Expat Focus International Healthcare Update 30 September 2016
Expats enjoy best healthcare benefits in UAE
A survey has revealed that expats working in the UAE enjoy the best financial rewards, including having the most generous healthcare benefits.
Nearly eight of 10 expats working in the country receive healthcare cover as part of their employment package, the highest of all expats who were questioned around the world for the annual HSBC Expat Explorer survey.The global average for expats receiving healthcare benefits from their employer is 51% but for 77% of expats in the Emirate said they received healthcare benefits as part of their employment package, which may be down to the government effort in introducing mandatory health insurance for employers to provide for their employees.
The survey also revealed that 63% of expats in the UAE say they are earning more since moving there and 62% say they are saving more as well.
US employers see healthcare costs rise
More than half of employers in the US have revealed that they are paying at least 5% more for their employee medical insurance costs than they did last year.
However, one in four of the 3,100 US employers questioned said they have seen increases in their employee medical insurance costs of at least 10% this year.
The findings by Arthur J Gallagher & Co reveal that 67% of employers believe that medical and pharmacy benefits are hugely important when it comes to employee benefits packages and they are also crucial for recruiting and retaining talent.
However, growing numbers of employers are looking to reduce their costs by restricting employee insurance.
The president of Gallagher’s, James Durkin Jr, said: “Healthcare is a primary focus for cost control efforts because it’s the largest of an employer’s benefit spend.”
The survey also revealed that employers are looking to combine traditional healthcare provision with access to telemedicine, which sees employees having access to affordable health care. Currently used by 24% of employers, this is predicted to grow to 42% over the coming years.
In addition, there’s also a growing trend for employers to reduce their healthcare provision costs by providing funding for employees to arrange their own healthcare insurance, with 5% of employees currently being offered this facility. This is expected to triple by 2018.
Meanwhile, a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation has revealed that most Americans, including expats working in the country, are seeing a slowdown in the rate of health insurance increases.
The survey reveals that family health insurance premium costs in the US grew by 3% on average over the past year to $18,412.
The foundation says that the family premium increase is a ‘significant slowdown’ when compared with increases over the last 15 years.
Healthcare for expats in Taiwan makes it number one
The quality and affordability of healthcare in Taiwan has helped it to the top spot for being the best destination for expats in the annual InterNations Expats survey.
Expats also pointed to excellent travel opportunities and impressive transport infrastructure with many reporting high satisfaction with their jobs.
Along with healthcare, the survey also considered an expat’s quality of life, their finances, ease of settling in and the cost of living as well as their work-life balance.
InterNations describes Taiwan’s expat healthcare offering as ‘stellar’ and is ranked in first place for the quality and affordability of its medical care.
The results saw Taiwan outperform 66 other countries with the top five consisting of Malta, Ecuador, Mexico and New Zealand.
The bottom five countries in the survey are Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Nigeria, Greece and Kuwait is in bottom place.
With health and healthcare major factors in the survey, expats living in China complain in the survey about serious air pollution, which has seen its placing fall by 10 places to 48th.
New health insurance product for French expats unveiled
Two new healthcare insurance products that are aimed at a French expats have been unveiled by MSH International and France’s second-largest health insurance broker, Alptis Group. The products are called First’Expat+ and Relais’Expat+.
The products are being offered to expatriates who are working with First’Expat+ offering full reimbursements while Relais’Expat+ is aimed at offering reimbursements that are a supplement to the CFE (Caisse des Français à l’Etranger) benefits; CFE is the social security system that supports French expats working overseas.
The aim of the products is to help those expats who are faced with the prospect of high healthcare bills in other countries including, for instance, an average bill for a GP consultation in the US exceeding US$200.
The firms behind the products say the French expat healthcare market is growing with 100,000 French citizens heading overseas every year. This is likely to grow stronger, with 34% of 18 to 34-year-old French citizens stating they are considering a move overseas over the next five to 10 years.
Australian expats get new health cover product
An Australian healthcare provider has responded to the growing number of expats from Australia dotted around the world with a new product specifically aimed at them.
The firm, nib, has unveiled its Expatriate Health Insurance cover which has been developed in conjunction with AXA PPP International.
The firm’s chief executive, David Kan, said that many Australian expats assume that their travel insurance would cover them when working overseas without appreciating that it’s generally for dealing with medical emergencies and short-term trips.
He added: “For stays overseas that are longer than 12 months, international health insurance provides additional peace of mind not only for medical emergencies but also for non-emergencies including visits to a GP… physio and dental visits.”
The new expatriates’ health insurance sits alongside nib’s other products which cover short-term travel insurance and international students.
