Health and Wellness

Finding a Health Care Provider When Preparing To Move Overseas

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by Cyrus Kioko


Moving overseas? Exciting times! But before you get lost in the riveting plot twists of your global escapade, let’s shed some light on a prep step that often gets lost in the excitement: finding a healthcare provider. Tackling this task while still in your home country might seem trickier than solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded, but fear not – it’s not exactly ‘mission impossible.’ All you need is a pinch of tact, a dollop of determination, and this breezy guide you’re about to devour.

When preparing to move overseas, the best way to find a healthcare provider is to identify your selection criteria before seeking potential candidates. This approach prioritizes your healthcare needs, boosting your chances of finding a provider who meets them effectively. 

Let’s zoom in on this approach to help you understand what you need to do to ensure that your health will be in the right hands when you eventually make the big move. 

Figuring Out Your Selection Criteria

This simply means whipping up a checklist that outlines what you’re gunning for in your healthcare provider. It’s a crucial step because it acts as your guide, ensuring you focus on candidates who match up with what you’re after.

People’s healthcare wishes and whims are as diverse as a box of assorted chocolates, so I won’t claim to have a one-size-fits-all checklist for everyone. What I do have, however, is the lowdown on factors you absolutely shouldn’t overlook when assessing potential healthcare providers.

Here they are:

Your Medical History

Do you have any pre-existing conditions, ongoing treatments, or other needs requiring specialized care? If yes, make them a top priority when picking your next healthcare provider; it’ll put you on course to pick a provider equipped to handle your unique health needs.

If your medical history is a bit of a mystery, now would be prime time for a full-blown check-up. I know, I know; doctor’s appointments aren’t exactly the highlight of anyone’s week. But if you want to pick a healthcare provider with the right expertise for your needs, you’ll have to suck it up and treat this as one of life’s many “necessary evils.”


This isn’t just about choosing the cheapest option available. We all love a good bargain, but choosing solely based on the price tag might lead you down a tricky path when your health is on the line. I’m not saying you should go for the priciest healthcare provider in town, either.

The trick is to find that sweet spot where quality meets affordability. It might sound like I’m describing a healthcare unicorn, but finding a provider who ticks those two boxes is doable.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Accreditation. Look for healthcare providers with recognized certifications or affiliations. It shows that they meet industry standards of quality and professionalism.
  • Transparent pricing. Choosing a healthcare provider who’s upfront about their pricing means you won’t be hit with surprise bills. Ask for a breakdown of fees, paying attention to potential hidden charges.
  • Facilities and equipment. Quality care often goes hand in hand with well-equipped facilities. While most healthcare providers won’t let you tour their facilities in person, you can find information about the infrastructure and technology they have by contacting them, poking around their website, or taking a virtual tour of their facilities (if that’s an option, that is).
  • Insurance options. A good insurance plan can make quality healthcare more affordable. Check which providers accept your insurance and determine what costs your plan covers. If you don’t have a health insurance plan, start making arrangements for one. Make sure it’s accepted in your destination country (more often than not, choosing an international health insurance plan will solve that problem).
  • Telehealth options. Telehealth simply means accessing healthcare services remotely, usually from the comfort of your own home. Choosing a provider who offers that option can significantly cut down your healthcare costs because it eliminates the need to see your doctor for non-emergencies. Plus, telehealth consultations are often priced lower than in-person visits, not to mention that health insurance plans are increasingly covering E-consultations for routine or non-emergency care.

Linguistic Compatibility

This is just a fancy way of saying, “Pick a healthcare provider you can communicate with.” Doctors already have their secret lingo that makes most of us feel like we need a decoder ring, and the last thing you want to do is complicate things further by choosing one who speaks a different language. 

So either find a healthcare provider who speaks a language you understand or start learning the local language well ahead of your move. Otherwise, you might find yourself playing a not-so-fun game of charades trying to explain your symptoms.

Proximity to Your Residence

You want your healthcare provider to be easily accessible, and one of the best ways to ensure that is by choosing one located near where you plan on living when you eventually move.

