The reality of expat healthcare insurance and private hospital charges

The reality of expat healthcare insurance and private hospital charges

The reality of expat healthcare insurance and private hospital charges

Expats looking for advice on healthcare insurance should avoid online advertorials.

Without a doubt, the thought of relocating to a country where decent healthcare is expensive at best or unavailable at any cost at worst can be the average expat’s number one nightmare, especially if retirement is the reason for the move. However, searching the internet for informative articles on the subject isn’t the answer as the vast majority of said articles are thinly disguised advertorials for insurers or private medical facilities operating as heavily-disguised money-making enterprises. Leaving aside expatriate professionals lucky enough to be reassigned by their international employer with all the expected bells and whistles on top of a salary far in excess of the rate for the job in the home country, what’s the average expat to do?

A recent, almost perfect, example of an insurance advertorial aimed at expats begins with a report of the company's recent survey stating almost half of respondents believe healthcare provision is the most important aspect of relocation. Reading more carefully, expats might note that just 250 expats living in ‘various world countries’ out of the 500 surveyed were quoted. Basically, a survey of only 500 expatriates is unlikely to encourage even the most inexperienced newcomer to the healthcare scene to sign up, but the article does a good job of demonstrating the usually better-concealed methods of insurers in this sector.

One thing’s for certain, all the online bleating about affordable healthcare insurance isn’t aimed at expats on a basic pension, even although a work-related pension may be taking up some of the financial slack. In addition, insurers work hand-in-hand with private hospitals, thus allowing the facilities to ratchet up prices as and when they please. Comparison tables including the expertise of staff as well as costs of common treatments and operations can help expats new to the subject form their own opinions. For example, Spain’s average healthcare costs for surgeries and treatments are the cheapest by far in the expat world, with the country also scoring high for the expertise of their healthcare professionals. Spain's healthcare provisions are a model for the rest of the world, in contrast to the inequality of expat healthcare as well as the greed of healthcare insurers and hospitals.

More online research amongst expat community websites may turn up group schemes similar to the employer-organised plans in the home country. These result in lower premiums, but don’t solve the problem for older, still healthy individuals who’re ‘too old’ to be insured. With some companies, the cut-off date is as low as 65 or 70 years, a nonsense in this day and age when taking care of one’s long-term health is a priority for many. However, it does illustrate the risk-averse attitude of the vast majority of insurers in this sector. Expats come in all shapes, sizes and financial situations, but truly affordable healthcare insurance for the less than comparatively wealthy isn’t likely to be provided as there’s far too much money to be made by both insurers and private hospitals.operating the present system.

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