Most expats in UAE don't have life coverage
A survey has revealed that 82% of expats in the UAE have no ‘takaful’ life coverage.
Takaful is a type of insurance that’s been devised to comply with sharia law so the contributions from members are pooled to cover loss or damage suffered by themselves and other members.
However, according to the National Bonds Corporation only a small minority of expats have been covered by the country’s traditional insurance system against disability and illness.
The corporation surveyed its own customers and found that 73% of UAE nationals had no takaful life coverage while 27% had a traditional policy.
When other nationalities were questioned, 83% said they had no takaful life cover with 17% saying they had traditional life insurance.
Russia grows in popularity as a medical tourism destination
Growing numbers of foreigners are heading to Russia seeking medical treatment, according to the health ministry.
Official figures reveal that in 2015, the number of non-Russians looking for medical help rocketed fourfold on the year previously.
The result has seen billions of rubles being paid to help boost the state’s coffers with a big jump in the number of Americans interested in receiving medical treatment in Russia.
In a survey, expats told researchers that the weak ruble was fuelling the demand for Russian medical skills and treatment since they are around four times cheaper than in the West.
One politician told a news outlet that he was amazed to hear doctors and patients speaking English in an ordinary Moscow hospital rather than in a specialist expat clinic.
Chinese expats enjoy e-medical platforms
The growing popularity of e-medical platforms by Chinese expats around the world enables them to access high end services and doctors easily and quickly.
The smartphone app Weiyi helps users to find a specialist doctor when necessary by providing an online diagnosis.
There are now more than 20,000 patients in China using online medical services and Chinese expats around the world are also accessing the services on a regular basis with more than 110 million registered users and around 200,000 doctors registered with the services.
The boom in Chinese online healthcare services has led to Boston Consulting Group predicting that Internet technology will see service provision in the country expanding at an ‘exponential rate’.
By 2020, online healthcare provision in China will be worth more than US$100bn.
Expats breathing poor quality air
While expats look for overseas assignment is to promote their career and boost their income, the World Health Organisation says there is a ‘public health emergency’ in progress with 90% of the world having to breathe polluted air.
Air pollution is said to be responsible for around 6 million deaths every year. Now the UN’s global health body says the situation is of extreme concern and that dramatic action is needed to resolve it.
In a report, the WHO says that nearly all countries have dirty air and it needs to be solved by reducing the number of vehicles, the promotion of clean cooking fuels and improved waste management.
The organisation says it has collected data from 3,000 sites around the world and found that 92% of people are living where air quality levels break WHO limits.
Expats should appreciate that the countries suffering with most pollution-related deaths are in low and middle-income countries particularly those in south-east Asia as well as the Western Pacific region.
The data reveals that countries such as China, Malaysia and Vietnam are among the hardest hit.
In other news…
News reports in Saudi Arabia reveal that expat healthcare practitioners in the kingdom are regularly checking the country’s travel ban website. Launched in 2013 by the Ministry of Health, it enables employees and individuals at health facilities to enquire whether they are able to travel outside of Saudi Arabia and if there is a ban on place and, if so, whether it’s related to the country’s medical licensing system, including medical errors and administrative measures.
Allianz Worldwide Care has launched a social media campaign aimed at expats heading overseas with the theme of ‘Things you can’t leave behind’. The ad features a young boy leaving his dog behind while the family prepares to head overseas but there’s a happy ending when the boy and his dog are reunited in their new home. The international healthcare insurance firm is highlighting the concerns for families and individuals who want to access healthcare and the decisions they will need to be making when moving abroad.
Expats and Emiratis are to receive free treatment for any infectious disease they are suffering, including HIV/AIDS, until their condition becomes more stable, the UAE’s government has announced. The new rules will begin within the next six months to cover expats – including those on a visitor’s visa – and citizens equally. However, those who have healthcare insurance will not be able to receive free medicines and treatments.
A new hospital in Bangkok will offer expats state-of-the-art treatment and will also cater for medical tourists with English-speaking staff and highly qualified doctors. Vejthani Hospital has more than 500 beds and will provide a full range of out- and in-patient treatment, including around-the-clock emergency care.
Expats living and working in Kuwait could see their health fees increasing after Parliamentarians demanded that the cost of services that expats receive be increased. Along with health services, expats could also be paying more for residency and commercial visas as the country looks to boost its income because of low oil prices.
Russia is warning expats of polluted city dangers if they visit the Siberian city of Norilsk. Home to a massive nickel mining operation, expats and tourists are being warned that a ‘substantial stay’ may lead to them jeopardising their health.
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