POSTED: April 10 2017
Three quarters of expats put health at risk when moving abroad

Three quarters of expats put health at risk when moving abroad

New research has found that almost three quarters of expats waited until after relocating to purchase health insurance cover.At Axa International’s Global Health Conference held at the Houses of Parliament on 6th April, the insurer outlined future enhancements and an update on their current proposition. It was also revealed that many expats need to better prioritise their healthcare.

Axa surveyed expats which confirmed that 54% of Expats arranged their health insurance protection within two months of arriving in their new country and 17% doing so only after experiencing the healthcare facilities available locally. 5% of respondents said that they had still not purchased any form of health insurance cover which would guarantee them access to medical care locally.

The research, which surveyed over 500 expats, all of whom have at least one child, found that 60 per cent had accessed non-routine healthcare since moving and 1 in 4 (27%) found orientating the local healthcare system difficult. However, instead of purchasing international health insurance to cover the cost and assist with the logistics of accessing treatment, 17% chose to look for treatment locally when the need arises and pay accordingly.

The research indicated that the majority of expats didn’t consider healthcare to be as high a priority as other factors before they relocate. When asked to rank the three most important things that they had to organise for their new home while planning to move, just 32% of expats included access to healthcare. As a priority, access to healthcare therefore ranked below employment (52%), finances (35%) and schooling (35%).

Tom Wilkinson, CEO of AXA’s international healthcare business (shown on right, next to advo’s Colin Boxall left), commented, “Starting a new life in another country can be a daunting prospect, especially when you have a family to consider. From my own experience as an expat, I understand the sheer amount of planning that is required in order to make such a move a success.

“However, accident and illness can strike at any time and in some parts of the world, access to the appropriate treatment can be both logistically difficult and very expensive. I would therefore urge expats to research their local healthcare system thoroughly and plan how they will access healthcare with as much priority as their finances or employment status before they move, in order to protect both their wellbeing and their families’.

“An international healthcare policy is about more than just handling the logistics of seeking medical treatment or covering the costs, which can often be significant. These policies give expats the flexibility to access medical treatment where they live or when they go home, which they may choose to do if they’re expecting to be recovering for some time and want the familiarity of their home environment. In medical emergencies, it gives them fast access to specialist care that might not be available locally, or the option of a second medical opinion, in their own language, which can be incredibly reassuring when you struggle with the language and everything feels unfamiliar – even more so when you’re the parent of an ill child. These are the sort of details that we find can be overlooked by expats who plan to navigate healthcare situations themselves with an ‘as and when’ approach, but can often be the most important to ensure effective and straightforward access to quality treatment.”


Enquiries: If you wish to know more about Axa’s survey or Axa International contact Fiona McAra/Tom Hindle, Bottle,

About AXA – Global Healthcare

AXA has been protecting the healthcare needs of globally mobile citizens for more than 50 years. Offering cross-border health insurance to businesses and private individuals, we support customers living in more than 190 countries. Our constantly evolving propositions build upon decades of experience in global healthcare and the local knowledge and capabilities of AXA’s healthcare businesses across the world. We are part of the AXA Group – a global insurance company with more than 105 million customers worldwide  To find out more visit