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Here we are at the beginning of a New Year; many people are actually acting out their 2009 resolution and taking the blind leap of faith by relocating to a NEW country outside of their country of citizenship. I commend you all and to all of you that have already made this life changing decision.

Before you make the move you do your due diligence by understanding the real estate laws, the language difference, the culture, the people, the diet, the nature and of course the your medical insurance options… Right?

Don’t sweat it, that’s what I do and I’m glad to share with you all the choices every Expat has in the Private Global Medical Insurance arena in Cental & Latin America and the Caribbean. I’m sure you shopped around a little and have a slight grasp on the local market insurance and some Private coverage’s as well!

This article is going to introduce the major players in the Expat Private Medical Insurance and their benefits, differences and pitfalls.

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Major Insurance Companies Offering Private Global Medical Coverage in Western Hemisphere:

  • Goodhealth/Aetna
  • IMG — Intl. Medical Group
  • Multinational/Lloyds of London
  • BUPA Latin America
  • Seven Corners

I’m sure you have heard of several more, however; after much consolidation over the past two years, many of the smaller players have been gobbled up by the big boys. Remember we are talking about individual & family coverage here and these five companies probably control 85% of all premiums on this side of the globe.

  1. The key rule of selecting any policy in my opinion is the freedom of choice of any hospital or doctor in the world. Many companies are beginning to develop International Networks, which is fine by me, however; when I’m forced to ONLY use those facilities… I begin to question that plan. BUPA Latin America and worldwide have successfully established this type of structure for their middle & lower tier plans… Which I’m not really sold on… Especially when premiums are quite expensive for the limitations that one must endure.
  2. Cheaper does not always mean the least expensive after all is said and done. Personally, my company represents most of these carriers and each has its place… It’s my job as a Global Insurance professional to know what company will offer the best fit for my clients, after I speak with them. Example: Multinational/Lloyds probably offers the lowest premiums for a very good benefit, unfortunately it’s not until a client is a smoker or has a pre-existing condition, or takes some medication… Will the true story of the premium and policy coverage play itself out! A smoker can add an additional 20% to the premium, while minor pre-existing conditions may not be covered for as long as 36 months or possibly include lifetime exclusions… So, Multinational may start out cheaper, however against Goodhealth/Aetna ,(starts out 10% more), Goodhealth ends up with a cheaper premium and better coverage.

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  4. Some carriers offer Lifetime Maximum benefits while others offer maximums per year. Multinational/Lloyds, IMG (Gold), Seven Corners offers $5,000,000 USD. Lifetime coverage while Goodhealth/Aetna, (Mobile Health Plan), offers US$2,000,000. Per year and BUPA Advantage Care offers US$$2,500,000 annually.
  5. Maternity Benefits have been diminished over the past few years, either being added as an additional benefit rider, (additional premium), or with much less pre, delivery and post natal benefits. Some companies may also make you meet a co-insurance after your annual deductible before benefits kick in. Most companies require a waiting period of at least 12 months before maternity benefits are applicable.

  6. Air Evacuation is another major benefit that must be considered, especially if your policy includes USA/Canada coverage. Some companies have lifetime limits of US$50,000 while others have maximums that are equal to the lifetime or annual benefit levels.
  7. What is your Intensive Care and Hospital benefit per day? Since the objective of most Expats is to secure a plan that will protect their assets while covering them in case of a catastrophic illness or accident, hospital stays are usually the most expensive. Most pay what is considered “Reasonable & Customary”, some have “Schedule of Benefits”, what’s the difference? Example: If you are air evacuated to a U.S. hospital from your current international location and you are placed into an Intensive Care area… The daily cost could be US$3,000 to $5,000. if your plan states that it will only cover $1,500 per day maximum… You will be responsible for the additional costs! So a plan that initially cost 30% less in annual premium, than a top tier plan now costs you tens of thousands of unexpected claims.

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Buying Travel, Health & Life Insurance for Costa Rica

If you are considering new insurance coverage or your policy is coming due, and would appreciate expert help in choosing what’s best for you, your family and maybe your company, please contact our Private Global Medical Insurance Expert John McGee by email here or, visit his website here and get a customized insurance quote.

PS. Note from Scott Oliver – Founder of WeLoveCostaRica.com: Over a period six months I met with – and was very disappointed by – at least 20 insurance ‘experts’ in Costa Rica.

I decided to work with John McGee because he knows the insurance business inside out and, he is a good communicator, the last thing any of us need in a medical emergency is an insurance guy that doesn’t feel it’s necessary to return phone calls promptly.

Our family’s insurance needs are covered by the companies John represents because it’s been my experience that you can rely on John McGee for your insurance requirements.

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