How to Choose the Right Medical Insurance if You’re an Expat or Digital Nomad

In addition to being able to afford the cost of medical bills, having proper health insurance when you're abroad allows you to recover faster and return to work sooner. If you're considering moving abroad to become an expat or travel full time as a digital nomad, now is the time to start planning ahead.Here are some of the important questions you should tackle before leaving the country...


When you live overseas, things can happen

Photo: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia

When you live overseas, there are many things that can happen that are unexpected.

I've had it happen to me.

I've also seen it many times with friends.

I was in the hospital one time in Beijing for getting bacterial parotitis and it was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. And I paid out of pocket at a private hospital because I wasn't fluent in Chinese and I didn't know a good public hospital I wanted to trust in that moment when my neck and half my face swelled up. It was scary and I was totally panicked. And I paid 3000$ for it. For Americans like me, that is not SO BAD to be honest. But for many people who live in countries with good public health systems, it's a nightmare. And all I could do was put it on my credit card. I was 28 fresh out of school and I didn't have health insurance and I hadn't since

I never thought about these things the first time I moved abroad as an expat. But the thing is, you just never know. Not to be a scare monger, but you might fall off a ladder while doing work around the house, break your leg in a car accident, or suffer some other type of injury. If you don't have adequate travel coverage, you could end up paying thousands out of pocket for medical expenses.

In addition to being able to afford the cost of medical bills, having proper health insurance allows you to recover faster and return to work sooner. If you're considering moving abroad to become an expat or travel full time as a digital nomad, now is the time to start planning ahead.

Here are some of the important questions you should tackle before leaving the country...

Should healthcare be a consideration when moving abroad?

Photo: Owen Beard

Healthcare is one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not you choose to live overseas. Many people cite healthcare as the main reason they chose to move abroad, while others mentioned job opportunities, quality of life, and lifestyle.

Most domestic health plans for local citizens will provide little or no coverage abroad when someone moves abroad. Also, some countries now require expatriates to buy local or global health coverage in order to get a visa or permanent residence. Buying global medical care is key for for long-term assignments or projects requiring significant travel.

Even though the benefits offered by such plans vary widely, the majority include some combination of hospitalization, outpatient surgery, dental care, vision care, and prescription drugs. Some expat health plans can cover some pre-existing conditions and mental healthcare. Note that expat health plans have some medical underwriting via a health questionnaire and they may approve you with or without an exclusion, but a decline is also possible.

For those who do not have access to employer-provided health insurance, purchasing individual international health insurance abroad can be really confusing. Most major insurers operate within specific regions, meaning you cannot simply sign up for a policy almost anywhere in the world. You must find out what options exist in your destination country before buying a plan there.

Another challenge is finding a provider network that meets your needs. If you are looking for a specialist physician, for example, you may need to shop around. Many providers work exclusively with certain carriers, making it difficult to compare prices across different networks.

How do expat medical insurance plans vary by the country I live in?

The best way to determine which plan will meet your needs is to contact an international insurance broker. They can help you choose from among several reputable companies based on where you live, how much coverage you want, and what types of services you need.

David Tompkins, President of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd, which owns and operates the Expat Financial, noted that :

“international health insurance plans premiums are determined by a variety of factors, mainly your citizenship, age, the options you choose, deductible and of course where you are going to live abroad. It makes sense to work with a broker because it has no impact on your premium and we can assist before and after you purchase, especially if you encounter a claims problem.”  David says.

Tompkins also mentioned that he has seen “some expatriates not purchase maternity coverage at least 12 months before becoming pregnant as there is a 12 month waiting period and only some insurers and plans offer this benefit. This meant that the couple was unable to secure coverage for the birth, which in the end we understand went well, but an uninsured pregnancy can easily be a million dollar claim.”

Finally, David also remarked that “as for expats and global nomads who did not get health coverage while living abroad, we unfortunately often get calls from people who have moved abroad without coverage and have been faced with huge medical bills as a result of an uninsured illness or injury and now want coverage, which of course, is now too late.”

What kinds of medical insurance do I need to consider?

There are many things you have to think about when considering health insurance to make sure you're covered.

• Emergency Medical Evacuation: If you're injured or become sick while living abroad in a country with limited healthcare, the evacuation rider may pay to have you transported to a country nearby that can deliver the urgent medical care you require. Note that a medical evacuation has to be approved and coordinated by your expat insurer.

• Coverage for the USA: Note that most global nomad health plans and expat policies will cover you globally excluding OR including the USA. If you are an American, an expat in the USA or living nearby the USA, you probably want to pay for the ability to seek treatment in the USA.

• Global Hospitalization/Medical Care: If you need to seek medical attention while traveling outside the U.S., your policy can provide access to local hospitals. In-Patient care is usually  the base level of coverage for most expat health policies.

• 24/7 Accessibility: If you need urgent medical assistance during normal office hours, your policy will allow you to contact your insurer directly and also request a guarantee of payment to a hospital.

• Dental Benefits: Many policies include dental coverage or have it as an option. This includes routine checkups and preventative treatments like cleanings, fillings, X-rays, and root canal procedures.

How to get Mental health coverage

Photo: Nik Shuliahin 💛💙

Mental Health coverage is another benefit often included in expat health insurance packages. It helps protect you from stress-related illnesses like anxiety and depression.

The best way to choose an expat health insurance package is to evaluate all the available features and benefits. The more comprehensive the coverage, the better value it will be.

The cost of expat medical insurance will vary depending on the type of coverage you choose, the country you live in, and the amount of coverage you need. Generally speaking, plans can vary widely depending on your age, citizenship, expat destination, deductible and courage levels that you choose.

It's important to shop around and compare different policies to make sure you're getting the best value.


Finding the right medical insurance for expats and digital nomads can be a challenge. It's important to research different providers and compare their coverage, cost, and network of providers. Consider your needs carefully before making a decision, as the right plan can make all the difference in getting the care you need while abroad.


ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany

I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK  and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).

If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.

Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.

If you're interested in booking a free 15 minute discovery call for transformational life coaching, EFT Tapping or checking out my services page click here.

header image: Alexandr Podvalny

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