Expat Focus International Healthcare Update October 2018
Unique offering to boost expat healthcare
A unique offering will enable health insurers and multinational employers to provide access to doctors and healthcare for their expats and travellers while working overseas.
The unveiling of Global Care by Teledoc is the world’s first virtual care offering to meet the unique needs of globally mobile people who are searching for general medical care.The aim is for multinational organisations to easily provide their expat employees and travellers with a single solution that is easy to navigate for accessing quality care, regardless of where the expatriate is.
A spokesman for the firm said: “Navigating unfamiliar health systems while travelling can heighten stress and uncertainty for expat employees and can result in higher costs for the plan sponsor.
"Global Care will help transform how people experience and access healthcare around the world and accelerate the pace of innovation for virtual care offerings."
Essentially, the new platform makes it easier for an expat to speak with a doctor in their own language and who also has the training and experience to listen to a unique health situation and then offer help and guidance through a local health system as required. The new service can be accessed anywhere in the world around the clock and is offered in more than 20 languages.
Expats targeted in health insurance loophole
The South Korean government has unveiled plans to tighten the rules for those expats who apply for health insurance cover in the country. The new regulations could come into effect from December and will prevent expats from exploiting the system’s loopholes to enjoy medical benefits.
In addition, the new laws will also prevent Koreans who live overseas but who return home for medical treatment.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare says that expats will need to live in the country for six months before being considered for health insurance, which is double the current restriction of three months. Also, employers will now need to cover insurance costs for those expats not covered by the new regulations.
The aim is to prevent expats travelling to South Korea, signing up for the country’s national health insurance and then enjoying expensive medical treatment but having paid a small premium to do so. This has also led to the government increasing health insurance premiums for expats because they’ve previously paid small premiums as they had no registered property or income in the country.
The number of expats who have signed up to the national health insurance system is currently 291,000.
Now Health International unveils digital health product
International private medical insurance provider Now Health International has unveiled a new digital product that is aimed at the next generation of expats.
SimpleCare has been created to meet the needs of younger expats who are looking for cheaper international health insurance provision.
The new offering covers a range of health issues, including surgery, hospitalisation, evacuation, cancer treatment and repatriation.
Now’s executive chairman, Martin Garcia, said: “SimpleCare is designed to meet the needs of growing numbers of young people moving overseas, most of whom will end up on local employment contracts. We created an international health insurance solution that caters to these digitally literate, cost-conscious expats and providing them with access to world-class medical facilities and a high standard of service.”
The new offering will be rolled out in Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and Africa before reaching other Middle East and Asian markets.
New health insurance unveiled in UAE
Expats in the United Arab Emirate will be among those to benefit from a new low-cost insurance scheme. The initiative has now begun and will deliver employee protection over the long term.
The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has introduced a new insurance policy that will cost each worker Dh 60 (£12/$16) per year – to be paid by employers.
Previously, employers had to pay for their expat employee’s health insurance or stump up a guarantee for every employee of Dh 3,000 (£621/$817).
Now the government will refund bank guarantees to employers and the new health cover will be worth Dh 20,000 (£4,140/$5,440) to include end of service benefits, the paying of unpaid wages, work injuries and the expat’s return ticket home.
The ministry says the new insurance offering is tied directly to workers’ benefits and employment rights while in the country as well as providing healthcare.
Maternity app offered by Bupa Global
BUPA Global has unveiled a maternity app that’s designed to support women through their pregnancy. The BUPA Due Date Plus app is for its clients wanting to support their employees, including those working and living overseas.
The app will provide information and help throughout the pregnancy for both the expectant mother and their partner. The new app is available now and features week-by-week updates, weight gain tracker and a due date calculator.
BUPA Global says that from its research, 22% of women say that their employer was not supportive while they worked when pregnant. The firm’s commercial director, Patrick Watt, said: “Our research shows that 79% of mothers found that working while pregnant, was both physically and mentally challenging.
"Businesses are increasingly engaged with employee well-being and health, but formalised maternity support is relatively limited. This app is one way for businesses to support pregnant employees which benefits mother, baby and the workforce."
Kuwait’s health offering for expats will improve
The chief executive of Health Assurance Hospitals Company (Dhaman) in Kuwait, Ahmad Al-Saleh, says there will be a ‘shift in the quality of health services’ once the responsibility for compulsory health insurance for expats is transferred to them.
He says that the current health insurance provision needs to be improved to match international developments. Speaking to local media, he said that Kuwait’s health insurance system needs developing and the government will also reduce its spending on healthcare and health facilities.
