How are international healthcare companies supporting expats over the Covid-19 crisis?



Published 2020-11-11 11:33:55
Portrait doctor video conferencing clinic - Medical photo created by freepik - www.freepik.com

There are so many factors that expats living abroad have to consider and perhaps one of the most important one is health insurance. What happens when you contract Covid-19 overseas? Does your health insurance cover all related expenses?

There are so many factors that expats living abroad have to consider and perhaps one of the most important one is health insurance. What happens when you contract Covid-19 overseas? Does your health insurance cover all related expenses?

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the clause for a global pandemic was probably in such fine print that it could be negligible. However, as this nightmare scenario started to play out, many health insurance companies scrambled to cover themselves financially.

Covid-19 and healthcare insurance

Health insurance companies have been inundated by queries from existing and potential clients of their Covid-19 coverage.
If you are an existing client, it may be wise for you to contact your healthcare insurance provider to seek clarity on the type of cover you have. Your policy may preclude you from treatment because you have underlying health conditions and there are some exclusions in your policy based on that.

If you're looking for health cover after being infected by the coronavirus, getting a health insurance company to cover you may be trickier. They may exclude Covid-19 as a "pre-existing" condition depending on how severe your illness was.

Some insurance companies may cover Covid-19 testing but perhaps only if you're exhibiting clear symptoms of the illness. Certainly, routine testing for travel and "just for your peace of mind" will highly likely not be covered by most health insurances.

Tele-consultations and healthcare coverage

Another trend that has emerged during this pandemic is telemedicine. This involves speaking to a healthcare professional over a video call rather than having an in-person consultation.

  • The positives of this type of consultation are that you're safer talking to the doctor over the telephone than possibly exposing yourself to another patient in the doctor's waiting-room who is positive for Covid-19. You're kept safe and so is the staff of the hospital/surgery. This is ideal for common ailments that don't require a thorough examination.
  • The downside to telemedicine is that potentially serious conditions are not being diagnosed or the chances of misdiagnoses are higher. It is very difficult to get a patient to objectively assess their own symptoms and then make an accurate diagnosis based on that.
    Previously health insurance companies did not have to consider telemedicine as a mainstream treatment option, but this new trend has many of them re-imbursing tele-consultations.

Find out more detailed information from your healthcare insurance company.

Covid-19 and repatriation

Most expats ensure they are covered in the event of a medical evacuation so that they are able to return home where there is no appropriate treatment available in their host country.

However, does this clause cover Covid-19? It is possible that the healthcare company will cover your repatriation costs when there is no healthcare facility nearby to treat you. Nevertheless, with travel restrictions constantly changing in response to the rising Covid-19 infection rates, it is possible that you will not be able to travel because of closed borders rather than the unwillingness of your healthcare insurance to pay for it.

Once again, ensure you know what your healthcare insurance's standpoint is regarding this issue. Even with travel permitted they may get so many clients wanting to repatriate that they amend that clause.

New business for healthcare companies

Covid-19 has opened up a whole new market in the healthcare insurance arena. Some insurance companies are tailoring policies to specifically cover Covid-19 treatment and testing. You will be covered under this policy under some very specific conditions. They will cover your treatment costs unless you wilfully refused or were unable to depart the country within a reasonable period after it was declared under lockdown. It may be advisable to investigate the various options depending on your particular circumstances.

Other companies insist that they do not consider the pandemic status of the country you're in and will repatriate you if wish, pay for a doctor-ordered Covid-19 test, pay for inpatient quarantine treatment, etc. This may be the best option for your unique set of circumstances but be sure to confirm the cost and check to see if it justifies the coverage.

Healthcare insurance companies are having to consider their business options carefully because Covid-19 will be around for a long time even if treatment protocols improve and a vaccine is found. Big medical insurance companies like Cigna and Allianz now have options that include cover for Covid-19 globally and may also pay for tele-consultations and doctor mandated tests.

Cost of covid-19 treatment around the world

In the US, getting infected and being hospitalized with intensive care can cost you approximately $500 000. If you are not insured or believe that you are inadequately covered, now would be the time to look into all the various options available to you for affordable but comprehensive health cover.

Some countries, like Bahrain, have been treating expats infected by the coronavirus for free but in some quarters, there have been calls to halt this. Some Bahraini lawmakers have claimed that the cost of treating expatriate labourers should be borne by their employers rather than the government. Those government officials believe this will increase the expat compliance with Covid-19 protocols like social distancing and wearing masks.

In March, Thailand confirmed that any foreigners infected with Covid-19 and covered by Thailand's welfare scheme will be treated at no added cost.

In Seoul, on the other hand, treatment was free to all foreigners until July when the government revised regulations to prevent any misuse of the healthcare system by expats. The prime minister said that they treated expats free of charge initially to prevent the spread of the virus to locals but that with number of infected increasing, and the resulting rise in costs, they decided to cover only people from countries where South Koreans received free treatment, i.e. based on the principle of reciprocity, but with a few exemptions for poorer countries.

In Oman it was declared in April, once the scope of the pandemic began unfolding, that everyone regardless of nationality will be tested and treated if necessary.

In the same month Saudi Arabia also committed to providing free treatment for all infected people irrespective of nationality. The country went on to pledge a hefty sum of money to international organisations that are combatting the pandemic.


Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest Addthis

Category:
Health

Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert...
Tools:


For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.


More articles

- My Life Abroad -
A selection of expat stories

"A fun compulsive read!"
J. Matcham, Amazon

"I strongly advise people ready to live abroad to read this book!"
Patrice, Amazon