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What you need to know about your insurance before leaving Hong Kong

Are you moving from Hong Kong? While expats come and go, the COVID-19 pandemic saw many HK residents heading abroad to places like Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the UK. From looking for a new place to live and choosing where your children will go to school to navigating the local healthcare system and sorting out your finances, moving abroad as an expat gives you a lot to think about. 

When you’re ticking off your to-do checklist for relocating, remember to go over your health insurance policies. Not sure where to start? This Pacific Prime Hong Kong article discusses what you need to know about your insurance before leaving Hong Kong. 

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Relocation and health insurance checklist

Surprisingly, many complete relocation guides fail to mention moving one’s health insurance. Before asking what insurance you should consider for a relocation, it’s imperative to find out whether your existing policy covers you in your destination country. Another important thing you need to know about moving overseas is what the local healthcare system is like. You can use the following as a relocation insurance checklist. 

1. Talk to your insurance provider or broker

Once your insurer or broker knows where you’re relocating, they’ll be able to recommend the best way to get coverage there. They’ll also let you know if it’s possible to transfer your existing policy, as well as offer portability assistance. Be aware that moving to a covered area doesn’t necessarily mean that you can continue your coverage. Ultimately, the insurer can decide to stop offering coverage once your status changes to local resident in the destination country. 

2. Review your policy’s details 

Does your policy cover you globally or in certain parts of the world (e.g. Asia)? If you have worldwide coverage, does it include or exclude the US? There are important questions to ask depending on where you’re moving to. 

Area of cover

If you’re relocating to a covered area, it’s possible that your plan will cover you until the following policy renewal date – though you’ll have to check with your insurer. Conversely, most policies typically offer up to 30 days of emergency coverage if you’re outside the area of coverage. Even if you’re covered in your destination, your policy might limit your coverage for a specified amount of time (e.g. 365 days). 

Portability 

Are you relocating to join a new company? If so, look into the portability of your group health insurance plan. Plans with portability allow you to keep the same cover if you switch employers and pay for it on your own. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to undergo new underwriting, so any pre-existing conditions will still be covered. 

Whether you’re determining your area of coverage or portability, your best bet is to speak to your (or your company’s) insurance broker to understand your options. 

Evaluate your new home’s healthcare system 

Whether or not your existing insurance policy covers you in your destination country, it’s advisable to assess the local healthcare system. Since Australia, Canada, Singapore, and the UK are leading destinations for those relocating from HK, let’s take a peek at what their healthcare systems are like. Please note that while the information below is accurate at the time of writing, it’s always recommended to check with authorities. 

Australia 

Universal healthcare is available through the government’s Medicare initiative. Australian permanent residents or applicants are eligible for Medicare. Once you’ve received your Medicare card, you can access free or low-cost Medicare services such as hospital treatments, doctor’s visits, mental healthcare, and more. Most dental and vision care, as well as ambulance services, are not covered. 

Canada 

Canada also offers government-provided universal healthcare to all residents. Since each province and territory administers Medicare separately, a waiting period (usually up to three months) might be necessary before you can receive a health insurance card and the free access to Canada’s public healthcare services that comes with it. Ambulance services, dental and vision care (e.g. prescription glasses and certain dental procedures), and physiotherapy are usually not covered by Canada’s Medicare. 

Singapore 

Medisave and MediShield Life give Singapore citizens, and permanent residents access to affordable healthcare. Medishield Life works as a standard health insurance scheme that helps offset the costs of expensive medical treatments and some outpatient treatments in the public healthcare system. Medisave is a Central Provident Fund (CPF)-administered savings scheme that requires Singaporeans to put some of their monthly income towards their medical needs, such as inpatient/outpatient treatment, premiums, and more. 

While all Singapore citizens and permanent residents are covered by Medishield Life, non-residents are better off securing private medical insurance or topping up their employer-provided insurance for comprehensive coverage. 

Further reading: Singapore medical insurance for expats: Finding your ideal plan

The UK 

The National Health Service (NHS) allows permanent residents in the UK to access publicly-funded healthcare. Aside from dental and vision care, prescription medicines, and some other exceptions, the NHS provides a lot for free. You can access NHS services once your visa/immigration application has been granted and you’ve paid the healthcare surcharge. 

Further reading: NHS waiting list: Patients turning to private healthcare in the UK

Moving overseas and policy renewals

Health insurance contracts are typically 12 months. If you’re moving somewhere that your current policy doesn’t cover, simply don’t renew the plan once the contract is up to avoid paying for a plan that you’re not even using. However, don’t just stop paying your premiums before the contract is up. Not only will this allow insurers to follow you up for payments, but you may also run into problems with them down the line. For example, they may refuse to offer coverage because of your history of lapsed policies.

Protect yourself and your family with Pacific Prime Hong Kong 

No matter where you are in the world, it pays to protect yourself and your family with comprehensive health insurance. A robust plan gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can access quality medical care whenever you need it. 

Whether you’re looking for international health insurance in Hong Kong, expat health insurance in Hong Kong, or other insurance plans, you’ve come to the right place. Headquartered in Hong Kong, Pacific Prime has offices and expert insurance advisors across the globe to help our clients with their insurance needs. Thanks to our 20+ years of experience as a health insurance broker and employee benefits specialist, we can help you find the best plan for your needs and budget with value-added services that you’re bound to appreciate. 

Contact us for impartial insurance advice and a free plan comparison today! 

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
​​Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical workday, she writes and edits articles, guides, and anything else word-related. She loves creating content that is both easy to understand and enjoyable to read.

In her free time, she’s likely to be writing poetry and prose, geeking out on her latest interests, reading, or practicing yoga.
Jantra