Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 10 November 2016
ACA compliant plans for expats unveiled
A new health insurance solution for expats heading to the US who need to have Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health insurance has been unveiled.
The new health insurance will also cover American expats heading overseas.
The offer comes from Pacific Prime who are offering the health plans directly to customers.The firm’s managing director, Neil Raymond, said: “ACA-compliant health insurance is important for foreigners with relevant visas and for American citizens.
“These plans meet the ACA’s mandated coverage and offer worldwide coverage and therefore will avoid the non-compliance fine.”
Mr Raymond said that the health insurer had seen growing demand for these products and wanted to develop plans with international coverage that also met with ACA requirements.
The new plans mean there’s just the one single policy to deliver worldwide coverage so there’s no need to buy several policies for US and global healthcare cover.
In addition, expats will avoid tax penalties since the plans will meet the criteria of ‘minimum essential cover’ under the ACA’s rules and can be secured at any time without waiting for the ACA enrolment period.
Moving overseas boosts expats’ health
Research has revealed that expats from the UK who move overseas benefit from improved physical and mental health.
The findings from AXA PPP International point to 61% of expats claiming that their physical health is better, and for 64% of expats their mental health has improved.
In addition, the medical insurance provider says that 86% of expats who are working overseas said their expectations for better healthcare provision have been fulfilled.
The provider’s director of psychological services, Dr Mark Winwood, said: “Lots of countries have better weather than the UK which leads to people being more active and having an outdoor lifestyle which contributes to the overall better health.”
He added that expats who followed their dream can also benefit with improved mental health and well-being with a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness with achieving their ambitions.
US health insurance offers fewer options
Expats in the US looking to buy health insurance coverage will find there are fewer firms willing to provide coverage from next year.
A news organisation has found that the health insurance market created by President Barack Obama will have just one health marketplace insurer for one in three counties in 2017.
That’s double the proportion of insurers willing to offer coverage in 2014 when the new law was brought in.
November is the time when many Americans look to renew or source their healthcare cover but many are facing a difficult choice with some facing the prospect of being without any healthcare cover whatsoever.
Along with higher health insurance costs, expats will also be facing more expensive prescription charges.
Among the hardest hit areas is Phoenix in Arizona where the number of eight healthcare carriers has fallen to just one provider.
Meanwhile, one survey is pointing to a growing trend of Americans leaving the US in a bid to avoid rising healthcare and insurance costs.
One reason for this is that US expat retirees, particularly, can lower substantially their healthcare costs while living overseas but can access high-quality healthcare.
The findings point to lower healthcare insurance costs for US expats in Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico. There’s also the attraction of Malaysia and cheap cover in Ecuador.
New plan delivers expat healthcare cover in Africa
A new partnership has been formed to deliver healthcare cover for expats in Africa with those behind the new offering claiming it will ‘revolutionise’ healthcare insurance delivery in the continent.
The move has seen health insurance firm Cigna Global and Hollard Insurance – a South African based insurance firm – team up to share their industry knowledge and develop a specific health insurance product aimed at the African market.
The plans will deliver health insurance for expats as well as local employees of multinational corporations.
The new offering is also described as being transparent and simple and will deliver a sense of security and well-being for those who sign up.
BUPA launches new international cover for UK employers
The international health insurance provider BUPA Global has unveiled a range of international private medical insurance products that are aimed at UK employers.
Among the business health plans are those aimed at helping employers meet the need to provide international cover for their key employees working overseas.
There are four new products delivering a variety of prices and coverage and will provide access to the firm’s network of international healthcare professionals.
A spokesman for the firm said: “It’s easier now for employers to choose a health plan that’s right for their employee’s specific needs.”
The benefits include medical evacuation, in-hospital care as well as treatment for cancer and serious illnesses.
Expats surprised at the cost of US healthcare
A survey of expats moving to the US has found that one of the issues that caused most surprise was that of healthcare costs.
The research from International AutoSource also found that a large proportion of expats who move to America with their families are working primarily in healthcare and in information technology.
Expats told researchers that healthcare costs were more expensive than they had anticipated and that getting signed up with an insurer was a complicated and slow process.
However, when questioned about how they coped with changes, 34% of expats said obtaining healthcare was easy for them.
Australian healthcare insurance providers leave customers in the dark
A report from the Australian competition and consumer commission has revealed that healthcare insurance providers do not adequately tell their customers when their coverage or benefits are reduced.
Indeed, in some cases, the insurers have not disclosed any changes.
Expats and Australians are being warned about ‘unhelpful’ and confusing communications which include using misleading language and a reliance on email that has led to poor practice.
