GHI Exclusive: AXA Reports ‘Three quarters of expats put health at risk when moving abroad’



AXA PPP International released a research surveying 500 expats with at least one child to get a better understanding of the purchasing behaviour of expats worldwide. AXA PPP International’s CEO, Tom Wilkinson writes an exclusive article for Global Health Insider regarding the findings of this research.

Tom Wilkinson, CEO, AXA PPP International

It’s no secret that relocating is a big task. Anyone who has done so recently will know the stresses of arranging a new job, new house and new school for the kids. However, when that relocation involves moving abroad, things only become more complicated and the list of jobs can feel endless, and daunting. But where on that list of priorities should looking after your family’s health be placed?


Our new research, for which we connected with over 500 expats of more than 80 nationalities, has found that almost three quarters wait until after relocating to purchase health insurance cover, with over half (54 per cent) doing so within two months of arriving and nearly a fifth (17 per cent) doing so only after experiencing the healthcare facilities available locally. What’s more, five per cent said that they had still not purchased any form of health insurance cover which would guarantee them access to local medical care. 


The findings showed that despite the large number of expats who didn’t arrange cover before relocating, 60 per cent had accessed non-routine healthcare since moving and a quarter of those (27 per cent) found orientating the local healthcare system difficult. 


However, instead of purchasing international health insurance to cover the cost and assist with the logistics of accessing treatment, 17 per cent have said that they would choose to look for treatment locally when the need arises and pay accordingly. 


Our findings suggested that the majority of expats didn’t arrange healthcare before relocating because it wasn’t perceived to be as high a priority as other factors. When asked to rank the three most important things that they had to organise for their new home while planning to move, just 32 per cent of our respondents included access to healthcare. As a priority, access to healthcare therefore ranked below employment (52 per cent), finances (35 per cent) and schooling (35 per cent). 


This trend of prioritising other considerations over healthcare when relocating is something we have seen for a long time. We are urging all expats and those considering moving abroad to think twice about their health and plan ahead, so that in the event that they, or a member of their family, becomes unwell, they are confident in the steps to take to access medical care. Additionally when it comes to International Private Medical Insurance, it is incredibly reassuring to know you can receive help in finding a quality healthcare provider and the reassurance of a second medical opinion, which our policies facilitate. Health problems can be scary, so taking steps to make the process easier will help the experience of getting better.


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