Expats Failing To Secure Health Cover In Advance

Almost three quarters of expats wait until after relocating to purchase health insurance cover, with 54 per cent doing so within two months of arriving and 17 per cent doing so only after experiencing the healthcare facilities available locally.

Five per cent of respondents to a survey by AXA’s international healthcare business said that they had still not purchased any form of health insurance cover which would guarantee them access to medical care locally.

The survey of over 500 expats, all of whom have at least one child, found that 60 per cent had accessed non-routine healthcare since moving and one in four found orientating the local healthcare system difficult. However, instead of purchasing international health insurance to cover the cost and assist with the logistics of accessing treatment, 17 per cent chose to look for treatment locally when the need arises and pay accordingly.

The research indicated that the majority of expats didn’t consider healthcare to be as high a priority as other factors before they relocate. When asked to rank the three most important things that they had to organise for their new home while planning to move, just 32 per cent of expats included access to healthcare. As a priority, access to healthcare therefore ranked below employment (52 per cent), finances (35 per cent) and schooling (35 per cent).

Tom Wilkinson, CEO of AXA’s international healthcare business, commented, “Starting a new life in another country can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have a family to consider. From my own experience as an expat, I understand the sheer amount of planning that is required in order to make such a move a success.

“However, accident and illness can strike at any time and in some parts of the world, access to the appropriate treatment can be both logistically difficult and very expensive. I would therefore urge expats to research their local healthcare system thoroughly and plan how they will access healthcare with as much priority as their finances or employment status before they move, in order to protect both their wellbeing and their families.”