Home » Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 27 February 2017

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 27 February 2017

Terrorism insurance cover for expats

Expats and their employers looking for terrorism cover with their international private health insurance policy can now do so from Regency for Expats which is the only insurer offering the service currently.

The firm is tailoring its products to meet the changing nature of some expat overseas assignments where they are expected to undertake some travel in unsafe countries.Regency says that the terrorism threat for expats is a risk that should be addressed for those who are globally mobile and their offering will now be part of their product line-up whereas competitors offer cover for terrorism as an add-on.

A spokeswoman for Regency explained that the insurer had calculated the cost of claims against the likelihood of a terror attack occurring.

She added: “Our customers expect protection for all eventualities while they are overseas and this is why we have decided to have terrorism cover as part of our private health insurance policies for expats.”

Expats raise complaints about health insurance coverage

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Expats living and working in Dubai are complaining about the level of health insurance coverage for their dependents who have limited or no basic health cover.

The complainants are living in the northern emirates and Sharjah where the mandatory healthcare insurance cover for expats who earn less than Dh4,000 (£873/$1,089) is alleged to be disappointing.

Dubai Health Authority’s list of nine companies that provide an essential basic package for expats on low incomes reveals that at least two of them do not provide cover in the northern emirates or Sharjah while most of the remainder offer limited cover.

News outlets in the country report a growing problem with expats hoping for consultations with a doctor for a poorly child but these are not taking place because their healthcare insurance does not cover this.

The DHA says it is working with health insurance providers to rectify gaps in cover, particularly in the northern emirates, though they are also urging expats to thoroughly research health insurance packages before buying their insurance.

The government now says that recent disputes have been resolved and healthcare services have been boosted as a result.

The government says it has inspected various health insurance centres and the Ministry of Health has carried out a study to help expats in the country access healthcare insurance more easily.

The company that had been tasked with dealing with expats’ health insurance applications had its contract terminated by the Ministry on 18 December last year.

Healthcare service charges for expats

Meanwhile, it appears that healthcare service charges for expats and visitors in Kuwait are set to rocket by 500% as new fees will be introduced this month.

The government says it needs to restrict the number of visitors accessing public healthcare and recoup some of the costs from those who do.

One reason for the move, according to critics, is that the new fees make it more expensive to hire expats which is an increasingly controversial subject in the country where there is a growing demand for more citizens to be employed.

However, for expats in Kuwait, their fees for a range of tests and treatments will go up; for instance, a cardiac test will increase from KD10 to KD59, or from $33 to $165, while the visitor’s visa fees will be KD100 ($330).

China restricts sale of offshore insurance policies

Expats living in China will no longer be able to buy offshore healthcare insurance policies, mainly from Hong Kong, to meet their health needs.
China says it is acting to tackle a trend of life and health insurance products being sold in the country from outside of its borders.

Expats who still want to buy Hong Kong insurance policies must do so in person since the purchase of these policies in the mainland has now been prohibited.

Expats in China face rocketing healthcare insurance

Expats working in China are facing the fastest growing cost of insurance premiums since 2008, according to official figures.

The data reveals that health insurance premiums rocketed by 68% in 2016, says the China insurance regulatory commission.

The market for healthcare insurance is growing quickly as growing numbers of younger workers see the benefits of signing up to a healthcare plan and prospects for growth in the market look good.

However, industry experts are predicting further rises in the cost for healthcare premiums this year.

New international health plans for SMEs unveiled

Bupa Global and the Oman Insurance Company (OIC) have unveiled a range of international private medical insurance plans aimed at small and medium enterprises in Dubai.

The firm says the new policies are the result of extensive customer research and will deliver more than Dubai’s current mandatory level of cover for expat employees.

OIC is one of the health insurance firms that has been approved by Dubai’s Health Authority to deliver minimum level of cover health plans under the new health insurance laws for employers in the country.

However, Bupa and OIC say that employers are wanting these health plans to be upgraded and extended so they include cover for their employees’ families as the companies look to retain their expat talent.

Employers also say they want their decision-makers to have the option of modules including dental cover and the choice of upgrading to a higher benefits plan.

A spokesman for OIC said: “Employers are looking to adopt long-term talent retention and recruitment strategies that will support their business objectives and to retain the right people and invest in their employees’ welfare.”

British expats have an input into Foreign Office advice

The UK’s Foreign Office has published a review on how it offers travel and health advice to British travellers and expats around the world.

The aim is to improve the way information is presented after asking expats and travellers how they used the Foreign Office’s Travel Advice Service.

Most expats found the service helpful, particularly the warnings for countries that travellers should not visit.

The Foreign Office also says it will offer more announcements and advice about the likelihood of terrorist attacks around the world with British nationals in mind.

