Does My Health Insurance Cover Me for International Travel?

Does My Health Insurance Cover Me for International Travel – Answered

Probably not. Health Insurance for International Travel is available but is not normal unless you request it.

Healthcare insurance has now become a necessity for all. However, it is difficult to find ideal healthcare insurance for every country as there are multiple options available with different plans. True global health care can be found but it is expensive. Usually, it only exists for businesspeople who travel globally and whose insurance is provided by their companies.

Many oil-field workers have a version of global insurance that will cover them in their country of work and their home country. While working they will be covered for all medical expenses including repatriation if it becomes necessary. Most of these policies are region specific.

For instance, you may have a policy that covers most of Asia, with the exception of Singapore, because health care is more expensive in Singapore. I have a friend who has a policy that will cover him anywhere in the world, except the United States, because health care is very expensive there. Europe is another region often specified on a policy because the costs are similar in the region.

The cost of healthcare insurance varies widely in each country. Let us take a deep dive to understand all aspects of both local and international healthcare insurance.

What is local insurance?

Local Insurance is simply insurance that covers you in the country where you reside.

Hospitalization can affect your financial health significantly due to the rising costs of private medical care in each country. Protecting your finances by purchasing health insurance is a smart move. A national insurance provider agrees to compensate you for the medical expenses you incur when you buy their health insurance. This type of insurance comes with the following benefits:

It protects you financially

It is important to keep your long-term savings protected by purchasing health insurance. Investing and saving for a home or child’s education might be your goals, but if you or someone in your family suffers from a medical emergency, you might have to liquidate your assets. Your local/national health insurance can help you in such situations.

A cashless hospital system

Cashless claims are one of the biggest benefits of health insurance. Top insurers nowadays have a large network of hospitals all over the country. If you are suffering from a health problem and get admitted to one of the network hospitals, you can usually benefit from cashless hospitalization.

The availability of add-ons or riders

A health insurance policy can also be customized with many different types of add-ons, also known as riders. The riders may slightly increase the premium, but they greatly enhance the scope of the policy. These additions can enhance the benefits of basic health insurance policies.

Why do you need riders? Most health insurance plans exclude certain critical illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease, and do not cover treatments resulting from accidents or health cases while traveling or in other countries. To ensure that your policy also covers such exclusions, you can purchase a critical illness or rider.

Public and private health insurance: Understand the difference

Technically there are two basic differences. Government healthcare is typically provided in a government hospital or government facilities and is often referred to as Universal Health Care, whereas private healthcare is offered at private facilities with more add-ons.

In addition, private healthcare offers slightly better and more advanced amenities than government healthcare. However, in some countries, public health care systems work with private health insurance to provide more choices and quicker access to some health services.

If you want to find the exact difference between the two then you can search the official website of the health ministry per country and compare it to the major health insurance companies in those areas. You will be able to browse available policies based on the type of coverage you prefer and the deductible you can afford.

Insurance Coverage in Thailand

Different countries have different laws for public healthcare. For instance, Thailand has implemented mandatory health insurance laws to make sure the Thai people have access to at least basic medical care, which may surprise visitors to the Land of Smiles.

Therefore, tourists and people planning to settle in Thailand need to know who, and to what extent, must comply with the mandatory health insurance requirements. The law provides a brief overview of ex-pat health insurance plans in Thailand for those with a work permit, retirees, and tourists.

Through that universal coverage scheme, most Thais have access to health care. The civil service welfare system provides healthcare coverage to civil servants and their families.

Thailand’s universal health coverage (UHC) policy has made good progress since it was introduced in 2002. All Thai citizens and Ex-pats with work permits have access to essential preventive, curative, and palliative health care. In order to reduce financial barriers to access for the poor, the government bears a heavy share of national health expenditures.

UHC covers Thai citizens who are not covered by the contributory Social Security Scheme (SSS), for the private sector, and the Civil Service Medical Benefits Scheme (CSMBS), for the public sector. The package includes inpatient and outpatient care, rehabilitation, and high-cost medical treatments such as dentistry, diagnostics, medicines, and medical supplies.

