One of the more obvious objections to the digital nomad lifestyle that you will get is what to do about health insurance. Living at a fixed address, with government-sponsored health care (for many countries) or employer-sponsored health care (for Americans and others) brings peace of mind for many people. Several things working in conjunction with each other are important: access to health insurance, but also convenient access to the trusted physicians and hospitals who provide the health care that the insurance covers.
How does this whole thing work when you are spending time in a variety of different countries?
We know that, especially for young digital nomads, travel insurance is sometimes a low priority or something that is simply ignored for short trips. But for the vast majority of digital nomads — no matter their age or personal health situation — health insurance is important.
Luckily some services have sprung up to address this issue. The large insurance companies, as well as focused new startups, are both explicitly offering plans that target the digital nomad.
Here are a few things to consider when thinking about health insurance
- Not having any kind of healthcare plan in place can be very risky, scary, and/or deadly!
- The “travel insurance” that you are used to may not be what’s appropriate for being semi-permanently abroad or traveling between countries
- Remember to check the fine print on pre-existing conditions — if you have government-sponsored universal health care in your home country, you may not be as familiar with the very specific and selective nature of healthcare policies in a different country
- Familiarize yourself with the basic terms of “deductible”, “co-insurance” and “copayment”
- Understand that you can structure your risk differently — some may want coverage only for major accidents and emergencies, and some may want full coverage for all expenses and low deductibles (usually with higher premiums)
- Think about your coverage for extended medical benefits like dental, vision, and prescription drugs — what do you need to manage your health proactively?
This is just a starting point for thinking about real digital nomad health insurance coverage. In future articles, we will dive into the specific options that are available from various providers.