Expat Focus International Healthcare Update September 2018

Cost of international health insurance around the world revealed

Researchers have revealed how much it costs for expats to enjoy international health insurance in 100 countries.

The findings from Pacific Prime are revealed in a new report which found that the average price for international health insurance across all locations, insurers and demographics.This year health insurance costs for expats ranged from $6,201 in Angola to $23,120 in the US. However, when the figures are broken down by demographic, the firm found huge variances in different locations.

They say that the cost for individual health insurance plans range from $3,120 on average in Tanzania to $11,492 in the US. Health insurance plans for families range from $9,250 for those in Angola to $34,298 in the United States.

Unsurprisingly, the US is the most expensive country for international health insurance in the world, followed by Hong Kong. The top five is made up with Canada, Dubai and China.

Pacific Prime also reveals that the gap between the average health insurance premiums in the US and the other 99 locations analysed have increased over the past year.

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Also, a number of countries have seen health insurance premiums fall while expats in Dubai, Indonesia and Canada have seen big rises in their costs for insurance over the past year.

Expats see healthcare as a 'relocation must'

A survey has revealed that more than half of expats say that having healthcare in place when relocating is the most important consideration when heading overseas for work.

The findings from Aetna International are published in their annual Expat Experiences survey which aims to understand the challenges that face expats when moving abroad, including the decisions made over healthcare.

The survey questioned 500 expats in a range of countries and found that 54% of expats said that researching healthcare before relocating was considered to be either ‘important’ or ‘very important’.

The most difficult part of relocating for children is having to say goodbye to family members, for 77% of respondents, and the least difficult was having to make new friends, for 19%.

UnitedHealthcare enters the UK and Europe iPMI market

US healthcare giant UnitedHealth Global has revealed it is offering plans to employers with customers in the UK and Europe. The international private medical insurance product will be called ‘BeHealthy’ and will be available in 32 European Economic Area countries.

The plan will focus on helping employees who are working overseas to identify and then manage their health risks, with a particular focus on their mental, physical and also emotional health.

The plan will offer access to the firm’s worldwide medical network which has more than 1.3 million care providers and 21,000 hospitals to choose from.

There’s also a personalised digital solution being offered to help cultivate healthy habits among expat employees. The firm’s chief executive, David Powell, said: “Our products provide cost-effective, high quality benefits and services to customers wherever they are in the world. The plan builds on our extensive portfolio of international health insurance plans that have been available to US-based multinational employers for years.”

Confusion over British expats' health rights

The rights of British expat retirees living in France to access local healthcare are surrounded in confusion after the national body in charge of access in France, Cnam, revealed that the expats rights to access free healthcare will end on 29 March next year – when the UK leaves the EU.

Industry experts say this will probably be the situation under a ‘no deal’ scenario but they believe that a withdrawal agreement will see the healthcare access rights for UK pensioners resident in France being unaffected.

The move has created concern for the large British expat community as no-one knows what the exact situation will be for some time yet.

Cigna offers wellbeing app for expats

Globally mobile workers are being offered a well-being app from Cigna Europe. The app offers tailored lifestyle and clinical support for employees who move to work overseas for their employer.

There will be real-time wellness and health coaching along with 24/7 video and telephone consultations available with nurses, doctors and other healthcare specialists.

Employers can also use data from the app to help provide an insight on the well-being and health of their expat staff.

The firm’s chief executive, Phil Austin, said: “With the app, employers have the opportunity of creating a positive workplace for globally mobile employees and enable them to make healthy choices that support their well-being and health.”

The app has already been launched in the Middle East and North America and it also offers GP consultations in eight languages.

The costliest places for people to fall ill

Research has revealed that Japan and the US are the costliest places for people to fall ill while on holiday or are working, research reveals.
Medical travel insurance firm Get Going says Japan is the priciest for medical travel insurance claims and is followed closely by the US.
They say that claimants are having to pay nearly £2,000 ($2,630) upfront to receive treatment.

The cheapest country is Finland with an average medical bill claim of £118, followed by the UK with £244. The riskiest place for travellers to fall ill is Mexico because of the risk of infectious diseases and a lack of clean water.

South Korea announces expat healthcare crackdown

The South Korean government has revealed that it’s going to toughen rules to end healthcare abuses carried out by expats in the country.

Expats will need to live in the country for six months before they can access the country’s healthcare system, the government states. They are moving to close a loophole that allows an expat to pay insurance premiums for a month or two after which they can access medical treatments and then leave the country.

It is often referred to as ‘healthcare dine and dash’ by South Koreans and the issue is currently a hot topic after revelations of some expats enjoying expensive treatments before leaving the country.

Now the Ministry of Health and Welfare says growing numbers of healthcare ‘dine and dash’ instances needs to end. Official figures reveal that 25,000 foreigners managed to exploit the healthcare system between 2015 and 2017, with Koreans who are living overseas and then returning home to enjoy free medical treatment also growing rapidly.

