Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 14 September 2016

Hospitals for expats being built

Three new hospitals dedicated solely to expat workers in Qatar will be completed early next year.

The hospitals will be handed over to the country’s Ministry of Public Health when they are equipped and open to receive patients.

A spokesman for the Ministry said: “The three hospitals will have an impact and make a big leap in Qatar’s health services. They will also ease the burden on existing hospitals and also provide better services for citizens and residents.”There will be 360 beds provided in the new hospitals, which have the capacity to be increased when necessary.

Each of the new hospitals will be equipped with outpatient clinics, 120 beds, operating theatres, laboratories, a radiology department and an ambulance service.

The project to build the three hospitals is part of a wider scheme being run by the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) that will see seven new hospitals for the public being provided and the number of beds being increased by 1,100.

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New healthcare offering for expats in Africa

Leading healthcare insurance provider Cigna has teamed up with Hollard Insurance Group to deliver wellness and health solutions for expats in Africa.

The two insurance firms have unveiled a new product, Hollard Cigna Health, which is aimed at meeting the requirements for globally mobile staff as well as regional expats and nationals who are working with corporations in the region.

The aim is to deliver an all-in-one solution for multi-national corporations who are looking to establish a presence in sub-Saharan Africa and also for established firms.

Hollard’s chief executive, Brooks Mparutsa, said that each African market had unique legislative demands so local knowledge of it is important.

He added: “Our recognised presence offers tremendous added value and we believe that adding this and our unique market related partnership with Cigna’s extensive global experience in medical claims administration and in healthcare insurance will create an exciting proposition.”

The president of Cigna, David Maltby, said the partnership would help the firm extend its services and also deliver affordable and high-quality healthcare to its clients and partners in Africa.

Kuwait will introduce expat health system

Following in the footsteps of Qatar’s bid to build hospitals for the sole use of expats, Kuwait has given approval for the creation of an independent healthcare system for expats living there.

The move follows a new medical insurance scheme, and a contract between the government and the Health Insurance Hospitals Company to deliver healthcare services to expats will be agreed soon.

The move is part of a national healthcare strategy which will see expats receiving care from primary medical centres and hospitals.

There is no date yet set for the project’s launch and expats will still be obliged to have health insurance from the Ministry of Health to receive essential medical services at Ministry-run health centres and hospitals.

Expats are also required to pay extra fees for a number of medical procedures, including surgery, and also for radiology examinations and hospital stays.

Expats must also pay every time they visit a public clinic and the public hospital casualty departments.

Changes to expat health plans

New regulations in the US governing expat healthcare plans will come into effect from January 1 next year and will see many of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirements not apply to them.

The regulations propose that an expat who qualifies under a health plan will be deemed as having minimum essential coverage for their employer-shared responsibility as well as their individual responsibilities.

The expat’s health plan must cover inpatient hospital care as well as outpatient facilities and services and meet the regulations that were in place before ACA came into effect.

Experts on US healthcare provision are urging employers who employ expats to work in the US to speak with their healthcare insurance providers to discuss the proposed regulations so they are familiar with them when they are finalised.

However, there is no regulation currently for expat healthcare plans to be tax-deductible since the IRS is expected to issue guidance in the near future on this soon.

Kuwait cracks down on expat health tourism

Kuwait’s Parliament has been told to speed up the process for its new expat visiting visa and its health insurance bill to prevent expats from using the country’s hospitals.

MPs have been told that expats are turning up simply to use the hospitals and some undergo medical check-ups while others have specialist surgery.
Parliament was told that this level of health tourism is making the time Kuwaitis have to wait for medical services much longer. It’s also putting more pressure on public hospitals.

Kuwait has already announced that visitors must now have health insurance to gain admittance to the country and, in some cases, the visa sponsor will be responsible for paying for this insurance.

Drivers in Saudi Arabia face medical costs

A driver involved in a vehicle accident in Saudi Arabia who is deemed to be ‘at fault’ will be held liable for all medical costs for those involved.

This means the at-fault driver must be insured so the medical bills will be met by their insurance company, the country’s Ministry of Health has confirmed.

The rules apply to expats as well as Saudi citizens.

With more than 100 people injured and more than 20 killed every day on Saudi’s roads, there are on average 1,460 accidents every day, which has forced the authorities to act.

One insurance expert told a Saudi newspaper that the country’s insurance market is undergoing change and development and that the provision of quality motor and healthcare insurance is becoming increasingly important for expats living and working in the kingdom.

Best countries delivering medical care for expat backpackers revealed

For many expats who decide to go backpacking, the value of proper healthcare insurance is often overlooked and now one survey has revealed which countries deliver the best and most cost-effective treatment.

