Just been through the gauntlet with all of this and wrote it up in an article here
[Disclaimer: I’m not a professional and have no clue what I’m talking about so don’t blame me if you fuck this up]
Spoiler alert / TL;DR: I went with Basic Global Health Insurance cover, with a £2000 deductible and 30% Cost share (1330 max OOP). I got this from Cigna Global for £33 a month. I’m in my mid-twenties and have a clean record. Woo.
For insurance illiterate people, this means that you’re essentially only covered for serious stuff (surgery + ongoing care), and you have to pay the first £2000 of costs accrued + 30% up to a limit of £1330.
So with these types of plans you’re only going to be taken care of when you’ve done something very stupid and / or gotten very unlucky and are shuffling off your mortal coil after paying the first £3330 in bills. As a fairly young person with access to cheap (read: non-American) healthcare, and at worst — a decent national healthcare system, I don’t see cover being crucial for anything non-life threatening. I use travel insurance (Digital Nomads) to take care of anything less serious while I’m away from my base-country and don’t think the added frustration of claiming on small things makes it worth it when you can shell out and walk away.
If you want to go full blast, all encompassing (Prestige, Gold, whatever) cover (or add-ons in some cases) with a £0 deductible and £0 cost share will mean that the insurance company will pay for everything from your check ups to Chinese medicine, but will probably set you back upwards of £200 a month, which would — in many cases — end up being a net loss if you don’t use medical services often. If ,on the other hand, you get a lot of consultations and want to err on the safe side, it might be worth it. And of course there’s always a middle ground.
Also, note that global insurance is not the same as standard health insurance (or travel insurance — more on that later), and thus is more expensive.
What to look at / Important notes
So you’ve figured your general cover and your deductible, now prepare to start looking through enormous lists with tick boxes on them and reading words like ‘action sport rider’ and ‘dental’. Here’s what I found important, and what turned the tables for me. It’ll take less time to just call up an advisor and ask them about the policies directly when making comparisons.
Your 'country of residence' — Speaking to the reps, they said they don't give a shit where you're legally resident, but it affects where they administrate the policy from (which can create a large variance in cost because of taxes). You can actually fiddle around with these, because the tax involved in putting your residence as somewhere like the UK means the prices are a lot higher, and these policies usually only cover you for a limited period of time in your 'resident' country, which is not where you want to be anyway.
Whether they’ll pay direct — IMG Global were one of the most competitively priced, but all bills had to be paid up front by yours truly and then claimed back afterwards, which I’ve heard takes months. When you’re drooling on the floor and don’t have one hundred thou’ in your savings, there’s not much point there. With most good policies, you give the hospital your insurance forms, and they pick up the cheque.
Whether sports are included — I don’t do many sports, but when I do, I’m very likely to be critically injured. A lot of basic policies don’t include injuries sustained doing things that involve fun, so check that out.
‘Mental health’ — Again, varies wildly as to whether this is included in ‘basic’. Cigna includes something like £5,500 cover in case you lose it.
Systems + Support — You want somewhere that’ll get you through to a human quickly when needed, and a company that’ll start your policy immediately. The one I’ve recommended had everything sewn up in less than 10 minutes.
Evacuation, Outpatient, Dental: This will all be extra. Want to ride in a cool helicopter? You’ll be paying for it.
Travel Insurance vs Health Insurance
This is an important distinction that often gets muddled up. To put it clearly, travel insurance will only cover you until they can push you onto the local healthcare system, or your normal insurance. Once you’re out of the clinic for a while or back home, you’re on your own.
The companies I looked at
AXA — well known, reliable, but expensive because of it. My family have used them for 40 years and never had problems.
BUPA — ditto
Cigna — Included sports cover, direct payment and mental health on the basic plans, well priced, easy sign up, good support so far. I’ll holla-back when I have to make a claim.
IMG — Best price by far, but no direct pay and the website is horrific. Indianapolese sales rep couldn’t tell me what the differences in the plans were and I’m pretty sure is voting for Trump.