The news follows an announcement last month by the Japanese government to crack down on expats abusing their health service without paying for treatment.

Paper-free iPMI product unveiled for young expats

Now Health International has unveiled a new paper-free iPMI product which is aimed at younger expats and millennials. The digital product, called SimpleCare, will give access to the product’s relevant documents and users can make claims using a smartphone app or using an online site.

The product offers protection for hospitalisation and surgery as well as repatriations and evacuation – common concerns for younger expats, the firm says.

Customers can also opt to include dental care and cover for medication and physiotherapy and also reduce their premiums by choosing their deductibles for all types of potential treatments.

The firm’s chief executive Martin Garcia said:

"This will meet the needs of a new generation of expats and with growing numbers of young people moving overseas we set out to create the international health insurance solutions that will cater to digitally literate expats. The product will provide access to world class medical facilities and the high standard of service we are known for.”

In other news…

Cigna and Aetna are considered to be among the most valuable healthcare brands in the world. In rankings produced by Brand Finance, the international healthcare firms were placed in the top 10 with UnitedHealthcare, a US health insurer, topping the list, followed by Anthem.

Aetna International has won the best international benefits provider at the Workplace Savings and Benefits Awards. The awards recognise providers who do the most to help employees and staff with the firm’s spiritual health offering being praised.

The government in Bahrain has announced a law that will make health insurance provision mandatory for all citizens, expats and visitors in the country. From January next year, employers will need to enrol expat employees, along with their dependents, onto a health insurance plan while the government will provide cover for citizens. Tourists and visitors must also have health insurance before entering the country.

Health insurance premiums in the Netherlands are certain to rise again. The government is predicting that the basic health insurance price will be around €10 extra per month from next year. The own risk amount will remain at €385, with the price increases down to growing salaries and price increases in the healthcare sector.

Growing numbers of young Australians, including expats working in the country, are quitting the country’s healthcare system because of soaring premiums. Costs have rocketed by 70% in eight years with an ageing population leading to the spiralling health care fees. With the country’s population aged over 65 set to double by 2057, younger people have to pay more for their insurance to cover claims being made by older people. Now, official statistics reveal that growing numbers of young Australians and expats are swapping their private insurance coverage for Medicare and in the last three years, 22% of adults aged under 30 have ditched private health insurance coverage for universal public healthcare, which is much cheaper.

International students in Canada’s Manitoba province have been warned that should they become terminally or seriously ill, then they may be forced to return home or risk losing their health cover. University administrators say it’s common for insurance policies covering international students to have this clause. However, the Confederation of Canadian of Students say the policy is flawed and international students contribute to the economy and should have the same healthcare rights that citizens have.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Health says it has collected 41 million dinars (£103m/$135) in cash from expats in health fees over the last four months. The money is to pay for accessing doctors and clinics as well as paying out of pocket costs.

For expats living in the Netherlands, a new platform delivering all aspects of healthcare has been unveiled. The platform, Healthcare for Internationals (H4i), offers news and information in English on various Dutch healthcare subjects. Expats will be able to access information about the country’s healthcare and health insurance system and also information about promoting mental and physical health. With 850,000 expats currently living in the Netherlands, the platform will meet the needs of those who don’t speak Dutch well enough to access the information necessary.

International travellers based in the US may be interested in the launch of SmartBenefits from Allianz Global. The product enables US customers to receive a range of benefits including enhanced medical care and being paid for flight delays. Indeed, these will be made in real time with Alliance automatically filing a claim on behalf of a customer for them to receive up to US$100 per person per travel delay onto their debit card.

Cigna has announced that it is investing $250 million into healthcare start-ups around the world in a bid to boost its service delivery. The global health insurer says the move will help improve their offering to expat clients globally.

The British Embassy in Bangkok has reissued a travel warning that all visitors from the UK, including expats and business travellers, should have comprehensive medical insurance before entering Thailand. The warning comes after the embassy says that most of those it helped last year did not have any medical insurance cover.

Saudi Arabia is home to the largest Middle Eastern health sector with spending exceeding SR150billion (£30.4bn/$40bn) every year, the Ministry of Health says. However, the ministry also highlights that the kingdom’s health sector is facing struggles, including a scarcity of trained staff and the population is undergoing a demographic change. Now there’s a plan to reform the kingdom’s health system, including the adoption of healthy food and preventative health measures with the ministry work focused towards expats and citizens alike.

News outlets in the United Arab Emirates have revealed that London’s Ambulance Service has launched a recruitment campaign aimed at British expat paramedics to return to the UK. The ambulance service has taken out adverts across various media outlets aimed at UK-trained paramedics who have moved to the UAE for work to consider returning home to help plug a staffing crisis.


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