June 24, 2010

A Few Quick Tips About Health Insurance Abroad

If you are young and thinking about traveling abroad, health insurance for your volunteer work or job might be the furthest thing from your mind.

But while you’re packing up your backpack and creating a travel playlist, you should also consider what might happen in case of an emergency – unfortunately, these things do happen.

Luckily there are options for low-cost travelers health insurance that should cover you in the event that you find yourself sick or injured. Here are some tips on how to stay safe, and insured:

1)   Buy health insurance! This is not negotiable. If you happen to find a job or volunteer opportunity that offers health insurance as a benefit, you are quite lucky indeed. For the rest of us, we have to take care of things ourselves. There are quite a few low-cost options that cover just the most basic needs: emergency room visits, unexpected accidents, etc. Most won’t pay for a cough or cold, or a routine doctors visit. Before you buy a plan, think about how long you will be away, and if you have any conditions that you might need to take care of to help you determine how much coverage you need.

2)   Don’t just Google! While you will find hundreds of overseas health insurance plans on the Internet, they are not all created equal. Before you fire up the search engine, think about where you are going and what kind of resources you already have. Ask your job or volunteer placement for recommendations for health insurance providers. Sometimes you can even tie health plans into other types of travel insurance, so check with your travel agent (or any travel agent if you aren’t using one) about options.

3)   Think long term! If you are planning on relocating for a long period of time, start planning to apply for residency. In most developing countries, health care comes at relatively low cost to residents, and you can safe a fortune (and have the luxury of regular check-ups!) if you start filling out residency paperwork early to qualify for national healthcare.

Once you have your health insurance squared away, you can get back to the fun stuff and start your work abroad adventure!

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