Is Medical Insurance Mandatory When You Move Abroad?

Written by EJ Ray

February 10, 2024
Home >> Travel News >> Is Medical Insurance Mandatory When You Move Abroad?

Whether you’re traveling to another country for an extended trip or relocating to live there permanently, you’re probably wondering whether you need medical insurance. Read on for tips about securing medical insurance when you move abroad.

Depending on the reason for your time abroad, you may need a specific type of medical coverage. For example, if you’re relocating to a foreign country and aim to stay there for years to come, you’ll need to look into expat medical insurance. For temporary travel, a combined health and travel insurance policy might suffice.



Many people question whether medical insurance is necessary when going to another country. The initial costs of purchasing health insurance can be off-putting despite the many benefits of coverage.

In many countries, it’s not a case of whether or not you choose to get health insurance. Instead, it’s a mandatory requirement by law for all visitors and ex-pats to have insurance coverage if they wish to use the healthcare facilities or medical services within the country.

In this article, we will explore this subject in more detail. We will examine whether medical insurance is mandatory when relocating abroad and becoming an ex-pat and the benefits of purchasing a health insurance policy.

hospital room

Should an unexpected medical emergency happen, do you have the medical coverage you need? Photo by SimpleFoto via DepositPhotos


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What is Medical Insurance?

Medical insurance refers to a type of insurance that provides coverage for healthcare and medical services within a particular area. Some medical insurance policies offer international coverage, while others only cover a specific region within a single country.

With medical insurance, you can access the healthcare facilities within your local area when you relocate abroad. You may also be able to access community medical services, emergency care, maternity care, and dental care, depending on the level of coverage you have chosen.

Medical insurance subsidizes the costs of health check-ups, hospitalizations, medications, and other healthcare-related services. Instead of paying for everything yourself, your insurer will cover some of the costs of your medical treatments. All you need to pay is your policy deductible fee.

What Does Medical Insurance Cover?

Every medical insurance policy is unique. You can get policies with various levels of coverage, some offering access to specialist healthcare services and others providing family or group coverage.

Medical insurance helps you get the medical care you need when living abroad.

Medical insurance helps you get the medical care you need when living abroad. Photo by VitalikRadko via DepositPhotos

However, there are some general inclusions that you’ll find in most health insurance policies, including access to:



  • Local hospitals and primary healthcare facilities
  • Basic diagnostic investigations and medical treatments
  • Regular health check-ups
  • Hospitalizations
  • Prescription medications
  • Emergency medical care

Is Medical Insurance Necessary When You Are Relocating Abroad?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of medical insurance let’s discuss whether it’s essential. Technically, you could travel to many countries with travel insurance only and without health insurance, and you could be fine. You could live as an ex-pat in a foreign country for years without ever experiencing the consequences of not having medical insurance coverage.

However, this isn’t advisable. Even in countries where health insurance isn’t necessary to successfully pass the border security checks, you’re putting yourself at a serious risk if you go without medical insurance.

You can never predict when you might fall acutely ill, get injured, or develop a chronic medical condition. In these scenarios, you will likely need medical attention.

You can never predict when you might need medical care while living abroad.

You can never predict when you might need medical care while living abroad. Photo by Wavebreakmedia via DepositPhotos

You might be denied access to hospitals or community medical services without adequate health insurance. In turn, your health could deteriorate further and put your life at risk.

Countries that offer free public healthcare often require ex-pats and tourists to show proof of health insurance before entering a hospital or primary healthcare practice. When you first relocate to a foreign country, you’ll need medical insurance until you can successfully obtain citizenship.

If you do end up accessing your local healthcare facilities for medical treatment or surgery after relocating abroad, having medical insurance will significantly reduce your costs. Therefore, getting insurance before your big move can reduce financial strain.

It will offer peace of mind that you won’t be paying for hefty medical bills out of your own pocket. Your insurer will contribute a pre-determined value or proportion of your total medical costs to reduce your payments and minimize your worries.

You can also access specialist medical treatments with a great health insurance plan. If you have a rare medical condition and need ongoing treatments or therapies, having an appropriate insurance policy means you can continue accessing the medical care you need when you move to another country.

The costs of unconventional or lesser-known treatments can be costly, but with a specialist medical insurance policy, you won’t need to worry about this. Your insurer will support you financially so you can focus on maintaining optimal health and getting the most out of your new ex-pat life.

Whether you’re traveling to another country for an extended trip or relocating to live there permanently, you’re probably wondering whether you need medical insurance. Read the Wander With Wonder article for tips about securing medical insurance when you move abroad.

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Is Medical Insurance Mandatory When You Move Abroad?



Written by EJ Ray

EJ Ray is a traveler at heart. It is part of her soul and she loves to share her travels through her words. She has traveled the world, seeking great food, wine, and experiences. EJ was born in the Eastern US but has lived across the country and in Europe and Mexico. She also took to the road for a while, exploring from her RV. EJ always seeks the next great sip, bite, and adventure.

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