For backpackers travelling in New Zealand, respondents said it is the best place for falling ill or when they need to access medical treatment, while India is considered to be the worst.

Insurance firm Bought By Many looked at the cost of care and the impact on the backpacker’s budget as well as the cost of treatment.

The research reveals that the cheapest average medical treatment bill was £180 while the most expensive was £920.

The survey also revealed that 35% of backpackers didn’t bother to buy medical insurance cover for their unforeseen medical costs or accidents.
New Zealand is ranked in first position because of its cost of care against its quality, while India is in bottom place because it has a low quality of care and high medical costs.

Backpackers in the US face the highest average cost for medical treatment though the next most expensive place for hefty medical bills is India which is considered by many travellers to be an affordable place to visit.

The survey highlights that expats in India who are backpacking need to be aware that the average cost for medical treatment there accounts for 888% of the traveller’s weekly budget, which means that medical costs could destroy their holiday budget altogether.

A spokesman for Bought By Many said: “The lesson is that those 35% of backpackers without insurance should probably get it before travelling though if they find themselves in a medical scrape then New Zealand is the best place to be for it.”

US expat travel insurance needs revealed

An online comparison website for US expats and travellers looking for medical insurance has revealed the trends for those travelling this autumn.

Squaremouth says travellers who bought healthcare insurance policies through the site saw a 149% increase in people insuring for a trip to Cuba and 73% rise in insurance needs for travelling to Spain.

The website says that the top five destinations for American expats travellers are Italy, Mexico, Spain, France and Canada. Most of those travelling, around 53%, are ‘baby boomers’.

However, the firm also says that the numbers of expat travellers searching for specific terrorism coverage has rocketed by 127% while there has also been a growth in hurricane coverage of 61%.

Expats living in Singapore have new insurance rules

Healthcare medical insurers covering expats living and working in Singapore have published new rules that make clear how to resolve a dispute between expats living there and medical insurers.

The aim is to resolve disputes arising from non-payment or delay of health insurance premiums.

Now the rules make clear that health insurance premiums must be paid to intermediaries or the insurer on before the start of renewal date of healthcare coverage.

If this is not done, then the expat will enjoy no benefits and have no cover that will be payable by their insurer.

A spokesman for Singapore’s Insurance Association said: “The rules make clear to the public when coverage starts and ends and brings clarity to insurers and removes the source of disputes that could arise.”

Australian health fund numbers fall

The number of people in Australia covered by a health fund has dropped for the first time in 15 years as the market sees the impact of hefty premium increases.

Indeed, healthcare insurance costs in Australia have risen three times faster than the rate of inflation and insurance experts are predicting a slow demise for the industry.

One media outlet is predicting that unless the rise in healthcare insurance premiums is brought under control, then over the next six years one in five current fund members will drop out or downgrade their healthcare cover.

In response, Australia’s healthcare providers say the government must alter the pricing system for things such as knee and hip replacements.

However, it looks like the new prices will not come in time to dictate the premium rise for 2017, which will be announced in November.

US expat interns get benefits boost

Growing numbers of US employers are looking to offer their interns, including expats, health insurance benefits along with a retirement savings plan to attract the best talent.

That’s the feedback from the National Association of Colleges and Employers who also say that interns being offered jobs is at record levels with 72% being offered a permanent position.

Wellness programmes ignored by most

A new survey has revealed that one of the popular elements of an expat’s medical healthcare insurance package is the wellness programme but just 35% of consumers engage with it on a weekly basis.

HealthMine points out that fewer than half of respondents said their wellness programme had helped them lose weight, improve their emotional well-being or helped them to eat more healthily.

The survey focused on US health plan providers who invest around $8 billion every year that prioritise health improvements for those participating.

However, just 35% of those enrolled in a programme engage with it once a week, despite wellness programmes growing in popularity, with most offering advice on lifestyle management rather than the prevention of disease.

Respondents said most offerings are for health risk assessments, fitness challenges and subsidies, as well as nutrition and healthy eating advice.

The survey also revealed that most wellness programmes do not carry out medical tests for smoking and cancer screenings.

In other healthcare news…

Following a recent report in the Expat Focus healthcare news that American health insurance firms were rolling back coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, it’s been revealed that President Barack Obama has written to insurers asking they improve their offering, particularly for young people and families in the US. However, the government has also revealed that the number of Americans without health insurance is now at a record low of 8.6%.

The UK’s embassy in the UAE has been targeting British expats who have just moved to the country with a checklist of things they need to do and finding quality healthcare provision tops the list. The social media campaign also highlights the licences and paperwork that need to be obtained which include a residency visa and an identity card.


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