Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 22 December 2016
Employers of expats should consider mental health issues
Research has revealed that stress is affecting most employers with 73% of companies saying the issue has affected them in the last three years.
The findings from Jelf Employee Benefits also reveal that 85% of employers say the issue of stress will become a growing risk for their employees at home and on overseas assignments.Despite this, 75% of firms do not have a policy for managing stress in the workplace and just 5% said their employees and line managers were aware of help available.
Jelf says that employee assistance programmes should incorporate cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an effective way to deal with mental health issues.
However, the problem is that CBT is often not included in employee assistance programmes, particularly when these are add-ons to cash plans and other employee insurance packages.
Jelf points to the UK’s Office for National Statistics which has revealed that 45 million working days were lost last year to stress, depression and anxiety. The cost to the UK economy was £2.4 billion.
Australians worry about private health insurance fees
Expats working in Australia as well as Australians are increasingly worried about the cost of private health insurance, with 87% saying that their current policy is expensive, according to a survey.
This figure includes 45% of respondents who said their health insurance policy is ‘very expensive’.
However, nine out of 10 Australians questioned by iSelect, a health insurance comparison platform, said they valued their health cover because it is important to them.
However, a spokeswoman for iSelect said the issue of affordability was prompted many people to review their level of health cover and look into potential options.
She added: “More than five million insured people in Australia have taken their time in the past year to review their cover to ensure they are getting best value.
“With new providers and policies entering the market and premiums rising every year, it’s good that Australians are getting into the habit of reviewing their health cover on a regular basis to ensure it offers the correct level of cover.”
One worrying statistic is that less than 50% of those questioned knew what their health policy delivered though those aged between 35 and 49 knew exactly what they were getting.
New guide to choosing healthcare insurance
Expats looking to find a suitable healthcare policy will find help being provided to ensure they are not paying more than they need to for what is often a complicated product.
Cigna Health has launched a guide called ‘One Guide’ which offers a personalised and simplified service that helps people choose their health plan.
This goes against the grain of many providers who often use offshore and automated processes for their health plan selections, while the global health service firm Cigna is offering customers the option of guided consultations via a mobile app, phone or a ‘click to chat’ service.
The idea is that expats wanting a better health plan deal will be able to access the information easily and quickly.
The service begins from 1 January and is open to all of Cigna’s 1.2 million commercial health plan customers.
A spokesman for Cigna said: “Healthcare is becoming more expensive and complicated and we are leveraging our people skills and technology to deliver a better customer experience.”
Cigna also says it is aiming to deliver clear information about the coverage of a particular plan and give enough information so a decision about healthcare products can be made with confidence.
Increase in expat healthcare fees approved
Expats living in Bahrain will be paying more in healthcare fees after a proposed price increase was approved by the government.
Expats will see prices doubling from $8 to $19 when visiting public hospitals; they will also only be able to buy medication from approved private pharmacies rather than from public health pharmacy outlets.
Australian employers not concerned with emotional well-being
Australia is hugely popular as an expat destination and now a survey conducted of Australian companies has found they care more about an employee’s general health than they do about the mental well-being of their staff.
The findings from MetLife reveal that employers place little importance on issues of stress, depression and anxiety.
The survey, which examined employee health benefit trends, saw employers ranking their staff’s medical problems as their major concern, at 88%, and this was followed by emotional health with 69% and lifestyle issues with 62%.
However, when Australian workers were questioned, 84% placed emotional well-being as their major concern, compared with 70% saying they were worried about medical issues.
In addition, the survey also revealed that despite the growing popularity among employers for healthcare package extras, employees had little or no interest in receiving flu vaccinations or taking part in employee assistance programmes.
Private healthcare insurance is growing in popularity in Romania
Subscription-based healthcare services are growing in popularity in Romania, and not just with employers who have hired overseas talent.
The country’s private healthcare operators say there are now more than 1 million people subscribing to these services in a sector that was launched just 20 years ago.
Now market watchers say that the healthcare sector in Romania could double over the next three years since the number of workers is growing rapidly.
Employers are also looking to allocate more money to offering employee benefits including healthcare cover.
Aetna aims to lower US employer healthcare costs
Health plan provider Aetna says it’s helping to deliver lower costs for its members by working with healthcare organisations across the US to develop services and products that deliver value.
The firm says it has helped lower costs by $29 per person per month and helped employers save $32 million when compared with standard network plans.
Aetna says it aims to continue offering value-based healthcare and boosting its offering to companies who have employees based around the country.
The firm says: “Most healthcare is delivered locally but we are looking to support organisations which have employees located around the country so we can provide a simple solution for an employer’s entire employee population.”