Local health authorities require citizens to register with them in order to receive a ‘card for care’, which provides free access to these services within their jurisdiction; however, in the event of an accident or an emergency, citizens can obtain free treatment further from home.

On the other hand, private employees are often covered by social security systems supported by payroll contributions. Expats and foreigners working in Thailand’s private sector are eligible for this coverage.

You will need private health insurance if you are not eligible for any of the above systems. The good news is that there are many customizable and affordable plans available. Thailand’s top private hospitals often have their own insurance available along with accepting private insurance coverage. Treatments at these facilities are so good that medical tourists from all over the world visit and take advantage of what is available.

Depending on your age and the region where you live, different plans and premiums are available. But you need to provide your medical history in order to avail the best plan for yourself.

Health insurance companies can offer varying levels of coverage and pricing. Consequently, comparing the plans to determine which company offers the best combination of rates and coverage can be challenging. You may find it helpful to determine which plans offer the most features that you require and are within your price range, then read consumer reviews of those plans.

What National Health Insurance does not cover?

It’s fair to say that national health care, traditionally known as the gatekeepers of national healthcare, has recognized that there are many things that they will not, or cannot cover. To do so would make the system expensive and difficult to maintain.

That being said, many European nations have managed to overcome this and do cover the majority of things. These systems are to be commended.

National health insurance coverage is not without its pitfalls. An educated healthcare consumer should be able to navigate these. Listed below are the services that most national insurers do not include or hesitate to include in their plans:

  • Most health insurance plans do not cover elective or cosmetic procedures, beauty treatments, off-label drug use, or brand-new technologies.
  • They can refuse to transfer your insurance while you are traveling or working in some other country.
  • The policyholder can appeal a denial of health coverage based on their individual circumstances and prognoses.
  • Often Dental care is not covered by a national policy or is restricted coverage only.

Difference between national and global insurance policies

Are you frequently away from your home country? Do you work abroad? No matter where you are in the world, you need to ensure you can still access quality healthcare.

Healthcare quality varies from place to place and accessing quality medical facilities abroad can be both complicated and expensive.

Due to the fact that global health insurance is often needed by those who frequently travel for work, your employer should pay for this insurance policy’s premium. It has many advantages for both you and the business.

A global health insurance policy can also cover your home country, which means that your entire health insurance plan is covered by a single policy! In this way, the company saves money on domestic health insurance, and you can enjoy consistent benefits worldwide.

However, international healthcare insurance can be used for more than just this! People from all walks of life can benefit from global health insurance. As many people travel between countries for family or other commitments, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the future. Global insurance can have more benefits than local insurance, especially for ex-pats or frequently traveling professionals.

Consider these factors before subscribing to a policy as follows: –

The coverage

High coverage amounts will also result in high premiums. There is a direct proportionality between the cost and the benefit. Even though global insurance policies charge more for add-ons or riders, you can customize your policy to suit you, instead of relying on general or ready-made policies.


A majority of insurance companies providing international policies do not sell policies to people over a certain age or with certain health conditions because complications are more likely to occur. Yes, this means you, grandpa, and grandma. Luckily here in Thailand, there are insurance providers who insure up to 99 years old.

The number of people covered

Based on simple logic, the higher the number of people covered under a policy; (Family policy), the higher the premium. Covering a family under one policy, however, is generally cheaper than getting separate policies for each member.

However, group policies (employee based) often provide better coverage for less money, simply because there are more people insured, thus lowering the overall cost per individual.

The countries covered

The cost of healthcare varies from country to country. It depends on which countries you need coverage for. Since the United States is infamously expensive for healthcare, premiums will be higher there. Likewise, if a country has a cheaper healthcare system, your premiums will be much lower.

Importance of a rider while buying policies

Besides covering medical conditions and hospitalizations, health insurance riders also provide a lot of security against unforeseen circumstances. In addition to providing different kinds of benefits, riders also provide a minimal cost considering the wide range of benefits they provide, making them a valuable addition to your insurance policy.

