You are an expat family living in a foreign country and your child suddenly develops a high temperature during the night. You immediately go to a local hospital. You have international health insurance for yourself and your family. However, the hospital does not accept it and insists on immediate payment in advance. Your child will not be helped until you pay. As if in shock, you check your credit limit – it’s not enough to cover the hospital’s high demands. Thank goodness, you have a second credit card. But it is declined because it has not been authorised for use abroad.

The battle for your child’s health begins. The bureaucratic hurdles are overwhelming. Communication with the hospital staff is difficult because you don’t speak the local language well enough. You speak to the emergency hotline of your international health insurance company to get things sorted out quickly, to your credit card provider to increase the limit at short notice.

You find yourself in an unprecedentedly stressful situation. Your sick child needs urgent medical care. You mobilise everything you can to get your child help. You call friends, the embassy, ask other expats for help and so on. It’s pure stress.

Comprehensive international health insurance is important, but may not be sufficient. Expat families should familiarise themselves with the country-specific healthcare systems and, if necessary, create a financial safety net for unforeseen expenses abroad.

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