There are many factors to take into account when considering – and seeing through – the process of relocating abroad.

But whether you’re a UK citizen concerned about missing the spoils of the National Health Service (NHS) if you leave the country, or a foreign national considering the true price of a move on your health, the cost of medical attention should be a very real concern.

Global relocation specialist HCR considers the availability and price of a healthcare service one of the prime considerations when contemplating a move – and an essential factor in ensuring you settle successfully.

Whether you’re managing a long-term, chronic condition or instrumenting the successful settlement of your young family, the prospective cost of healthcare services is a crucial factor in your decision making and planning of your move. Understanding the availability of GP appointments or how to fund an emergency spell in hospital are basic factors that can make a world of difference to your familiarity with and ability to adjust to daily life in a new country.

Health at a price

Healthcare is a costly item on any national budget, but all countries handle this expense in a slightly different way. From recouping the charges through state taxes to running a privately-operated healthcare system, the intricacies and logistics around accessing local healthcare services are best considered ahead of your move abroad – rather than in the throes of a medical emergency.

And it will mean one less thing on your to-do list when trying to settle into your new country and getting to grips with the lifestyle.

UK citizens living in this country enjoy state-funded healthcare from the tax-funded NHS. Although, today, this globally-revered system is under immense strain and 11 percent of the population now pays for private health insurance to bridge the gaps and jump the queues.

Established in 1948 with the objective of providing a universal system that is free of charge for all UK citizens at the point of use, under the NHS people can still see their GP without payment (although getting an appointment is getting more difficult). It costs nothing to call an ambulance and go through Accident&Emergency, to undergo long-term expensive medical treatment like chemotherapy – or have major surgery. But prescriptions, dental and eye care examinations and treatments are now payable for most, with some exclusions.

Regardless of the NHS’s publicised shortcomings, the decision to move abroad and need to factor in a completely different healthcare system with upfront payments is not one to be taken lightly.

A move to Ireland, Sweden, China, the US or Australia, for example, will see you having to pay in advance for your medical care – with prices and terms and conditions dependent on the country. Some healthcare systems, like the US, are funded by the private sector, while others like in France are paid largely by social insurance policies. Other countries including Japan, Spain, Italy (in most cases), Germany and Russia don’t charge for healthcare services upfront, but most require a form of public health insurance to be in place ahead of the treatment to cover it.

Poorly prepared

While most relocating families won’t have signed up for, or visits to the GP or dentist at the top of their to-do lists, putting the payment structure in place to cover yourself and your family will give you crucial peace of mind and help with your resettlement. Particularly if you have to deal with a medical emergency while you’re adjusting to your new life. Relocation experts can help you to handle all aspects of a move – from finding a home, education and employment logistics to helping you put the necessary insurance policies in place to make sure there are no unwelcome or unexpected expenses.

Families coming into the UK are not exempt from the inevitable paperwork and process to take advantage of our national healthcare system. A permanent move here is a major step towards eligibility for NHS treatment, as the service is residence-based. Once you are paying UK taxes, National Insurance contributions, are registered with a GP and have an NHS number you can enjoy the same benefits as a UK national.

As well as planning for what you might expect when you arrive in your new country, you need to prepare yourself for all you leave behind. Familiarity with your home health care system, for all its foibles, is something you take for granted. Don’t leave your health to chance when moving abroad. By putting your healthcare plans in place at the same time as your move, you will be able to access routine check-ups, prescriptions and emergency treatment when you need it, not when you get round to it. Don’t let your relocation damage your health. Making sure you factor health services into the planning and research of your move will mean one less headache for you in the long run.

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