The commission’s deputy chair, Delia Rickard, said: “Consumers who are not given clear notice of changes to insurance, or for the unexpected out-of-pocket expenses and limits to medical treatment can cause detriment and great harm.”
Indeed, Australia’s private health insurance ombudsman has seen a 60% rise in complaints over two years for the lack of information being provided by insurers.
Expats' health threatened by Indian smog
The Indian capital of New Delhi has been suffering with smog levels that has led to the closure of schools and expats buying face masks to help protect themselves.
In addition, news outlets are reporting that expats as well as professionals are moving out of the city to avoid the smog.
This is not the first time the air quality in the city has created problems; earlier this year the World Health Organisation named New Delhi as its worst city for air pollution.
However, employers in the city are also reporting growing numbers of staff calling in sick while other employers are urging staff to work from home to avoid the worst effects of the smog.
China to boost environmental monitoring
Expats living and working in China will be pleased to hear that the Chinese government has announced that a comprehensive environmental monitoring system will be in place by 2030.
The idea is to boost the health and life expectancy for people living in the country.
The government needs to act since a World Health Organisation study in September revealed that more than 1 million people died in 2012 because air pollution.
Now there will be a strict environmental system that will oversee atmospheric pollution as well as water and soil quality.
What US employers want from their new president
A survey of employers in the US has found they want more price transparency from their healthcare provider and the country’s new President should enable this to happen.
The findings from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans showed that 96% of employers wanted transparency while 87% of employers wanted better tax regimes for employer-provided health coverage.
When workers were asked, 82% said they wanted better tax status for their health cover insurance.
In addition, there’s also a need for small business health plans that enable small businesses and other groups to work together to offer a combined benefits plan to their members or workers. That was popular with 85% of employers.
The findings also reveal that more employers, 84% of them, are wanting access to mental health care to be increased for their workers.
In a report, the organisation reveals that under a new President a growing number of employers look increasingly likely to offer a cash incentive for the employees to find their own healthcare coverage on public exchanges. These will extend to expats working in the US too.
This trend of shifting a greater financial burden onto the employee looks like growing as employers face rising healthcare costs and growing regular trading pressures that come with ACA, or Obamacare.
Blood care for expats is 'vital'
The expats’ healthcare insurance industry is being urged to recognise the growing importance of ensuring that clients have access to a quality blood care service.
The call is being made by April International UK which says blood care is often overlooked as part of an international private medical insurance plan.
The firm’s business development director, Joe Thomas, said blood care is one of several added value benefits that expats and employers alike should be aware of.
He added that finding quality local blood in some instances is ‘problematic’ and are often in destinations where expats are working.
In other healthcare news…
While many expats heading to the UK for work will have health insurance cover, the NHS has revealed that there is a growing number of overseas visitors receiving unpaid medical treatment. The National Audit Office has tried to find out how much is owing and struggling to put a figure on it but wants to recover £500 million every year.
Bahrain has announced it is looking to improve its health insurance programme to deliver a more flexible system that will help meet the needs of the country. The healthcare system provides health cover for expats and visitors as well as citizens who must pay insurance costs.
Expats in need of specialist medical attention, particularly if they live in the GCC region, should consider heading to Saudi Arabia which has unveiled plans to encourage medical tourism. The kingdom says it wants more expats to receive treatment in private and government-run hospitals.
Expats living in the UAE will find that the government has announced new measures to bring in urgent lifestyle changes as new figures for the country reveal that half of its stroke victims are aged under 45. This is in sharp contrast to the global average age for a stroke for 80% of patients is over 65. Along with a campaign to fight obesity and diabetes, the UAE is also tackling salt intake which is around eight times the global average.
Allianz Worldwide Care has been named as the international private medical insurance provider of the year for 2016. The award was presented at a glittering ceremony and it’s the third award they’ve picked up for their expat healthcare insurance offering.
Health insurers of expats working in Abu Dhabi have been criticised by doctors because they will not cover pregnant women for vitamin D screening. One doctor says that up to 70% of the patients he sees who are pregnant are suffering with vitamin D deficiency but most insurers no longer cover screening. However, Emiratis can claim for the tests on their Thiqa health cards.
Expats could benefit from a surging health insurance industry thanks to Africa’s rapidly growing middle-class. With the number of those in the continent’s middle-class trebling in the last 30 years means health insurance providers are offering better deals to capture those in a booming market. It is good news for insurance companies and for expats looking for cheaper plans, according to insurance provider Liberty Health.
Expats and visitors heading to Saudi Arabia will need to have healthcare insurance before being allowed entry into the kingdom. The move follows a law unveiled in March for expats and visitors to have health insurance and there are eight licensed firms that can provide insurance cover.
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