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Frequently Asked Questions

In-patient vs
out-patient care

As an expat, you don’t know what’s around the corner. You may have an accident or become seriously ill and need a stay in hospital. But you may also require access to minor and routine medical treatments while you’re overseas. This is why having international health insurance that covers in-patient and out-patient care is so important. Understand the difference and what it means for you.

What is the main difference between in-patient and out-patient care?

  • In-patient care is given when someone stays in hospital–even for just a single night.
  • Out-patient care, sometimes called ambulatory care, can be provided in a clinic, a doctor’s surgery, a hospital or other care settings, but the main difference is that it doesn’t require a hospital stay.

What is in-patient care?

Care that requires a hospital stay. It might include treatment for a serious illness, major surgery, and childbirth.

What is out-patient care?

Care that doesn’t require a hospital stay. Blood tests, minor diagnostic tests and physiotherapy may be provided on an out-patient basis.

What determines if you need in-patient or out-patient care?

It largely depends on whether you need constant medical monitoring by doctors and nurses that can only be provided during a hospital stay. So, for example, 24-hour care, intensive care, major surgery and recovery from major surgery can only be given on an in-patient basis. You might also need in-patient care for a serious acute or chronic illness, such as cancer or kidney disease.

Out-patient treatment can be safely provided without you needing to stay in hospital overnight. So, for example, it might include minor surgery like removal of cataracts or moles, minor diagnostic tests like blood tests and X-rays, and physiotherapy.

Some treatments might be provided on an inpatient or out-patient basis depending on the circumstances. You might be able to receive chemotherapy or dialysis treatment as an out-patient, for example.

There’s also a third category, day-patient care. If you’re treated as a day-patient, you’ll be given a hospital bed while you recover from your treatment, but you won’t stay overnight.

What are examples of in-patient care?

It depends on the circumstances, of course, but some of the situations in which treatment might be given on an in-patient basis could include:

Serious illness

A heart attack, stroke or complications of coronavirus, for example.

Cancer treatment

Including radiotherapy and chemotherapy.


Emergency and ongoing treatment for serious injuries.

Major surgery

A hip or knee replacement will require a hospital stay.


Especially if a caesarean section is involved.

Intensive care

Required because of serious illness or after an operation.

Mental health

In acute situations, for example, when someone is considered a risk to themselves.

Chronic illness

Such as kidney or liver disease.

Severe burns

And other cosmetic procedures requiring extensive plastic surgery or reconstruction.

What should you look out for when choosing your insurance plan?
Find out more here

What are examples of out-patient care?

Types of out-patient care can include:

Minor diagnostics & Screenings

Such as X-rays, blood tests and ultrasound scans. Includes colonoscopy, mammogram, endoscopy.

Minor surgery

Removal of cataracts, and minor surgery on hands and feet, for example.


May be needed after a hospital admission.

What are the costs for in-patient vs out-patient care?

Not surprisingly, in-patient care costs more than out-patient care.

It has to take into account the cost of all the equipment needed for a hospital stay, as well as hospital admin, pharmacy costs and paying the salaries of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Expats could find themselves paying considerable hospital bills for essential treatment out of their own pocket if they don’t have international health insurance.

However, out-patient care is not necessarily cheap and costs could soon add up, especially if you need several treatments. Again, you’ll need to meet these yourself if you don’t have a health insurance plan that includes out-patient care.

Do you at William Russell offer cover for inpatient and outpatient care?

All William Russell plans offer cover for inpatient and outpatient treatment. Cover limits vary depending on which plan you choose.

Bronze, SilverLite, Silver and Gold plans provide full cover for hospital treatment.






Annual limit for out-patient treatment
No limit
US$5,000 (option to extend up to US$10,000)
No limit
No limit

All plans also offer cover for:

  • primary medical care
  • physiotherapy
  • acute flare ups of chronic conditions

The level of cover depends on the plan and the options you choose.

Selected plans offer cover for:

  • hormone replacement therapy
  • traditional Chinese medicine
  • monitoring and maintenance of chronic conditions

Again, the level of cover depends on your choice of plan.

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