Short term health insurance

Short Term Health Insurance

Whether you’re planning a work trip, to study abroad or a vacation with your family, there are some essentials you need to pack with you: passport, comfy clothes for the plane ride,enough clean underwear, and of course, health insurance.
Health insurance options while abroad are broken down into 2 general types: travel insurance and short-term international health insurance. Travel insurance is usually location specific and used for short trips (no more than 180 days). If you’re away on a sabbatical, gap year, work placement, or some other lengthy trip going from country to country, short-term health insurance would be your best option.


While coverage will vary between insurers, most will cover you for:

  • Medical Expenses: this includes things like hospital care, outpatient services like X-rays, dental, therapy, medical devices, etc.
  • Evacuation & Repatriation: this coverage pays for emergency evacuation, costs of repatriating or local burial of the deceased or even to pay travel expenses so that a relative can come visit you.

Many insurers also offer 24 hour medical help with assistants that can speak to your local doctor and figure out the best course of treatment for you or to get a second opinion. If you need an emergency blood transfusion, some insurers can even fly blood to you anywhere in the world within 12-18 hours.

Coverage is global so you’re protected no matter where you’re going but there are restrictions. Be sure to discuss these with your insurance advisor so they can recommend the right coverage for you.

If you’re planning a trip and would like to learn more, contact us to speak with one of our advisers who can set you up with the right protection so you can depart with peace of mind.

Short Term health Insurance FAQ

How does short term health insurance work?

A health insurance plan works by compensating insureds for medical expenses incurred as a result of an insured illness, disease or bodily injury. For example, if you get sick and need to visit the hospital, your health insurance policy will pay for related expenses like surgeries, diagnostic testing, etc.

With regular health insurance, you have generally 2 options: inpatient coverage and outpatient coverage.

Inpatient Coverage

This is the most basic health insurance coverage and it pays for expenses related to medical treatments taken at a hospital or medical facility.

Outpatient Coverage

This is optional coverage that can be purchased over top of inpatient coverage and pays for medical treatments taken outside of a medical setting. The most important coverage offered under this option is for prescription drugs.

Short term health insurance gives you the same health insurance coverage but usually for 1-12 months. Because of the short-term nature of this coverage, it’s most commonly used by people travelling overseas for business or pleasure.

Is short term health insurance a good idea?

In general, health insurance is a good idea as it gives you affordable access to healthcare in Hong Kong and overseas.

Short term health insurance is a great option for travelers who are spending between 1-12 months overseas. Not only does it give you coverage for potentially expensive medical expenses if you get into an accident overseas it also comes with travel-specific coverages like medical evacuation, reimbursement for the return trip or medically necessary relocation to a better equipped medical facility for your treatment. If you need coverage for more than 1 year, regular health insurance is the way to go.

Short term health insurance may also be a good idea if you’re planning to come to Hong Kong to work or study. Once you have your Hong Kong Identity Card, you can get heavily subsidized coverage at public hospitals but it may take a few months for the paperwork to process. You can use short term health insurance to fill any gaps in coverage and ensure you’re fully protected.

If you’re overseas for a short trip (i.e. less than 3 months) and don’t require as much coverage, you should also consider travel insurance. It’s very similar to short term health insurance but more tailored towards short trips rather than longer-term trips or work assignments. In-patient coverage under travel insurance is usually typically more limited as well.

Speak with a licensed insurance broker in Hong Kong about your specific needs to find out which type of insurance is right for you.

What's the difference between short term health insurance and regular?

The main difference between regular health insurance and short term health insurance is the duration of coverage.

With a short term health insurance plan, you only have coverage for a fixed period of time – meaning you only need to pay premiums for a fixed period of time. With regular health insurance, the plan duration is indefinite. As long as you’re paying premiums, you will have coverage.

Since short term health insurance is mostly used by travellers, it also comes with travel specific coverages like medical evacuation or reimbursement for return trip expenses. With regular health insurance, you can also get routine dental expenses coverage, maternity insurance, alternative therapy coverage, and more which isn’t available with short term.

How long can you stay on short term health insurance?

Short term health insurance usually only lasts 1-12 months. If you need longer term coverage, you should consider purchasing a regular health insurance policy.

If you’re going to be travelling or overseas for less than 3 months, travel insurance may also be a good choice. Speak with a licensed insurance broker about your needs to figure out which type of insurance is best for you.

How Much Does Short Term Health Insurance Cost?

As with all health insurance, how much premium you’ll pay will vary from person to person but there are certain factors that we know will affect your rates.

Area of Coverage

In some areas, medical expenses are higher than others. For example, if your policy covers medical expenses for treatments undertaken in the United States, you can expect to pay more for your short term health insurance.

Limits and Covers Selected

The more extensive your coverage, the more expensive your insurance will be. Similarly, the higher your limits and the lower your deductibles, the more expensive your insurance will be as claims costs will rise for the insurer.

General Health and Pre-existing Conditions

If you are young and healthy, you can expect to pay less for your health insurance. Similarly, if you have few or no pre-existing conditions, you will pay less.

To get a more accurate understanding of short term health insurance costs, contact a Trusted Union license health insurance broker to get an obligation-free quote.

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