The world becomes more and more globally connected. Teams work remotely, and more countries offer easy-to-get residencies and digital nomad visas. How to set up life as a digital nomad becomes more complex with more services being provided.
The aspect of how to set up your healthcare remains a personal decision and there is no one-fits-all solution. One question you may ask yourself is if you should pay for health insurance or if you should save up money for medical emergencies.
💰 Pros for saving up money
- No monthly fees: Having no health insurance saves you the money of monthly premiums. However, putting money aside is reducing your monthly budget too.
- Control: It is your personal choice how much money you want to save each month for medical emergencies.
💸 Cons for saving up money
- Time: Saving up for medical emergencies might take time. Depending on how much you can set aside in your health emergency fund, and how much money you can put into this fund every month depends on your financial situation. If you start with 0 Euro, and you commit to a monthly amount of 200 Euro, your emergency fund counts 2,400 Euro after 12 months.
- Emergencies: If you have an accident while your emergency fund is still small, for example, a scooter accident in Mexico or a tropical disease in Thailand, and you need medical emergency care, inpatient treatment (you stay in the hospital overnight), or surgery, you will have to pay out of your pocket. A scooter crash in Bali might be affordable if you have no serious injuries, but imagine an accident in the USA, in Europe, or in Australia. These countries have high healthcare costs you have to pay.
- Checkups & preventive care: Each time you want to do a health check-up, a teeth cleaning, control your eyesight, or get a vaccine, you pay the medical bill out of your pocket. Checkups, especially for cancer, become more important with age and should not be ignored.
- Chronic illnesses: In the unlucky event you develop a chronic illness, this illness is now counted as a pre-existing condition. If you want to sign up for health insurance in the future, and you have one or more pre-existing conditions, this will result in high premiums you need to pay each month.
- Long-time care: If you had an accident, and your recovery requires long-term treatments, or rehabilitation through physiotherapy, you pay for this long-term treatment out of your pocket.
- Visas and residencies: If you want to travel to Europe’s Schengen countries, Thailand, Singapore, Panama, Turkey, and many other countries, having travel health insurance is mandatory to enter the country. Although practically, nearly no immigration officer is asking travelers to show their insurance policy, you are legally required to have one.
- Discipline: Saving up money for medical emergencies requires a lot of discipline. You can help yourself by setting the money aside in a separate bank account.
- High inflation & low-interest rates: However, many banks don’t pay much interest anymore and others even charge maintenance fees. Money that sits in a bank account might be affected by inflation or exchange rates. In easy words: The money might decrease in value over time.
🤔 Saving up for emergencies might work, if you
- Have a lot of money and you feel confident to pay for an emergency surgery out of pocket in the countries you travel to.
- You have access to the national health care system of your home country that will cover long-term recovery treatments, chronic illnesses, and required rehabilitation care.
Pros of having health insurance
- Immediate cover: You are covered from day 1, and you don’t need to worry about medical costs.
- Emergencies: From day 1, you are covered for emergencies, from scooter crashes to sports accidents.
- Checkups & preventive care: If you sign up for travel health insurance, checkups, and preventive care will most likely not be included in your insurance. If you choose to sign up for international health insurance, you are covered for medically necessary treatments, regular checkups, vision and dental care, mental health care, physiotherapy, and much more, depending on the terms of your insurance provider.
- Chronic illness: If you have international health insurance, chronic illnesses which develop after you signed up for the insurance will be covered. Chronic illness is most likely not covered by travel health insurance.
- Long-term care: International health insurance is designed to cover long-term and in some cases life-long. There is no termination date, and the cover is valid as long as you pay the monthly premium. This is different when having travel health insurance as this type of insurance is only valid for a certain time period, for example, 1 or 2 years.
- Visas & residencies: Depending on the maximum amount the insurance covers, you should be legally able to travel wherever you want. If you want to apply for digital nomad visas or residencies in a foreign country, you might need to show proof of your health insurance.
