In addition to your regular coverage area, your health insurance policy will usually include some emergency coverage, which pays for accidents and illnesses that happen when you’re traveling on a temporary trip outside of your regular coverage area.
The benefits you choose will have a significant effect on your health insurance premium. The two major factors are limitations on each benefit and the amount of your annual coverage for each.
Also called hospitalization, inpatient benefits are mandatory in that all policies include them. They cover treatment which typically requires you to be admitted to a hospital, usually overnight in a bed. This is for more severe illnesses, injuries and diseases. Despite the name, inpatient benefits usually include some outpatient coverage that is related to a hospital stay.
As the name implies, outpatient covers you for minor injuries, illnesses and treatments done at a clinic or hospital where you get the treatment and then go home, rather than staying in a bed. This for your more routine and minor medical conditions. This is an optional benefit that you cannot choose without an inpatient plan.
Provides a predetermined amount of coverage for check-ups, tests, etc. that are not related to a current symptom. Most hospitals and clinics in Vietnam will offer a range of annual health checks, which can also satisfy the requirement for your TRC.
Following a waiting period, usually 10 or 12 months, maternity covers a woman for the routine costs of a pregnancy, usually including prenatal visits, delivery, and complications. Most maternity policies are offered as an add-on benefit with additional premiums. A few inpatient policies cover complications without requiring the maternity add-on.
Another add-on benefit, dental typically covers both minor and major dental benefits. Minor dental can be used right away and is for checkups, cleaning, polishing, scraping, sealants and some other less significant treatments.
Major dental covers surgeries and sometimes orthodontia and is usually available only after a waiting period, typically 9 or 10 months.
Evacuation and Repatriation
Evacuation involves transportation in a life-threatening situation to the nearest facility where appropriate treatment is available. In Vietnam, that’s usually a hospital in Saigon or Hanoi, or sometimes Bangkok. Evacuation is an extremely expensive service and health insurance providers know this, so it’s not easy to qualify for.
Repatriation generally involves returning you to your home country for treatment, but it can also be to your residence country if you’re traveling outside of your residence country when the accident or illness occurs. Most providers don’t offer repatriation to your home country. If they do, you may have to pay extra or include your home country in your coverage area.
Private health insurance in Vietnam is a for-profit business. Providing coverage for existing expensive medical conditions (pre-X) would seriously lower profits, so insurers are very careful about taking on this risk
Nevertheless, some insurers will cover some pre-X. You’ll need to declare them during the application process and wait for a decision. Depending on the provider, the condition, how serious it is, the cost of related treatments, etc., the provider will take one of the following actions:
- Accept the pre-X at normal terms and conditions
- Accept it with an additional fee (“loading”)
- Exclude that condition and anything related to it from your coverage
- Reject the application if the pre-X is quite serious
Your health insurance broker can help you point towards the providers who are more likely to accept your pre-existing conditions. Typically, you’ll need to submit relevant medical reports and/or questionnaires, depending on the condition.
Want to make your health insurance experience in Vietnam more smooth and easy? Get a policy that offers cashless direct billing services. This allows you to show your insurance card at the hospital and clinic and then not have to go through the normal pay and claim process.
Direct billing in Vietnam is not a perfect system; the most common problem is delays in getting confirmation between insurance providers and medical facilities.
Here are some other common issues:
- Not every type of treatment is available for direct billing
- Some providers are much better at direct billing than others
- A hospital may make you leave a credit card on file with them even if you’re using direct billing
- Make sure your preferred hospital or clinic is in the direct billing network of your provider prior to taking a policy out
- Some providers may not offer direct billing for outpatient services
Premium Payment Methods and Installments
Depending on the provider, you may have different payment methods and installment options.
If you don’t have access to either an international credit card or a local bank account, then your choice of providers might be somewhat limited. Most providers offer some combination of the following payment methods:
- Local bank transfer to a Vietnamese bank account
- Offshore bank transfer to offshore account
- Credit or debit card
- Online payment link
Many insurers provide periodic payment options instead of an annual premium, and most charge an additional fee for the privilege. In general, the local providers don’t offer installments, whereas the regional and international providers do.
In general, health insurance providers treat COVID like any other illness: subject to the policy terms and conditions, they’ll cover it. So, unless COVID is a pre-existing medical condition, your hospitalization will be covered, and your outpatient visit will be covered if you have outpatient coverage, up to the policy limits.
A small percentage of local providers have excluded COVID.
You can request a COVID coverage certificate should you require one for traveling purposes.