Venturing abroad can certainly bring excitement with a great itinerary but assessing destination risks matters too. Health and safety threats endanger travelers naively believing they are immune to harm and it only happens to others. In reality, common vacations spots are vulnerable to a lack of preparation.

Before Departing:
Verify travel warnings and advisories with government sites. Check for prevalent food/water hazards to take preventative care. Research the likelihood of diseases from mosquitos and other regional concerns. Take note of the nearest embassy location and save it in your phone or with other important documents.

Best Health Insurance for Temporary Expatriates

Top Companies for Overseas Coverage
1. Cigna – global provider with extensive overseas networks and English support.  Cigna offers a range of flexible international health insurance options for travelers, including both annual and shorter term plans.

Some of their most popular international insurance offerings include:
Cigna Global (Annual). Their comprehensive plan providing worldwide coverage for expats and frequent travelers. It has a range of deductible and coverage options that can be tailored to needs.

Cigna International Short Term Health (ISTH)
As the name suggests, this supplies shorter term coverage for those traveling abroad from 30 days to up to 6 months in duration. These accommodate study abroad, frequent business trips, and temporary assignments.

International Student Health Plans
Specialized medical, life, and travel insurance bundle designed for international students studying overseas. Can be purchased in monthly increments.

International Vacationers Plans  
Essential accident and illness coverages for one week to 6-month leisure trips abroad. Budget options for infrequent vacations overseas.  

In addition to these outlined travel products, Cigna serves globally mobile customer with a range of international health insurance suited for expat families, business travel, and global nomads requiring coverage in multiple countries.

Their plans ensure access to quality care internationally, while controlling out-of-pocket costs through in-network providers. This supplies comprehensive support virtually wherever your travels take you. Typical Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $1,800+ annually
– Family – $5,400+ annually 

2. Bupa Global – flexible plans with specialized expat coverage.
 Bupa Global offers a variety of international health insurance options for travelers including comprehensive annual coverage along with more flexible short term policies. Some of their most popular travel medical products include:

Bupa Global Travel Plan
Their worldwide, annual travel insurance covering trips up to 180 days long. Customizable with add-on modules for sports coverage, maternity needs, etc.

Bupa Nomad Plans
Specialized products for frequent and extended travelers including digital nomads and location independent remote workers. Annual and short-term options.

Student Plans
Tailored medical, accident and travel coverage for students studying internationally. Can be purchased monthly or per school term.

Travel Insurance
Trip-focused accident, illness and emergency medical plans for leisure and business travel abroad from a week to 1 year. Budget monthly premiums.

In addition Bupa furnishes international private medical insurance for expat families relocating long term and military personnel stationed globally with foreign service officer plans. Across their products worldwide coverage spans inpatient, outpatient, evacuations, mental health and more.

Short term plans complement annual health policies expat members retain from their home country. This combines comprehensive care support through international providers worldwide.
Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $1,800+ annually
– Family – $5,400+ annually 

3. Allianz Care – multi-language service teams and 150+ country networks.
 Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $1,500+ annually
– Family – $4,800+ annually 

4. Aetna International – short term trip plans and 24/7 member assistance.
Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $1,200+ annually
– Family – $3,600+ annually

5. AXA Global – gold standard coverage and treatment guarantees
Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $1,700+ annually
– Family – $4,500+ annually

6. GeoBlue – generous pandemic benefits and valuable travel resources 
 Coverage costs:
– Solo – $900+ annually
– Family – $2,700+ annually 

7. Integra Global – leading-edge telecare and wellness programs
Coverage costs:
  – Solo – $3,000+ annually
– Family – $7,200+ annually 

In-Country Support
The major insurers have dedicated expat support teams and most offer 24/7 help lines globally. GeoBlue, Aetna, AXA, and Cigna enable contacting local country offices directly when abroad for native language assistance.

Although plan cards may carry U.S. numbers, urgent overseas questions get elevated to multilingual on-staff helpers readily available via regional branches. Stress less knowing leading providers have your back locally. What almost every American or Canadian wants for health coverage abroad is:

  • Instant Healthcare Coverage
  • No Hospital Restrictions
  • Comprehensive Protection
  • No out of pocket expenses (or minimal)
  • Chronic and terminal coverage

Best Countries to Use U.S. or Canadian Health Insurance

The following are six specific countries that stand out for American and Canadian visitors and expats regarding healthcare abroad and the reasons why.

