Health Insurance For Expats Teaching Abroad Explained

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 11/10/19 •  Teach Abroad

Health insurance is an important benefit of teaching English abroad. While teaching abroad you are going to by typically covered by your school when needing medical care (given you’re working legally ).

The quality of the care of course depends on the country. If you’re in Korea or Singapore you can expect world class care. If you’re in Vietnam or Thailand the government care that come with your payment package is mediocre and most teachers usually opt to pay out of pocket at a private hospital for things like eye infections, common colds or more serious injuries.

Again, make sure you understand what your medical care package covers as you may also want some sort of travel insurance that covers something catostrophic like a car accident.

Health insurance in different countries

Health insurance is a bit different depending on the region of the world as we previously mentioned. Here are the areas we are going to quickly review for health insurance:

Asia Health Care

In asia you can expect to have health insurance paid by your employer. What the plan specifically covers you’ll need to check per employment contract. Again in countries like Vietnam and Thailand while you may get health care you’re still going to most likely pay out of pocket due wanting to go to a private hospital that provides better care over a government hospital.

In Japan, Korea and Singapore you can expect the highest standard of medical care. In China, medical care. Depending on the city depends on the quality of the care.

Middle Eastern Health Care

Health care is typically provided by your employer but it does depend on the country. The more wealthy and developed a nation is the more likely you are to have your health insurance provided.

Popular places like Doha or Qatar it’s standard practice to have health insurance provided. But in countries like Egypt don’t expect any sort of health insurance provided.

South America Health Care

Like Asia it depends on the country but if you go through the process and obtain a work permit and a work visa your employer will cover your health insurance as needed. With South America it’s quite common for teachers to work on tourist visas due to the various bureaucracies making the process of teaching legally a difficult process.


Spain and Italy or notorious for their bureaucracies with regards to obtaining the proper visa and work permit. Particularly if you’re an American (EU citizens have an easier time moving around the EU). But if you do obtain all the required legal documents you need to work legally it’s standard practice to cover any health related needs.

International Health Insurance vs Travel Insurance

ESL teachers make the mistake of thinking they have health insurance while ESL teachers because they purchased travel insurance. Health insurance and travel insurance are similar but they are designed for two different scenarios.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance covers various aspects of a short term trip. Last minute cancellations of flights, missed buses, unforeseen sickness, lost luggage, theft and so forth. For travel insurance read the fine print about what is covered on your short term trip.

Here are Teach and GO’s favorite travel insurance providers:

Safety Wing – Best Insurance if you’re under 39

I love Safety Wing. My travel insurance of choice. With your plan you get basic medical care (sickness or accidents) as well as basic travel insurance that covers lost luggage, theft, delays that cause you to incur an unforeseen expense.

Their plans are paid monthly up to a year upon which you will need to have a review.

Please note, Safety Wing does not cover you if you get into an accident while driving a motorbike in Thailand, Bali, Vietnam etc. For vehicle related accidents you will need car insurance or motorbike insurance.

World Nomads – The original nomad health insurance.

World Nomads was created by self employed travelers for self employed travelers. But anyone who is going on a long term or short term trip can get a plan with World Nomads.

Why are they so popular? They have an excellent affiliate program so bloggers love promoting them but they also deliver on the service end of things. With 24/7 emergency assistance and a multi-lingual staff on call, World Nomads covers both your travel and any emergencies that can occur.

International Health Insurance

This is the health insurance you’ll need if you’re going to be living as a tourist in a foreign country. Again, if you’re employed your employer will cover any health related expenses according to the health insurance plan associated with your job but if you’re going to teach VIPKID or any other online platform you’ll want to consider getting international health insurance.

Here are some of Teach and GO‘s favorite providers:

Cigna Global Health – Pick and choose

Cigna allows you to pick certain benefit packages. The advantage of this are that you can choose package option that have what you need and exclude what is not important to you.

GeoBlue -HTH World Wide

GeoBlue has an Xplorer plan that is designed for expatriates. The advantage of this plan for US citizens is that it is an independent Blue Cross Blue Shield license so you get full access to their BCBS network of hospitals and doctors globally or in the US when you return home to visit family. This is a huge benefit because you’ll want to visit the dentist and have a routine checkup. Which you can do since you’re covered.

Aetna International – Popular insurance provider

Aetna has an “expat health insurance” policy you can take advantage of if you’re going to be living abroad for an extended period of time. If you’re America I’m sure you’re quite familiar with them as they are one of the biggest insurers in the United States.

One thing to note with Aetna is that this expat plan does not cover all countries so make sure to verify you’re covered if you decide to go with Aetna.

IMG Global – Travel and health insurance made easy

IMG Global is a lesser known provider that covers both long term and short term travel. With competitive prices and plans and a wide range of coverage across the world. IMG Global is a good option to be aware of.

How Much Does International Health Insurance Cost?

If you’re a young healthy adult you can typically get a plan that cost $30-40 USD a month. But again it depends. It depends on your age, medical history, what country or countries you intent on visiting and any deductible or add-ons you need.

To get started simply take into consideration they type of coverage you need. Most healthy young adults with no medical condition or medical history simply need catastrophic insurance for unexpected accidents.

Health Insurance for Expats Conclusion

To conclude, we strongly suggest you go with Safety Wing or get an international insurance plan if you intend on teaching online while living abroad. If you’re going to be employed you will have health insurance provided by your employer in most instances.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.