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Guest Post: Countries Which Won’t Let You In Without Health Insurance

I recently came across the work of MappingMegan, a fellow travel blogger with a zest for all things adventure-oriented. She and her husband Mike have traveled to 37 of the world’s 196 countries, with a goal of visiting them all—impressive indeed! I am thoroughly enjoying her blog and all of the many interesting, inspiring and informative posts.

I would like to share one of her pieces with my Los O’Gradys in Mexico readers—one that really got my attention—as it speaks to the increasing number of countries that will deny you entrance if you do not have proof of adequate International Travel Health Insurance. It is not enough nowadays to purchase the plane tickets, make hotel and activity reservations, pack the bags and show up at the airport ready to go! Thorough and detailed trip and relocation planning includes securing comprehensive international travel health coverage. 

As Megan so aptly says, “Too many travelers are traveling and living abroad with the misunderstanding that their domestic health cover is going to take care of them in the event of a tragedy or medical emergency, and too many travelers choose to forgo health coverage believing that they won’t run into any health problems abroad.” 

Adequate coverage is becoming less of an option and more of a mandatory component of travel and relocation. And for foreign visitors to the States, traveling without sufficient coverage could leave you in a serious financial predicament considering the astronomical costs of care in the U.S.

Indeed we are living in a changing global world. It is not only prudent to be protected with proper coverage, but potentially even required to get you through immigration and out of the airport. 

To find out which countries currently require international health insurance as a condition of entry, read ahead…

By Megan from MappingMegan:

                                                               Sponsored by IndividualHealth.com

When an emergency happens and you are in a foreign land what do you do?  Do you speak the local language?  Do you know which medical facilities are qualified to treat your medical needs, or even save your life?  Do you have the financial means to satisfy the local providers?

What if you are in a rural land, or even worse, one which does not have medical providers that meet western standards of care?  These are all very real problems for a person traveling abroad.  Not knowing what to do or where to go could cost you your life.

Too many travelers are traveling and living abroad with the misunderstanding that their domestic health cover is going to take care of them in the event of a tragedy or medical emergency, and too many travelers choose to forgo health coverage believing that they won’t run into any health problems abroad.

And more often than not, they don’t. But when disaster does strike, those travel insurance premiums may seem tiny in comparison to the medical bills you could be faced with.

drug money

Those travel insurance premiums may seem tiny in comparison to the medical bills you could be faced with. Photos CC by Images Money

There are many, many reasons you should purchase health insurance when traveling abroad, the most obvious being to protect yourself should disaster strike, though some countries are beginning to require health coverage as a mandatory condition of entry, meaning travelers no longer have the choice to travel without a plan.

Expat hubs around the world are beginning to require mandatory health insurance before issuing a visa, and more and more countries are deciding to refuse entry without it. Many travelers don’t realize that without the correct insurance, they could be turned away from the destination they are visiting before they make it past airport arrivals.

The following countries are among those jumping on the trend of making health insurance mandatory for those wishing to travel or live overseas.


Cuba makes having health insurance a mandatory requirement for all visitors entering the country, and this rule applies to all travelers from overseas as well as to Cubans living abroad.

Those who cannot provide immigration with proof of coverage will be forced to buy insurance from the local Cuban insurance provider who have an office set up in the immigration area of the airport.

cuba taxi

Cuba taxi’s in Havana. Photo CC by Gerry Balding

Just note that the cover purchased in Cuba is likely to be less comprehensive than most local policies from your home country, and are generally likely to have more expensive premiums.

                                                                            The UAE

Emirates throughout the UAE approach health care legislation for expats and foreign nationals differently. Abu Dhabi for instance, requires all expats and foreign nationals to have valid health insurance as a condition of entry, and a visa will not be granted without proof of coverage.

Dubai has recently enacted similar laws and has made health care mandatory for visitors and locals alike.


Qatar requires expatriates to have mandatory health coverage, and foreign nationals will no longer be allowed to rely on government covered health care.

Private companies in Qatar will be legally obliged to pay premiums on behalf of all expatriate employees by the end of 2015.


Another expat hub, Turkey requires all foreigners under the age of 65 traveling on long stay tourist visas to have unlimited comprehensive cover for in-patient treatment.

Policies are also required to have benefits which have a minimum limit of 2,000 lira for outpatient treatment; the equivalent to $815 USD.

Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul, Turkey. Another expat hub which requires mandatory medical insurance. Photo CC by Moyan Brenn

Turkey recently removed the requirement for mandatory healthcare for retired expats living in the country over the age of 65.

While citizens of member countries to the European Union have access to healthcare throughout Europe with the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), this is invalid in Turkey.

                                                                              The US

Foreign nationals might get access to travel and live within the US without having health insurance, however the cost of health care within the United States is so high that “any visitor without insurance plays with fire”.

Data recently released by the World Health Organization and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development puts the average cost of a routine appendix removal in the US at $8,156, in comparison to $3,408 in the UK, $2,245 in Spain and $953 in Argentina.


Throughout France, non-working European expats under retirement age have to meet rigorous standards of cover, and proof of private health insurance is part of the visa application for long stays.

Regular tourists applying for a Schengen Visa to cover a stay of less than 90 days must provide proof of health insurance coverage of at least €37,500.

Visitors to France must have adequate health coverage. Photo CC by Artur Staszewski.

For students who are over 28 years of age, and planning on staying long term (longer than 90 days) you will be required to show proof of private health insurance valid in France as part of the visa application.

                                                 Heath Coverage with IndividualHealth.com

As travelers and expats increasingly hop from country to country, it’s crucial to find insurance to cover you wherever you travel. For expats and digital nomads especially, it is vital to make sure your insurance is transferable to each new country of residence.

In terms of where to start looking, Timothy Jennings at Individual Health is a reputable health insurance broker who has worked in the international and US domestic market for more than 30 years now. He offers travelers a range of different options on plans and coverage including short-term travel medical (generally less than 6 months), annual renewable coverage for expats, and coverage for business groups worldwide.

Tim works mainly within the International Markets, specifically catering health care plans to the outbound US Traveler and Expat, though also to expats entering the U.S. as well.

Advice and assistance on healthcare.

Advice and assistance on healthcare. Photo CC by audio-luci-store.it

In addition, he is able to work with foreign nationals that are traveling outside their home countries even though they have no ties the United States.  After representing most of the International Programs available through U.S. Brokers, he now focuses almost all of his efforts with two companies; GeoBlue and Cigna Global.

These two companies meet or exceed the needs of just about all travelers and expats and they are two of the leaders in global cover throughout the world. Timothy is one of a limited few U.S. based brokers that works full-time in this field. Contact him for a quote today.

*as originally seen on mappingmegan.com


Thank you Megan from MappingMegan for sharing this post on Los O’Gradys in Mexico. No doubt it will prove to be of great value to my readers. 

To see Megan’s original article titled “Countries Which Won’t Let You In Without Health Insurance”, click here.

To listen to GeoBlue Broker Timothy Jennings speak about the many benefits of GeoBlue protection, click here.

After spending thousands of dollars on air fare, accommodations and activities, don’t embark on your journey without the peace of mind and security of travel health insurance. Without a doubt, GeoBlue is the go-to company for simple, easy-to-understand international plans. The cost of coverage is nothing compared to the investment you have made in your trip.




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About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 18-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

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