Singapore: excellent infrastructure, quality care, low disease risk.
Singapore offers pristine facilities rivaling finest Western counterparts in treatment technology and patient outcomes yet with minimal waits or red tape interfering. The country’s hyper-organized care access makes managing complex conditions smooth.  The whole country is well-connected to provide quality health care given the small size.

Hong Kong: advanced technology, standards matching Western medicine.
Hong Kong harnesses innovative health devices aiding holistic healing with stalwart guidelines upholding rigorous quality control from university trained specialist abroad. Patients bank on their governance.  The Central & Western Districts have a cluster of public hospitals and premier private centers.

Spain: Superb medical facilities at lower expenses for uninsured.
Spain delivers modern hospitals, multi-lingual staff, and doctors averaging 12 years more training than the States.  Their combination of universal coverage and quick private appointments supplies a dependable safety net welcoming expat illnesses.

Barcelona offers cutting-edge hospitals and an abundance of English-speaking doctors. Another expat favorite city, Madrid has leading medical research facilities conveniently located in the capital.  

France: Universal healthcare with options for supplemental expat policies.
France lavishes residents with frequent check-ups, in-home visit by nurses, and payment caps sheltering patients from health care expenses exceeding thousands yearly. The insured never schedule around costs derailing preventative health.

As expected the lovely cities of Paris, Lyon, and Marseille have a wealth of expert healthcare specialists and clinics catering to international clients.  Nice has a brand new university hospital equipped with the latest technologies.  According to, French healthcare becomes accessible for expats after three months or sometimes sooner if they are working and paying social security.

New Zealand: high-performing care system and reputable providers.
New Zealand utilizes naturopathic cures supplementing well funded public facilities and broader insurance market options satisfying varied health priorities expats harbor. Care freedom thrives under their calm stewardship.

It is best to be in or near these two cities for the best healthcare. Auckland is the largest city with extensive healthcare infrastructure options. Wellington is regarded as a small capital with a teaching hospital and strong medical university.

Taiwan: technologically advanced care and English-proficiency prevalent.
Taiwan produces cutting edge medical advances with western-educated, English-speaking physician in abundance. Well-equipped hospitals span this densely packed island where little falls through health system cracks. 

Taipei features major hospitals like Taipei Medical University Hospital or Tri-Service General Hospital and Taichung is a fast growing yet affordable city with top-rated facilities. As temporary expatriates, hold onto your U.S. or Canadian insurance while living in countries with modern systems, high standards, and English-accessibility for health safeguards. 

What happens if there’s a medical emergency while abroad?  U.S. and Canadian embassies connect travelers from their respective countries to reputable hospitals and assist contacting relatives to coordinate affairs back home. Leverage this support network when abroad.

Will Medicare cover international travel?
When it comes to leaving the country, Medicare doesn’t pack its bags. It stays home. Don’t expect those red, white, and blue cards unlocking free healthcare beyond US borders in retired life. We’re talking anywhere outside the 50 states and U.S. specified territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands you’ll be without medicare coverage.

That’s right, even frequent southern jaunts to Puerto Vallarta or cruises circling the Caribbean won’t cut it for government benefits footing medical bills. Crossing those borders means paying 100% out-of-pocket for whatever care you need.

My advice? Arm yourself with a comprehensive travel plan instead so you can wander freely without the worries an unexpected hospital visit overseas tends to bring.

Consider supplemental international health insurance covering incidents from hospital visits, prescriptions refills overseas, and treatments. The cost is between $5 to $10 daily. Unforeseen illnesses can easily exceed $100,000 without coverage protection that comprehensive travel policies provide. It’s not worth the risk of not having coverage that could determine life or death or a permanent illness due to low quality care in international settings.

drew carlyle overlooking volcano

About Author

Globe trekker, aspiring to be a polyglot, and volunteering for good causes.

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