Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 02 March 2017
Most employers do not appreciate expat insurance requirements
A shocking survey has revealed that less than 8% of business owners in the UK are aware of the insurance needs for employees who are working overseas.
The survey by Expacare, an international healthcare provider, questioned 1,000 business owners about their awareness of the insurance being offered to expat staff members.Just 7.8% replied that they did know of their insurance requirements, 67.3% said they did not know and 24.9% said they were not entirely sure.
In addition, employers are being told by Expacare that for those employees working in the European Union, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be sufficient.
The card only provides someone travelling in the EU with access to emergency treatment.
Employers need to be aware that their staff who are working overseas on a project or are travelling on a longer trip, need international healthcare insurance that is suitable for their needs.
Indeed, most employers’ liability policies will not cover their staff working overseas for extended periods.
Instead, employers need to take out international health insurance but this must be suitable for local needs and be the right policy for the expat.
A spokesman for the firm said: “When planning a staff relocation, the employer should do their research and check whether health insurance is mandatory in the country. For non-European countries, where work permits and visas are required, some level of health insurance may also be required for the visa to be issued.”
Employers urged to carry out comprehensive health review
European employers are being urged to address the lack of communication when it comes to travel security risks for their mobile executives.
Medical and travel security services firm International SOS says that 60% of executives have partial or no understanding of the medical threats that are being faced by their mobile workforce.
In addition, 46% of executives said travel and health security incidents had made an impact on their business continuity.
Also, 27% of executives are not confident in their level of preparation when travelling overseas and just 50% of employers have conducted a comprehensive health review of their mobile workforce and just 9% have a wellness programme in place.
International SOS says ongoing communication is key to ensure that executives utilise health insurance when putting together their overseas preparation programmes.
The firm’s northern Europe managing director, Karel van de Pijpekamp, said: “This highlights the potential cost and continuity risks when travel security issues are not managed because of a lack of communication and highlights a potential gap in duty of care for the safety and well-being of a mobile workforce.”
However, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges in protecting expats when working overseas and the potential issues they run when travelling after a series of high profile events last year.
Japan's healthcare system one of the best
Expats living and working in Japan say the country’s healthcare system is much better than their home country – according to 29% of those who responded to a survey.
In addition, 25% said the system was slightly better, while 18.6% of expats said the system was about the same.
Among the strong points for the Japanese system were affordability, high quality and efficiency.
For the weak points, expats pointed to doctors who were not friendly, and an inefficient and complex system.
However, as should be expected, the survey was strongly influenced by where the expat came from which led to the Japanese system scoring well with American expats, for instance, while many expats expressed worries about the lack of language support for non-Japanese speakers and for those who struggle to understand a doctor’s diagnosis.
Private health insurance is a top employee benefit
A survey has revealed that 38% of employees in the UK rank their private medical insurance as one of the top three most valued benefits from their employer.
The findings come from Ellipse who say that of the 500 decision-makers and 1,000 employees from small and medium sized enterprises in the UK, 37% of employees also rated life insurance in their top three.
Also, 13% of respondents rated childcare vouchers as a valued benefit, while 8% said their employer’s ‘bikes for work’ scheme was important to them.
A spokesman for the firm said: “With a range of employee benefits available to employers, it is important to invest in those that employees value.
“The survey shows that employees will value benefits that protect their long-term health and provide them with financial security.”
Dubai warns employers over health insurance
The final deadline for mandatory health insurance for employers to provide for their employees in Dubai has been unveiled.
The government says that failure to comply with the March 31 deadline will lead to fines being imposed.
The deadline for providing health insurance for visitors to Dubai is 31 December.
The new mandatory health insurance law was introduced in January 2014 and around 98% of residents in Dubai now have healthcare cover.
The latest announcement is aimed at ensuring that the remaining 2% of expats get healthcare coverage before the deadline or face consequences, though the government also says that this deadline makes be extended if necessary.
International private health insurance crucial for students
Students from around the world looking to take up an offer from a UK university are being urged to take out health care cover for the duration of their studies in the country.
While they may be facing high fees for some of the most sought after universities in the world, parents should appreciate that health care cover is also important, according to April International, a health insurance agency.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs says that in 2015 the largest number of students came from China with 89,500, while the second largest group of 18,300 came from India.
Now April International says the parents of international students should appreciate that their offspring will need access to quality health care which will be provided by their health insurance provider despite the UK’s NHS service offering a world-renowned offering.
