Moving abroad with a pre-existing health condition

Had enough of dark, damp British winters? The thought of moving abroad is one that captures the imagination of thousands of Brits every year. An estimated 5.5 million British people already live abroad with the majority living in Australia, Spain, America and Canada.

Although emigration can seem like the start of a new life, there are some things you have to take with you – like your health. When thinking about which country you'd like to emigrate to, it can be tempting to only think about things like the weather, property prices and the cost of living. But, if you have a pre-existing health condition, then doing some research into the standards and cost of medical care available will be invaluable.

Private health insurance companies like Bupa offer Worldwide Health Options for expats looking for health insurance. You can also add cover for pre-existing conditions to your Worldwide Health Insurance:

The 1.3 million Britons in Australia, the largest number in any one country, enjoy healthcare from one of the most advanced countries in the world. However, Australia has extensive medical tests which must be carried out prior to the issue of any type of visa. What it comes down to is essentially an assessment of how much the cost of medical treatment would burden the health system.

The 'significant cost threshold' for Australia was raised to $35,000 in 2012 from $21,000. If your medical condition is considered likely to cost the Australian Government more than this amount over five years – three for over 75s – then your visa application may fail. In 2010-11, 599 foreigners were denied visas on health grounds – 392 of which were denied due to cost or because they may block existing Australian citizens access to treatments like heart and liver transplants.

The issue of healthcare for immigrants has also been widely discussed in America. Despite fears that elderly immigrants and refugees are overly reliant on public health, overall it has been shown that immigrants pay more into the health system than they take out. It has also been found that, in general, most immigrants are in fact healthier than people born in America.

If you are planning to move to America then sorting your health insurance is more important than ever. In the land of the free – healthcare is not. New arrivals are not always able to access domestic health insurance or Medicare. Depending on the state, you may need to be resident for between six and 60 months and have a green card and social security number before you can buy medical insurance.

If you are moving to Spain things are a little easier in the sense that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will give you automatic access to state-funded healthcare at a discounted cost or for free if you are only staying short-term. The EHIC also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and maternity services, so long as you are not travelling specifically to obtain either of these services.

No matter where you are thinking of emigrating, make sure you do research and take advice on the levels of public healthcare you will be entitled to access, as well as what private medical insurance you will require for treatment of pre-existing conditions.

Do you have experience of moving abroad with a pre-existing medical condition?

Submitted by:  BUPA