INSURANCE FOR EXPATS IN VIETNAM: Health and Travel Insurance for Foreigners

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Living as an expat in Vietnam or if you are only planning your move here, health or travel insurance for expats in Vietnam is something you should seriously take a look into and definitely get yourself one. To be honest, medical services are very affordable in Vietnam – both in public hospitals and local private ones.

But of course, there are also international clinics and hospitals all over the country which have a higher quality of services and staffs if you can afford to pay more. We will discuss that in-depth a bit later.

In this article, we will discuss the options of insurance for expats in Vietnam; living and travelling in Vietnam both for medical and travel insurances. Subscriptions or plans that you can buy either before you arrive in Vietnam or once you are already here.

We will also give you a little idea of how much it cost to go to the emergency room in Vietnam for basic medical assistance and what to expect.

HEALTH SERVICES IN VIETNAM

Health services in Vietnam are maybe not the go-to place for medical tourism, however, Vietnam’s health system and services have been improving and continually developing in the past decades.

Today, you will see both public clinics and private hospitals in almost every major city. Private hospitals and clinics are often foreign-owned or managed which means you can expect improved and updated facilities meeting the Western standard.

INSURANCE FOR EXPATS IN VIETNAM_ Health and Travel Insurance for Foreigners

Public Hospitals and Clinics

The Vietnamese government are still working on a universal health system both for the locals and foreigners who are legally residing in Vietnam. At the moment, almost everyone still goes to the hospitals and clinics paying for themselves for the medical attention they need.

I public hospitals and clinics in Vietnam, it will be hard for a foreigner to get around due to the language barrier. You can bring a local friend with you who can help you translate. The good thing is, it’s a lot cheaper to go to the public hospital and clinics that the private ones.

Private Hospitals and Clinics

There are many private hospitals and clinics all over Vietnam. These hospitals are equipped with the newest technologies and the staffs and doctors speaks very good English, sometimes you can also find foreign doctors in these hospitals.

Since Vietnam is a big melting pot to foreigners, many private clinics and hospitals have staffs who speak multiple languages such as English, Korean, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, and French to name a few,

Of course, these places are on the expensive side but it definitely makes your visit a lot more convenient. Most of these big private hospitals are located in larger cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Nha Trang.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Best International and Local Hospitals in Vietnam

HEALTH INSURANCE LAW FOR EXPATS IN VIETNAM

You will be surprised how many expats and travellers in Vietnam come, travel, and live here without proper health and travel insurance coverage. While the health services aren’t so expensive, if you want an English speaking and high-tech facilities, prepare your pockets to break. While others might have the right medical insurance but are not aware of Vietnamese’ laws.

For instance, motorbiking in Vietnam is the main mode of transportation, however, international driver’s licenses are not valid in Vietnam unless it is converted into a Vietnamese one. Driving a motorbike without a valid license will invalidate your travel insurance if you get in a motorbike accident.

You can either convert your driver’s license, make sure your medical insurance will cover Vietnam, or you can pay upon receiving the medical attention you need without using your insurance card.

On the other hand, you can also get or purchase travel insurance specifically for Vietnam from a Vietnamese company which some expats living in Vietnam opted for.

IS IT BEST TO GET HEALTH INSURANCE OR PAY WHEN YOU NEED IT

Banking in Vietnam

That’s a real question, should you get health/travel/medical insurance while living or travelling in Vietnam or just pay when you had to visit the hospital? Let’s talk about both:

Personally, after living in Vietnam for around three years now, I’ve only had to go to the hospital twice, one is for an eye check-up and another is when I cut my finger so bad it won’t stop bleeding. Let’s discuss the finger.

After waiting for 20-minutes to stop bleeding, I stood up and felt dizzy. Checked my finger and it was still bleeding – it’s time to head to the hospital. I visited the emergency room, had my tetanus shot, anaesthesia, three stitches, and one week worth of medicines. It took about 1-1.5 hours in total, and I paid around 500.000 VND ($25). A week later, I came back to remove the stitches and I didn’t pay anything.

That is a very good price for the medical attention I received. The hospital was a private hospital but a small one. On the first visit, no one spoke English and we used a phone translator. On the second visit, one staff spoke very good English.

Should you buy from local or international health insurance providers

There’s always going to be a doubt in buying health insurance either it’s from a local or international provider. For me, I always used the international one since I travel a lot. Due to the pandemic, I had to rethink my medical insurance and briefly considered a local one.

However, upon checking, it’s almost the same price if I used a Vietnamese company or a foreign one. The good thing about using a local provider is that I wouldn’t need to pay for the medical bills, the hospital and the insurance company will do the talk.