Healthcare costs in the US will rise in 2017

Accountancy firm PwC says that healthcare costs in the US will grow by 6.5% this year, which is the same rate they recorded last year.

However, that’s around four times higher than America’s consumer price inflation rate of 1.7%.

Employers are increasingly facing the challenge of meeting rising premium costs while being unable to increase their prices for services and goods which hits their profitability.

Also, many insurance providers have shrunk their networks and limited the level of coverage being offered to employers which leaves executives and workers frustrated with the healthcare delivery to their workers.

Best countries for expat retirees

Expats looking to enjoy their retirement in a new country with a quality healthcare offering should research thoroughly their potential destinations, says one organisation.

International Living has published its latest global retirement index to reveal where expats can live for less but enjoy a better quality-of-life.

And one of the big issues for expat retirees is for the level of healthcare which should be affordable and easily accessible.

In first place is Panama which offers easy access to temporary residents and low priced medical consultations.

Mexico, Ecuador and Belize also score highly for their healthcare provision to expat retirees.

UK employers move away from healthcare schemes

It’s a move that was predicted by the healthcare industry and employers are now moving away from offering fully insured healthcare schemes to their employees, including expats working in the UK.

After the insurance premium tax (IPT) was increased to 12% in November’s announcement by the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, which was the third rise in two years, the insurance industry said healthcare would now become too expensive for many firms.

Now, apparently, there is growing interest from employers in potential alternatives to a fully insured private medical scheme in a bid to reduce costs.

One provider, WPA, says that for every £1 an employer is spending on healthcare, there’s an extra 27p outlay for tax which is for the IPT and the employer’s National Insurance contribution (NIC).

WPA says that larger employers as well as those at the mid-level, that is a firm with between 150 and 500 workers, are now looking at operating a healthcare trust to deliver health insurance while reducing their NIC and IPT bills or moving from offering healthcare altogether.

Insurance costs more in the Netherlands than any other EU nation

As expats living and working in the Netherlands will appreciate, the country has mandatory private healthcare cover to help pay for healthcare costs, but this has put the country at the top of the European insurance league.

The EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, says that households in the Netherlands are spending 4.2% of their income on insurance while the average in the EU is 2.5%.

However, despite the rising cost of health cover in the Netherlands, the proportion spent on insurance is lower than 1995’s figure of 5%.

For those living in the country, there’s been a big increase in the amount they must pay up front before claiming their health spend from their insurer which has also pushed up insurance costs.

However, the country’s Insurers’ Association says that once healthcare insurance is removed from the list, the Netherlands ranks in eighth place for household outgoings on insurance.

In other healthcare news…

Expats in Ireland worried about the upcoming cost of health insurance premiums when their renewal notices land, have been warned that they are likely to increase since the cost for an overnight stay in an Irish hospital increased in January. The Patients’ Association said it was unaware of the hospital price rise and the knock-on effect will see health insurance premiums rise.

Expats in Canada’s eastern province of Nova Scotia who are worried about what their health insurance will pay out for should be aware that a judge has ruled that they can claim for marijuana for medical use under their health insurance.

The Association of British Insurers has unveiled a guide which highlights the value of private medical insurance as well as cash plans to expats and consumers in the UK. The guide explains what options are for health insurance, how it works and why they should buy it.

Expats living and working in Dubai will no longer be able to renew their residence visa without having mandatory health insurance coverage in place.
Jamaican expats now have two new comprehensive international healthcare products available from Premier Assurance Group which aim to meet their needs with ‘worldwide protection’.

Bupa in Australia says it is going to increase its average health insurance premium by 4.9% from 1 April. This means single-members will be paying $2 extra per week, while families will be paying $4 per week extra before any discount or rebate is added.

Unhealthy employees, including expats working in the UK, are costing British employers £58 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a wellness study. Researchers looked at 34,000 employees across all industries and their report says employers should be encouraged to deliver positive health choices and behaviours in the workplace which will help bring a competitive advantage.

Expats in Indonesia who thought they could stop buying healthcare insurance from 2019 with the introduction of universal healthcare coverage by the government will be disappointed, according to research. Business Monitor International says it’s unlikely the government will roll out a high-quality healthcare service for the population by then since by the end of 2016, just 66% of Indonesians were covered by the healthcare system.

Authorities in Vietnam have unveiled an electronic system to replace the health card so citizens and expats can access their health insurance plans and healthcare more easily. The new system will also enable faster insurance payments and make them transparent.

Employers with workers on overseas assignments may question why their healthcare insurance bills for their staff continue to rise should appreciate that the insurance industry says that 2016 saw a huge pay-out for natural catastrophes of $39.5 billion. That is still much lower than 2012’s figure of $60 billion with insurance pay-outs covering forest wildfires, Japanese earthquakes and hurricanes.

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