The Expat Guide to Maternity Care

The Expat Guide to Maternity Care

12th March, 2015


There is nothing more exciting than planning a family. Moving abroad represents a new chapter in your life and planning a family means that another chapter is set to unfold. Nonetheless, whilst this is a joyful period in your life, it is still one that needs to be met with a lot of careful planning and consideration. There is a lot to think about, especially if you have recently moved abroad or are planning to do so. This is something many people tend to overlook and as a result they find themselves facing extortionate health care costs or stressing about where they are going to receive adequate maternity care. We don’t want this to happen to you. So, if you are an expat and having a baby is high up on your wish list, please read on to discover everything you need to know.

Before moving abroad you are highly advised to take out an international health insurance policy. This ensures you have access to the best hospitals, doctors and facilities in your new location. This not only protects your well being, but your finances as well. If you have moved abroad and are yet to take out a plan, you definitely need to do so now, especially if you are planning on starting a family. If you currently have a global health insurance plan this is great news, but you will need to reassess your benefits and cover level to ensure it is adequate for the arrival of a new addition to your family.

When shopping for a worldwide health insurance plan you will be able to choose from a wide range of cover policies. In general you have basic cover, intermediate cover and comprehensive cover. Basic cover is designed to protect you in case of a medical emergency and thus will typically only include in-patient care. Intermediate cover plans offer in-patient and out-patient care with a couple of added benefits. Finally, comprehensive cover plans will have benefits ranging from dental care to vaccinations, and much more.

You will find that maternity care is typically a benefit that is only found within high cover insurance plans. What counts as ‘maternity care’? This may differ depending on your type of policy and your insurance provider. Nevertheless, generally it will cover all medical costs that are incurred during pregnancy and childbirth. This includes newborn care, midwife fees, pre natal care, post natal care, specialist fees and of course hospital charges.

If maternity care is currently not part of your policy, you will need to make amendments to ensure it is before having a baby. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that they will be covered. You should never do this. If you are unsure, call your insurance company and speak to a representative who will outline everything for you.

Recognising that maternity care needs to be a benefit of your worldwide health insurance plan is only the beginning. It is not as simple as taking out this type of policy, or editing your current one, and then getting unlimited access to the care you need. You will be likely subject to a waiting period, no matter what health insurance company you use.

What are waiting periods? A waiting period essentially means that you need to wait a specific length of time before your insurer will cover you for the benefit in question. When it comes to maternity care, the waiting period is typically anything from ten months to a year. Let’s say you are subject to a ten-month waiting period and you took out your global health insurance plan on January 11th 2015. This means you will not be covered for any maternity care or treatment until after October 11th 2015.

What this means for you is that you need to plan carefully. You cannot simply fall pregnant and then take out an international health insurance policy afterwards to reap the benefits. Instead, you need to be prepared. If you buy a policy today and then become pregnant a year later, you have nothing to worry about, as you will be covered throughout the entire duration of your pregnancy. However, if you buy your policy when you are two months pregnant, you won’t be covered at all.

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Just think of how many hospital appointments are required throughout a pregnancy and that is without even mentioning the actual birth and the care you will need afterwards. If you don’t have an effective health care plan in place you could find yourself facing astronomical medical bills. This is the last thing anyone wants, especially when you already have all of the expenses that are associated with bringing a new baby into the world.

Aside from this, you also need to consider the fact that global medical insurance is going to give you access to the best hospitals, doctors and facilities in your new location. Therefore, you can be confident that you are going to benefit from the highest level of maternity care.

There are a few areas of the world however, where mandatory health insurance laws cover maternity costs with no waiting periods.  Abu Dhabi and Dubai for example have laws in place that mean health insurers must offer cover to all residents, including those with pre-existing conditions and pregnant women.  This law also applies to international health insurance providers so if you are resident or have a work permit for either of those areas, get in touch with your preferred insurer to find out more.

To conclude, if you are planning on starting a family in your new location, there is obviously a lot to think about and maternity care should be number one on your list. If starting a family is on the horizon – or you think it could be – then it is best to look for a global health insurance plan with maternity care coverage as soon as possible.

Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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