Using an international provider, I most likely have to pay from my pocket and get a reimbursement. To make a decision, you should look at the following in no particular order:

  • Coverage
  • Convenience in using them in Vietnam
  • Is there a copay or deductible
  • Reviews (especially when it comes to reimbursement, are they easy to deal with)
  • Price
  • English speaking staffs

COST OF TRAVEL AND HEALTH INSURANCE IN VIETNAM

Insurance for expats in Vietnam is always a harder decision, the price and coverage, of course, play a big part. Should I get coverage only for Vietnam or worldwide? Should I get separate coverage for my home country and Vietnam while I’m here?

For some reason, I thought it would be cheaper to get travel, health, or medical insurance in Vietnam than from a foreign company/outside Vietnam. But after speaking to two companies in Vietnam and comparing their prices, there’s a very small difference.

However, both of these companies offered me worldwide coverage even though they are Vietnam-based businesses. I can only imagine that if you only look for local coverage, it should be cheaper.

I won’t mention the names of those companies I spoke with, but I’ll breakdown the prices and coverage below:

InclusionCoverage6-mos coverageannual coverageothers
Company #1inpatient, outpatient, emergency support, ICU, preventive health benefitlower bracket: Vietnam only
higher bracket: worldwide
3,700,000 – 5,700,0007,300,000 –
11,000,000
no copay
Company #2inpatient only, but the outpatient cover is possible lifetime cancer care treatmentworldwide inpatient cover15,000,000 – 18,500,00027,000,000 – 34,000,000no deductible
All prices are in Vietnam Dong (VND)

VIETNAM HEALTH INSURANCE LAW 2019

Since 2019, the Vietnam government have implemented a global health care system that would cover the entire population of the country. Private companies operating in Vietnam must meet the new requirement and make sure that their employees are covered.

TRAVEL AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR EXPATS IN VIETNAM

Like I mentioned before, I’ve only used international insurance providers since they cover worldwide for less money. Fortunately, I haven’t been in the position where I needed major support from my insurance provider and only had to visit the hospital a few times for minor services.

INSURANCE PROVIDERBEST FORCOVERAGECOSTFEATURES
SAFETYWING (Nomad insurance)Everyone
MORE INFO
Worldwide; medical and
travel insurance covered
$40/4weeks,
dates are flexible and can be longer than 4 weeks
COVID19 covered, can be bought even
after you left your home country
SAFETYWING (Remote health)Remote workers
MORE INFO
Worldwide; medical and
travel insurance covered
$153/month,
dates are flexible and can be longer than 4 weeks
COVID19 covered, can be bought even
after you left your home country
IMGLOBAL (Global Medical Insurance)Everyone; seniors and dual residencies 6 months or longer outside US)
MORE INFO
Worldwide; medical and
travel insurance covered
freedom to choose your health provider
WORLDNOMADSEveryone
MORE INFO
Worldwide$200/30 day-trip, flexible datesdental expenses included, travel documents are insured, can be bought even
after you left your home country, extreme activities can be covered,

WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN BUYING A TRAVEL AND HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY FOR VIETNAM

If you decided to purchase health and travel insurance specifically for Vietnam, to make it much easier for you, here are things that you should remember.

Hospital Partnership

When choosing the insurance company to go with, it’s best if that company have a partnership already in place. In this way, you don’t need to pay out of your pocket when you visit the hospital and go through a tedious process of reimbursement with your insurance company. Which let’s be honest, the insurance company will do its best to deny your claim.

Having an insurance company already partnered with the hospital, you will only need to present your insurance ID and you are good to go.

Vietnam Coverage

If you decided to go with an international insurance provider, make sure Vietnam is covered. Believe it or not, many international brands often don’t include developing countries in their list of coverage.

Ease of Claim

Many insurance providers prefer you pay out of your pocket when you visit the hospital and then ask you to apply for a claim/reimbursement. This is often because the company didn’t have a direct agreement with the hospital but also helps them filter out your claims and find a loophole to get away with paying you back for the services you asked the insurance company to cover for you already.

Make sure you do your research very well on how easy it will be to claim a reimbursement from that insurance provider. Ask other expats or frequent travellers, read forums, read reviews, do everything you can to get this information.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you are planning to be in Vietnam for a while and even planning to drive a motorbike every single day, it’s really better to get medical and travel insurance for peace of mind. If you’re just passing through and planning to be here for a short period of time, use your worldwide travel insurance instead.

I hope you found this article on insurance for expats in Vietnam helpful. I know this topic can be tedious and takes so much time and confusing too because of the different coverage of different companies. But it’s worth it and really helps you be more confident and relaxed. If you have questions to tips regarding this topic, let us hear it through the comment section below.

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