Skip to main content

EXPAT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS - PART 1

Cathey and I knew from the beginning that health insurance would be a cause for concern as we prepared to move to France. The quality of care is not the question. European healthcare outcomes lead the world. We've had personal experience and we were impressed. But in order to qualify for a long-stay visa, the first step to obtaining the permanent carte de sejour we will have to present proof at the French embassy in Washington that, among other things, we will not be a burden to the French healthcare system for the entire length of our stay unless and until we qualify for that system.

Medicare benefits do not extend beyond America's shores. We will have to buy private insurance.

The French are relatively clear about the requirements. You need proof to their specifications that you are covered for medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses to the tune of $40,000. You can read more in the health insurance section on the French consular website HERE. The article even names several companies which will provide the required proof. It all seems rather straightforward until you remember that the French are masters of bureaucracy. And Cathey and I are both 65 years old, the age at which rates for new enrollments can be crushing if available at all. Although we're in reasonable health, there will be visits to doctors. We take prescription medications - cholesterol maintenance and such.

This is serious stuff. I began my investigations.

First, I searched the companies listed on the consular website. Then, I clicked on advertisements on expat message boards, on the websites of French real estate agencies, and on travel blogs. Finally, I began to search - on three different engines - a variety of phrases: expat health insurance, expat medical insurance, health insurance France, medical insurance France, international health insurance, international medical insurance, travel health insurance, travel medical insurance...  

Instead of recounting the boring details of my landings on sites of all sorts, I'll summarize.

There appear to be two tiers of insurance coverages available. The top tier policies are similar to a decent American full-coverage policy with the addition of the evacuation and repatriation riders. You can add vision and routine dental for a price. Higher deductibles lower the premium. Pre-existing condition? Read the fine print and hope for the best. I've been quoted between $8,000 and $12,000 for the two of us for a calendar year. Too much for us. One major international agency quoted $16,000 annually with no deductible, $8,500 annually with an $8,500 deductible. I don't care if the coverage included haircuts, manicures, pedicures and high colonics on demand. Too much for us.

The second tier is where the action is. Both sliding deductibles and/or sliding lifetime limits affect premiums. While the top tier policies offer limits in the millions of dollars, second tier policy lifetime limits can be low as $50,000 or higher than a million. The deductible may be per incident rather than cumulative or there may be no deductible at all. Purchasing the policy sufficiently ahead of your departure date may buy you coverage for the relapse of a controlled pre-existing condition. Rental car insurance can be a throw-in. Read the fine print and hope for the best. We've been quoted as low as $3,200 for the two of us for a calendar year for the no-frills, basic coverage that we hope is all that we'll nee

I've narrowed the field down to three companies through my internet research, two from the French consular site and one that caught my eye as I was investigated them. I will not detail the intricacies of their policies, each to the other. I am not their agent. See for yourselves.

Travelex Travel Plus
FrontierMEDEX TravMed Choice
Seven Corners Reside Worldwide

PLEASE DON'T TAKE THIS AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE THREE INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A GROUP. We have made no purchases. There may be other horses in the race yet to be considered. But I'm making calls and I'll be making up my mind soon. And I'll be keeping in mind that it's the Christmas travel season and there's a good-sized storm brewing. Let's see who has the staff necessary to keep the phones answered.

When I make up my mind, I'll post again.









Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…

BURGER KING, NARBONNE: RESTAURANT REVIEW (GOD FORGIVE ME)

After 48 years, The Southern Woman That I Married can still surprise me.

We went shopping the other day. You see, we're at the beginning of the French winter sales. Yes, stores here have sales all of the time, but I'm talking about THE SALES. Twice each year, once in winter and once in summer, every store holds sales. It's an official thing. There's a national start date (although it may vary a bit from region to region), a national end date, and stores are not permitted to bring in stock just for THE SALES. So these are true clearances. Discounts can be 70% or more. Serious savings.

Yes, I know. Controlled capitalism. How could it possibly work? Hint: It works because everybody buys into it, even the capitalists.


The day before we hit the shops, Cathey said,"Let's have lunch at Burger King." Be aware that Cathey has been trying to find a decent hamburger ever since we arrived in France. We've tried Buffalo Grill. We've ordered a burger at one o…

ASIA MARKET, BEZIERS: WORTH A VISIT

The Southern Woman That I Married is an accomplished, multi-cultural cook. Over the years, our table has been graced with examples of authentic fare from the world over. If there is one limitation to the diversity of the menus that Cathey can create here in the south of France, it's the availability of proper ingredients. Sometimes, it's the simple things. I've spent my entire life enjoying lox on a bagel smeared with cream cheese for breakfast on a Sunday morning. There's fine smoked salmon on display in just about every supermarket here, but even though the packaging of Philadelphia Cream Cheese looks the same as in the States, the formula is clearly different. It just doesn't taste the same. And a bagel? A real, honest-to-goodness, Brooklyn-style bagel? In the rural south of France? Fuhgeddaboudit.

For Cathey's cookery, more exotic fare than bagels and cream cheese is required. Almost immediately after our move here four years ago, she lamented the difficult…