Home » Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 20 January 2017

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 20 January 2017

International health insurance plans grew in price last year

A leading insurance provider has revealed that the average price rise for international health insurance plans in 2016 was 9.2%.

Pacific Prime say among the inflation drivers are the need to pay for new medical technology, growing wages for healthcare professionals and the increasing legalisation costs of healthcare.They point out that among the inflation trends for 2017 will be unstable economies and changing population dynamics.

In a report, Pacific Prime says that the top three worldwide insurers who have the lowest average premiums that are set to increase this year are Allianz Worldwide Care, William Russell and Bupa Global.

A free report explaining why international private medical insurance will become more expensive in 2017 is available for free from their website.

Expats in Kuwait will pay more for healthcare

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Expats and their families living in Kuwait will be paying more for their medical charges after the country’s National Assembly approved new proposals.

The details are still to be finalised but medical charges will be increased from the middle of February for expats.

There’s also a move to impose mandatory health insurance cover for those travelling to the country on a visitor’s visa in a bid to cut down on the number of expats enjoying the almost-free medical facilities.

Kuwait’s Health Ministry has already announced that the prices for most technical medical and radiology services for expats will be rising, though the actual services that will be affected have not been disclosed.

However, the ministry has also declined to comment on news reports that the annual expat health insurance fee, currently KD50 (£133/$164), is also going to increase – with some commentators saying the fee will rise to KD130 (£346/$427).

Expat insurance and support boosted

A leading expat insurer has boosted its support for expats as part of a new deal.

Punter Southall Health and Protection (PSHP) is now offering higher levels of support, benefits and insurance for expats as well as their families when their overseas assignments begin, and also as an ongoing offer.

The firm of advisers has partnered with a relocation company to help offer intercultural coaching workshops that will help expats and their family settle more quickly in their new country.

An exclusive tie-up with BUPA Global means there will also be improved medical insurance plans that are aimed at employers of all sizes.

These health plans include allowances for vaccinations and better value of cover for expats with congenital conditions.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “Sending an employee overseas can be risky and the price could be a failure. A company could lose valuable talent and supporting an employee through their relocation journey could make all of the difference.”

The idea is to deliver intercultural training from the beginning to help expats and their families learn and appreciate the local culture they’ve moved into so they can adapt more easily.

Private international medical insurance trends

While employers appreciate that offering healthcare packages as part of the benefits to draw employees to overseas assignments is very attractive, they need to keep abreast of trends in international private medical insurance.

That’s the opinion of insurance firm Pacific Prime who say that plans that were secured last year may not be as effective this year.

This means employers need to secure a health insurance plan that meets the needs of the business and expat employees but to do so means the employer must keep abreast of trends.

There are also issues around cost and getting the best value for money as well as meeting various compliance regulations that employers must meet.

Health tech will boost workforce

Employers should consider wearable health tech for a healthier and fitter workforce, according to a survey.

The findings come from AXA PPP Healthcare, a private medical insurance provider, which says that 57% of British workers would agree to having their health monitored with technology provided their employer supplied the device for doing so.

However, should employers offer a financial bonus for wearing health tech at work, the figure rises to 63%.

The insurer says that a surprising finding from their research is that employees are not so shy when it comes to sharing their health data with employers so they can improve their well-being and the health of their workforce.

A spokesman for AXA PPP said that by encouraging the use of wearable health tech could be a win-win for both employees and employers.

Private health insurance takes off in UK

The private health insurance sector in the UK says sales of new policies are surging amid reports of a crisis in the NHS.

It’s the first rise in numbers joining health insurance scheme in seven years with people also worried about Brexit and the economic recovery and its impact on public healthcare expenditure.

Demand in the UK in 2015 rose by 2.1% and there are now more than four million people with private health insurance.

The figures come from LaingBuisson, a healthcare consultancy, and a spokesman said: “The interest in private healthcare has risen recently as more people become dissatisfied with waiting and increased restrictions for NHS treatment.

“Private medical cover will benefit and there is a broad choice of policies at different prices to help attract customers.”

The rise in the popularity of private medical insurance in the UK comes despite an increase in the tax on premiums rising from 6% to 9.5% – though the industry is still far below the 2008 peak when 4.3 million people, or 12% of the population, had private health cover.

Exodus from Australian private health insurance predicted

With the premiums for private health insurance expected to rise by 5% in February, experts are predicting that customers will leave private healthcare cover in Australia in big numbers.

