Health Care and Insurance as an Expat, English Teacher, and Full-Time Traveler Abroad


If you ask an insurance broker if you need insurance, they’re almost certain to tell you yes. I have dozens of insurance policies and I am a firm believer in covering your ass, but with health care, I take a slightly different approach because I live overseas. As an English teacher abroad, I always had basic health care covered by my employer. Nowadays, I have an accident policy and I write my own insurance policy against myself that is heavily discounted because of my knowledge, experience, ability to travel, and healthy lifestyle. Something could always happen and there are definitely fluke occurrences that take place every day, but I have taken appropriate precautions and feel comfortable with the system I’ve been using for years. One topic I did not get into in this video is health care for English teachers. In most any country you decide to teach in, you will be provided with health insurance coverage. The value/overall quality of the coverage and services provided in your home country will vary greatly. Some countries have fantastic healthcare and others are not very good and I’d recommend you have a Plan B in case of an emergency or serious ailment.

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Video credits to BenTeachesEnglishOverseas YouTube channel


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Health Care and Insurance as an Expat, English Teacher, and Full-Time Traveler Abroad

Comments 24

  1. I've always heard that the American health care system is ridiculous but I had no idea just how out of control it is. You could blow your life savings and still die of something that should have been cheap and easy to fix. That's just unfathomable to me.

    I'm Australian and am so grateful that we have bulk billing here. Basically everyone gets medicare which is free, and you can see doctors, get x-rays, eye tests, blood work done, any basic service for free because it's billed to the government. You can get private health insurance on top of that if you want to- for elective surgery, major operations, ongoing expensive illnesses, physio, massages, naturopathy, dental and whatever else and it's really quite affordable. The money comes from the medicare levy which only people in the higher tax brackets have to pay. Our country is far from perfect but when it comes to health care, we are so damn lucky.

  2. This is a VERY good video. I have two kids. One born in California in 2010 at a cost of $12k. Another born in the Philippines in 2014 at a cost of $350.

    Go to a hospital anywhere in the US. Look around. You'll see many Filipinos filling those positions, especially nurses.

    The accident policy is smart. Although I have it for different reasons. I travel to the Philippines all the time, and if I didn't have insurance and had an accident they would over-charge me, which would still be a fraction of what i'd pay in the US. If you have insurance then they get what the insurance company pays them, nothing more.

  3. Yeah, this is a good way to look at it. I have type one diabetes, have since birth, so I know the full extent of how much America's health care sucks. It's my goal to get out of the US as quickly as possible, I'm almost 35 and things are just not looking good for this kind of things, especially with a pre-existing condition. I lived in Sweden for about four years as a student, and the state health care was exemplary. I never,. ever paid more than twenty dollars for anything except dental, and they performed eye surgery on me for absolutely no cost. I'm trying to either go back there or get hired teaching English in a place like Japan where I'll have access to insurance and care, because I just will never have it in America.

  4. Great! I have found the hospitals overseas to be so much more modern than the ones I remember in the states as well. I was looking at health sharing programs but this also sounds good. Can you recommend any policies for accident coverage?

  5. I'm currently dealing with 3 tenacious kidney stones, and it's been so hard dealing with it in China. They don't have the equipment that hospitals have back home. They did a scan and give me two injections for the pain (came to about 1000 RMB) then told me to drink warm water, herbal sachets and come back in a month. I miss Western Medicine when dealing with the traditional ways of most local Chinese doctors…. the answer to everything over here seems to be "Drink warm water."

  6. Ben,

    Insurance companies will cover you for anything you want, as long as you pay the premiums. You can get alien abduction coverage if you want to pay for it. People need to read their policies to find out what is covered and what is not. It's unreasonable and irrational to complain that a condition/aliment isn't covered for a particular person or situation without knowing how the policy was written.

    Many people are so quick to blame insurance companies when a claim is not paid, yet these are the same people who don't even know what their policy covers. And it's absolutely not true that they go out of their way to not pay out claims that are covered. It's usually cheaper to pay out than go to arbitration or trial. The problem comes with those who take advantage of the system and ruin it for everyone else (example: a minor slip and fall on pavement with no injuries, and the client is claiming PTSD, irreparable brain damage, the need for lifelong housekeeping).

    My husband is an insurance adjuster. I would be happy to provide you accurate and unbiased information should you wish to know more.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

  7. Healthcare Triage did an amazing series on healthcare systems. If you are wanting to know what is out, it is a great start. See what other nations are doing, pick and choose the parts that you like, and see if it can work.



