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Health insurance for expats provides medical coverage for those living outside the United States. Like typical U.S. plans, expatriate health insurance requires a monthly premium, and has deductibles and limitations on what’s covered. To find the best health insurance for expats, we looked at a variety of factors such as premiums for the plan’s base coverage, provider network, and plan add-ons.
Health Insurance for Expats
- Best Overall, Best Global Network: Allianz Care
- Best for Pre-Existing Conditions: IMG
- Best for English-Speaking Doctors: GeoBlue
- Best for Comprehensive Coverage: Cigna Global
- Our Top Picks
- Allianz Care
- Cigna Global
- See More (1)
Best Overall, Best Global Network : Allianz Care
Aetna International/Allianz Care has a vast international network of medical providers, quick turnaround time for claims, and offers three different plans with a variety of add-on features.
Network of over 1.3 million medical providers
48-hour turnaround time on medical claims
Can add outpatient, dental, maternity, and repatriation coverage
Three plan levels
Not all pre-existing conditions will be covered
Treatment guarantee penalties can apply
Allianz Worldwide Care is an international health care insurance company with over 1.3 million medical providers. While the base plans are primarily focused on covering inpatient care, the rates are competitive and you can add on additional coverage. Additionally, the insurer has quick turnaround times for claims. On the downside, if pre-treatment notification is required but not fulfilled, it can limit your coverage. Fortunately, emergencies are exempt from the requirement, but should be reported within 48 hours.
Aetna/Allianz’s base plan without a deductible for up to $2.5 million in coverage was $179 a month for a 35-year-old U.S. resident living in Mexico.
When choosing a plan, you can add up to four different coverages: maternity, dental, outpatient, and repatriation. The monthly premium for these add-ons ranges from $11 to $106 for a 35-year-old living in Mexico.
Best for Pre-Existing Conditions : IMG
IMG’s plans cover pre-existing conditions once you’ve had a plan for 24 months, making it a good choice for those who have existing health issues and plan on staying abroad for more than two years.
Global network of 800,000 doctors and hospitals
Will cover pre-existing conditions after 24 months of continuous coverage on some plans
Wide range of coverage across four plans
Optional life insurance add-on
No $0 deductible option
Expensive transaction fees if you opt for monthly premium payments (up 20% of total)
Platinum plans get expensive
The International Medical Group (IMG) has a global network of 800,000 doctors and hospitals, which falls in the middle of the pack among competitors. IMG’s greatest strength is that it’s one of the few insurers that’ll cover pre-existing conditions after two years of continuous coverage. However, IMG charges hefty transaction fees if you pay your premiums monthly, and comprehensive coverage is restricted to the pricy top-tier plans (which include coverage for maternity, preventative, dental, and vision care, along with other perks).
IMG’s base plan with the lowest possible deductible ($250) and up to $5 million in annual coverage was $248.30 a month for a 35-year-old living in Mexico.
Vision coverage is available as a rider you can add to your policy.
Best for English-Speaking Doctors : GeoBlue
GeoBlue’s network includes verified English-speaking doctors, which is a big help for those who don’t speak the language of the country they're in or don’t have confidence in their ability to communicate health issues in a foreign language.
Network of vetted English-speaking doctors in over 190 countries
GeoBlue doctors bill GeoBlue directly so no claim filing is required for policyholders
Plans include primary and preventative care
Vision and dental add-ons are available
Unlimited medical maximum limits
Plans won’t cover pre-existing conditions treated in the preceding 180 days (unless you have proof of previous coverage)
Members must have coverage for 364 days before they are eligible for maternity coverage
Base $0 deductible plan without U.S. coverage is expensive
GeoBlue’s standout perk is that it has a network of vetted English-speaking doctors, direct billing, and preventative care benefits. However, GeoBlue’s plans are expensive, and because it limits its doctors to English speakers, its network is much smaller than those offered by competitors like Allianz Care and IMG.
