Local and international coverage, what are the differences?

You would like to subscribe to a health insurance contract. However, you have the choice between two different options: a local or international coverage but you do not know which one to choose.  What are the differences between the two coverages? Are you covered during your holidays with a local coverage? In our article, we will explain all the differences between these two types of policies and how to choose the best option for you and your family.

What are local and international coverages?

There exists several differences between a local and an international coverage:

  • Local coverage

With this type of coverage, you are mainly covered for treatments in Singapore, i.e. for doctor’s consultations and  hospitalisations, etc. If you have to go to see the doctor overseas in the event of non emergency, your coverage will be very limited.

However, at UEX, all the local coverages include emergency medical repatriation and evacuation for any accidents. Therefore, you will still be covered during any trips outside of Singapore for emergency repatriation or evacuation.

You can also top-up your local coverage with a travel insurance. This will cover you for any risks related to your travels.

  • International coverage

An international coverage is an insurance that allows you to get treated not only in Singapore. For example, if you need to see a doctor in Bangkok, your insurance company will cover the expenses.

The coverage is useful if you live in a country where the quality of the healthcare is not considered as high quality. For example, if you live in the Philippines, you can get treatment in Singapore. However, the international coverages usually have geographical restrictions. Please be careful with the latter when subscribing to a health insurance.

  • What are the differences between these two plans?

A local plan covers hospitalization. Concerning outpatient healthcare, the reimbursement limit is usually low. For an international plan, this limit is much higher and is included within an annual limit of the coverage that is much higher.

Another difference between the two plans is the reimbursement process. For the local plan, if you need to see a specialist, you need to get a referral letter from your general practitioner. For the international coverage, you can directly consult your specialist and be reimbursed. In addition, you can enjoy the cashless option for both general practitioner and specialist consultations. With local plans, the cashless network is usually limited to general practitioner only.

Finally, the last essential point is the portability of your insurance contract. With a local coverage, there are no means to keep your coverage when you move overseas. However, with an international plan, you can maintain your coverage and transfer it to your new country of residence. Your contract will then stay the same and, therefore, you will not need to re-declare your pre-existing conditions. Do know that, depending where you are relocating to, your premium might be adjusted accordingly to the level of medical expense in the region you are moving to.

How to choose between a local or an international coverage?

There are different elements you need to consider in order to choose the best coverage for you and your family. With higher limits and a wider coverage area, the international coverages are more expensive than the local ones. In Singapore, the healthcare system is one of the best in the world. Most of the time, a local coverage can be sufficient to cover all of your needs. However, here are three specific cases when we advise you to opt for an international plan:

  • If you wish to have kids

If you want to have children and you wish to have an insurance that covers any expenses related to your pregnancy, you need to choose an international plan.

At UEX, for the reimbursement of any expenses related to your pregnancy (check-ups, delivery and post-delivery consultations and treatments), you need to top-up with the maternity option. However, this option is only available with the international plans. For more information on this option, feel free to check out our article on the subject.

Finally, even if you decide not to choose a maternity option, our international coverages (Base Plan 3 and 4) cover complications related to a pregnancy.

  • If you want to cover a young child

For the babies and the young children, at UEX, we strongly recommended to cover them with an international plan.

First of all, one of the main advantages is that they are covered up to the annual limit for:

  • Consultations at your pediatrician and other specialists
  • Consultations at your general practitioner
  • Hospitalisation
  • Vaccins

Indeed, the pediatrician is considered as a specialist. With UEX’s international plans, the reimbursement of the consultations with a generalist and a specialist are up to the annual limit. Furthermore, you will not need to go see a general practitioner for a referral letter in order to have a consultation at your specialist. On the contrary, the local plans only cover consultations to the pediatrician up to S$250 a year.

  • If you wish to leave Singapore and move overseas

As explained above, the international plan allows the portability of a contract. If you wish to leave Singapore in the future, we strongly recommend choosing an international plan. Therefore, you can preserve your health insurance contract in your new country of residence. This will allow you to benefit from continuous coverage and avoid re-declaring your pre-existing conditions. If you suffer from a illness or underwent a surgery, you will not need to declare it to your insurance company. Therefore, you will be covered for all the health conditions that are linked to this surgery or illness.

When shoud you take an international coverage?

What are the coverages available at UEX?

At UEX, we offer local and international coverages. You can subscribed to our health insurance via our online platform.

For the international health insurance plans, you can choose between 3 coverage zones:

  • Asia : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam
  • Worldwide excluding USA
  • Worldwide

For the local health insurance plans, at UEX, they include emergency medical repatriation and evacuation while abroad.

You now have all the information to take the most appropriate decision. A local coverage is generally sufficient especially with the quality of the healthcare system in Singapore. However, if you are in the 3 situations we have presented, we advise you to choose an international coverage.

This post was previously published on UEX Health insurance blog 

Spread the word