Living Here

Is health insurance really worth the money?

As the old adage goes … stuff happens – we get sick and we have accidents! So we trudge off to the doctor, but if you’re abroad, at what cost and who’s going to pay? Stephen Douglas, Global Distribution Manager at Principle Assurance breaks down for us whether health insurance is really worth it and what you get for your money.

In July this year a 40 year-old, HK-based expat travelled to Thailand and crashed a rental bike in Koh Samui, breaking several bones and incurring a spinal injury in the accident. He wasn’t drinking, taking drugs or speeding, Stephen tells us. He wore a helmet, had a valid driver’s license and he also had a Principle Assurance insurance card tucked into his wallet. The local police called the insurers who placed him in a local hospital and then airlifted him to Bangkok. After several surgeries his costs currently stand at US$75,000 and they may continue to rise as his care continues. ‘If he hadn’t taken out insurance he certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay for the care,’ Stephen says. ‘In Thailand if you can’t or won’t pay, they just won’t treat you.’’

According to Principle Assurance, Hong Kong is recognised as having among the highest private medical costs in the world behind the United States.


According to Principle Assurance, Hong Kong is recognised as having among the highest private medical costs in the world behind the United States. An ear infection, a broken bone from a fall or gastroenteritis could see you coughing up almost US$9000  in Thailand, but in Hong Kong you could pay more than US$15,000. Stephen says, “For the British it’s very peculiar when they move out to anywhere as an expat because obviously we have free health care in the UK, so Brits need a little persuasion in taking out medical insurance.” So we asked, why should expats make insurance a priority?

#Protect your assets

Whether it’s your life savings or what’s in your bank account. Because if you don’t have insurance when you do fall ill or have an accident, the main priority is to protect your assets. In places like Hong Kong you can see your assets dwindled from a case of bronchitis.

#Peace of mind

Knowing that if something were to happen you’ve got someone to take care of not just the bills but the whole process. For example, if you’re dealing with a sensitive issue like a family member falling ill, and dealing with the stress and emotions of coping with that, the last thing you want is to be liaising with finance departments. Working with an insurance company negates all of that stress because the claims team takes over those responsibilities. So you can focus on either getting well yourself or taking care of your loved one when they’re sick.

#Greater access to care and assistance

Evacuation repatriation is a great example of this. If you’ve gone on holiday to Cambodia and you’ve taken ill, if you don’t have insurance how are you going to have a helicopter come and collect you? With a medical insurance policy you simply make a phone call and say, ‘Hey I’m stuck in Siem Reap, I’ve broken my leg, there are no medical facilities that can take care of this I need to be airlifted to Bangkok’ for example. You couldn’t arrange that on your own. Getting people out of dangerous and life threatening situations is very important. Again it’s unlikely to happen but if it was to happen, insurance is going to be the most important thing in the world.


Contract Principal Assurance to find out what policy might work for you and your family.


Looking for more finance tips?