In some cases, health insurance will be provided by your employer; in others, you may be responsible for procuring your own insurance. This will vary from country-to-country, and in some cases from job-to-job and school-to-school. You should always inquire about health insurance when considering teaching in particular countries and when interviewing for specific teaching positions.
Health insurance is typically provided in major Asian job markets for English teachers, including South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and often, though not always, in Thailand. In some cases, you may be required to pay into your health insurance; this will typically deducted from your pay check each month and usually amounts to $25-$50 a month.
In less developed nations like Cambodia and Mongolia, insurance may be provided by internationally managed language schools, but it's not necessarily the norm.
Most Americans teaching English in major western European nations like Spain and Italy will be responsible for their own health insurance if they are working illegally (not paying taxes and don't have a work permit). In nations where Americans can receive a work visa and pay taxes like Germany, Russia and Turkey, there is a much higher chance that insurance will be provided part of the national health care, but this is definitely a matter that you should clarify with any employer during your interview. (Often there is a co-pay deduction from your paycheck.)
In some nations, such as the Czech Republic, affordable insurance can be purchased locally. (It is possible to purchase a plan known as Complex Insurance in Czech Republic for approximately $800.00/year. The plan provides basic health, dental and vision insurance.)
Those participating in government-operated teaching assistantship programs in nations like France and Spain, do typically receive health insurance.
Those planning to apply for student visas in European nations like Spain, France and Italy, will typically be required to provide proof of insurance to receive their visa. Proof of insurance is also typically required for Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders applying for a working holiday visa to travel and teach English in Europe.
Want to learn more about visas, including work visas, student visas and working holiday visas?
Please read: What is a visa and do I need a visa to teach English abroad?
European Union (E.U.) citizens teaching in E.U. countries, and teachers teaching in their own country, are very often provided with coverage as well. If you are on a work permit in Europe you typically are going on that nation’s health care. In most European countries there typically is a co-pay, perhaps $50 – 60 USD per month. However, it is always up to you to find out from your employer whether health insurance is provided.
Most foreign English teachers in Latin America will be responsible for their own health insurance. Insurance is more likely to be provided to teachers with contracts and work visas in nations like Chile and Mexico.
In Persian Gulf Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, U.A.E. (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, health insurance is typically provided to English teachers as part of their compensation package.
Where can I get my own international health insurance if I need to?
Quality, affordable international health insurance can be purchased from any number of providers, many of whom specialize in international travel insurance. These plans are usually far less expensive than plans offered by domestic insurance companies in the U.S. Longterm international health insurance typically ranges from $ 50-60 USD per month for those under 50 years old, though some basic plans can be found for less. Some popular providers include HTH Worldwide and STA Travel; there are many providers and options, so it's incumbent on you to research your options thoroughly. Visit their websites and research your options. You are looking for long-term insurance, 6 – 12 months, not the daily insurance one takes out for a week vacation.
We also recommend consulting your current provider to inquire as to whether you may already have coverage overseas, and/or whether they offer international insurance. If you are covered on a family policy held by your parent or guardian, check with the insurance carrier to make sure that your coverage will continue while you are on the program and/or out of the country. Again, even if your domestic provider offers international health insurance, it may be 3-5 times more expensive than plans available from companies specializing in international long-term care.
NOTE: Even if your insurance is provided for you, may wish to consider international health insurance as a supplement, particularly if you plan to travel internationally as your employer-provided insurance probably won't cover you outside of that particular country.
Find out more about accommodation, airfare, international insurance and other resources in our Travel Resources Index!
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