Health Insurance Buyers Guide for Latin American Expats

WeExpats Health Insurance

If you have been interested in learning your insurance options for health insurance, then this complete Health Insurance Buyer’s Guide geared toward American expats is for you. You will explore all the different insurance options to find just the right health care plan for your individual needs.

 

Who are we?

WeExpats Insurance Solutions is a leading health insurance brokerage for expats worldwide. We are a US-based business with representatives worldwide, including Mexico, Thailand, and Ecuador. Since 2012, we have helped thousands of expats discuss their insurance options and then prepare and implement a plan to protect themselves in the event of a major illness or accident. Another benefit of using our agency is that we help act as a buffer between you and insurance companies to make sure you get the best policy prices and that your claims are handled appropriately.

We have prepared this guide to assist you in comparing health insurance programs available to you. Let us help you protect your adventure.

Not all insurance plans are the same. It’s important to know exactly what you are purchasing. We have compiled the following as a guide to help compare the features of different insurance options and benefits that these insurance plans offer:

TYPES OF INSURANCE PLANS FOR EXPATS:

National” Health Insurance Plans

This type of plan is domiciled in your specific country by a local insurance company, and it is usually limited to coverage only within your country.

International” Health Insurance Plans

This type of plan covers Expats throughout the world. It carries with it an option to add US coverage.

Be sure to understand the basics of health insurance features, as well as their benefits and terminology, before comparing plans. At the end of the article, we have a printable document that you can use to compare our policy with others you may find.

Deductible

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay for your medical costs first before your health insurance plan starts to pay. Watch out for plans that have a “per event” deductible. This is very common for national local plans. For example, if you have a knee problem, you must satisfy the deductible for your knee. What if you have a lung problem? You must also satisfy a deductible for your lung issue. In theory, you can have a different health event monthly and never meet your deductible.

International plans have deductibles that are to be met that include all of your health care costs. (This is very similar to US-based health care plans.) Once the deductible is met, the plan then pays to the limits, subject to the terms and benefits of the policy.

Coverage Area

Check and recheck your policy’s coverage area. Some plans cover you only in the country where the policy was purchased—like Ecuador for example. Confirm if your plan is limited to a certain country or region, or if it is a worldwide policy. The policy may only have providers in a specific city or region of the country.

Co-Pays

The Co-Pay is the percentage you and the insurance company pays after the deductible is met. It’s very common to see copays of 80-90% with National Plans. With our international plans, the company pays 100% to the limits of the policy, subject to terms and conditions, once the deductible has been satisfied.

Exclusions

Exclusions are what your health care plan will and will not cover. Review any plans, terms, and conditions. Review if the plan has waiting periods for certain conditions, such as coverage for cancer or heart events. Some plans might not fully cover you until the 12th or 24th month. Review if your plan covers you for being hurt as a result of an earthquake or a tropical storm. International Plans are underwritten in advance and if a condition or illness is not covered, it will be addressed by the company and you will be notified of any limitations before the policy begins.

Plan Limits

Understand the maximum this plan will pay. Be careful of plans that only cover you for only $10,000 or $50,000 USD. A significant illness or accident can cause you to have multiple surgeries and require expensive medications or extended hospital stays. You do not want to find out that you have used up your benefits while in the middle of a treatment. The companies we work with offer a minimum of $1,000,000.00 USD for benefits.

Guaranteed Renewability

Make sure your plan will not terminate you because of age or claims. Some policies have the ability to single you out for a substantial premium increase due to your large claim or if you hit a certain age. The best plans are guaranteed renewable for life and do not increase premiums based on your specific claims history.

Choice of Doctors, Specialists, and Health Facilities

Understand what doctors and hospitals you have access to. Are you limited to a network? Does your insurance company determine the hospital or specialist? Are you eligible to use the doctor you want? Many national plans require their clients to call the insurance company to set an appointment, with no choice of what doctor or specialist you will see. Meanwhile, International Plans allow for any doctor, any health facility and often times have direct payment arrangements set up with top private facilities for major hospitalization.

The Financial Strength of the Provider

Who is behind your health insurance provider? What resources do they have in the event of extraordinary claims or events? Look for companies with top ratings and the resources of being reinsured by large insurance companies such as Lloyd’s of London. A quality International Plan has a “deep pocket” to protect your insurer, and you.

Do You Understand What You Are Buying?

Are your policy details available in English? Do you have a complete summary plan description of your program? Are you able to clearly communicate and understand your representative? Are you able to reach an English speaking representative 24 hours a day? Can you file your claim in English? Our international plans offer fully bilingual services to help in any language.

Not all insurance plans are the same. It’s important to know exactly what you are purchasing. We have compiled the following as a guide to help compare the features and benefits that an insurance plan offers.

FAQ:

Why purchase insurance?

Medical costs are so inexpensive here in Latin America, why buy a private insurance policy?

Most of our expats purchase insurance to protect themselves from catastrophic health costs. Day-to-day medical costs in most of Latin America are reasonable and affordable. However, even a short overnight trip to the hospital can cost thousands of US dollars. Add to that medication brought in from the US, or the need for MRIs or CAT scans, and these bills can balloon quickly.

The fact is that 90% of our health clients never make their annual deductibles. The 10% that do, are happy they aren’t left with huge bills. We average one client in a hospital every 7 to 10 days. It’s not unusual to see $1,000-$15,000 USD hospital bills for a week’s stay.

In countries like Ecuador, foreigners will soon need to prove they have insurance in order to renew their visas. Underwriting takes time, do not wait until the last minute to start the process.

What Deductible should I get?

This is a personal decision. Most of our clients choose either a $1,000 or $2,500 deductible. Day-to-day costs will most likely not add up to your deductible. However, a surgery or overnight stay will quickly reach and exceed their deductibles.

What hospitals or doctors must I use?

We find that expats prefer to have access to doctors they’re comfortable with, who are top-rated, and easy to communicate with. Our plans allow you to use any doctor, and any facility on a reimbursement basis. For major hospitalization in major private hospitals worldwide, we have direct payment arrangements.

What about preexisting conditions?

International plans are fully underwritten. It is important to fully disclose all of your health conditions. The underwriter will review the condition and make a decision. We always suggest clients apply and see what the company will offer. The offer might have an exclusion or a limit placed on your condition. Many clients are pleasantly surprised. If you have a specific condition you would like to discuss, contact us. After underwriting thousands of expats, we have a good idea as to how our underwriters will handle a health condition.

How do I apply?

Applications are done online and can be done with digital signatures. The underwriting is processed at the home office in Florida. Payments are made via credit card and charged in the US. It will take about 1 – 4 weeks to underwrite. Plans start on the 1st or the 15th of the month. We are always available to answer questions by phone, email, Skype, or by meeting with a representative.

How much will insurance cost?

Our main insurance providers are WEA, VUMI, and IMG they are international insurance companies that specialize in expats. Here are some sample quotes for various ages:

These prices are from September 2017 for WEA, for an up to date price quote click the quote button at the bottom. We have also added a new carrier called VUMI since then that we can quote you for.

Sex / Age

Deductible

Annual Cost with US Coverage

Annual Cost without US Coverage

Male 35

$1,000 Select Plan

$1,003

$519

Female 52

$1,000 Select Plan

$2,093

$1064

Male 61

$1,000 Select Plan

$3,528

$1,782

Male 68

$2,500 Care Plan

$3,958

$1,989

Female 74

$1,000 Care Plan

$5,247

$2,634

Leave Comment