GeoBlue’s base plan with unlimited annual coverage and no deductible was $476 per month for a 35-year-old U.S. resident living in Mexico.
You can add a prescription drug and dental/vision upgrade to your plan.
Best for Comprehensive Coverage : Cigna Global
Unlike some competitors, all of Cigna’s plans provide a high base level of coverage, including outpatient and preventative care.
Network of more than 400,000 medical providers outside of the U.S.
Access to providers in more than 200 countries
Comprehensive coverage on standard plans
Global assignment length requirements
Plans are more expensive than competitors
Cigna Global Health has a global network of over 1 million doctors and hospitals, with more than 400,000 in countries outside of the U.S. The standard coverage is comprehensive, including inpatient, outpatient, preventative, pregnancy, mental illness, and substance abuse care, along with other benefits.
Cigna Global’s plan without a deductible, with 0% cost share and a $1 million annual limit was $259.98 per month for a 35-year-old U.S. resident living in Mexico.
Cigna lets you add an outpatient rider to your plan.
Do I Need Health Insurance for Expats?
If you want help covering the costs of your medical expenses while living abroad then, yes, you’ll need international health insurance for expats. It may also be required by the government of your destination country. For example, Portugal requires expats to carry valid health insurance that covers necessary medical expenses such as urgent care and repatriation.
While it’s not always required, expat health coverage is usually a good idea. It helps to ensure that you can get quality medical attention in a variety of scenarios at an affordable price. For example, in the unfortunate case that you’re involved in a serious car accident and need emergency care, it will often help to cover the costs of your hospital stay, any required surgeries, rehabilitation, and repatriation (if necessary).
Further, if you were to develop a serious illness like cancer, health insurance can help to cover the costs of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, specialist visits, lab tests, and other care you would need.
What Is Health Insurance for Expats?
Health insurance for expats refers to the health insurance plans that help cover the costs of medical services abroad (and in the U.S., for some plans). It’s comparable to the coverage you would have from a health insurance provider in the U.S.—you can access emergency assistance, private hospitals, doctors, nurses, and prescription medications in foreign countries, and your insurance will help to cover the costs, in many cases.
Note that expatriate health insurance is different from travel insurance. Travel insurance is designed for people taking shorter-term trips versus living abroad long-term.
How Does Health Insurance for Expats Work?
Here’s a look at the cornerstones of expat health insurance from policy limits and coverage areas to pricing.
Each plan will have a maximum annual plan benefit which is the most the plan will pay out during the annual policy period. Additionally, the plans often have dollar limits on specific benefits (e.g. rehabilitation treatment, nursing at home, and accidental death). These limits may be on a "per event" or "per year" basis.
Some insurance providers do offer unlimited coverage, although it’s more of an exception than the rule.
Beyond the policy dollar limits, the benefits included in expat health insurance policies will vary. For example, a higher-tier plan may cover preventative care while a lower-tier one doesn’t. Further, some insurers may cover vision care while others don’t. The availability of add-on plans like outpatient, maternity, and dental coverage can also vary depending on the provider, policy, and applicant.
Insurers may offer various coverage area options. For example, Allianz Care offers worldwide coverage plus worldwide coverage excluding the U.S. and coverage for Africa only. The coverage area you choose will impact your pricing.
Once you find the expat health insurance policy with the right benefits and coverage for your situation, a quote can help you understand the costs. When reviewing quotes, look for the annual and monthly premium prices, deductible options, annual plan limit, and coinsurance or copays that will apply. You can often choose a deductible amount which will lower your premium.
When it comes to medical providers and facilities, expat health insurers typically have established networks. When you use providers from your insurer’s network, it often comes with perks like seamless billing. That said, most companies will let you choose any medical provider you want as long as they’re licensed and operate in a covered country.
The way your insurer covers your bills can vary. In some cases, you’ll be required to pay the medical provider upfront and submit the bill to your insurer to get reimbursed. In other cases, you may need to notify your insurer about a medical service before your appointment so they can coordinate with the medical provider and settle the bill directly.
