Childbirth overseas - the importance of the right insurance cover

If history is a good guide, this year’s batch of expatriates will begin planning their departure from the UK about now. Having found a job, a place to live and rented or sold their UK home that, for many, will be the extent of their preparations. Financial planning, including shopping around for the right individual international medical insurance is one area which close on half of all new expatriates consistently fail to attend to. Yet the results can be disastrous, as the case of Lee and Katie shows, after they went to the USA in late 2014. Although their trip was a holiday, not an emigration, the couple's experience just goes to show the potential financial costs of an unexpected overseas medical emergency. In their case, this was the unplanned arrival of their son Dax, born some 11 weeks early in New York. Media estimates have suggested their total medical bill could have been as high as $200,000, including the care needed for their premature son, had their hospital not agreed to waive most of the fees as a gesture of seasonal goodwill. Even a “normal” birth can be a costly event for couples living abroad. Figures supplied by global private health insurance experts APRIL International UK suggests a problem-free childbirth in the Middle East would normally be expected to cost around $4,000, whereas in the USA, costs are more likely to start at $15,000. Throw in complications, such as the requirement for a caesarean section and costs can easily rise by $14,000 in many hospitals around the world, says APRIL International UK. Managing director Debbie Purser urges families to think ahead, particularly if they are having their first child, where risks can be higher. “Given the high, predictable costs of childbirth, International medical insurance normally only comes into force once a potential mother has been enrolled in an international health insurance plan for a continuous period of 12 months prior to the birth. In practice, this means cover needs to be put in place well before falling pregnant.” As a result, all costs and treatment incurred which relate to a pregnancy whereby the expected date of delivery is before the end of this 12 month period are excluded from cover. For those who are already pregnant before moving overseas, you’ll find you will not be able to buy international medical insurance to cover the costs of the pregnancy and birth. Debbie Purser concludes, “Whilst the case of Lee Johnston and Katie Amos is an extreme one, it illustrates well the potentially high costs for expatriates of having to unexpectedly use private medical facilities abroad. Arranging private international cover is simple and if a potential customer needs help and advice, specialist companies such as ourselves are always on hand to answer queries from our offices in the UK.” APRIL International UK’s Executive Plus policy offers up to $17,000 cover for normal pregnancies, plus an additional $42,500 to cover the risk of complex pregnancy costs