How to make sure your health is in save hands even when clinics are overloaded or closed

The current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to the whole world, that our lives can change literally overnight, so can your health. Despite the very early warning signals already in the beginning of January 2020, nearly all healthcare systems around the globe from China to Europe to the US have been caught unprepared and were, and still are under water without having sufficient staff, ventilators or hospitals beds. Hospitals and clinics shut their doors for all others expect COVID-19 or serious emergency patients.

Swiss Insurance Partners and its Medical Advisory Board strongly supports these steps. During these days it is indeed sensible to take such measures and to recommend the public not to visit any medical facilities when not urgently required. Hospitals and clinics can easily develop into a breeding ground for the virus. A high circulation of people in medical facilities can pose a high risk for the whole society as well as for every individual him- and herself.

We should not forget though that except for emergencies and COVID-19 infections, many others also have maladies, sorrows or health complications that require medical assistance. Whether they are chronic by nature or have developed during the days of COVID-19. These might not be emergencies, but nevertheless should not be left untreated. Being seriously concerned about one’s health can quickly influence you physical as well as mental health. Under any circumstances this should be avoided.

We therefore suggest seeking remote assistance from senior medical experts for your suffering. Any experienced expert can well advise you also via teleconsultation. It is important though that this specialist is experienced with your health condition and with using telemedicine for consultations. For any health concern with an impact on your mental well-being, we also suggest getting in touch either with a physician that acknowledges the importance of mental fitness, or with your insurance company in case they provide you with assistance services.

Which insurance companies take care of you during a pandemic?

Faced with a huge cost wave, many health insurance companies are internally clarifying if and how much of the cost of tests and treatment related to COVID-19 must be covered and reimbursed under their policies.

With local insurance companies around the world it is very individual if, how much and in which geographic location an insurer will cover your cost. In Switzerland, the mandatory health insurance fully covers the cost of any tests and treatments related to COVID-19. It also covers cost abroad, but only to a limited extent. A supplementary insurance can raise this limitation, ensuring you will not have to pay yourself the cost that exceeds your insurance limit. However, Swiss insurers are not used to dealing with doctors and hospitals outside of Switzerland. Depending on your location, this can be a big barrier from seamless assistance and claims handling.

In comparison with that, most international health insurance companies cover your expenses to the same level around the world, no matter if you are in your home country or abroad. The worldwide free choice of hospitals and clinics will allow you to go to any hospital that you wish for, including private hospitals. Cigna Global, AXA PPP, April International, Foyer Global Health and Allianz Care all fully cover COVID-19 costs. Surprisingly one of the most famous international health insurance companies called Bupa, stated that they reimburse “on an exceptional basis” provided there is pre-authorization, and further that they “may alter this position at their discretion”. So far, however, costs have been reimbursed.

COVID-19: Caught by surprise on a business trip or on vacation?

If you were caught by surprise during your vacation, your trip might end up very different from what you have expected it to be. Possibly you would feel much safer in your home country where you know your family doctor, you know which hospital to trust and how the healthcare system operates. Abroad, in a country that you are not fully familiar with, this is a very different story.

In such a situation it is of great advantage if you have an expert covering your back who is familiar with such situations and can organize everything on your behalf. This might be an international health insurer, a health insurance broker or a Medical Family Office. Having access to a global medical network and the experience whom to trust can be decisive when you require medicine, a treatment or simply more information.

It can happen that you are stuck in a remote area where the treatment and care you require is not available. With air traffic cancelled and borders closed, this may result in a very unpleasant situation. Contact your international health insurer or Swiss Insurance Partners to find out whether you are eligible for so called Medical Evacuation. Most international health insurance companies offer the option to additionally include Medical Evacuation in your insurance policy. In such a case, you will be evacuated to the nearest centre of medical excellence that can provide you with the care that you require.