Getting good health care is important, especially while living in a foreign country. You get used to the health insurance plan and coverage so much growing up in your home country that sometimes you can’t even think of another way to have it.
Living in the United States my whole life, I thought that it was normal to pay deductibles and co-payments. I even had heard that teachers working at US schools get one of the best health insurance plans (when compared to other professions), so I was quite content. And true to my experience and now looking back on it, I was pleased with many aspects of my coverage.
But living abroad had afforded me different experiences, from socialized medicine to full-coverage private insurance plans. And I would say that both of those experiences had their pros and cons and some aspects were better or a bit worse than my experience living in the United States.
Regardless of the plan that I have living abroad, it is definitely nice to not have to pay out of pocket expenses for my health insurance. So plans that pay everything for you up front are the best ones in my opinion. I also have appreciated having health insurance that has world coverage as we international school teachers do like the travel a lot and of course go back to our home country once or twice a year.
The issue of waiting time often comes up. All health insurance coverages include some time waiting to get seen and for getting an appointment, especially with a specialist doctor, etc. It is true that some insurance plans get you those appointments faster. I know that in some European countries the wait for a specialist doctor can take many weeks, but one way to get around this is to pay a little bit from your pay check for a private insurance. With this, you can get your appointments assigned to you much faster!
Paying for your prescriptions can be a pain on your wallet as well depending on which coverage you have. With one private insurance plan I had in Asia, I didn’t have pay any out of pocket money for all prescriptions. That was amazing! I can imagine though that in many insurance plans, you are expected to pay at least something for your prescriptions.
On ISC we have a comment topic related to this topic in the Benefits Information section on the school profile pages. It is called: “Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.” There have been 992 comments submitted in this comment topic on 100s of international schools from around the world. Here are just a few of them:
“Medical insurance is through a Chinese company. This is not ideal for several reasons: We live in Viet nam not China, and the package, compared to other countries, is basic. Very basic by international school standards, expect a lot of out of pocket, paying in advance, claiming back which takes a long time as language barrier (Mandarin speakers might do well), and submitting forms makes it a deterrent to claim back or even try.” – International School of Vietnam
“Everyone receives medical card on arrival. This gives you access to local hospital services. In our experiences this is fine for woman bit not for men.
Once you receive your company private insurance you pay QAR 50 for your initial consultation and then the rest s free form there. On larger more emergency cases you sometimes have to pay a deposit until the approval is given from the insurance which can take a few hours. This has never been an issue and always resolved in the teachers favour. Private care is very clean, as is local care. Health care for women in Qatar is very good.” – The English Modern School (Doha)
“The Health Insurance is not very good. It used to be through a reputable international provider and is now through a sub-standard Chinese company. The cover is global (non-US) but is not 100% and is only available at selected providers. If you are in an emergency situation and do not go to a pre-authorised hospital, it won’t be covered.” – The British International School of Kuala Lumpur
“The insurance is quite good in Maracaibo and in the USA. The doctors are trained, but hospitals are not equipped to serve patients right now. The price for medical care has increased by 10 fold in one year. It is a terrible situation for Venezuelans and foreigners who get sick.” – Escuela Bella Vista Maracaibo
What has been your experience using the health insurance benefits at your international school? Please login to our website and share what you know!continue reading
Mitesh Patel discusses the steps teachers can take to look after their mental and physical health when working in a new country.
Securing a new teaching position abroad can be tremendously exciting, particularly if you’ve triumphed through a frustrating and long-winded application process. It can be so exciting that it’s easy to forget that travelling abroad and living abroad are two very different things. Whereas when you’re on holiday it’s all about fun and relaxation, moving overseas means you need to be mindful of the more mundane practicalities of everyday life.
In fact, feeling at home in your new country is often the deciding factor in the success of a new assignment. You’ll find that a little planning goes a long way in staying mentally and physically safe and well when you teach abroad. Here are some simple tips to get you off to the best possible start:
Mitesh Patel is the medical director at Aetna International. For more information, please contact email@example.com or visit www.aetnainternational.comcontinue reading
Knowing that you have extra support in staying happy and healthy can play a key role in successfully settling into life as an expat teacher, says Mitesh Patel.
Career development, a completely new culture, better work-life balance – there are lots of factors that make teaching overseas a very attractive proposition. Good health care packages also play a part in tempting new talent to international schools as well as making sure staff stay safe and well once they’re there. After all, it can be stressful enough moving home to an area you know well, let alone to a country you may never have visited before.
Recently, there has been a noticeable shift in how international schools are turning their attention to supporting teachers’ mental and physical wellbeing in new and better ways. Finding a school that prioritises this can considerably improve your ‘settling in’ process. It’s also a sign of a school that places an emphasis on a happy and healthy learning environment, as anything that negatively impacts teachers can also negatively influence student wellbeing and progress.
When you move abroad, it’s of paramount importance to know where to turn when things don’t go to plan with your health. Getting food poisoning, for example, is never much fun but if you don’t know where to get help it can become downright scary. Unfortunately, there might also be occasions when you are faced with an emergency, such as discovering that the shortness of breath you’ve been suffering from whilst teaching in Baku is actually a symptom of something much more serious. Should this happen, knowing that every effort would be made to keep you in a familiar place with the support of your friends can be tremendously reassuring at an otherwise traumatic time.
In fact, when you are a long way from home, feeling cut off from your loved ones can really take its toll on mental and emotional health. For example, one of our member schools in China told us that their expat staff were finding life very difficult. Many were at the start of their careers, didn’t speak the local language and had moved abroad for the first time. Unfortunately, feelings of stress and isolation had begun to spread.
We quickly set up a dedicated crisis line for staff, giving them direct access to expert support with whom they could chat in their native language. We also helped the school to promote the line internally, to ensure teachers felt comfortable making that all-important call. It meant a negative spiral was nipped in the bud, and the new recruits could relax and enjoy their time.
It goes to show that it’s always possible to intervene and ensure your experience abroad is a roaring success. Remember, the first port of call is to check with your new school and see what resources and support they offer to help you look after your health and wellbeing.continue reading