Aetna says that currently it has around 6.7 million members who are receiving care from doctors who are committed to offering a value-based service and over the coming years they will increase this level of coverage.
British expat retirees in Spain face healthcare costs
British expat retirees living in Spain may have been surprised to hear that the Spanish government wants the UK to cover healthcare costs for its expat communities from 2019.
There are around 300,000 British people living in Spain currently.
The move comes because the Spanish government is looking to broker a deal with the UK to pay the healthcare costs of its citizens when the country leaves the European Union in 2019.
Healthcare is set to play a large part in the Brexit negotiations over the next two years, though many retirees in Spain opt to buy specialist healthcare insurance for their needs.
However, it is likely that Spain will temper its demands in the face of fast-rising visitor numbers from the UK, with more than 12 million visitors heading to the country in 2015 to account for 23% of the total tourist numbers.
Ineligible expats face health charges
In a bid to crack down on health tourism and providing health care to people who aren’t paying for it, the NHS in the UK will soon be demanding identification from patients wanting to use its services.
The move comes after the government revealed it is spending £2 billion every year in treating overseas visitors, however when the figures are broken down for migrants who come from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), the UK spends £94 million on treating expats working in the country and £330 million on treating migrants from around the world.
New healthcare facilities planned for Dubai
A ten-year plan has been unveiled by the Dubai Health Authority to create dozens of new healthcare facilities which will also create tens of thousands of health care jobs.
The move follows the introduction of mandatory health insurance for all expats living in Dubai which means there’s more money for investing in primary care and specialist services.
The plans to expand healthcare provision will see the addition of 8,000 new beds to the 4,170 available, a rise of 196%. There will also be more than 7,000 new doctors and 8,500 new nurses available.
Some of the planned healthcare facilities will be located in new areas of Dubai which are popular with expats.
New expat healthcare product launched
A new expat healthcare product has been launched for expats in the UAE called ‘Expat Protect’.
It’s the creation of a partnership between leading insurance provider Migration Cover and Union Insurance Company to offer what they say is the first comprehensive insurance product for expats in the country.
There are four packages available tailored for individuals, families and couples with the aim of enabling expats to focus on settling into the country without having to worry about finding a suitable healthcare product.
Those who opt for the complete package can also enjoy complimentary annual multi-trip travel insurance as well.
The firms behind the expat healthcare insurance offering say it will provide a safety net for expats who currently live in the UAE, or are planning to move there within the next year.
WellAway launches Danish office for expats health products
Expats in Europe are being targeted by WellAway Limited for health insurance after teaming up with a global insurance distributor in Copenhagen.
The leading provider of comprehensive international health insurance cover is working with Health Insurance Instantly to work more directly with the European markets.
WellAway sees the opening of its Denmark office is a major milestone in the firm’s bid for global expansion with a range of products tailored to the demands of the expat healthcare market.
In other healthcare news…
Expats in Thailand are now eligible for ten-year visas which is an increase from the current one-year term, but expats wanting to enjoy the new programme must be aged over 50 and have health insurance providing coverage of at least $10,000 a year. The new visas are being offered to citizens from 14 countries including the UK, US, Canada and Japan.
Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance has reiterated that visitors have just 60 days to submit a health insurance compensation claim and that the insurance company must pay compensation within 30 days of receiving it. This also covers visitors involved in traffic accidents. The announcement follows the introduction of compulsory health insurance for all visitors to the kingdom with insurance being supplied from seven licensed health insurance firms.
A new report into the strength of the global health insurance market has been published and it shows there has been a trend for expansion which will continue over the next three years. This trend will be helped by new regions around the world creating demand for health insurance products which will also help the market grow in size. The key players for delivering health insurance cover around the world are AXA, Aviva, United health group, China Life and Allianz, say the report’s writers.
Expats are helping the health insurance market in Africa to expand quickly and it is predicted to increase by 6% every year over the coming 15 years, says the chief executive of Liberty Health. In addition, the IMF is predicting that the African workforce will grow more quickly than anywhere else in the world and account for a rapidly growing middle class, and this too will be fuelled by expats, which will lead to a growing demand for health insurance products.
Expats working in Bulgaria will see their health insurance contributions remain at 8% of their monthly salary, after a decision by the government. The country’s national health insurance fund shares the cost of healthcare between employers and employees at 60% of 40% respectively.
Popular expat medical insurance provider, the International Medical Group (IMG), has unveiled a new company logo and corporate branding. The firm says it is time to refresh their brand’s identity and the new logo signifies the company’s four main constituents parts which are the partners, intermediaries, members and employees.
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