    I would prefer if Canada switched to France's or Australia's system, but that is just me.

  8. I don't want to type up a book on the general topic, but it's really bad. After hearing you say 15k for kidney stones, I wanted to say my trip to the ER for my kidney stones was 17k. I was rolling on the floor of the hospital waiting room for 4 hours. I think many countries give you something so you can have some relief while you're waiting. I'm not sure if there is anything, but I know they were telling me they aren't allowed to do anything until I actually make it to the room with the doctor because of laws and stuff. Then when I made it to the room I had to wait another 4 hours. I got morphine but I think the kidney stone just passed on its own really. To add to this, the staff or maybe it's the system, but they told me the insurance covered everything so I don't have to worry. A few days later I found I had to pay $2000. Yes that's better than 17k, but I think for what I got out even 2k was a rip off. That was the one time I had to goto the hospital.

  9. Sad that the USA, being the most advanced Western nation has the worst health care system, while the rest of the developed countries have affordable / or national health care. I took my late wife to a hospital in the USA for one X-Ray, one script for pain killers and one walking frame and the cost was over $500. (In 2006). The hospital sent the bills to me months later. I live in Australia! I had filled out all the forms for my travel health insurance and sent them in. I personally drove down to the Health Insurance company in my city of Brisbane Australia and hand delivered the bills to the claims clerk at the insurance office. I had no more letters of demand, sent to my home address! ( My first job was in an insurance company when I left school!) When traveling to the USA I always take out maximum travel insurance!!!

  10. Mike & Lauren (on YouTube) spent less paying cash to have a baby in Costa Rica then the premium and having the baby in the US. My mom would say…if they have a complication, they will wish they were state-side; but Mike & Lauren describe the hospital as modern.–I can't say the availability of life-saving machines were equal or greater than in the US…but I can say, as the US healthcare becomes more nationalized, there will be less machines and longer waits.–Just like in England and Canada.

  11. Good example.
    I have friends who make runs to Mexico once a year for meds & Z-packs. It just makes sense to go overseas for healthcare. Obamacare was written by the insurance industry–People who think it was for the benefit of citizens is mistaken.

  12. I know exactly what you mean Ben. The movie "Sicko" really hits home about the cost of healthcare in the US. I got into a serious car accident years ago and I didn't have insurance. I was thrown from my car by my seat belt when my door peeled down like opening a can. I landed on my feet and my ankle shattered into 3 pieces. The first hospital I went to, they didn't have Orthopedic staff on at midnight and their answer was to amputate my foot. I could still wiggle my toes, so I said fuck you guys, I want a second opinion. I ended up in the best hospital in my state, I had surgery and was in the hospital for 6 weeks. The bill was $330,000. I was fortunate enough that having no insurance, I applied for state bed funds, which will cover medical expenses and they covered everything. All I ended up paying was the ambulance costs. I was very fortunate, and most other people are not. Having to choose between bankruptcy and death is not something that anyone should have to decide, especially when they have a family to feed.

    In Norway, where I am currently, it's free healthcare and education for everyone. If you have a child, between the two parents, you can get 60% of your pay for up to 1 year off from work between the two of them, every job pays 10% of what you earned in the year to you every year as vacation money… Sure they pay higher taxes, but as a whole, the entire society benefits from the security of knowing no matter what happens you aren't going to be bent over backwards and screwed by the system over it. People say horrible things about state sponsored socialism, but it really is the best way to go for the benefit of all.

  13. Long story short for me: I live with a of type of disability payments in Latín América! I just finished teaching in Leon, Nicaragua and now about to teach in Medellín, Colombia! I love the healhcare system down here! Last year I went the ER in Nicaragua and $95 for visit and all meds. I went to the ER in Colombia for something different and the visit costa $0 and the meds $4. I will never pay USA American prices again! I do not believe un our failed system in the USA.

  14. damn son, that sucks. Luckily if I get sick overseas, whatever it may be, I just need to get back to Germany somehow and the healthcare system takes care of me for free with no deductible whatsoever. The downside is, if you have cancer for example, the general healthcare system only pays 100% for treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy because the pharma earns big bucks from it – who then gives part of it back to the Health Insurances. If you want another treatment, like for example Leatrile B17, which is even way cheaper than chemotherapy, health insurance doesnt pay 1 cent.

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