Are your children attending university overseas, or perhaps embarking on a student exchange or study-abroad programme for a semester? Amidst all the excitement (and, yes, the nerves), you shouldn’t neglect the all-important matter of international student health insurance and adequate coverage. (God forbid that anything happens while they are overseas!) We asked insurance specialists APRIL International to answer some of the important questions on the topic.
#1 Which country will your child be studying in?
One of the factors that probably has the biggest impact is where your child is heading off to study, as different countries have different requirements for students. For instance, in Australia and the US, students are required to have adequate health insurance coverage for the whole duration of their studies. On the other hand, in the UK, students can pay a small surcharge as part of the visa application process that will give them access to the National Health Service (NHS).
#2 Does the university have any special requirements?
While countries may have various health insurance requirements for students, sometimes universities themselves can have their own requirements. For example, in Ontario, Canada, international students are not eligible for the provincial health insurance programme, but public universities offer a University Health Insurance Plan that is included in the costs of tuition. However, even in these cases, you may be able to get an exemption if your child is covered by a health insurance plan that meets their requirements.
#3 How much does healthcare cost where they are studying?
Find out how much healthcare is so you know how much insurance coverage is needed, especially in the US where healthcare can be relatively expensive. It’s important to balance the cost of your child’s health insurance plan versus the coverage it provides. You don’t want to be left paying a substantial amount out of your pocket if you exceed the limit of your insurance plan.
#4 What are some additional benefits your child might need?
Depending on where your child is going to study, you may want an insurance plan that provides more benefits than just covering the costs of healthcare. For some short-term study-abroad programmes, students may be traveling to other countries with low quality of public healthcare or where communication issues may cause issues or delays in receiving treatment. There are some international student health plans that offer emergency medical evacuation and repatriation benefits. This means your child can be transported to the nearest quality medical centre or even flown back to Singapore if its warranted.
#5 What options are generally available?
As mentioned before, in some cases, the country or university where your child will be going to study requires them to have a certain kind of health insurance policy, which may limit your options. If you feel the required plan is insufficient or lacks benefits you feel may be of value, you can take on an additional policy to supplement it. If you can enrol your child in the public healthcare system, it may be worth considering the quality of medical care in that country and if the enrolment fee is worth it. When the choice is up to you, it can be worth shopping around for an international student health insurance policy.
Another alternative is that if your family has an international health insurance plan, you may be able to keep your university-aged child on it, as long as they’re still within your area of coverage. Many international insurers will allow you to keep your child on your policy until well into their 20s. This is provided that they are full-time students. If so, they can still enjoy full coverage, excluding pre-existing conditions.
Read more in our Health and Fitness section.