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- You will have US health care Marketplace exemption, but understand your needs and the requirements for health insurance in the country you plan to live
- Register with the American Embassy upon your arrival
- Ask friends, relatives, business associates, and fellow expats abroad about health insurance resources
- Medicare coverage is non-existent when overseas
- Students should prepare for being abroad by seeing doctors and dentists before leaving the US
- Keep all relevant information handy and be proactive in staying healthy abroad
Living overseas is an adventure that most people only dream about. Many find learning a new language too difficult or fear they won’t be able to adapt to a completely new culture. The more adventurous souls who take the leap and cross the pond are passionate about foreign people, places and things. These are the ones who find themselves in a brand new country surrounded by a whole new life waiting to be lived!
While living abroad, It is vital to stay healthy in order to enjoy the total experience. Part of this can be managed by taking the necessary steps to guard your health, but you should consider a health insurance plan that will cover any unexpected problems.
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Know the Health Insurance Requirements Where You Reside
There are a few countries that require visitors and those that wish to reside within their borders to have health insurance coverage.
Australia is an example that has government-funded healthcare but requires visitors and foreigners to obtain an Australian health insurance policy. A little research is all it takes to know what will be required when going abroad for a few weeks to several years.
Marketplace Health Insurance Exemption
If the new health care system remains as it was established, Americans will begin to accrue fines for not maintaining a health insurance policy. It can be purchased from the Marketplace site or through private health insurance companies.
US Citizens that are living abroad for at least 320 days each year are exempted from the laws and will face no penalties. They are also ineligible to seek health insurance coverage through the Marketplace.
You must be a permanent citizen and US resident to qualify for Marketplace coverage.
Health Insurance Needs
You may be living in a country that does not require health insurance and are exempt from US health care laws, but is it wise to take risks and go uninsured?
Accidents, illness, natural disaster and preexisting health problems can catch you off-guard and cause a need for extensive and expensive medical service.
There are some instances where health care is cheaper in other countries but knowing you will be paying completely out-of-pocket adds a sting to the situation. What if you are residing in a country that has notoriously poor health care? What if you are in a country that is infamous for major disease epidemics?
You may need a health insurance policy more than you think to protect both health and assets.
Register with the US Embassy
Take the time to enroll in the STEP program sponsored by the US Department of State. This lets the local US Embassy know that you are living there and allow contact when needed for such things as:
- Travel alerts and warnings
- Impending civil unrest
- Natural disaster
- Family and friends can contact you in an emergency
The US Embassy can also provide a wealth of information when it comes to finding doctors, hospitals and clinics as services are needed.
Take Note: The American Embassy cannot and will not pay for the services but can help locate what you need.
How to Find Health Insurance When Traveling and Living Abroad
One of the easiest solutions to obtaining health insurance when traveling and living abroad is to ask your current provider.
Find out if they offer coverage in the area of the world you intend to live. Other ways to find foreign health insurance are:
- Join online forums for US citizens already residing where you plan to move.
- Ask friends and family that frequently travel outside the US.
- Read worldwide insurance provider reviews online.
- Visit the US Department of State website.
Why Medicare Is Useless Abroad
US citizens pay into the Medicare system their entire working lives. They continue to pay into this system after retirement.
Most people think that when they retire, the world is their oyster. This is true, except for the fact that Medicare will not pay a dime for treatment and services outside of the US.
You will have to obtain supplemental health insurance that offers coverage to the foreign country you plan to live in. It means additional expenses, but you do not want to risk having no coverage as you get older and are more prone to serious health problems.
Students Living Abroad
Students studying and living abroad are at somewhat higher risk of coming into contact with communicable diseases. You will be around people from various worldwide destinations.
You need to make sure that you get a traveler’s health insurance policy. There are also a few precautions you should take before leaving on your study journey:
- See your doctor for a complete physical and get required immunizations.
- Get a dental appointment to make sure there are no pending issues.
- See if there are any health alerts in the area you will be traveling to.
- Be careful when eating street foods or in areas that the hygiene and surroundings seem less than optimal.
Handling Health Emergencies When Living Overseas
There are a few things to keep handy and do to prepare for a healthy stay abroad. A few of them are:
- Keep vaccinations up-to-date.
- Maintain a list of current medications with dosages on a card.
- Have a list of any medical problems and required treatments in the native language of the area on you at all times if you have health problems.
- Do NOT travel to high-risk disease areas if you are pregnant.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts on you whenever you go out.
Your experience living overseas will be enjoyable if you take the time to prepare for a healthy stay. Understand what your needs are and make a firm commitment to have everything in place before you leave the US.
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