By Dr Bilal Shirazi | 30 Dec 2020

How to Choose a Private Health Plan

Having the right private health plan for you and your family is essential if you’re planning to live overseas.


While the majority of relocation packages will include health insurance paid for or subsidised by your employer, sometimes you might only get a basic level of cover.

Employment isn’t the only reason we move overseas, either. We might choose to relocate for lifestyle reasons, or because we plan to retire.

Whatever your reasons for moving abroad, a private health plan:

  • Will help you access treatment and care quicker
  • Enables you to access English-speaking medical professionals in private healthcare facilities
  • Reduces your medical costs
  • Means you don’t need to rely on universal healthcare if your new country has such a system
  • May even be a pre-condition of getting a visa to live in your new country

Although there is much to consider when looking for a private health plan, choosing one doesn’t have to be tough.

Let’s look at how you can choose the ideal plan for your needs.

First ask yourself: do you need a private health plan?

Even the most affordable private health plans can represent a significant expense.

Say you're moving to a country with a universal healthcare system, that you can access as an expat from the day you move there and receive free or low-cost care. You might not need a private health plan.

That’s a question only you can answer, depending on how comfortable you are with the prospect of going to a clinic in your new country.

We recommend that even in such circumstances, you consider taking out a private health plan.

Depending on the country you're moving to, specific treatments may not be available in the public health system or have a high cost if they are.

Then, who do you need your health plan to cover?

It’s vital your health plan covers your whole family if you’re moving overseas with your partner and children.

Likewise, if you’re single and moving alone, you don’t need to worry about family cover or adding maternity care to your plan.

Once you answer these two questions, you can start to focus on the specific plan you need.

Decide the level of cover you need

The most crucial aspect of choosing a private health plan is deciding the level of cover you need. As well as giving you peace of mind you can get treatment when you need to, your level of cover will also determine the cost of your premiums.

Different insurers will all offer individual types of cover and tiers unique to them. Therefore, you must be prepared to ask questions when shopping around for a private health plan. It's common to find the same thing worded differently from one insurer to another, so you need to be diligent to ensure you get the right plan.

To give you an example of the decisions you may need to take when choosing cover, we outline our plans below.

The simplest way to break down our health plans is by the types of care they enable you to access. With our plans, if you move up to the next tier, you get everything you got in the previous tier, plus the relevant additional cover.

In-patient and day-patient care

In-patient and day-patient care are covered by all our plans, meaning if you need to be admitted to hospital, your treatment costs will be covered. The nature of this cover means you aren’t covered for consultations and appointments leading to diagnosis, or for any treatment you receive as an outpatient.

Outpatient care

Adding outpatient care to your plan means you can cover your costs for outpatient treatment as well as for in-patient and day-patient care. Such cover will be useful if you are ever diagnosed with a condition that requires ongoing management without being admitted to hospital.

Dental treatment

Even countries with universal and free healthcare, the UK being one such example, often levy a charge for dental treatment, which can be expensive. Even if you're fortunate enough to only ever need regular check-ups and no other treatment, it can still be worth having cover.

Maternity care

If you’re moving overseas with your partner and are planning to start a family, having maternity care cover will usually ensure you're able to access the check-ups you need from the moment your pregnancy test gives you the exciting news.

Take the time to understand precisely what is and isn’t covered

Understanding the exclusions attached to a private health plan should be a key consideration when shopping around.

Some exclusions apply to almost all types of health plan, such as:

  • Pre-existing or chronic conditions
  • Conditions arising from drug or alcohol abuse
  • Infertility treatment
  • Getting a second opinion

However, some insurers also exclude:

  • Organ transplants
  • Long-term treatment, such as kidney dialysis, even if you get a diagnosis after taking out a plan
  • Treatment for illnesses linked to epidemics or pandemics

If you're healthy when you take out your plan, these exclusions might seem irrelevant. But remember that, for longer-term conditions and treatments, if they're exclusions now, you'll find it challenging to get cover if you're ever diagnosed. You'll have to declare them as pre-existing conditions if you want to switch to a new plan.

Ensure your deductible is affordable

Your deductible is another contributing factor to the cost of your health plan.

While it can be tempting to take a higher deductible to reduce the cost of your premiums, you should ensure you can afford your deductible. Failing to pay your deductible may invalidate your plan and lead to you with a medical bill for 100% of the costs.

Speak to your insurer when choosing your private health plan to help strike the right balance between affordable premiums and a realistic, affordable deductible.

Choosing the right private health plan for you

Choosing a private health plan can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.

Once you have decided you need a private health plan, it is merely a case of choosing a plan that you’re comfortable with and can afford.

If you’re looking for international health insurance, you can view the countries we cover here or complete this form to get your price.