iPMI Global

Designing International Private Medical Insurance Plans for Digital Nomads

In the iPMI Global Digital Nomads in Focus Article, we look at which coverage options should be included in an international private medical insurance plan for digital nomads, and which ones might be left out. As always, if you are a digital nomad, purchasing an international private medical insurance plan, always consult with your insurer or broker for the full advice.

Eithan Wolf, PassportCard: We are constantly working to incorporate more and more benefits to our members. The biggest attribute is the ability to be “sick just like at home.”

At home we know to which doctor to attend, how to get medical support and how to pay for that. When abroad this becomes a stressful experience that we aim to dissolve with our payment solution and our 24/7 in-house service centre in multiple languages. That said, we are incorporating now also a flight delay mechanism that will inform energy enrolled clients if their flight is delayed and provide them with a free lounge voucher free of charge.

Diane Thomas, UnitedHealthcare Global:  International insurance can be complex, and it is best to consult with an insurance broker or specialist. These professionals can then offer personalized advice and help compare different insurance plans and identify the one that best suits an individual’s needs.

To help organizations and individuals start, I recommend exploring plans that offer custom coverage with the option of adding or removing certain benefits. Look for a carrier that has a robust network of healthcare providers in the countries a nomad plans to visit. Evaluate premium costs, deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket limits to ensure the plan fits within the budget. Finally, if they or a dependent has a pre-existing condition, it is important to find a policy that provides coverage for that specific medial issue.

When it comes to inclusions for coverage, be on the lookout for trip interruption, cancellation and baggage coverage. Check to see if the plan provides coverage in multiple countries, especially where digital nomads will be traveling to or working from. If comprehensive and/or routine coverage – check-ups, vaccinations, emergency care, hospitalization, doctor visits, prescription medications, dental, vision, mental health – are important, look for plans that include them or offer them as an optional buy up.

Policies might include material and logistical support, including help in situations such as funds transfer, lost document replacement, legal referrals, translation services, medication and vaccine support, treatment monitoring, and a host of medical and security intelligence support.

Emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage can be crucial in case of serious illness or injury. And while people do not generally expect to be in an emergency, this type of coverage is especially valuable if travel includes visits to remote or underserved areas where access to specialized medical care may be limited.

Lourdes Peters, World of America: Again, it all depends on the geography and needs of the individual, but I would look into having a policy that can adapt to the area they are moving to and then as they move around, I would have this policy allow a 6-month mobility clause, where are they can adapt their coverage to the countries need. Example, first 6 months the digital nomad lives in the USA and then after moves to Thailand, two different countries, two distinctively different medical care needs, therefore it should have different pricing. And it could be the other way around. They will not be changing companies as they move, their continuity will be interesting to the companies and most importantly the coverage is priced to the market in which the coverage will be taking place.

François Jacquemin, Foyer Global Health: As we have a wide range of products in our portfolio, we can every needed cover. So, the question is not what additional cover is needed, it is more what the additional services are a target group request. Especially this group of expats, as the naming shows, want to have mainly digital services, which are aligned with their way of living. They are familiar with 24/7 Services that are provided via Smart Phone or Computer. Therefore, we offer the so-called digital doctors or video consultations that can be reached from each and every country in the world and you can consult in your mother language. Further, they want to have digital access to all information about their policy. We give them the possibility to chat with our Service Agents through various online platforms such as WhatsApp, as this is more familiar for digital nomads than having a phone conversation.

Scott Rosen, MDabroad: In addition to those mentioned in previous articles, we would consider ideal:

  • Trip interruption and cancellation insurance
  • Personal liability insurance
  • Digital nomad equipment insurance
  • Mental health coverage
  • Maternity and family coverage
  • Emergency political and security evacuation
  • Lost or stolen property coverage
  • Remote telemedicine services

What cover would or should you delete from a normal IPMI policy for digital nomads?

Diane Thomas, UnitedHealthcare Global: Before a digital nomad makes any adjustments to an IPMI policy, it is essential to carefully read the documents, understand the terms and conditions, and consider seeking advice from an insurance professional. Customizing coverage to specific needs can help people get the most value out of their insurance policy while managing costs more effectively.

Avoid redundant coverage, unnecessary add-ons, and high deductibles if they do not align with personal preferences, and regularly review the policy to remove any elements that are no longer necessary.

François Jacquemin, Foyer Global Health: This question should not be easy to answer by an insurer, as we are risk-adverse professionals, and want to be safe in every imaginable situation! But joking apart, as mentioned before, the basic outpatient covers can be reduced to a level that is affordable. Complexity should be reduced or removed.

Eithan Wolf, PassportCard: While we do not seem to support deletion of benefits the level of affiliation one has to their home country can define premium setting or reduction thereof.

Lourdes Peters, World of America: Depending on the area where the nomad resides, I would take away international Worldwide coverage, and set the coverage to only local, meaning you can take your coverage with you and will only apply where you are currently residing.

Scott Rosen, MDabroad:  

  • Maternity Coverage: If not planning to start or expand the family during travels, excluding this can often save on premiums.
  • Mental Health Coverage: If the traveller has other means of accessing mental health services (an ongoing treatment or known professional at the original country of residence) or needs this coverage is foreseen, it could be omitted or reduced.
  • Preventive Care: If primarily concerned with emergency and major medical coverage, opting out of a policy covering routine preventive care is an option.
  • Non-Essential Add-Ons: Opt out of any optional coverages or add-ons that might not be relevant to specific needs and remove those that don’t provide specific value.
  • Reducing Deductibles or Co-Payments: potentially, there can be a reduction in premium costs by accepting higher deductibles or co-payments, which means paying more out of pocket for each medical service.
  • Lower Benefit Limits: Review the benefit limits for various services and consider adjusting them based on the traveller’s risk tolerance and budget.

Related Reading: Digital Nomads iPMI & Health Insurance Strategies Round Table

UnitedHealthcare Global
Cigna

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iPMI Global is the leading business intelligence provider for international private medical, health, travel and expatriate insurance markets worldwide. Due to the nomadic nature of the international private medical insurance (IPMI) market, iPMI Global is an internet based news service for worldwide insurance and medical assistance professionals who need to understand the impacts of insurance and healthcare policy, regulatory, and legislative developments.

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