This is the final article in our 3 part series on Medicare and Private & International Health Insurance For Australian Expats.  In this article we focus on the key issues relating to International Health Insurance For Australian Expats.

In this three part series, we covered :

Part 1. Medicare Implications For Australian Expats

Part 2. Private Health Insurance For Australian Expats

Part 3. International Health Insurance For Australian Expats

If you have found this series useful, download the full report below for printing or sharing.

Download Special Health Report For Australian Expats

What is International Health Insurance?

International health insurance (like that offered by Cigna Global) is designed for people who intend to move abroad for an extended period (for example to study or work).  It will generally cover you for both routine and emergency medical care, and will often provide you with flexibility in terms of doctors and hospitals, with the ability to receive treatment anywhere in your region of cover.  There are varying levels of cover available, and so it is important to understand the limitations of the policy you are considering.

What is the difference between International Health Insurance and Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is principally designed for people traveling for holidays to cover things like flight cancellations, personal belongings, and emergency medical treatments.  Generally, only emergency medical treatment is provided with the principal aim to get you well enough to return home.  Any ongoing treatment will require you to return to Australia, and cover ceases once you are in Australia.  Travel insurance will not cover you for long-term medical treatment.

Can I avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge if I Have an International Health Insurance Policy

In the first two articles in this series I talked about people who remain Australian resident for tax purposes will remain liable for the medicare levy surcharge if they do not retain private health insurance and their income exceeds certain thresholds.  There is a common misconception that if you take out International Health Insurance for Australian Expats (or expat health insurance policy), from companies like Cigna, then that will exempt you from paying the medicare levy surcharge.  However International Health Insurance for Australian Expats sits outside the Australian private health insurance system, and so in itself is insufficient to avoid the medicare levy surcharge if you remain an Australian tax resident during your time abroad. Some insurers will allow your policy to be “endorsed” for an additional premium and in return you will receive a Private Health Insurance Statement.  Alternatively you can investigate taking out a budget private health insurance policy that meets the Government’s minimum requirements.  See Part 2 of this series for more information.

The difference Between Private Health Insurance and International Health Insurance For Australian Expats

Other than what we have just covered, there are a number of other differences between Private Health Insurance in Australia and International Health Insurance that Australian Expats should be aware of.

  • Certain treatments may be excluded
  • Pre-existing illnesses may not covered, or the premium may increase to cover a pre-existing illness
  • There may be an annual limit on medical claims
  • Your co-contribution may be quite different to what you are used to.  For example, to reduce your premium you may choose to pay for the first X dollars (could be a few thousand dollars) of all medical expenses each year.
  • You will probably be covered outside the country you are living in (often international health insurance will provide a global or regional coverage, so for example if you are living in the UK, you may also have medical cover when visiting France or Germany on holiday).
  • Insurance premiums are not subsidised and can be significantly higher than Private Health Insurance in Australia

Pre-Existing Illnesses

One of the big differences between private health insurance in Australia and international health insurance for Australian Expats is the cover for pre-existing illnesses.

Private health insurance in Australia must cover you (subject to waiting periods if applicable) for any pre-existing conditions and at no additional cost to the insured person.

However, for International Health Insurance for Australian Expats the situation is quite different.  The Insurance Company may offer  :

1.  Cover for the pre-existing condition with no additional premium;

2. Cover for the pre-existing condition with additional premium; or

3. Cover, but exclude cover relating to the pre-existing condition.

If you are being transferred overseas, your employer may have arranged a corporate international health insurance policy that automatically cover pre-existing conditions.   Please share your experiences and tips below for health insurance while being an expat.

Obtain a free quote today from our preferred international health insurance companies Cigna Global.

Disclaimer : This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial or taxation advice. As this information is not advice and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness for your circumstances. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions, and a registered (tax) financial advisor/accountant in relation to taxation decisions. To the extent permitted by law, we exclude all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way.  We may receive referral commissions from companies mentioned in this article.

If you have found this series useful, download the full report below for printing or sharing.

Download Special Health Report For Australian Expats

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Craig is an Australian Expat and the founder of The Australian Expat Investor.Craig is passionate about investing, and while Craig cannot give personal financial or tax advice, Craig enjoys sharing investing, tax, and other tips for Australian expats to help them to build their wealth while living abroad and get the most out of their time living overseas.Get his free ebook on 9 Financial Surprises That Could Cost Australian Expats Thousands of Dollars at the link above.
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