Better health insurance options for someone living abroad?
June 2, 2011 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Should I switch health care plans? To what? I'm living in Europe and am using the extremely cheap, works-more-or-less-fine, Austrian health insurance. But I have an insurance policy in the USA that is costing a fortune and is basically useless...

I'm in my 20s, and have pre-existing conditions (Low level GI and Kidney stuff; nothing serious but still enough to make insurance companies skittish). My parents are terrified that if I suddenly get some sort of terrible illness (more or less unrelated to pre-existing conditions), and I needed serious medical care, that my Austrian insurance isn't going to be adequate to get the care that I would need. (That, and if I get sick while I'm in visiting in the US, I don't really have many options) And so they're paying hundreds of dollars a month for Kaiser health insurance.

I won't be able to convince them to stop paying for it, but I figure that surely there *must* be a better use* for that money...is there?


*After a week of playing phone tag with my doctor's office to get an appointment, it looks like I won't be able to even see my doctor this year because she's booked for the dates of my visit.
posted by sdis to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
To get individual US insurance in the future, you'll need to show proof of continuous coverage. Does the Austrian insurance qualify for that?
posted by orthogonality at 11:22 PM on June 2, 2011


Response by poster: I sort of got the impression that no matter what I do, if I change insurance companies, I'm going to get screwed because of pre-existing conditions. What does proof of continuous coverage get me? (I'm not sure whether the Austrian insurance can qualify for that, but I would assume that it's very likely that it would)
posted by sdis at 11:35 PM on June 2, 2011


You can get a plan with a very high deductible to cover the rare terrible illness. The better use to put the money saved on premiums would be as savings in case you need to pay the deductible.
posted by yohko at 12:16 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sort of got the impression that no matter what I do, if I change insurance companies, I'm going to get screwed because of pre-existing conditions. What does proof of continuous coverage get me?

An exemption from the pre-existing conditions exclusion.

Foreign coverage can work here, though it may take a few conversations to get them to understand it.
posted by valkyryn at 2:35 AM on June 3, 2011


Response by poster: If I can get an exemption from the pre-existing conditions exclusion, can a new provider instead simply charge me a ridiculously high monthly premium?
posted by sdis at 3:03 AM on June 3, 2011


If you get sick while you are visiting the US, the travel insurance you will have purchased before leaving should cover that. I do not know about what would happen if/when you move back to the US, though.
posted by jeather at 4:31 AM on June 3, 2011


If I can get an exemption from the pre-existing conditions exclusion, can a new provider instead simply charge me a ridiculously high monthly premium?

They were gonna do that anyway.

Kidding, sort of. If you provide a certificate of credible coverage, it's as if your pre-existing condition was something they'd already covered. So your premium could be adjusted, depending on what it is that you've got, but there shouldn't be any sort of "penalty" for just showing up now.

Pre-existing condition exclusions exist to avoid the moral hazard of people waiting until they get sick to buy insurance. That would make health an uninsurable risk, as there would be no way to spread the risk around sufficiently for carriers to remain solvent and profitable. But if you've got coverage elsewhere, and you're just changing carriers, you haven't been acting irresponsibly, you're just changing your situation. People do that. And because carriers know that people change carriers all the time, they can factor that in. Sure, you're showing up sick and they haven't collected any premium on you, but that guy left after ten years without a claim and immediately makes one at another carrier. As long as they can make sure that you have been covered elsewhere, it all comes out in the wash.

Still, being sick is expensive, and sick people generally do pay more than healthy people in the individual market. So you can expect some kind of hit there, but it should be consistent with what you would have been charged if you'd been with them before the condition presented itself.
posted by valkyryn at 5:01 AM on June 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


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