The decision on the premium increase will be announced next month and it will take effect from the 1st of April, but the move follows a 5.6% rise in 2016 and a 6% rise in the two preceding years.

Last year’s increase led to 9,000 people dropping their private health cover and the number of complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) grew as well.

There’s also a rise among young people not signing up to healthcare plans or opting to reduce their policy cover.

For expats in Australia, healthcare is becoming an expensive necessity for those who do not have an employer-provided offering.

Stress for expats may help success

Expats who come under pressure while on international assignments could be on the route to success, says one psychometric testing firm.

Their research says that global companies should recruit people who have certain characteristics including successfully dealing with stress in the workplace.

Among the other criteria for a successful overseas assignment, expats should have emotional stability and be open to change as well as being sensitive to cultural awareness. The expat should also, the firm states, be resilient and flexible.

Health insurance rule for EU citizens ‘must change’

A law which compels some citizens from the European Union who are living in the UK to have private healthcare insurance should be dropped, one leading MP has declared.

Currently students, retired people, homemakers, disabled people and carers who are from the EU must take out a comprehensive sickness insurance policy before they can apply for permanent residency in the UK.

However, a petition has now been launched for the law to be scrapped and it has received the backing of the Health Select Committee’s chairman, Sarah Wollaston.

She says that the law would become a bureaucratic nightmare for those applying to live in the UK after Brexit.

Freedom updates policies

The private medical insurance policy firm Freedom has announced it is updating its policies.

Freedom says it has reduced the number of exclusions, boosted cancer cover and moved maternity cash benefits to being a core cover. There’s also better cover for outpatient diagnostic tests and the removal of the six-month waiting period for optical, dental and GP benefits.

The firm says the changes will help boost their clients’ understanding of what they are buying. Insurance policies will be updated throughout 2017.

Globality Health launches app

A new app has been launched by an international medical insurance firm that focuses on expat needs.

The move by Globality Health is part of its bid to boost its digital and online platforms to interact with its expat clientele, who are usually people who live, study or work overseas.

The My Globality app is a new digital platform for customers to interact on their mobile devices, where they can contact experts around the world, keep track of insurance documents, submit claims efficiently and locate medical services overseas and at home.

The firm says it is also improving an HR platform to help firms manage their group health insurance needs more easily.

The best countries for healthcare provision

Before heading overseas on a work assignment, many expats look into the healthcare provision of the country they are moving to.

Now a survey of the world’s best has been put together by the Legatum Institute, with Luxembourg taking top spot.

It is followed by Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands. France, which is famed for its healthcare offering, is in 14th place, while Germany is in 10th place.

The UK, which pioneered the idea of health care that is free at the point of use with the NHS, is 20th in the list.

In other healthcare news…

Healthcare provision in Kuwait could be badly affected if the emirate decides to reduce the number of expats working there since, according to government figures, just 30% of doctors and 6% of nurses are Kuwaitis.

Expats in Ireland looking to renew their health insurance policies over the next few weeks could save a substantial amount if they’ve had the same plan for at least two years, says one health insurance broker. By shopping around, expats could save up to €3,000, depending on their insurer and the plan they are on.

Expats working in South Africa need to appreciate that the government has now launched a clampdown on the country’s state primary healthcare sector and the maximum pay-outs available over fears doctors have been charging excessively for services. Critics say the move is to boost the membership of medical insurance schemes in the country.

Expats around the world are, apparently, helping to boost the popularity of well-being and health apps for smartphones, according to a US study. Their research reveals that there are thousands of health apps available which cover everything, including speaking with a doctor, planning a diet, helping sleeping patterns and predicting fertility cycles. Experts say expats can access quality healthcare wherever they are in the world and are now big users of the apps.

Health authorities in Malaysia are discussing a countrywide health insurance scheme that would enable all members to visit private and public hospitals to help remove the burden for government-run hospitals. They aim is also to boost access to modern technology and medicines.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association is calling on the UK government not to increase the insurance premium tax and for access to the EU’s single market to be maintained during Brexit negotiations.

A new cost-effective insurance scheme covering media workers around the world, including in war zones, has been unveiled by the International Federation of Journalists and Insurance for Journalists. The policy will cover accidental disablement and death as well as emergency sickness and accident evacuation from anywhere in the world, including hostile regions.

Expats in the US who get their health insurance cover under ‘Obamacare’ are being promised by incoming President Donald Trump that its replacement will ‘cover everyone’. In addition, the new scheme will provide ‘better cover for less money’.

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