Under the new scheme, expats will receive a unified insurance document detailing the health coverage they can enjoy with a specific list of medicines along with access to consultations and x-rays. However, one Kuwaiti doctor caused a stir on social media after he highlighted that last year’s increase of health fees for expats has led to some going without treatments.
The doctor gave an example of an expat who needed a CT scan, which would cost 80 KD (£201/$264) without other expenses, but he only earns 120 KD (£301/$396) per month and couldn’t justify the expense.
In other news…
Dubai’s health authority has announced that medical professionals who leave the country will not have their licence cancelled so they will not have to re-sit exams should they decide to return at some point in the future. The professional’s credentials will be retained by the new Dubai Healthcare Professionals Registry.
Oman’s Ministry of Health has announced that it will no longer be accepting expat medical examination certificates for those who are coming from Uganda or Kenya unless the medical examinations have been conducted at a GCC-accredited medical centre. The new rules are now in force.
Nexus, one of the biggest financial advisers in the GCC, has announced an online offering for expats in the UAE to access instant life cover. The firm has teamed-up with Zurich International Life to offer insurance with no medical check-up required. The sign-up process consists of three steps to insure the expat and their family.
BUPA has announced a revamp of its dental care plans for its business customers and their employees. The plans have been redesigned with clinical expert input with preventative cover being improved. The firm says it is also added a ‘no forms’ approach to directly settling claims.
A political party in the UK, the UK Independence party, has announced a plan to deal with the growing issue of health tourism with new NHS treatment cards. Expats in the UK and British citizens would be given the NHS health card which would enable them to access free medical treatment and prevent foreign nationals from accessing free care. Unless UKIP wins power in a general election, the proposals are unlikely to be introduced.
The world’s largest health insurance scheme has been unveiled in India with the Prime Minister there unveiling the initiative, called Ayushman Bharat. The healthcare scheme will deliver Medicare to hundreds of millions of Indians after the government identified that nearly 63% of its population had no form of health cover.
Specialist travel insurance comparison firm travel, CompareCover has found growing numbers of travellers from the UK, including mobile executives, are worried about the impact a no deal Brexit and how it would affect their ability for travelling within Europe. This is a source of concern for 71% of travellers with a number of people travelling to Europe falling dramatically under a ‘no deal’ scenario which could also have an impact on tourism, as well as business. There will also be issues over the European health insurance card (EHIC) should there be a no deal, the firm adds.
AXA-Global Healthcare has revealed that its virtual doctor service, Global Care On Demand, will be available to all its current and new customers following a pilot run. The offering will provide health plan members with access to qualified multilingual doctors via video or phone for a consultation and is available 24/7.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has hit Bupa Healthcare with a £175,000 fine after a BUPA employee stole data from customers around the world to sell on the ‘dark web’. The ICO says that BUPA did not have security measures in place for protecting their customers’ personal information or that the stealing of data was a risk.
For those expats who regularly pass through airport security, then the trays you place belongings into before being scanned have been deemed a health hazard. A study reveals that they have more respiratory viruses than are found in public toilets. Researchers analysed 90 trays at Helsinki airport and found a range of viruses present.
Generali Global Health (GGH), the international health insurance provider, has unveiled a new wellness app called Bria. It’s part of an upgrade to the flagship product, Global Choice. Customers can now identify health risks and take preventative measures and the app provides health advice according to the customer’s needs. Users can also create health goals and produce a strategy to deal with them.
Two US airlines – JetBlue and Delta – are facing a class-action lawsuit over what are described to be deceptive marketing practices when they sell optional add-on travel insurance policies. Despite the airlines not being licensed to sell insurance, it’s been alleged that they received a share the profits from the sales. Delta says there is no truth in the allegations.
Employers should do more to ensure their staff use mental health support when it’s available as part of their group risk products. The warning comes from the trade body, Group Risk Development, who say employers and employees can offer clinical assessments by a mental health specialist, along with counselling and other specialist help – with these benefits often coming at no extra cost.
Integra Global has unveiled a new member portal for pre-authorised treatment and to make their claims. The international health plans provider says that the website will provide a hub for members around the world to use their health policies efficiently. They can download documents, update personal information and details and also make and track their claims.
It looks increasingly likely that Oman will implement a mandatory health insurance scheme and it will be phased in from next year. The first step will see visitors needing to buy medical insurance before they will be allowed to enter the country.
Global loyalty and benefits firm Collinson has teamed up with Hiscox to offer their travel insurance customers with complimentary access to more than 1,000 airport lounges in the event of a flight delay around the world. The cover is for those travelling for leisure or business should their flight be delayed for more than 90 minutes. The lounge offers free refreshments and Wi-Fi, along with free magazines and newspapers and business facilities for up to four friends or family members.
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