Note: this article is built for online teachers planning to live or work abroad for extended periods of time. It focuses on international health insurance.
In speaking with online teachers and other digital nomads, the issue of health insurance is a constant. This is particularly true for those that are US citizens, as the state of healthcare in the States this fall is abysmal. I’ve heard many complaints of the rising premiums this fall. With all that goes into building an online teaching business, health insurance for digital nomads seems like just another headache.
What to do, what to do?
Fortunately, health insurance for digital nomads and online teachers can be quite straightforward, depending on where you’re going. Globetrotting online teachers are increasingly turning to International Health Insurance.
Some typical US providers, such as Cigna and Integra Global, offer policies for those spending much time abroad. Let’s take a look at how these policies work.
Get coverage or pay as I go?
If you’ve got money in the bank and are traveling to places like Southeast Asia where health care is much cheaper than it is in the states, paying as you go is doable. The risk here is that what happens if you have a major accident or illness, and require surgeries and/or an extended hospital stay? Those bills add up quick.
Luckily, for international health insurance, there are two very strong options to consider: Cigna Global Insurance and Integra Global. I applied for a quote from both, and go over the basics of each below.
Travel Insurance – Yay or nay?
Travel insurance is a great option for quick trips. But if you’re going to be abroad for more than a few months, an actual health insurance policy is going to be more effective financially and more efficient.
The cost will usually fall between 4-10% of your trip cost. Many online teachers plan to spend months or longer in a foreign country or countries. This makes travel insurance more expensive and, considering it’s built to be an add-on to your main healthcare plan, less effective.
On top of that, while you may be able to get an emergency evacuation, a standard trip to the doctor or antibiotic may not be covered.
Integra Global is the name I hear thrown around the most when it comes to international health insurance for digital nomads. They’ve got a decent handle on the situation and experience insuring those who travel many months out of the year or live abroad.
I applied for a quote through Integra Global’s website for their YourLife International Health Insurance Policy, with a $1000 deductible. A US citizen heading to Vietnam (price is similar or the same for other Southeast Asia countries) is what I noted. I chose the option that does not include coverage in the US and Canada.
Note that the cost listed is quarterly, so per month, it would be $215/month if paying quarterly, slightly less if paying annually. It is also possible to lower this cost by raising the deductible. This also includes coverage in the US and Canada, this cost can be reduced even more by not including coverage in the US and Canada.
As you fill out the forms and get quotes, consider what you may want to add as an add-on. Remember that certain things, like a quick dental visit, are much cheaper in Southeast Asia than in the US or England, and it’s better to pay out of pocket than pay $40 per month to have it on your policy (one trip to the dentist costs less than $40 in many countries).
Another thing to consider is major health issues that require evacuation. This is typically something that needs to be added on to international health insurance plans for digital nomads. You may end up paying an additional $40 or so per month per person but will still have no out-of-pocket costs.
Cigna Global Insurance
Cigna Global offers a plan that actually turned out to be slightly cheaper than Integra Global for me. They cover residents of the US, UK, Australia, India, and Canada.] with their policies.
The quote I applied for was based on a $750 deductible and priced per month (instead of quarterly as the Integra Global quote was).
The biggest difference in coverage is that this policy does NOT include US/Canada coverage. It would be about $30/month more to add that coverage to the Silver package. As far as health insurance for digital nomads is concerned, this may be the easiest policy.
Don’t deter your plans because of health insurance
As I noted earlier, health insurance for digital nomads is a big source of stress for many of us. While I would never recommend traveling or living abroad without health insurance, I also don’t recommend letting health insurance deter your plans.
It is a cost, one of those necessary evils. But think of it this way: those of you going to teach online in foreign countries where the cost of living is much cheaper than in the US, Canada, or Australia will save more than enough money on living expenses each month to cover the cost of health insurance. Feel free to check out the links above and identify which policy is the best for you!