Medical insurance in BaliJuly 6, 2009
One of the conditions required by the authorities for expats to live here is to have medical insurance. This is not only a quasi-legal requirement to obtain a KITAS, it is prudent. I would go so far as to say it is essential.
I’m not talking about your standard expat ailments here like Bali belly, or a hangover where you are afraid that you are not going to die, or your garden-variety sniffles, insect bites or post-village-arak queasiness. I’m talking about appendicitis, dengue fever, avian influenza, motorbike road trauma – stuff that is potentially life-threatening. For such occasions, you need high-level medical help. While this can sometimes be accessed in Bali, it may well be that life-saving treatment may be required in Singapore or Australia. But of course you need to actually get there somehow. Commercial airlines won’t take you, so medical evacuation, provided by private companies at vast expense, may well become a necessity, not an option. Of course, you have put aside a lazy $30,000 – $50,000 USD just for this contingency, right?
Most people I know don’t have a mate with a spare Lear jet, or enough reserve Bintang money lying around in their sock drawer to bail them out of trouble. They get medical insurance.
I looked at perhaps five or six medical insurance plans which covered Bali and included medical evacuation. None were cheap, with annual premiums ranging from about $2,500 – $10,000 USD. The cost didn’t make sense. A cynical person might suggest that the insurance companies looked at their actuarial tables to assess the risk – then increased the required premiums by a whole order of magnitude. Great for companyshareholders; tidak bagus for those who actually need the cover.
Then I saw that there is actually an alternative. Travel insurance covers you not only for inconveniences such as cancellations and lost luggage, but also for medical cover and evacuations. I compared the medical cover component of my chosen travel insurance with straight medical insurance cover and found that there was no effective difference. Bingo!
My plan covers me for travel and medical expenses and medical evacuation anywhere in the world that I want to travel for 13 months. It is renewable online. It cost me $700 AUD. It is exactly what I need. Security, and peace of mind for emergencies.
As an added bonus, I found out that my Australian Medibank Private cover could be placed in suspension for up to three years while I am travelling overseas, simply by paying one month’s premium and requesting a suspension. No loss of benefits, no waiting periods when you get back. If I’m back in Australia for a visit, I simply reactivate it, then suspend it again when I leave.
It’s good to feel protected while in a different country. If you can do that without paying through the nose, so much the better. Mind you, I’m sure I will manage to whinge about paying $700 AUD if I don’t fall off the motorbike in the next 12 months … !