Laura has been living in London with her family for 10 years now. 10 years of expatriation, discovery and familiarization with a new culture. And in any expatriation story, the discourse is always dual. On the one hand, a great opportunity to get out of one’s comfort zone, in many ways. On the other hand, a renunciation of certain “assets” that are very difficult to accept. But in Laura’s opinion, a new balance can be found, and quickly. It’s just a matter of knowing what options are available and making the right choices. And if there’s one thing she didn’t want to be wrong about, it’s health. How did she go about choosing the coverage that met her criteria, for herself and for her loved ones? How did she find out about the options available to her? Is she now satisfied with her choice?
The story of a successful expatriation, with complete honesty.
You have been living in London for several years. How did you go about making your choice of health insurance?
In London, there were several choices available to me. Firstly: I could opt for the NHS (National Health Service), which covers everyone, in public, with minimal or free medical expenses. I could also take out a private national insurance policy that gives me access to private doctors’ surgeries, clinics and hospitals. The downside, however, is that it does not cover maternity. Finally, I could go on an international insurance (Opal type) which covers privately and everywhere in the world.
Being used to the quality of care in Switzerland, I wanted in the best of cases to find a similar level, at a price as aligned as possible. I first subscribed to an insurance policy from a large Swiss group, before cancelling it because it did not cover my second child born outside Switzerland. So I had to find another provider, and quickly. Another requirement, I wanted to have the whole family insured under the same “package” in order to make my life as easy as possible and to be covered internationally because, due to our expatriate status, we travel a lot (to see our relatives, for work, etc.).
And this is where I heard about Opal from other Swiss expatriates living in London. It is important to know that when you are an expatriate, the prevailing way to find out about Opal is by word of mouth from other “members” of this restricted circle. Trust plays a big role in our decision making. So to see that other people experiencing the same thing as us had been convinced by the product was enough to convince me.
What has Opal done concretely for you over all these years?
The first and most important thing was to cover all of us (me, my husband and our two daughters), under the same contract, with the same conditions. You should know that Opal’s conditions are summarized in one page, so it is very easy to understand how far insurance can cover us. When my daughter was hospitalized and operated on following the discovery of a cranial malformation, this was done in the best possible conditions, in private, and fully covered, all thanks to our Opal coverage.
The second thing was to offer us a quality of care identical to that which we were used to having in Switzerland, at a very competitive price. We are treated privately, with a free choice of doctor and coverage that includes health services such as dentistry, ophthalmology or osteopathy, with clearly defined ceilings, without the need to go through a general practitioner.
The third thing is the quality and speed of reimbursement. Everything that is included is reimbursed at 100%, within a week or so! Even in Switzerland, we are not that fast! All you have to do is scan your invoice into the application, send it and that’s it.
As a mother, did this tip the scales further in favor of Opal?
Yes, without a doubt. When you have insurance that covers your pregnancy and delivery in private, as well as the complicated operations such as my daughter’s surgery mentioned above, it’s priceless. Real-time follow-up with the possibility of contacting a counselor 24 hours a day was also a crucial point in a period of major upheaval, with a move abroad and a child arriving at the same time. You need answers when you arrive in an unfamiliar country, and health is far too important to be satisfied with what people say, preconceived ideas, or even “fake news”.
What about your insurance if you move again?
Opal follows me, under the same conditions as those prevailing in the UK. So you could say that I don’t have to worry about my health insurance for the next 20 years… or more! One less “mental load”, more than welcome in our daily lives as expatriates, so much movement!