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Health insurance checklist for the students going abroad

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Medical expenses abroad are exorbitantly high. Hence those students who are seeking to pursue education overseas must look for a comprehensive health insurance plan. Considering buying an insurance policy, it's important to review the university’s insurance requirements, along with other insurance details like size, limit, and services. Gaargi Desai, Senior Counsellor of ReachIvy.com shares with The Afternoon D&C the things every student dreaming of going abroad should keep in mind when it comes to emergency help, travel assistance, medical evacuation, etc.

The Policy Options
Each country and foreign university stipulates its own mandate with this regard. Generally your options include:

  • University Plans. Some universities abroad may have their own insurance policy for their students and stipulate it is compulsory to buy insurance from them.
  • Government Benefits.  In some countries you may qualify to receive coverage under the country’s national health coverage.
  • Private Plans. When the option is yours, or the coverage from the two options above is not sufficient, you may need to look into /supplement with private insurance.  A number of private companies offer insurance plans specifically designed for international students.

The quality of these policies does vary, so speak to other international students and/or the on-campus International Student Office prior to purchasing.

Insurance Coverage
Though it would vary across institutions, insurance should cover the respective areas:

  • Common medical expenses
  • Accidents and sickness
  • Availability of medical care anywhere
  • Travel assistance service for twenty-four hours
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation

Cost
The amount you will invest in buying a health insurance depends on which country you will be travelling to and the level of coverage.

Insurance Limit
You must be aware whether your insurance provider has a put a cap on one-time payment amount; moreover, what sum is allotted for various medical needs. Secondly find out if there are any restrictions about availing of the services of specific hospitals, health care centres, medical facilities and even doctors or you are only eligible to seek services of a certain hospital network. Thirdly, what kind of services are not provided in the plan; last but not the least, whether your insurance includes special emergency assistance, medical evacuation and repatriation. Above all, be well acquainted with aspects like the pre-existing conditions, deductibles, and reimbursement.

Time-period
The term could extend from a month to a year, so evaluate what is the best option for you depending on the duration of your academic course, visa tenure,participation in exchange programs to other foreign locales etc.. Furthermore, review and reassess the conditions for renewal of the plan.

Reimbursement Policy
The reimbursement strategy sometimes is not well-emphasized or explained as part of the plan. It can pose a lot of confusion and complicates things at the time of need. Hence, clarify with them. Other pointers are:

  • Does your insurance plan require you to pay upfront for the services and claim the reimbursement later?
  • What exact information related to doctors, medical facilities or hospitals do you need to provide?
  • What is the currency in which the payment of the insured amount will be expressed?

For all intents and purposes, you must have a health insurance coverage provided either by the university, bought from a foreign agency or carried from your country, to buffer your medical expenses. Taking care of your health is your primary responsibility, hence do not forget to insure your health in all the excitement of going abroad.

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