- Mental well-being: You don’t need to worry about medical bills and the costs of medical emergency care. Depending on your health insurance (travel vs. international) you might not even worry about long-time care and costly rehabilitation treatments. It can be a relief to know that there will be someone taking care of you when you need it.
📅 Cons of having health insurance
- Monthly costs: Depending on the type of insurance you choose, you have to pay the monthly premium. When signing up for travel health insurance, the monthly fee should be less than 100 Euro a month. When signing up for international health insurance, the monthly premium will be higher. The monthly cost depends greatly on your age, the region of cover, and the chosen deductible. In the case of international health insurance, the costs depend on your health conditions as you fill out a medical questionnaire beforehand.
- Rising premiums: In times of global inflation, economic recession, and rising costs, be aware that premiums will rise as well over time.
- Access to a national health care system: If you have access to a national health care system, for example in your home country or in any other country where you have residency or no visa restrictions, it is possible that in this individual case, international health insurance is not necessary. However, as soon as you leave your home country, the least you can do is sign up for really good travel health insurance.
🤓 Having health insurance is for you, if you
- Don’t have a lot of money or don’t want to spend a lot of money in case of emergency, or medically necessary treatments.
- Don’t have access to a national health care system.
- Have a family you take care of and you want to make sure you are medically and financially secure.
- Want to be covered for preventive care, mental health treatments, check-ups, vision, and dental care, just all the regular medical services covered by most national health care systems.
- Are an active person and you want to have the peace of mind that no matter which trail you hike, which sport you exercise, or which route you take today, you are covered at least for emergencies.
|Paying for health insurance
vs saving up money for emergencies
| Health insurance||💰 Saving up money|
|Pros||- Immidiate cover
- Check up & preventive care
- Long-term care
- Visa requirements
- Peace of mind
|- No monthly fees
- Full control no dependencies
|Cons||- Monthly fees
- International health insurance might depend on access to national health care system
|Takes time to save up
No emergency cover
No preventive care
Funds devalue in bank
🌱 Get travel health or international health insurance with Genki
We offer both, travel health insurance (World Explorer) and international health insurance (World Resident). Here is a quick overview.
Travel health insurance with Genki
Genki offers travel health insurance for digital nomads and long-term travelers.
Genki World Explorer
- Region of cover: Worldwide. Every single country. Choose to flexibly include or exclude USA & Canada, depending on your travel.
- Period of cover: With Genki World Explorer you are covered for up to 2 years. After 2 years, you can renew to a new plan.
- Home country: Your chosen home country should be a country where you have no visa restriction and access to the national health system. However, visiting friends and family is covered for up to 42 consecutive days within 180 days.
- Inclusions & exclusions: Medical emergencies and medically necessary treatments (ear infection, flu), initial mental health issues, and sports injuries are covered. Pre-existing conditions and pre-existing pregnancies are not covered. Read more examples.
- Monthly costs: World Explorer costs you between 35,70 Euro and 128,70 Euro a month, depending on your age, the chosen deductible, and if you want to include or exclude the USA & Canada.
☂️ International health insurance with Genki
Genki offers international health insurance for digital nomads and long-term travelers. It covers preventive care, mental health care, dental and vision care, and much more!
Genki World Resident
- Region of cover: Worldwide. Every single country.
- Period of cover: As long as you want. Life-long if you wish. The minimum contract is 1 year with a monthly payment plan.
- Home country: Cover up to 180 days per year.
- World Resident basic: Preventive care, telemedicine, medically necessary search and rescue, inpatient psychotherapy, alternative treatments, osteopathy, chiropractic, physiotherapy, dental and vision care, prenatal care, and childbirth as well as COVID treatments.
- World Resident premium: World Resident basic + Vaccinations, medical checkups, eyesight correction surgeries, glasses, and contact lenses, dental cleaning twice per year, outpatient psychotherapy, outpatient rehabilitation measure, or first-trimester screening and amniocentesis.
- Monthly costs: World Resident is available for everyone of any age. The monthly fee depends on the result of a medical questionnaire, your age, the chosen deductible, and the region of cover (incl. or excl. USA and Canada).