A globalized economy means it's commonplace for citizens of one country to live for extended durations in another country. As a consequence, international private medical insurance (iPMI) is thriving.
A recent report informs that the gross value of written premiums for iPMI was $16.5 million USD in 2018. Out of that, about $12.4 million USD related to non-student expatriates.
What Is Expat Medical Insurance?
Expat medical insurance in the UK is a health insurance plan for the citizens of one country living and working in another. If you are a U.S. citizen living and working in the UK, for instance, you may not be eligible for your employer’s health insurance plan.
You’ll need expat medical insurance to keep your options open for accessing private healthcare services.
The Healthcare Scenario in the UK
If you are a U.S. citizen with a UK visa valid for longer than six months, you qualify for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). To have access to the NHS means much of your treatment is free at the point of delivery. The payment is made through taxation on income.
The NHS covers the following:
- Treatment for accident and emergency (A&E)
- Appointment and consultations with a general practitioner (GP), the UK counterpart of a medical doctor (MD)
- Treatment by any specialist with GP referral
- Maternity services
- Sexual health services
Despite government support for the NHS, as of 2020, 13% of UK consumers have private medical insurance coverage. In addition, 11% of consumers in the UK have accident coverage, and 7% have statutory health coverage through private medical health insurance.
There must be some issues with the NHS for these UK consumers to choose private medical health insurance. As an expatriate in the UK, you need private medical insurance too. UK expatriate medical insurance is designed to meet the needs of expats. See the reasons explained below.
UK Expat Medical Insurance Covers Eyecare And Dental Care
Most working adults have to pay for eye check-ups. Dental care is also not free for most working adults.
There are three common categories of dental care:
- The first one includes examination, advice, scale and polish, and an x-ray that the dentist recommends.
- The second band includes everything in the first category along with tooth extraction, fillings, and root canals.
- The third category adds complex dental procedures like bridges, crowning, and dentures to everything covered in the first two bands.
These are the costs in the NHS care system. If you access private care for the same services, the costs for each category of dental care would roughly be double.
Physiotherapy, Chiropractic Therapy, and Podiatry in UK Expat Medical Insurance
The NHS does cover physiotherapy if your GP recommends it. However, the waiting time often pushes people to seek private appointments.
The NHS has limited scope for free chiropractic therapy. Even if you do get referred by your GP, the waiting list may drive you to seek private services.
Free podiatry services are virtually non-existent within the NHS, and the costs for special treatment tend to mount quickly.
Bypass Long Waiting Periods for Knee and Hip Replacement Services
Both services are available within the NHS, but there is a long waiting list. A recent report states that the average wait for a knee replacement is nearly 13 weeks. It is about a week less for hip replacement.
If you want to access private surgery, the average cost for a knee replacement or hip replacement is well over £1,000.
Bypass Long Delays in Cancer Treatments
The NHS target is to get a cancer patient treated within 62 days of GP referral. The Health Foundation reported during the 2019 general election campaigns in the UK that the NHS has failed to meet this target for more than five years.
UK Expat Medical Insurance Covers Your Medical Tests, Scans, and Prescription Medicines
Tests and scans are free only with GP referral. Private service costs can go up to £100. Prescription medicines are free in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but not in England. Only specific population groups can get free prescription medicines in England.
Expat Health Insurance Will Save You Money in The Long Run
The smart move to avoid unnecessary delays without spending an excessive amount of money is to buy an expat health insurance plan for your time in the UK.
There are various options to choose from to suit different needs. Check out a wide range of expat medical insurance plans, and if you need any help picking the plan that is best for you, please contact our licensed, experienced representatives.