Wherever you are teaching in the world, having adequate health insurance is obviously a very important issue. Whether it is provided by the employer or is entirely your own responsibility varies from one situation to the next so it is vital that you confirm health insurance details whenever you are interviewed for a teaching position. The following is a brief overview of health insurance around the ESL teaching world.
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The Asian continent is home to some of the world's largest and most popular ESL job markets. Health insurance is typically provided for most teachers working in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam. In many cases health cover is provided free of charge, although you may have a small sum deducted from your monthly salary in some situations. Other than at schools with international status, health insurance is less likely to be provided in other countries in the region.
EU citizens teaching in other EU countries typically have access to the local health care system. Non-EU passport holders who are able to secure a work permit should also find that they are eligible for health insurance, normally through a monthly deduction from your paycheck. Another situation where health cover is generally provided is for those enrolled on government run teaching assistant programs such as those in France and Spain. For most non-EU citizens, work permits are notoriously hard to secure in many European countries. Because of this, thousands of ESL teachers in popular countries such as Italy and Spain find themselves working 'under the table'. Although technically illegal this is common practice and conducted openly, however, it does mean that you are responsible for your own health insurance. It is also worth noting that anyone applying for a student visa or working holiday visa for a European country will usually have to provide proof of adequate health insurance cover for the duration of their stay.
Health insurance is generally provided as part of a teacher's benefit package in most of the main markets in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
As work permits are hard to secure in many countries across South and Central America, it is normal practice for ESL teachers to be employed without being officially registered for tax purposes etc. Because of this, most teachers across the region are responsible for their own health insurance cover. Exceptions can be found in countries such as Chile and Mexico where work visas and official contracts are more common.
There are plenty of health insurance providers out there so it is highly recommended that you conduct in-depth research to ensure you get the best deal. When considering your options remember that you are looking for long term international insurance that is generally far cheaper than the daily rate for holiday insurance or domestic health insurance policies. As a guide you should budget around $50 US dollars per month, although you may find cheaper policies that provide sufficient cover. For those whose contracts include health cover it is still worth considering additional international coverage, particularly if you plan to travel outside of the country where you are working as this may not be covered.