Time for a career move abroad? Don’t let the doctor put a dampener on it

The start of a new tax year is a popular time for anyone planning a lifestyle change to move abroad, offering as it does sensible tax planning opportunities. History tells us, though, that whilst many will have a job lined up and hopefully somewhere to live, scant attention will be paid to the financial implications of their move overseas. That’s an oversight that can come back to haunt some expatriates, especially those who have moved abroad with their family. Moving to a warmer climate, such as the Middle or Far East can bring thoughts of endless warm weather and sunshine, with memories of winter trips to the local GP confined to history. But families do still get ill, wherever they live and your local doctor will always be an important part of your life. The difference is that once abroad, you will no longer have access to a free NHS and in some countries even everyday treatments can mount up in cost terms. Take the recent case of a client of APRIL International UK. Noticing their child’s hearing seemed to be deteriorating, the family was referred to a local a paediatrician who carried out an examination and a range of hearing tests at a cost of $400. The tests resulted in a recommendation for an adenotonsillectomy, a routine but in this case important operation to remove both the adenoids and tonsils and subsequently to insert grommets. The surgeon’s fees totalled $850, whilst those of the anaesthetist amounted to $350. In addition, APRIL International UK paid for an overnight stay in the hospital, along with all nursing care costs, which added a further $9,280 to the bill, bring the total to just under $11,200. Happily, the child has made a full recovery after an uneventful operation. Buying good quality international health insurance and peace of mind to protect against instances like this can be expensive, but it is far better to be covered rather than to face the prospects of a bill running into thousands. International private medical insurers such as APRIL International UK have been looking after expatriates of all nationalities for 30 years, so they understand the importance not only of excellent cover but also of keeping costs down. In the case of APRIL International UK, its focus on cost control is based on a comprehensive excess strategy, allowing clients to buy their preferred package of international medical cover, but with up to 50% off the cost of premiums. The discount is applied per year of cover, giving policyholders a high level of flexibility. In practice, this means expatriates are still securing cover against potentially high cost claims such as hospital treatment, long term illness, evacuations, major operations, complications etc., but from a day to day perspective in areas such as GP or dental costs, the policy holder is effectively self-insuring to save on costs. To qualify for the premium discount, applicants need to choose the size of their agreed excess, which ranges from £500 to £10,000. APRIL International UK believes this gives clients the best of both worlds. Managing director Debbie Purser said, “We are constantly looking at ways to keep costs down for clients, whilst at the same time retaining top quality options on cover, should the need arise. Our voluntary excess structure can give policyholders up to 50% discount on their premiums, which in real terms can bring the cost of a typical policy for a young family consisting of the parents aged 34 and a child aged 14 months down to £1690 annually. Even at this level, the family will still be covered for major events such as hospital costs, inpatient stays, serious illness costs and medical evacuation. For a young family in their thirties with a good health record, many are happy to assume that in fact they just need to protect against the really high bills and to look after their children, so accepting an excess is simple way to cut costs. At the other end of the scale, many older clients and who will normally have higher premiums also find this option attractive, as they can use savings to cover any excess and thereby also reduce premiums.” Cases like these highlight that, with the benefit of hindsight, taking out an international private health insurance plan can work out to be one of the smartest investments anyone leaving the UK can make.