Living abroad – Healthcare
One of the most common concerns about moving abroad, is healthcare. It can be worrying to think about navigating a strange system. Is the level of care the same? How expensive is health insurance? Am I already covered by the European health insurance card? No one wants to think about getting sick in an unfamiliar country, but it’s essential to be prepared and make sure you’re covered. The European Health Insurance Card or EHIC will give you access to medically necessary healthcare during a temporary stay in another European country. It covers emergency treatment only and is not an alternative to travel insurance. If you are living abroad on a longer-term basis, then you are treated the same as the citizens in that country. In most cases, this will involve paying for public or private health insurance.
Healthcare – The Netherlands
Expats who are living in the Netherlands are required to take out basic health insurance, the European Health Insurance Card will only cover you if your stay is temporary. This covers the cost of visiting a General Practitioner (huisarts), medication and any hospital treatment you may require. It also entitles you to long-term care for chronic diseases and disabilities. Basic health insurance is mandatory for all residents and costs approximately €105 per month. You can add extra insurance for things such as dental treatment, optics and supplementary therapies. There is an ‘own risk’ deductible of €385 per year. The good news is the Netherlands is rated as having the best healthcare in Europe by the Euro Health Consumer Index. The Netherlands spends 10% of its GDP on healthcare, and it shows with modern, clean, well-equipped hospitals. Most doctors speak excellent English which makes healthcare easily accessible to foreigners.
Healthcare – Ireland
Healthcare in Ireland is based on a two-tier system. A free, government-subsidized, public system and a privately insured system. Everyone living in Ireland, including expats, is entitled to basic services, but this doesn’t mean they all free. You may be required to contribute according to your age and income. The European Health Insurance Card gives you access to free or discounted emergency care in public facilities in Ireland. The public system can be quite stretched, however, and expats often opt to take out private health insurance. 40% of the Irish population have private health insurance. Private doctors and hospitals mean you will be treated straight away without long waiting lists. Some employers will contribute to private health insurance and you can try and negotiate this into your contract. The OECD Better Life Index puts Ireland at 8th place in the world for healthcare, above the UK.
Healthcare – Germany
German Healthcare operates on a dual public/private system. Your European Health insurance card (EHIC) will cover you for emergency treatment if you are staying temporarily. If you are officially living in Germany, insurance is mandatory. Whether private health insurance, statutory health insurance provided by the state, or a combination of the two. Statutory insurance is income-based, but benefits are paid out according to need. Private health insurance premiums are based on risk assessments. Employers contribute to the cost of health insurance, usually paying half of the cost per month. You are free to choose your GP in Germany. Most will speak English, but not all, so bear this in mind. Should you need to see a specialist, you must get a referral from your GP first. Hospitals are state of the art and the quality of care is seen as some of the best in the world.
Healthcare – Switzerland
Health insurance is compulsory for all residents living in Switzerland for longer than 3 months. Before this, your EHIC card will cover you for emergency medical treatment at public facilities. The Swiss system is funded by private insurance companies and you are free to choose one that suits you best. International insurance companies are often not recognised, so double-check. Expats are guaranteed high-quality care, but the monthly premiums can be expensive, approximately 10% of your salary. Costs can vary from canton to canton. All members of the family must be separately insured. Not all services are covered by basic insurance. You can take out additional insurance for things like orthodontics, spectacles and physiotherapy. You must make personal contributions for certain supplementary treatments and pay an annual deductible. Waiting times are short, doctors are very well educated and experienced, and hospitals are well equipped.
We know that moving abroad to a foreign country, with different rules, can be confusing for expats. That’s why we have put together a community of fellow expats, who have been through it all before. You can find more advice on healthcare, mortgages, tax and lifestyle in our information pages. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, let Mundialz be your guide.