Does International Health Insurance include maternity cover?

Part 1: Does International Health Insurance include maternity cover for Australian citizens living overseas?

When living aboard and taking out International Health Insurance, an important aspect to consider is maternity cover. Having a child overseas can be a costly experience, therefore it is important you are not left with an unexpected hefty bill.

Expat policies typically do cover maternity care and pregnancy, they will generally offer:

  • Routine prenatal, delivery and post natal charges -100% of expense up to a maximum of $10,000*
  • Emergency and/or complicated delivery charges - 100% of expense up to a maximum of $20,000*
  • Charges relating to post birth complications for the newborn (0 –6 months)  - 100% of expense up to a maximum of $100,000*

*Subject to the policy limits detailed on the policy schedule.

However, most policies will exclude expenses relating to childbirth and pregnancy within the first 52 weeks of cover commencing.

Therefore if you are planning to start a family while overseas you will need to have an active policy in place for a full year and renew this policy before you can claim on maternity expenses.

The reason for this exclusion is to prevent people from potentially taking out an expat policy with the predetermined intention of claiming on maternity in the policy period. As described below, the cost of child birth will often far exceed the policy premium in the first year, hence this exclusion from insurers.

How much does having a child overseas normally cost?

The cost associated with maternity care and child birth will depend on the country in which you are living, the standard of care available in that country and any personal health factors complicating the birth.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of data from International Federation of Health Plans (2015), the average cost of a normal delivery and caesarean section are:

CountryNormalCesarean
Australia$5,312$7,901
Switzerland$7,751$9,965
USA$10,808$16,106

The USA is by far the most expensive country in which to give birth.

Complications of the childbirth process and complication during the post birth period may increase these costs depending on the circumstances.

It is worth noting that an insurer will often appoint specialised representatives that have existing agreements in place with healthcare providers that aim to reduce the costs of treatment in international hospitals, without reducing the level of care provided. This service can assist in keeping claim cost down and also helping costs remain within the policy limits.

Case Study:

We arranged cover for a client who was living and working in the USA, they fell pregnant and had a baby in the American public system. After the delivery there were complications and their newborn was required to spend 8 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The resultant bill for this intensive level of care exceeded AU$100,000. Without Expat medical insurance the client would have needed to settle this bill personally.

One of the insurer's appointed representatives assisted in negotiating to reduce the treatment costs to under the $100,000 limit of the policy thereby ensuring there was no gap to pay.

What is typically not included in this type of cover?

Expat policy will generally exclude medical expenses or other expenses which are in relation to sterilisation, reversal of sterilisation and infertility treatment.

So what is the take home message on Expat maternity cover?

Having a baby can be a stressful experience, especially when living abroad, therefore International Medical Insurance offers peace-of-mind that the associated costs will be covered with the right policy.

Plan ahead! As most policy will not cover costs in the first 52 weeks it is essential that you have cover in place at least a year before starting a family.

The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only.  In some instances, it may contain general advice; i.e. the advice has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Because of this, you should, before acting on the general advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.  You should obtain a product disclosure statement ("PDS")relating to the relevant insurance policy and consider the PDS before making any decision about whether to acquire the insurance policy.

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