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Local Health Insurance Vs Expat Health Insurance

Insurance | LetsMoveIndonesia

This week, LetsMoveIndonesia gets some advice from Mark Blackwell of GMS Financial, who explains the differences between local and expat health insurance.

Whether it’s France to Vietnam, USA to Thailand or Indonesia to the Netherlands, expatriates moving overseas to live and work should have some form of health or medical insurance. It is essential that expatriates understand the differences between local products and global products in the market.

With globalisation, cheaper aviation costs and great travel photos on Instagram, more and more people choose to work overseas and enjoy an expat lifestyle. Among all the advantages and great adventures people enjoy, there are some horrible stories out there.
In Indonesia, we often see pleas on Facebook or email broadcasts seeking funds for someone who was uninsured or inadequately insured and cannot afford a particular procedure or surgery. It’s heart-breaking to hear, especially in our industry when we have the products that could have saved their situation with one call. But remember this is insurance, not charity. The cover must be in place before it is needed.

So when going overseas to live and work, how can you ensure that you are fully covered in case of emergencies?

Products Especially Designed for Expatriates.
This isn’t like beauty products ‘for men’ that can charge an extra 20% from those two extra words. Expat Insurance for the most part has been designed with expat specific needs at heart. Two of the biggest factors that differentiate an expat medical insurance policy with a local insurance policy are portability and evacuation cover. Most local products won’t include these benefits because they are designed with local people living in their local country in mind. This keeps the costs down for their product. Whereas expats are on the move, they’re working in countries where healthcare is sub-standard, living far away from their families and/or often are working in remote areas.

Cover Levels Need to be Higher.
In our particular situation here in Indonesia some of the local products have such a low benefits level for surgery and other key elements that their product is near useless to an expatriate. Some products even dictate where you must have your medical care. Global insurance will usually allow you to choose your hospital and more importantly choose where in the world you want your surgery or treatments. Having this autonomy when your life is in the balance can be priceless. Sure, the expat product is going to cost more, but as with most products or services, you get what you pay for.

Expatriation and Repatriation
Most global health insurance plans will allow you to continue treatment back home if that’s what you prefer and even fit the bill for flying you home with assisted care if needed. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck in a hospital bed for weeks on the other side of the planet from your family. Whether you see this as a luxury or a necessity, you will certainly appreciate it when the time comes.

So if you’re already overseas or about to go overseas make sure you’re covered properly. At GMS we don’t just have sales agents selling health insurance, we have a Doctor who understands both sides of this industry.

If you have any questions of want to know more, then visit: or email your query to

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