Expat Focus International Healthcare Update May 2017
Duty of care for international employees
Employers with internationally mobile employees need to take steps to ensure their duty of care obligations are met and boost productivity and well-being.
The findings from a report from Collinson Group, an insurance and assistance provider, say proper consideration should be given by employers to help achieve the best balance between the employee’s well-being and cost savings.Among the issues is for employers to consider is the class of travel and whether their employee’s tiredness would impact on productivity; essentially, travelling on cheaper fares may save money but may not be the best way to work.
In addition, employers need to take into account their employee’s age, their health and their trip itinerary and ensure there’s enough recovery time within a specific territory.
Also, employers should ensure that they do not book their international mobile employees into cheaper accommodation without fully vetting the location and facilities first.
Collinson says that cheap hotels’ surroundings could present a threat to employees’ safety whereas hotels in business areas tend to tailor their offering to the needs of their business traveller clients.
Their report also encourages the growing trend of ‘bleisure’ which sees the expat adding days off to their travel itinerary for pleasure purposes, but these are often self-financed.
Not only do these ‘bleisure’ days help with stress but also boost cultural knowledge within the country.
Internationally mobile people demand healthcare
International healthcare providers are increasingly tailoring their offerings to meet the growing demand from internationally mobile people, according to BUPA.
In a survey, the health insurance provider says that along with demand from expats, there’s also a need that is growing from globally-mobile people who do not fit the typical expat profile.
BUPA undertook a survey to learn more about international healthcare trends and to find what internationally focused clients are looking for.
Essentially, these globally minded people are looking for enhanced benefits along with wellness benefits within their health policy.
A spokesperson for BUPA said: “They do not just want health insurance cover to protect them when they are sick but also look after their well-being and they are looking for bundled policies that take care of their health needs rather than having a core product with add-ons.”
UAE unveils new billing system
After the successful implementation of a mandatory health insurance scheme for expats in the UAE, the government has unveiled plans for a new billing system.
The move is to improve payments and transparency with the new system being implemented by 2018.
The Dubai Health Authority says this is the logical next step for its health insurance implementation programme and they are also looking at building on healthcare outcomes.
The health insurance scheme which is now compulsory has seen the number of expats with health cover rocketing from 1.1 million in 2013 to the current 4.5 6 million policies being issued.
Dubai fines health centres and insurers
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed that it has fined insurance companies and health clinics for violating the country’s mandatory health insurance laws.
The organisation says 25 health centres, brokers, companies and clinics have been fined and six are facing potential prosecution for fraudulent activity.
The violations of the new health cover laws were found during routine surprise inspections carried out by the authority as well as from member complaints.
A spokesman for the DHA said: “Some healthcare insurers and providers did not comply with the health insurance law and circulars issued by our health funding department.”
One of the big issues for health insurers was failing to provide health insurance cards for expats on time.
Expats fuel depression claims
Research has revealed that claims for depression under international private medical insurance policies rocketed by 50% over the last two years.
The findings from Aetna International also show that the claims for mental health problems in Europe between 2014 and 2016 rose by 33%.
The insurer says that depression claims in the Middle East and Africa rose by 28% and by 26% in the Americas.
A spokesman for Aetna said: “One reason that expats are more susceptible to mental health problems is because of the absence of a friends network and family which they have relied upon for support.
“Employers should take a more preventative approach such as introducing employee assistance programmes which will help tackle concerns and encourage employee wellness to address these issues before they escalate.”
A survey reveals that in the UK, employers are increasingly looking to implement workplace well-being strategies.
The Reward & Employee Benefits Association says that 45% of firms have a clearly defined well-being strategy, a rise from 30% last year.
Qatar monitoring expat health
Authorities in Qatar have revealed plans to monitor the health and well-being of expats working on the country’s World Cup stadiums.
The move is to examine and appreciate the health of workers in the country.
The pilot programme will see 1,000 employees being monitored for issues such as dehydration, blood sugar issues and high blood pressure with a view to improving nutrition.
Meanwhile, expats who are struggling with depression in Qatar can access an online counselling resource launched by a former expat resident.
Sam Nabil has returned to the US where the marketing manager says he was less than impressed with Qatar’s mental health services.
The issue of mental health awareness in the country has seen authorities there working to address problems along with promoting public awareness.
Removing EHIC will be costly
British expats will face much higher health insurance cover should the European Union remove access to the European Health Insurance Card, say MPs.
