Location, location, location: what affects the cost of private med insurance

All else being equal, you’re better off living in Mali than in the US if you’re accident-prone and the cost of private medical insurance is an issue, or if you’ve reason to believe that you’ll need pricey medical treatment one day, and will need an insurance company to pick up the tab for it.

That’s because Mali has been named officially as the cheapest place on earth in which to buy private medical insurance, with annual premiums running around US$7,608 per person. The US, meanwhile – perhaps not surprisingly, to connoisseurs of insurance pricing or healthcare costs, at least – turns out to be the most expensive, averaging US$17,335 per person.

These were among the findings in the most recent Pacific Prime cost of international health insurance report, released earlier this year.

The report, Pacific Prime’s second in-depth annual investigation into the costs of insuring individuals around the world, looked at the rates on offer from the world’s Top Ten insurers, which are said to account for around 70% of all the insurance policies sold worldwide. Among the companies whose rates were included in the survey were Aetna International; Allianz Worldwide Care; AXA PPP International; Bupa Global, and Cigna Worldwide.

This year’s report compiles expat health insurance data from three levels of plans offered by the ten insurers mentioned. Each of the three levels of plans have been priced for Singles, Couples, Families, and Retirees, with the average price for each demographic ranked in the report’s appendix section.

While the US is easily the most expensive country in which to buy a health insurance policy, Hong Kong, China, Canada and Singapore are also pretty pricey, the Pacific Prime researchers found  (see graph, below).

The cheapest countries apart from Mali in which to buy private international health insurance, it turns out, are Angola, Ethiopia, Poland and Madagascar.

In addition to highlighting the cheapest and most expensive countries for buying health insurance, the report’s other key findings included:

*  Dubai has moved the fastest up the rankings from its place on the 2015 list, and this year was in sixth place – a rise of eight places. The rise coincides with a move in the country to require visitors and expatriates to carry private medical cover

* Other changes to the rankings included Canada’s replacement of Israel as one of the top four most expensive countries; the emergence of South American health insurance plans into the top 20 most expensive; and Japan also breaking into the ranks of the top 20 most expensive

*  Asia has some of the most expensive premiums on average, but other countries are closing the gap

*  There was an overall decrease in the average cost of international insurance in the US


Pacific Prime is a Hong Kong-based private medical insurance adviser.

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