Having your doctor around the corner can make all the difference in emergencies. It also makes it easier to keep up with routine check-ups, vaccinations, and other preventive healthcare measures. This encourages regular healthcare maintenance, which is great for your overall well-being.

Plus, a healthcare provider based in your community will likely be more familiar with nearby hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical facilities. That knowledge can be super helpful when you need medical services they’re not equipped to offer because it makes it easier to get a referral.

How can you ensure the healthcare provider you end up with is conveniently located near your residence?

It all comes down to whether you’re trying to find a healthcare provider before or after making housing arrangements:

  • If you’ve already chosen your residence, focus your search on doctors in that location.
  • If you haven’t finalized housing plans, prioritize proximity to reputable healthcare providers when finding housing.

Hospital Affiliations

Hospital affiliations are formal partnerships between healthcare providers (typically individual practitioners or group practices) and specific hospitals or healthcare facilities. When a healthcare provider has an affiliation with a hospital, they often have privileges to:

  • Admit patients to the hospital for procedures, surgeries, or intensive care they cannot provide at their practice. 
  • Use the hospital’s facilities, such as operating rooms, diagnostic imaging, laboratories, and other specialized services required for patient diagnosis and treatment.
  • Team up with other specialists within the hospital, ensuring that patients receive comprehensive and coordinated care.
  • Access advanced medical technology and equipment available at the hospital.
  • Refer their patients to other specialists or departments within the hospital for more specialized care when needed.

These privileges are just the tip of the iceberg. Healthcare providers with hospital affiliations often have many more resources at their disposal, and that’s great news for you as the patient because it means more comprehensive care. 

Plus, these arrangements are essentially stamps of approval for healthcare providers. 

Hospitals, especially those with a respectable reputation to protect, don’t just dish out affiliation deals to healthcare practitioners willy-nilly. They usually have a thorough screening process known as credentialling, which involves evaluating healthcare professionals’ qualifications, education, training, licensure, and professional background to ensure that they meet the hospital’s and regulatory bodies’ standards and requirements. 

So when a healthcare practitioner says they’re affiliated with a top-notch hospital, they’re pretty much brandishing a badge that says, “I’m top-notch.”


A doctor who ticks every box on your selection criteria won’t be much help if they never have the time to see you when you need them. So make sure your healthcare provider’s availability aligns with your needs by considering their:

  • Office hours. You want your healthcare provider’s office hours to align with your availability, especially if you’ve got a busy schedule and need ongoing care. If that’s not possible, choose a provider who offers extended hours or weekend appointments. These options can make it easier to align non-urgent appointments with your schedule.
  • Appointment scheduling. Prioritize providers with a streamlined appointment system and efficient scheduling process; they’re more likely to accommodate your needs promptly.
  • Urgent care and same-day appointments. Find out if the healthcare provider offers urgent or same-day appointments for more immediate healthcare needs. This flexibility will come in handy when you need immediate medical attention.
  • Response time. Before settling on a healthcare provider, contact them and inquire about their average response time for non-emergency communication. Specifically, ask how quickly they or their office responds to emails, phone calls, or messages. Quick response times indicate a commitment to timely patient communication.
  • Patient load. Do a bit of digging and find out whether the provider you’re eyeing manages patient volumes effectively enough to stay accessible without compromising the quality of care. Local healthcare associations or medical boards usually have this information, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. You can also look up patient load statistics of similar practices in the area you plan on living in when you move. The numbers won’t be exact, but they’ll give you an idea of what to expect.

Finding a Healthcare Provider Who Meets Your Selection Criteria

Now that you’ve crafted the ultimate wish list for your dream healthcare provider, the next step is to find the one who checks all those boxes. Easy, right? Well, not exactly, because you’re embarking on this quest before your plane even graces the runway in your destination country. 

So, how should you go about it?

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough.

Step 1. Assign a Priority Rating to Each Item on Your Selection Criteria

Remember when I said that your selection criteria will guide your search? This is its time to shine. 

Go through your evaluation checklist and assign a priority rating to each item. Why? Because you want to make sure that the most important items on that list carry the most weight when choosing your healthcare provider. 

