The NHS is great (and if you haven’t already read our article on the subject of this fantastic British institution, you can find out more about it, as well as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) here: https://www.executiverelocation.co.uk/blog/?p=529).

But what if you are moving to the UK and would rather have private healthcare?  Well, dear reader – read on:

There are a number of differences between public compared to private healthcare.  Private healthcare can mean avoiding long waiting lists and access to private consultants, whereas the NHS can sometimes be frustratingly slow.  Private healthcare can be expensive though, so if you elect for this option, health insurance is a necessity – and if the UK is not your home country, International insurance is probably the best option for you:

Benefits of international medical insurance

If you’re an expat, insuring your health isn’t difficult and can bring the following benefits, depending on your level of cover and your provider:

  • International cover means that emergency medical repatriation is usually covered – this is something that can be very costly for those who are uninsured.
  • An international policy should offer the choice of whether to be treated in the UK or in your home country. You may also opt to receive treatment within your chosen area of cover – this is usually a very large area such as Europe, worldwide excluding the USA, or worldwide including the USA.
  • International health insurance policies are flexible so it’s easy to choose the level of cover you require – whether it’s a basic or comprehensive cover you need. In many cases you can also choose to have an excess. This is an agreed amount that you would pay in the event of claiming. This can be a useful way to keep the cost of premiums down.
  • Back up and support – choose a provider who offers a 24 hour phone lifene for medical questions and you will have access to information that you might otherwise struggle to find in a foreign setting.
  • Peace of mind in knowing that wherever you are within your chosen area of cover, if require treatment it will be prompt and of a good standard.

It’s important to make the distinction between international private medical cover and travel cover. Travel policies are designed for short-term stays – holidays, business trips and so on.  As such, these policies are inadequate for expats studying or working in the UK.

If you decide to go for private International insurance, it’s important make sure you get the right type of policy. Most providers have information online as well as a number to call if need assistance.

This article was written in association with AXA Insurance.  More information about individual and business health cover for expatriates, can be found at their website ( AXA PPP International).