Health Insurance and COVID-19 Coverage Explained4 min read
Having private health insurance has always been one of the top things expats needed to live safely in a foreign country. However, having health insurance in times of a pandemic is even more crucial than before. Expatriates living abroad might have problems accessing public healthcare in their country of residence or might not be eligible for it at all. Those who don’t have any form of global health insurance should consider securing a plan with COVID-19 coverage.
People who already have health insurance might be unsure whether their policy covers costs incurred due to COVID-19 treatment. Health insurance companies might include some levels of COVID-19 coverage in their policies, but it varies dramatically. For mobile expatriates who live or have to travel abroad in the future, health insurance covering COVID-19 is a must.
Does my health insurance cover COVID-19?
In general, yes, a health insurance policy can cover COVID-19. A pandemic is not a general exclusion under medical benefits. That being said, not all plans are created equally, and coverage might vary depending on the plan. When buying a new private health insurance plan, or reviewing your current one, it is crucial to ask the following questions:
- Does the health insurance plan cover COVID-19 at no additional cost? If not, can you purchase a COVID-19-specific policy? How much will it cost and what is covered?
- Are testing and treatment covered fully or only partially? What is the percentage of the cost-share?
- Is there a limit to how much you can claim for COVID-19-related treatment? Does it get deducted from your annual benefit limit?
- Will you need a pre-authorization from your insurer for the testing and treatment of COVID-19?
- Are there any limitations, such as excluded coverage abroad or in locations where healthcare costs are higher?
- What is the age limit for COVID-19 coverage?
- Does the policy offer medical evacuation or repatriation if you get COVID-19?
- Does the policy cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccination?
- Does the plan have the option for a hospital cash benefit?
Are plans required to cover COVID-19 testing?
It is worth noting that even if you have a global health insurance policy, the policy must be compliant with the laws of the country of your residence (or the primary country of your health plan). For example, in the U.S., Section 6001 of the FFCRA, as amended, requires “most private health insurance plans to cover COVID-19 testing, administration of the test, and related items and services, as defined in the act.” This specific act applies to people suspected of having COVID-19, not when there is a hospital requirement for a negative COVID-19 test before an unrelated medical procedure, as a prerequisite for travel or employment, or for non-medically necessary testing.
Regulation may vary significantly from country to country, so if you are unsure, contact your health insurance broker, or the insurer directly, for more information.
What extra services are global health insurance policies offering during the pandemic?
Many international health insurance companies have extended core services to their existing members, free of charge. These services vary from insurer to insurer, but you might expect conveniences such as:
- A mobile application where you can quickly manage your plan and claims.
- Telemedicine, offered as a free service with doctors working full-time for the insurer or as an added benefit to your policy when you contact your in-network doctor.
- Faster claims turnaround time and an extended period for submitting claims.
- Copay and deductibles waived for COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
- Access to insurer’s customer service 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
How can I get COVID-19 health insurance?
There are a few ways you can obtain health insurance that includes COVID-19 coverage. You can do research online and reach out directly to insurance companies, but this can be time-consuming and still leave you with questions. A health insurance broker, such as International Citizens Insurance, is a great resource to get the information you’re looking for as far as COVID-19 coverage. Insurance brokers do not charge you for their services, and you can only benefit from their knowledge of insurance companies, plans and insurance terms. Moreover, you can compare multiple plans at once and if you have questions, just like those about COVID-19 coverage, they will find the answers. If you’re looking for a global health plan with COVID-19 coverage, contact International Citizens Insurance to find out more.