The Old Continent has a lot to offer to expatriates. From Denmark to Spain, from the Netherlands to France, from Cyprus to Georgia, locals and foreigners alike enjoy a high quality of life, safety, exceptional cultural heritage as well as accessible and efficient healthcare systems.
If you’re a multinational company, a small group, or an insurance broker with employees and clients in Europe, here’s what you need to know about European healthcare insurance systems. When it comes to mobility, both for companies and individuals, in Europe. Foyer Global Health is the perfect fit for your health insurance needs.
Europe offers accessible, efficient but sometimes limited public healthcare systems
Many European countries, such as Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, consistently rank among the world’s best healthcare systems.
These countries have established quasi-universal, accessible, and efficient public healthcare systems, allowing all residents, whether employees or not, to benefit from basic healthcare services, including hospitalisation, medical consultations, nursing, emergency and maternity care in public health facilities. These services are available for free or for a small contribution, such as the co-payment system in Portugal.
Some countries, like Sweden, are pioneers in digital health, promoting the exchange and storage of information via online platforms and facilitating access to telemedicine. Others, such as France, prioritize freedom, universality, and solidarity in their public health systems.
Although European public healthcare systems generally maintain high-quality standards, with extensive and well-organised healthcare networks; efficient and modern services and infrastructures, they face recurrent issues, such as long waiting times to access medical care, regional disparities, limited choice of health practitioners and difficulties in seeing a medical professional face-to-face. To address these limitations fast-growing private healthcare actors continue to emerge in many European countries.
Social security and compulsory public health insurance…
In most European countries, expats have not only the right but the obligation to be affiliated with the public healthcare system. Depending on the country’s legislation, subscribing to public health insurance is compulsory for all residents, including your clients/staff who are relocating to Europe.
- In Germany, joining the universal public health insurance scheme (Geseztliche Krankenversicherung (GKV)) is mandatory for workers earning an annual income below a certain threshold (€66,600 in 2023), including expatriates. Beyond this threshold, they can choose between public and private health insurance.
- In Switzerland, under Swiss Federal Law on Compulsory Health Care (LAMal), all residents, including foreign workers, are legally obliged to subscribe to a basic health insurance plan. This insurance plan provides access to basic health coverage for outpatient care or consultations with a deductible amount (franchise médicale).
- In Portugal, foreign workers who are not nationals of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, must be registered as residents to be entitled to health coverage by the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS).
- In France, residents who are employees, entrepreneurs, or unemployed must be affiliated with the Caisse nationale d’assurance maladie.
- In Italy, after three months of residence, your employees/clients will have to join the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), the Italian public health insurance funded by residents’ contributions.
- In the UK, affiliation with the National Health System (NHS) is mandatory and immigrants have to pay a fee for it when applying for a residence permit/visa.
Affiliation with the public health insurance system generally requires financial contributions that are usually deducted directly from an individual’s income or salary. Once affiliated, individuals are covered by the social security system of their country of residence and receive a health card (e.g. the Carte Vitale in France) that allows them access to public medical services.
In the Netherlands, basic health coverage (basisverzekering) is compulsory for all residents, but subscription is through private insurers.
There are a few exceptions to this mandatory affiliation system. In countries such as Georgia and the Channels Islands, public health insurance is not compulsory. Many companies that relocate their employees there take on collective healthcare insurance policies with private international health insurers.
…not always sufficient and adequate for international companies and their employees
The level of public healthcare coverage may not be optimal for nationals and foreigners alike. While public health insurance generally provides good coverage for hospitalization, prescription drugs and visits to general practitioners, it may not cover dental care, eye-care, or alternative medicine.
Furthermore, public healthcare insurance typically only provides reimbursement guarantees for treatment received from public healthcare practitioners and facilities. If a person needs treatment from the private health sector, they may need to subscribe to a supplementary health insurance company through their employer.
N.B. The European Health Insurance Card is only valid for a limited period of time and does not provide full healthcare coverage. While it can be used for travel purposes, it may not be the best health insurance solution for foreigners working in Europe.
More freedom and better protection are assured with supplementary healthcare insurance
In many European countries, supplementary healthcare insurance provides more freedom and better protection. Individuals and companies alike are choosing to join these private schemes for better reimbursement guarantees, such as shorter delays and better coverage rates. They also enjoy the freedom to choose the healthcare practitioner or facility of their preference, whether public or private. Local supplementary health insurance schemes may, however, be limited in scope and may not offer solutions that are tailored to mobile workers needs.
First-euro insurance plans or supplementary international health insurance: the best solution
Most companies with expatriate employees in countries where affiliation with the public healthcare system is mandatory, negotiate collective health insurance contracts to cover their employees’ needs. Such schemes with international supplementary health insurance providers are highly appealing for European employers. Indeed, your employees and clients with a job and a contract in Europe benefit from a flexible, efficient, and optimal coverage for all medical expenses worldwide at an excellent price-quality ratio, without any date constraints.
Unlike local top-up health insurances, international health insurers prioritise flexibility. They usually do not require a minimum period of residence in the country, and offer specific benefits for seconded or mobile employees, such as health repatriation insurance.
In some cases, especially where affiliation with a public health insurance plan is not compulsory, it is highly preferable to take out first-euro collective health insurance contracts for comprehensive coverage in order to ensure optimal protection and prompt reimbursement for employees and customers. This type of full-private international health insurance caters not only to expats’ needs, but also offers clear and effective guarantees.
Why Foyer Global Health?
- A unique and local European expertise (in-depth knowledge of European healthcare sectors, pricing, regulatory frameworks)
- An extensive European and international network
- Based in Luxembourg, at the very heart of Europe, our insurance company is both international and independent
- We have a track-record of service to both expatriate individuals (employees, seconded staff or Third Country Nationals) and companies of all sizes (SMEs, multinationals, etc.)
- Our solutions are diverse, for both long and short term, and include specific health insurance plans for your employees and clients in Europe, such as Epion solutions for cross-border commuters working in Switzerland or for EU workers (EU Health)
- We offer tailor-made health insurance plans for holistic and effective protection (first-euro insurance plans) abroad (in Europe and worldwide) for your clients and their family
- An end-to-end and customized service
- A user-friendly digital platform with multiple functionalities (including a mobile application)
- Value-added services such as telemedicine, security support, multilingual medical assistance, available 24/7
- Peace of mind, security and flexibility for our clients and their family are the core of our work
Do you want to become our partner? Let’s talk about it!
Are you a company looking for the perfect health insurance scheme for your staff in Europe? Please contact our team of experts!
If you’re an insurance broker and you want to work with Foyer Global Health, we’re all ears!