A Parliamentary report says millions face having their free health access removed in EU countries and they want more guarantees for those Brits who visit the continent after Brexit.
For instance, the report highlights that those with cancer will find it too expensive to visit or live in Europe because the cost of insurance cover will be prohibitive.
The EHIC card guarantees access for British travellers and expats to emergency medical treatment and reduced cost health treatments.
For expats who live in the European Union, the report also states that access to the S1 form is also crucial, which enables them to receive free health cover.
Medicaid just as good as private health cover
For expats in the US who are contemplating whether they need private health insurance or Medicaid, then research from the Commonwealth Fund may help their decision.
Researchers found that those who are enrolled with Medicaid receive similar or better care as those who are privately insured.
There was, however, a slightly lower rate of securing a same-day doctor’s appointment between the two systems.
Also, those on Medicaid are less likely than the uninsured and privately insured to struggle to pay their medical bills.
Meanwhile, a plan to replace Obamacare in the US without an adequate replacement would break international law, the UN has told President Donald Trump in a report.
New health policy offered for expats heading to US
A new health policy for expats heading to the US has been unveiled with the promise of bigger benefits and lower premiums.
The comprehensive plan from WellAway is aimed at expats who are moving globally on a frequent basis and expats wanting to meet ACA compliant healthcare coverage in the US.
The aim of ‘Akin’ is to deliver current benefits from plans offered by the insurer with optional benefits that will help meet the needs of expats.
In addition, French expats who subscribe to their CFE (Caisse des Français de l’Étranger) can use the plan as a top-up for their CFE membership.
In other healthcare news…
Expats in Singapore have seen healthcare costs rise by 30.6% in the 10 years to 2015, that is higher than the rate of inflation. The increase has been fuelled by the rising price of healthcare cover for the private sector, say researchers. Singapore’s Life Insurance Association says that bills in public hospitals rose by 0.6% between 2012 and 2014 while for private hospitals they grew by 8.7% per year.
In a bid to stem the number of expats and Australians opting to not to renew their health insurance cover, the government is considering bringing three levels of policies with the lowest, the bronze, offering a cost-effective solution for those on low incomes.
Expats who use benefits from Aetna International will soon be able to access the Health Hub, which is a redesigned and secure members-only portal. It offers a one-stop shop to manage all aspects of their health efficiently.
Cigna has unveiled its third annual survey for tracking the well-being and health of people in 13 worldwide markets and has found that there’s been a decline in perceived family welfare and workplace health benefits which are crucial for employees. For example, expats in Hong Kong are becoming less healthy and the findings reveal that the overall health for expats there has fallen for three years with many finding a gap between the medical insurance provided by employers and the expat’s own medical needs. Data sharing and digital healthcare technology is also increasing in popularity, the report states.
There are fears that Brexit will damage healthcare treatments for expats in Northern Ireland and Ireland with many treatments becoming unavailable between the two countries. Depending on the outcome of negotiations, thousands of patients from Ireland, including expats, face the prospect of losing access to treatment in Northern Ireland.
Munich Re has launched a new health platform to empower its clients to live healthier lives by using data. The offering will be delivered to insurance partners around the world for their clients to utilise their lifestyle signals from wearable’s and mobile phone apps which will help guide them towards a health objective, for instance reducing stress levels or preventing diabetes.
Now Health International has boosted its WorldCare product with improved benefits, better value services and a simplified deductible structure. The international private medical insurance provider says its move will make the plans easier for members to understand and for those who are on a budget to get the coverage they need.
According to the International Federation of Employee Benefit Plans, around one in four members of the workforce being covered has the option to cover infertility treatment; the organisation says this is a smart move by employers and is a welcome benefit.
Expats living and working in the US are among those surveyed to reveal that American health insurance plans are more focused on the bills rather than healthcare guidance; must respondents said they would prefer better screening and monitoring and improving the use of digital health data for better health outcomes.
The Australian government says it will stop funding subsidies for expats to undertake assisted reproductive technology services in the country. The decision follows news that British expats received more than $2.5 million in Medicare rebates over the last four years for this purpose.
Expats living in Medellín say they are increasingly concerned about the levels of pollution affecting their health, according to local news outlets. The Columbian city is not one of the world’s most polluted, according to the UN, but expats say the pollution does affect their stay and others should be aware of the problems before moving there.
The Abu Dhabi government has revealed it is cancelling the 20% co-payment needed from its citizens for receiving treatment at private facilities. The Thiqa health insurance scheme is now back to 100% of funding – except for expats.
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