By Christine Onggowati | 25 Apr 2024

Global insurance cover vs. regional insurance cover: Which is the right plan for you?

Understanding the different types of health plans available ensures you get the right one for you and your family.


When it comes to finding international health insurance and having access to a comprehensive range of options, you’ve never had it better!

But so much choice may mean you need help understanding what features and benefits you should prioritise. If you don't really know what you're looking for, you may end up with inappropriate coverage for your needs. In turn, this may mean you end up overpaying for features you'll never use or having unexpected medical expenses when your health plan doesn't cover a specific scenario.

My colleague Laurent de Veyrac recently explained the differences between international health insurance and travel insurance and how to ensure you have adequate health coverage as an expat.

Now, we will look deeper at international health insurance and the differences between regional and global insurance coverage.

What is global health insurance?

Global health insurance is high-quality coverage designed and tailored to expats' needs, giving you access to private healthcare in multiple countries. With Now Health International’s award-winning WorldCare plans, you can even add an elective USA treatment option to enjoy truly global coverage.

Global health plans are typically benefit-rich and ideal if you live or work abroad or spend more than six months of the year travelling to different countries.

The benefits you can enjoy from a global health plan will differ between insurers and your location.

Some of the benefits available with Now Health International’s global health insurance plans include:

  • Medical Evacuation
  • Direct Billing
  • Pharmacy Delivery Services
  • No waiting period for cancer treatment
  • Second Medical Opinion
  • Access to our Member Assistance Programme, provided by TELUS Health (formerly LifeWorks).

What is regional health insurance?

If you’re unlikely to leave your new “home country” or you don’t need global cover for another reason, then regional health insurance may be more suitable for you.

As the name suggests, regional health coverage will allow you to access healthcare in a smaller collection of countries. This may be your country of residence plus a handful of surrounding countries or could extend to the rest of the continent.

In some cases, regional health insurance may not cover or offer as comprehensive a range of benefits as a global plan.

Here at Now Health International, our SimpleCare plans are designed to offer our members access to world-class healthcare facilities in their region at an affordable price. You can even tailor our SimpleCare plans to get global coverage, ensuring you have a health insurance plan that works for you.

To guarantee convenience, our SimpleCare plans are fully digital, giving you access to our award-winning range of tools to manage, access, and use your plan wherever you are.

And what is local health insurance?

Local health insurance – sometimes called domestic health insurance – is exclusive to your country of residence.

In this context, we'll consider it insurance you might get from an insurer in your country of residence should you become a permanent resident or citizen of that country. If you find yourself in this situation, you may also have full access to any public healthcare available in the country.

Depending on your circumstances and ongoing needs, you should consider the pros and cons of keeping an international health insurance plan versus moving to a local or domestic one. You may save money by moving to the latter but will likely lose benefits specific to international health plans, like medical evacuation and options to receive treatment overseas.

Choosing to rely on public healthcare may not cost you anything other than whatever contributions you must make through your new home country's tax, insurance, or social security systems, but it may leave you vulnerable to high costs should if you elect for private treatment down the line. But it's also worth remembering that some out-of-pocket expenses are payable even in countries with public healthcare.

What you need to know about all health plans

The most vital point to note is that your level of coverage will depend on the plan you purchase, regardless of whether it's a global, regional, or local plan.

For example, all of Now Health International’s plans offer coverage for cancer treatment with no waiting period, day-patient or out-patient surgery, and in-patient and day-patient care. If you want to enjoy the peace of mind of having a more comprehensive level of coverage, then we have plans available offering out-patient, dental, and maternity cover, too.

When shopping around for a private health insurance plan, ensure you take the time to understand precisely what your plan is offering you. For example, many insurers offer plans that don't include cancer coverage. Such plans often appear way cheaper – although you may have the option to purchase cancer cover on top of your base premium – but when 50% of us will develop some form of cancer in our lives, you'd need to consider if you'd be happy with this direction.

Which is the right plan for you?

The right plan depends on your needs, circumstances, and what you can afford.

As someone who recently became an expat or will continue to travel to various locations, a global or regional health insurance package tailored to your situation will generally be the better option – it may even be a requirement of your residency visa!

If you become a permanent resident of your new location in the future, you may wish to explore whether local health coverage is suitable for you or even consider whether public health services are sufficient for your needs.

Discover Now Health International’s range of award-winning global and regional health insurance plans.