International private medical insurance and maternity
Giving birth abroad can be very stressful, especially when you are not familiar with the healthcare system in your expatriate country. This is why many expectant mothers like to have a maternity cover included within their insurance which allows them to be followed in the private sector no matter what, offering a peace of mind during their pregnancy. However, choosing the right maternity cover can be complicated. Below are important points that expat women should know before buying maternity cover.
How does maternity cover work?
As with optical and dental cover, it is not possible to subscribe to an international insurance that covers only maternity. Maternity cover is sometimes automatically included in the policy, or it may also be an optional add-on benefit, offered on top of core benefits such as hospitalisation.
What is covered by my maternity insurance?
In the case of an international private medical insurance, the maternity cover covers several costs: pre- and post-natal check-ups, the delivery and the new-born check-ups.
As your insurance is international, you can be covered in different countries. Therefore, you can choose to have the follow up of your pregnancy in your expat country and give birth in your home country (depending on your chosen zone of cover). However, you cannot have the same test/consultation in both countries and claim for both. For example, if you have a 3D ultrasound in your country of residence and in your home country, your insurance company will only reimburse one.
What happens if there are any complications?
The majority of insurance companies cover complications that occur during the pregnancy, delivery and after birth (if related to earlier pregnancy complications). Please note that usually only complications which lead to a hospitalisation will be eligible for cover. However, each company has their own definition of what constitutes a complication and some companies may not cover all complications. For example, some insurance companies cover premature births whilst others do not. It is also important to bear in mind that complications arising from IVF or other forms of assisted reproduction may be excluded by certain companies. For these reasons, it is always important to read the terms and conditions of your policy before subscribing.
New-born medical cover
Generally, maternity cover will also pay for the routine check-ups of a new-born, usually carried out within 24 hours of birth. Some companies may also include a limited term cover for the baby under the parent’s policy, this may be for 30 days or 6 weeks etc. For the baby to be covered after this period, they must be added to the insurance policy in order to continue to benefit from the cover. There is also usually a time-limit as to how long you can wait to add the baby to the policy without any medical underwriting bring applied. Many insurance companies may impose a limit similar to that of the new-born cover e.g. 30 days, in which you must request the baby be added to the policy. If this time-frame is respected then the baby will be covered from their day of birth with no medical underwriting. Please be aware that if you miss this time limit there will be a medical questionnaire to fill-in and any conditions that have arisen since birth will be seen as pre-existing and may be excluded. For this reason it is recommended to request to add you baby to your policy as soon as possible.
Can I be covered if I am already pregnant?
Firstly, it is important to know that if you are already pregnant when you subscribe to an insurance policy your pregnancy will be excluded from your cover and they will count it as a pre-existing medical condition.
Moreover, all insurance companies have a waiting period for maternity, this waiting period is often between 10 and 24 months from the start date of your policy. This means that you would need to wait until the waiting period has passed before being able to benefit from the maternity cover within the insurance policy (the waiting period depends in the policy and the insurance company).
Therefore, if you fall pregnant just after subscribing to your insurance policy your pregnancy would not be covered as the waiting period would be in force.
Due to these two reasons, if you would like any future pregnancies to be covered by your private insurance, it is recommended that you add the maternity option at the same time as subscribing to the policy, even if you haven’t planned a pregnancy for the time being, to be sure that your pregnancy (planned or not planned) will be covered straightaway by your insurance policy.
Expat Assure can help you find the health insurance solution best suited to your needs. Feel free to contact us directly or fill in a form online to request your insurance comparison. As explained above, in order to be covered for maternity, you will need to subscribe before you become pregnant.
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- An immigration health surcharge for long stays in the UK - Visitors staying for more than 6 months in the UK must pay an 'Immigration Health Surcharge'. Since Brexit, European citizens are also included.