You may need to give your insurer a specific amount of notice to get a bill covered upfront—such as five days notice before seeking care.
The specifics of expat health insurance plans can vary greatly from one provider to the next. While the common terms and conditions have been covered here, be sure to read the fine print from the companies you consider.
What Does Health Insurance for Expats Cover?
The coverage provided through health insurance for expats varies from one provider to the next. However, all the plans we reviewed included inpatient services—care that requires you to be admitted and spend at least one night at a hospital or other type of medical facility. Beyond that, insurers vary in their offerings of benefits like outpatient care, preventative care, vision, dental, maternity care, life insurance, and more. Some offer multiple plans with varying levels of benefits, while others offer base plans with add-on coverage packages.
Health Insurance for Expats Cost
Costs for expatriate health insurance (without U.S. coverage) are most influenced by your age and level of coverage. To give an idea of how costs vary, we collected quotes for both 35- and 65-year-old U.S. residents living in Mexico.
Monthly premiums ranged from $179 per month up to $476 per month for a 35-year old U.S. resident living in Mexico, based on our research. But cost can swing widely depending on the features you choose.
For example, the Allianz basic plan (Care Core) costs $179 per month for a 35-year-old and has an annual maximum benefit of $2,500,000. On the other hand, an Elite Xplorer Essential plan from GeoBlue costs up to $476 per month, but has an unlimited annual maximum benefit and covers emergency outpatient care (the Care Core plan from Allianz does not). Both plans have a $0 deductible.
You may also choose to increase your benefits by adding coverage. Allianz priced add-on coverages as follows:
- Maternity coverage: From $66 per month
- Outpatient coverage: From $106 per month
- Dental plans: From $76 per month
- Repatriation plans: From $11 per month
If you’re a 65-year-old U.S. resident moving to Mexico, Allianz Care’s plans start at $583 per month with a $0 deductible and 2.5 million annual maximum benefit. An Elite Explorer Essential plan from GeoBlue costs up to $2,312 per month. It also has a $0 deductible, but provides an unlimited annual benefit and covers emergency outpatient care. Prices are precipitously more expensive the older you are because insurance companies expect you to more frequently use your plan.
Allianz priced add-on coverages for a 65-year-old as follows:
- Maternity coverage: Not available
- Outpatient coverage: From $308 per month
- Dental plans: From $76 per month
- Repatriation plans: From $11 per month
Popular Health Insurance Companies for Expats
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular health insurance companies for expats.
|Insurance Companies||Insurance Marketplaces|
|Azimuth Meridian||International Citizens Marketplace|
|NOW Health International|
|Seven Corners Liason Majestic|
|AXA Global Healthcare|
|A Plus International|
|Now Health International|
|Expacare Global Healthcare|
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does Expat Insurance Cost?
The cost of expat health insurance can vary greatly depending on your age, coverage area, benefits, deductible amount, and maximum limits. In our research, the monthly premium costs for plans with a $0 deductible ranged from $197 to $904.
Can I Get U.S. Health Insurance If I Live Abroad?
Yes, you can get U.S. health insurance if you live abroad. Many expat insurance providers offer coverage in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries. However, when plans include coverage in the U.S., they are more expensive.
Do Expats Need U.S. Health Insurance?
Expats are not required to carry U.S. health insurance. While it was previously mandatory for Americans who spent at least 36 days in the U.S. during a given calendar year, that requirement ended in 2018.
What Does Expat Health Insurance Cover?
Expat health insurance can help to cover the costs of medical services in foreign countries. It often covers inpatient care including hospital stays, physician visits, surgeries, lab tests, physical therapy, transplants, and more. Additionally, some insurers offer coverage for outpatient care, preventative care, dental, vision, and more.
Portugal Department of Foreign Affairs. “Residency.”
Allianz Care. “FAQ: Getting Treatment.”
Cigna Healthcare. “What Is Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care?”
Healthcare.gov. “Health Coverage Exemptions: Forms & How To Apply.”