance, if you have reached a certain age, then maternity cover for you or your spouse is pretty irrelevant. Equally, if you have no children, then buying a plan which includes the benefit of cover for a parent to accompany a sick child could be viewed as buying something you will never need. Another reason why plans which allow you to pick and choose clearly defined benefits find favour with Take time to read up about the general issues around health and medical insurance and the types of cover available. Check out the extent of health and medical insurance offered by an employer. Be aware of which benefits are not included in a company plan. Select from policies which allow top-up cover on those benefits you need. Always compare several policies to appreciate what is omitted by some providers and included in others. Remember no glossy brochure will advertise benefits which are not included. Only compare like with like when assessing premiums. For example, same geographical zones, same age bands, same lists of benefits and same inclusion of other family members. Select policies which seem most suited to your circumstances. If you know you will never need maternity cover or complementary therapies ignore this element. Equally, don't push aside key benefits such as emergency evacuation and dentistry - such inclusions are often what insurance cover is all about. If you have a pre-existing condition, be honest and own up to it. It would be foolish to write off your policy rights just when you need the cover most. Be careful not to restrict the breadth of health cover when it comes to other parts of the world you may travel to. Look for policies which include a certain number of days travel per year outside your normal region of residence. Consider whether it makes financial sense to opt for reducing the premium by accepting responsibility for excesses. Sometimes this option can provide considerable savings. Eeny, meeny, miny, mo... If you're shopping for the most appropriate healthcare insurance cover, be sure to purchase a plan that's bespoke enough to see you through any emergency or medical outcome. Guide to researching plans expats comes under the term top-up cover. When selecting family insurance cover always check first with your employer to find out if you are covered already under a company scheme (a surprising number of expats are covered without realising it) and to what extent. Pay attention to the small print and if some vital benefit is not included, and your employer won't top your cover up, then you might well want to buy in this type of insurance cover yourself. The real benefit of such self selection, of course, comes down to cost. Buying exactly what you need, and ignoring the rest, gives many expats a sense of being more in control of their premiums. But to ensure you end up with benefits which genuinely bring you and your family peace of mind, it is essential to trawl through those plans offering what's termed 'modular services' to be make yourself aware of what the market is offering and how each offer compares across the board. Unfortunately, as with everything in life, there is a downside -- or, to put it another way, there could be disadvantages with this modular approach to buying healthcare insurance. People never know what illness, accident or injury could be about to strike. And without knowing if there is misfortune around the corner and what shape it will arrive in, it is very difficult to second-guess the exact list of benefits you will need. Expats opting solely for this type of bespoke planning need to think very carefully at the outset whether real peace of mind is being bought as well as really useful benefits, and whether the all embracing blanket cover available from the more traditional plans can be ignored without creating disquiet, or worse, some horrendous bill to be faced in the future. And, of course, all enquiries must take cost into consideration. When comparing premiums remember it is sometimes all too easy to get carried away and bolt on just one extra layer of cover which could boost the price way over the price of a packaged plan.