BUPA International Affiliate Program
UK & other International medical cover.

A large number of organisations provide health insurance that is targetted at people living outside their own country. For an ex-pat living in Germany these are often a much better deal than a German insurance scheme.

There are three reasons for this.

All of the schemes that I have investigated have been a lot cheaper than German schemes. Partly this is because the German schemes tend to be rather gold plated but also, the German health insurance companies themselve seem to be a pretty bloated group of organisations. As an example of this, in every German city that I know, there are two or three office buildings occupied by local health insurance companies. The one just round the corner from me has a smart building, large windows, expensive looking furniture and an attractive trophy blonde receptionist. Now that is just for one company in one small town and it should be contrasted with the insurance company that I am using at the moment. This is an international scheme and it is run out of a call centre in a shed somwhere in the north of England. Clearly, the German health insurance companies could spend a lot less than they do.

Secondly, the German schemes offer a lot of extra benefits such as trips to a health spa which most expats will never use.

The last reason, and perhaps the most important is that an international scheme will offer benefits that are important to an expat but which are not available under the national German scheme. The kind of thing that I am thinking about is mostly to do with the fact that expats travel a lot and are normally outside their home country. If I get sick when visiting my in-laws in St.Petersburg (Russia not Florida), my expat insurance scheme has a deal in place whereby I can receive treatment in an American hospital there and the bills are all sent direct to the insurance company. While a German scheme will pay out, it may well not do so up front. Also, if I get really sick, I have the option to be carted off to the UK and treated in a hospital there. Now, it's not that the UK will give me better treatment but if I will be in hospital for (say) two weeks, I'd rather be in a place where everyone can chat to me in English. Not just the doctors but other patients and even the cleaners and porters.

So, who do I recommend for this type of insurance? Well, I am not going to say that any one company is the best because this is really not the kind of thing that you can guage easily but I'll make some general comments. I'd advise that you first look to see if there is an insurance company in you home country that offers international expat deals. You will find it easiest to talk to these folks and you are most likely to understand all of their paperwork. Also, they will be well placed to offer facilities like an air ambulance to get you treated in a hospital in your home country.

Your first stop will be to look at which of your home country insurance firms will offer you international cover. BUPA and PPP of the UK certainly do and I expect that most similar firms will have the same kind of arrangement. Also, you should have a look at specialist international insurances companies such as expacare in the UK.

Be careful with the restrictions on the policy too. Common restrictions are that there is no cover if you are in the US and that trips to a general practitioner are not covered. You can pay extra and get these too of course.

For a US citizen who is not intending to spend any time back home while based in Germany, it may be an idea to look at one of the UK firms that I list below. They may offer just as good cover but for rather less than a US based company.


Related Links
Click here for an instant quote from BUPA International
Expacare Specialist Ex-pat HI
Goodhealth Another HI company that does international business
Yahoo Lots more international HI links on this page
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