Expat Health Insurance Vs Local Insurance in Vietnam

Are you an expat in Vietnam who is trying to figure out which health insurance plan to purchase? Are you still undecided on your options and want to know more about the differences in insurance types, the positives, and the negatives? If so, we can help you to see the light, gain a spot of clarity and make the right choice that works best for you.

Living in Vietnam is a fantastic life-changing experience, and if you live in one of the country’s major destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang or Nha Trang, you can gain access to some of the best international hospitals imaginable. However, having the right insurance that gives you total coverage is essential. Don’t lose your entire life-savings because you failed to get health insurance in Vietnam.

Whether you have been living in Vietnam for years or are relatively new to the nation, medical emergencies and accidents don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone. Here is a guide to the differences between local and international medical insurance plans and the pros and cons of each.

The Differences Between Local Insurance & International Health Insurance

As a foreign expat living in Vietnam, the main options are local insurance or international health insurance. The choice you make all depends on what you are looking for from your insurance plan, the budget you have in mind, or even any pre-existing medical issues you might have.

If you are legally working in Vietnam, it is highly possible that your company will already have a health insurance plan in place that covers certain international hospitals. If so, make sure you check the small print to fully understand the terms. However, it is not uncommon for those with employee health insurance to seek out a personal plan to improve their overall options. Employee health insurance plans can be limited in some instances.

Let’s explore our options a little more by discussing the positives and negatives of a local health insurance plan versus an international package.

Local Health Insurance

The most common and affordable insurance plan for an expat living in Vietnam is a Local Health Insurance plan. These packages are focused on those living locally in Vietnam and offer health coverage by local providers. They are similar to medical insurance plans that you might buy in your home country. They are more expensive than travel insurance packages and are largely streamlined to the local health system.


  • These policies are via local insurers who know the local health system. This means you will always get the best advice on local hospitals and which ones are ideally suited to your needs.
  • They can include many optional features such as outpatient, maternity insurances, dental care, vision and more. They do have some customizable options available, depending on the budget you have.
  • They can cover any pre-existing conditions or illnesses you might have for an extra charge, which is ideal if you are a retiree or someone who has previous medical issues.
  • They can cover both local or international hospitals depending on your choice and budget.
  • Ideal for expats living in Vietnam for a year or longer. This is the perfect option if you are staying in Vietnam for long stretches and are not looking to leave the country for a while.


  • These policies do not provide travel-related coverage.
  • They could have restrictions on the healthcare providers and hospitals you can visit in Vietnam, so you might not get the most choice in terms of medical facilities.
  • No health or medical coverage outside of Vietnam, which means you would need a separate policy if you travel elsewhere while living in the country, which could be problematic to some expats.

International Expat Health Insurance

When you want total peace of mind and want to be comprehensively covered for any eventuality while living in Vietnam, International Health Insurance is the most highly recommended option. Especially if you are a foreign expat.

The packages were designed with expats in mind and offer a wide range of medical coverage not just in Vietnam, but worldwide. These packages tend to cover both private and semi-private medical facilities, medical staff and even have care options with many choices and customizable parts. If you live in Vietnam for long periods or you are a frequent visitor who also travels internationally, this is easily the best health insurance package you can purchase.


  • With international health insurance packages, you have the freedom to go anywhere in the world and enjoy total coverage at the best international medical facilities. You are covered both inside and outside of Vietnam.
  • Fantastic benefits and limit levels so you can rest easy.
  • These packages are fully customizable and can include all manner of options such as dental care, vision, maternity leave, and other options. They are catered to your exact needs.
  • They can include any pre-existing medical conditions that you might have.
  • You can gain access to almost any premium level medical facility or treatments and a massive range of specialists.


  • International health insurance packages are costlier than local insurance plans or travel insurance.
  • The coverage can be so comprehensive that it might be too excessive for some patients who are seeking something simpler. Especially for those who are not thinking about traveling outside of Vietnam.
  • Some countries outside Vietnam might not recognize the criteria of certain international plans such as issues with visa and entry requirements.

If you are an expat who lives in Vietnam for long time periods, or even a frequent traveler to the country, having a health insurance plan is essential. You can even include your family as part of the package if needed. We would recommend that you opt for an international health insurance package that covers both accidents and medical emergencies and gives you access to the best international hospitals across Vietnam and the world. Although local packages are also viable, a fully-comprehensive international package is way forward. 


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