  • The benefits you have accumulated are not lost, like when you switch health insurance providers.
  • The waiting period for covering “Pre-existing Diseases” could be lost in the case of health insurance policies in the past.
  • Any general or specialized health insurance company will allow you to port your policy
  • Policies for individuals and families can be ported.
  • You must be given credit by your new insurer for waiting periods for pre-existing conditions that you gained with your old insurer.
  • You must be insured by your new insurer at least to the extent of your old policy’s coverage.

How does the global claim work in Thailand?

There are still plenty of people who travel to Thailand every year, for holidays or retirement. It is common for them to stay for quite some time. Therefore, these ex-pats need medical security during their time in Thailand.

Your health insurance plan can provide coverage for medical treatment in Thailand and other countries if you choose the right one. This means that if you are diagnosed with a disease, ailment, or condition in Thailand and seek medical treatment as an ex-pat, you will be covered. A global health insurance plan enables you to access quality healthcare facilities abroad without incurring expensive medical bills due to the fact that you can use them in another country.

Note: the majority of hospitals will require you to pay for your treatment and then claim your money back from your insurance provider. Therefore, you need to ensure that you know what your insurance provider requires for you to be properly reimbursed.

You do not want to arrive back in your home country only to find out you need a letter from the doctor who treated you.

With global coverage, you’re protected no matter where you are. Moreover, they offer a wider variety of medical facilities and doctors and are more comprehensive in their service. For example, if you have previously suffered from chronic illnesses, diabetes, or heart problems, your global health insurance will protect you from the high costs of emergency treatment in Thailand.

There are many insurances available for ex-pats wishing to stay long-term in Thailand. Two popular options for ex-pat health insurance in Thailand, especially for those who are planning to move for an extended period are:

  1. William Russell Insurance plan. With its excellent service and benefits, William Russell is one of the leading global insurers. The company has a strong presence throughout Southeast Asia, so you can receive treatment in Thailand or neighboring countries.
  2. GeoBlue Xplorer is another option for US citizens living abroad. The benefits and services offered by this insurance for Americans in Thailand are similar to those offered by Cigna. GeoBlue Xplorer is in association with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of America. That is why it comes with an excellent BCBS network of high-quality doctors and medical care worldwide.

These coverages will not only extend to Thailand but also to other countries within the scope of your policy, such as vacations or trips back home. You can purchase international insurance for Thailand which is also known as ex-pat medical insurance.

International private health insurance plans also offer coverage for medical treatment, prescription medication, ambulance fees, maternity, and hospitalization, among others.

Furthermore, international health insurance companies often cover evacuation and repatriation in an emergency. Consider the case of an American ex-pat living in Thailand who wishes to receive medical treatment at a hospital in the US. The cost of evacuation will be covered by an international health insurance plan, but not by a local insurance company. And not to mention, it will certainly cover the cost in Thailand for any medical emergency.

Expat retirees may have difficulty obtaining local health insurance coverage in Thailand. The majority of local insurers do not offer policies to senior citizens or exclude them from coverage. Hence, it is best to have international health insurance to cover your medical needs in such a situation.

In addition, there are insurance companies specifically catering to global travelers, like the expatriate group that provides insurance including:

  • emergency and accidental medical treatment,
  • 24/7 emergency assistance,
  • emergency dental treatment,
  • emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.

Key takeaways

In general, ex-pats living abroad may not have access to the full range of benefits a public healthcare system offers, so you will have to take out some kind of private medical insurance policy to cover the costs of healthcare. For example, to obtain an OA retirement visa in Thailand, health insurance is mandatory

Purchasing a health insurance policy with overseas coverage may be a little pricey, but its benefits are undeniable.

A travel insurance policy can be a blessing when you’re traveling abroad for short trips and in general, will be less expensive than getting a global health policy. In the event of an unavoidable medical/health emergency, it is like a companion and guide that helps you. Additionally, it relieves you of all sorts of tension as well as ensures that you receive the best treatment in a timely manner.

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