A spokesman for April said: “Policies offering private care also offer quick access to first-class treatment and they are popular in many countries, including the UK, where large numbers of foreign students are located.”
Tool to help Australian cover unveiled
Expats living in Australia may be concerned about the predicted rise in their health insurance premiums but now a new online checklist has been unveiled by the Consumers’ Health Forum.
The idea is to enable people to easily review private health insurance cover and decide whether it’s best to retain it, switch providers or drop their health insurance cover altogether.
The launch of the tool comes after the government announced that the average increase for private health insurance premiums looks set to rise by 4.8%.
This increase could see single people paying more than $100 extra every year and families paying up to $200 for their health care cover.
A spokeswoman for the Consumers’ Health Forum said Australians and expats alike should review their private health policy in light of the announced increase and then make a decision.
Indeed, the health insurance premium increase could see one in four health insurance policies being cancelled in Australia, reports the country’s Daily Telegraph.
Site produces list of expat insurance myths
A Canadian insurance education website has put together a list of insurance myths and among them are misunderstandings about expat health insurance.
The site says that the notion that expats applying for healthcare cover do not have to tell the insurer about a pre-existing health condition is a serious mistake to make and they should tell an insurer of any condition.
In addition, some expats believe that they only need travel insurance when overseas but they will find this level of insurance wanting for serious issues.
Also, some expats believe that their credit card will offer travel insurance for protecting them when overseas but they will need to check carefully the terms and conditions since it may not give them enough medical cover, particularly if they stay in one country for a long period of time.
For those interested, there are 111 insurance myths revealed on the InsurEye website.
Record amount in healthcare claims
New Zealand’s Health Funds Association has revealed that a record amount was paid out in 2016 as growing numbers of people in the country take out health insurance cover.
With rocketing numbers of expats heading to the growing country, the association says it paid out a record $1.1bn (£658,000/$820,000) with health insurers having to fund increasing numbers of people wanting elective surgery.
Also, the number of people living in New Zealand who opt to buy health insurance coverage has risen by 20,000 over the past year and accounts for the strongest growth seen in the sector for more than a decade.
Currently, there are 1.36 million people in New Zealand who have private health insurance.
New hospital in Kuwait will not treat expats
It may be the first public hospital to be built in Kuwait for more than 30 years, but it will not treat any of the country’s huge expat population.
The new Jaber Hospital in Kuwait City cost more than £800 million to build and is aimed at relieving pressure on hospital demand in the country.
However, while health care is currently free in Kuwait, most expats opt for private health insurance to ensure they gain access to medical treatment when needed.
Expats who cannot afford the expense are using public hospitals which have their medical and treatment fees heavily subsidised by the government.
Alongside this, employers are paying 50 dinars every year, or £129, in health insurance fees for their workers to help pay for the public health treatment bills.
The healthcare move is just the latest of several government sanctioned moves to put the priorities of Kuwaiti citizens ahead of expats in the country.
Canadian expats can access Aetna International policies
International health benefits provider Aetna International has expanded its operations into Canada and now offers its services to employees there for expats were travelling in and out of the country.
Based in Toronto, the firm is looking to open other offices around the country with those accessing the insurance healthcare plans also gaining access to providers around the world.
In other healthcare news…
Fears are growing that UK expats who return to their home country after Brexit may not be able to access NHS services, a committee of MPs have been told. One organisation says several thousand British citizens may return to the UK and then have to navigate complicated NHS regulations in order to receive free healthcare. Also, they may have been abroad for so long they no longer qualify for NHS care.
The UK’s leading private dental provider, Oasis Dental Care, has now been acquired by BUPA after the takeover was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority.
There is a growing trend in the US to encourage medical tourism with property developers building hotels that are close to clinics and hospitals. Some hospitals are even building hotels on site to encourage patients to access some of the world’s best healthcare facilities.
Oman has announced a study to consider whether expats in the country should come under the Social Insurance Law which extends health protection at work. Currently, only Omanis are covered by injury, death and disease incurred while at work but now expats could enjoy government-provided cover too. The report will be published in three months.
Saudi Arabia has revealed that 11.8 million people in the country, including 2.5 million Saudis, now heave health insurance coverage. There are 27 insurance firms offering people access to 4,543 health service providers. The kingdom has also announced plans for a voluntary health insurance scheme that is aimed at teachers and their families which should lead to an improved workplace performance.
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