Health emergencies can be tricky to handle in your native country. Imagine being in a foreign country and the situation becomes even direr to handle. This is why it is recommended to have health insurance coverage whenever you are going out of your country. Now, you may have a domestic health insurance plan in the UAE but, will my health insurance work in another country? Does health insurance cover out-of-state or Emirate? Is there a difference in the benefits offered? Would you need another specialized plan when traveling? Several things may pop into your mind whenever you think of traveling. This piece will attempt to solve these dilemmas for you.
Before proceeding to the internal technicalities of the insurance plans, let’s review what domestic health insurance plans are. As the name suggests, these health insurance plans offer every basic health benefit and cover but only within the geographical bounds of the UAE i.e., the country of your residence. This means that the insurance benefits offered by domestic health insurance plans are mostly limited to the country of residence only. They are not portable either which means that you cannot continue the same health insurance plan if you move to another country for a long time or permanently.
The general inclusions of domestic health insurance plans completely depend on the comprehensiveness of the plan that you choose. Some of them may come with essential benefits while others may include even add-on benefits as basic ones. Some common inclusions of these plans can be in-patient benefits, out-patient benefits, daycare services, dental treatment, optical treatment, critical and intensive care, maternity benefits, pre-existing diseases cover, etc.
Unfortunately, no, most domestic health insurance plans do not extend their coverage when you are traveling to other countries. The coverage of domestic health insurance plans is limited to the country of residence, i.e., the UAE. Some exclusive plans may offer emergency medical evacuation, repatriation and treatment services but that is the maximum extent of it. This means that you probably won’t have access to the local specialist of the country you are traveling to. The most you may get is a part of expenses covered when you are evacuated to your home country. These benefits are also generally applicable to neighbouring countries only.
Luckily, yes. Your health insurance in Dubai will probably offer emergency medical treatments and services when you are in other Emirates. The other services and benefits can highly depend on the network hospitals and medical facilities of your provider. Some health insurance plans do not give the insured a lot of liberty for choosing the hospital or primary care physician. If your plan allows, you may be able to receive all the benefits in other emirates as well. Medical evacuation to your home emirate will at least be covered here.
Since your domestic health insurance plan will not cover you when you are leaving for another country, you may want to consider some other options to cover that duration. There are two main alternatives for you to choose from depending on what kind of travel plans you have:
As the name suggests, these plans are specifically designed to cover you when you are traveling abroad. Travel insurance plans are not the same as health insurance plans but they do contain some common benefits. As far as health insurance in Dubai benefits is concerned, travel insurance plans generally offer emergency medical treatment expenses, emergency dental expenses, repatriation expenses, emergency medical evacuation, and personal accident cover, in some cases. Apart from these medical benefits, there are travel inconvenience benefits included in the plan as well. This can include things like flight delay benefit, trip cancellation or curtailment benefit, baggage delay or loss benefit, personal liability cover, and loss of personal money cover.
You can choose to get a travel insurance plan for your trip abroad if you have a domestic health insurance plan. Most travel insurance plans cover trips up to the length of 90-120 days. This range can differ as per the providers. If you frequently travel, consider choosing an annual multi-trip travel insurance plan. It covers all your trips taken within the 1 year as per the tenure of the plan. If you take occasional trips for vacations, a single trip travel insurance plan could be the best choice for you.
Another option you can look at when planning to travel to another country is international health insurance plans. These plans are much like domestic health insurance plans but aren’t bound by geographical limitations. This means that you can simply port the plan if you change the country of your residence from UAE to some other country and continue to enjoy the same services. International travel insurance plans work the best only when you have plans to stay in another country for a long period. They may not be the best choice for small trips you take a vacation or for work.
Benefits offered by international health insurance plans are quite extensive too. You get all in-patient and out-patient benefits including surgeries, hospitalization, radiology tests, etc., daycare services, dental and optical treatments, maternity cover, pre-existing illness cover, and therapy sessions like physiotherapy. Most international health insurance plans are pretty extensive and comprehensive. As soon as you port your international health insurance plan to the next country of your residence, you are allotted a new provider network, new PPC, and everything else essential for the health insurance in Dubai to work locally.
If you neither have a travel insurance plan nor international coverage in your health insurance plan, there are few things you must consider before leaving the UAE, whether for a small trip or a long stay. Given below are the top things to consider:
Insurance Requirements of the Country: Even though travel insurance is recommended for all travelers, it is not a mandatory requirement in all the countries around the world. So, make sure that you have checked the individual travel and health insurance-related requirements of the country you are traveling to. Some countries, like the Schengen group of countries, have even set a minimum limit on the assured sum of the travel insurance of people coming with a visitor’s visa. This applies when you are moving to another country for a long period as well. Whether offline or online health insurance in Dubai, it is mandatory to have but that may not be the case in the country you are moving to. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked all the requirements related to insurance before you make concrete plans to travel.
Medical Evacuation: A recent study showed that about 14-15% of travelers end up in a medical emergency during their time in a foreign country. If you have a health insurance plan or travel insurance plan that will cover your emergency treatment while traveling, well and good. But if you do not have medical insurance benefits to cover these expenses, you will either have to take care of the medical expenses or the evacuation expenses.
Non-Medical Emergency Evacuation: Medical emergencies are not the only thing you have on your plate when traveling to another country. Non-medical emergencies are just as real. If there is a huge storm announced which requires immediate evacuation of everyone in the area, you will have to bear these new unannounced expenses yourself. If you have a travel insurance plan, it will most probably cover these expenses if the evacuation is due to a natural disaster or a previously unknown event.
Paying Up-Front: Be prepared to pay up-front if you choose to travel without health or travel insurance at your disposal. Medical services in different countries are priced differently but surely, they cannot be considered cheap anywhere in the world. This means that you should either have a fallback option in the form of insurance or arrangements to pay immediately for any services you use, medical or otherwise.
The gist of it all is that if your health insurance plan is domestic, it will not cover you during your travel abroad. If you want to have proper coverage, you can either look into a suitable travel insurance plan for the duration of your trip or get an international health insurance plan. The alternatives are there in plentiful and you can easily make a choice depending on your needs. The important thing is to understand the travel and health insurance requirements of the country you are traveling to and buy a plan that meets them all. You can also choose to get some assistance from the financial experts of PolicyBazaar UAE and pick the best possible insurance plan for your travels.