Let’s be real: there’s a good chance you won’t find a doctor who ticks every box on your selection criteria, especially since you’re going on this whole doctor-finding mission when you’re still in your home country. With that somewhat unpleasant reality check in mind, your goal should be to ensure that the healthcare provider you end up with can meet your most pressing needs. Assigning a priority rating to every item on your wish list will help you do just that. 

There are many ways of assigning a priority rating to items on a list. Any will do just fine, but my two cents would be to keep things simple and use a scale of 1 to 5 (where a higher number means higher priority). 

You can also use the High, Medium, Low (HML) scale. This is a simple three-level scale where you categorize items as high priority, medium priority, or low priority. 

Step 2. Find an Initial Pool of Healthcare Providers to Choose From

Now comes the fun part – hunting down healthcare providers who match as many of your criteria as possible.

Start by crawling the internet for healthcare providers with a presence in and around where you plan on setting up camp when you move. Doctify and Healthgrades can be super helpful. If you don’t find satisfactory results from these two websites, search “healthcare providers in (enter the location where you plan on living).” Every establishment has an online presence nowadays, so your search is almost guaranteed to return a long list of results. 

Be sure to check your destination country’s official health department or government websites, too. These often have directories of registered healthcare providers, including doctors, clinics, and hospitals.

You can also use your health insurance provider to find reliable healthcare providers in your destination. Insurance providers are usually generous with recommendations and details about in-network providers, so shoot yours an email and ask for that information. Some even have online portals where policyholders can search for healthcare providers in specific regions or countries. If your provider offers that option, you might not have to wait for them to respond to your email.

These three methods will likely do the trick as far as finding that initial pool of healthcare providers goes. In case they don’t, here are other sources you can snag that info:

  • Professional associations and accreditation boards related to healthcare in the destination country.
  • Your home country’s embassy or consulate in the destination country.
  • Online platforms dedicated to reviewing healthcare providers in your destination.

Of course, you can always rely on expat communities and other personal connections for recommendations.

Step 3. Gather Information About Each Provider in Your Initial Pool 

Having looked up potential candidates, the next step is to do some digging to determine how well each suits your healthcare needs. 

Obviously, the kind of information you’re going to prioritize will depend on what matters most to you (which you’ll already know at this point because you’ve already assigned a priority rating to each item on your selection criteria). Just make sure you leave no stone unturned because your findings will dictate your choices in the next step.

Step 4. Create a Shortlist of Providers Who Align Best With Your Healthcare Needs

I’d say create a shortlist of about three healthcare providers you feel suit you best. Three is the sweet spot because it strikes a balance between having enough options for comparison and not drowning in a sea of choices.

Once your shortlist is ready, reach out to candidates who made the cut and find out how well they align with your healthcare needs. Virtual consultations are the best way to do this because they’re more interactive than good old emails. Why does that matter? Well, it helps uncover those tiny but crucial details you might’ve missed in step 3, like cultural sensitivity and communication styles.

Be sure to prepare well for the virtual consultation. Have your questions easily accessible, preferably organized according to importance (as indicated by the priority rating you assigned to your selection criteria). Take notes throughout the consultation, too.

Step 5. Evaluate Shortlisted Candidates and Make a Final Call

After the virtual consultation, you should have an idea of which healthcare provider is best equipped to handle your needs. If there are still question marks, fire off some follow-up questions or snoop around for what the grapevine says about people’s experiences with the contenders. Those extra nuggets of info could be the game-changer that helps you seal the deal.

Once you’ve made the final call, get in touch with your chosen healthcare provider, lock in those appointments, and get the lowdown on how to sign up as a patient. These extra steps will set you up nicely to be able to access healthcare services as soon you arrive.

Cyrus Kioko
Cyrus is a seasoned blog post writer with over five years of experience in crafting and editing articles spanning technology, lifestyle, and finance niches. Fueled by an authentic passion to contribute valuable insights, he has invested thousands of Netflix-less hours in research for this site. Each piece he writes is aimed at empowering readers to make well-informed, real-life decisions. Holding a degree in commerce and armed with ample copywriting courses, he brings both expertise and a touch of nerdy flair to the table.
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