By far, one of the most common questions I receive about living in Bali has to do with health insurance. It’s a great question too - when you’re living in a new, fun and sometimes strange country it’s only natural to wonder how things might unfold in a medical emergency.
In the West, we have become quite used to having our health insurance taken care of for us. Whether you get health insurance through your job, or you’re lucky enough to live in a country where you get free healthcare, it’s possible you’ve never had to put too much thought into your health insurance plan before.
When you’re living in Bali though, either by yourself or with your family, not having any coverage can be quite dangerous and even downright foolish. While we would all like to believe nothing bad will ever happen to us, and we would certainly hope that’s the case, it’s always wise to be prepared for anything.
That’s why today we’ll be discussing health insurance options for expats in Bali, and how to make sure you’re covered in case of something unexpected.
The biggest misconception about health insurance in Bali
90% of the time when people contact me about health insurance in Bali, they are looking for local providers in Indonesia. At first this makes sense, because people are already accustomed to using health insurance for the country they live in. That being said, even if you plan on living full time in Bali or Indonesia, I can’t in good conscience recommend getting local Indonesian health insurance.
The reasons for not going for Indonesian health insurance are numerous:
Indonesian health insurance only works in Indonesia - This might be fine if you’re Indonesian and never leave the country, but as an expat, you WILL leave the country sooner or later. Whether for a quick visa run or just to take a vacation to a place like Thailand, your health insurance won’t cover you the minute you step off Indonesian soil.
Indonesian health insurance won’t get you out of dodge if there’s a real problem - Similar to the point above, your insurance will only work in Indonesia. So what happens if (knock on wood) you’re in a severe accident and require medical services that can’t be provided in Indonesia? Most people opt to get airlifted to Singapore, although your Indonesian health insurance policy won’t cover that. If you were in a life or death situation, you’d obviously do whatever you need to do to stay alive, but you’d end up being stuck with the bill, even though you have “health insurance”.
Have you ever dealt with a Western health insurance company? Now imagine an Indonesian version - Health insurance companies are notorious for trying to get out of paying for things whenever possible. Certainly not every company is like this, but enough people have a problem getting their health care paid for in the end, even when working with a reputable Western company. Now imagine the same situation, but with an Indonesian company. Things are far less regulated in Indonesia, and that doesn’t even take into account the language barriers you’ll face when communicating with Indonesian health insurance companies.
Indonesian health insurance is far from comprehensive - Health insurance in Indonesia is primarily aimed at Indonesians, which only makes sense. Indonesians generally don’t have health insurance though, preferring to pay as they go, and those who do tend to have cheaper, bare minimum plans. As an expat with more money to spend, you might not be able to find a reasonable plan that covers the things you want with Indonesian health insurance.
So what’s a Bali expat to do about health insurance?
Stop thinking about getting health insurance, and start thinking about getting travel insurance instead. With travel insurance, your risks from the things listed above are mitigated. Your travel insurance will cover you whether you’re in Indonesia, in Singapore on a visa run, in Vietnam for a vacation or most other places you’ll go in the world.
You’ll also (depending on which company you choose) be dealing with an international company, so communications and language barriers won’t be an issue when it comes time to make a claim. Your chances of finding a plan that will actually fit your needs is much higher, so there’s no worries that you’re paying for something that won’t actually help you.
There are many travel insurance companies out there for you to explore, and you should always do your homework before taking out an insurance policy. That said, many expats have travel insurance from World Nomads insurance, and you can use their tool featured below to figure out how much travel insurance will cost you:
Just like you should do your research into what company you should use, if you decide to go with a policy from World Nomads, then please also do your research as to which policy is right for you.
The Worlds Nomad site is filled with all the information you need to figure out what policy is right for you. After you fill out your information above to get a no-risk quote, you can browse around their site where you will find all the answers to any questions you might have: