Globalisation of expat jobs changing the healthcare insurance market

by Ray Clancy on January 1, 2013

Globalisation of expat jobs changing the healthcare insurance market

Expats will need international health cover from an ever increasing range of locations as 2013 is likely to see more employees moving to different destinations, it is claimed. Driven by demand, countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China, some of the fastest growing economies in the world, are likely to increase their expat populations and thus the need for health insurance and benefits to cover these kinds of places, according to international firm Jelf Employee Benefits.

Places such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, South America and African countries are also likely to see an increase in expats taking up jobs in sectors where their expertise is needed. The firm points out that offering affordable but comprehensive policies will continue to be the main predicament facing insurers and employee benefit consultants in 2013. The challenge arises due to a number of factors including a broadening of ‘mainstream’ destinations, a rise in demand for additional benefits and an increase in the complexity of local markets.

‘Unlike other areas of employee benefits which tend to become more streamlined and efficient with time, international healthcare becomes ever more intricate and the need to seek specialist advice a necessity,’ said Sarah Dennis, international healthcare director at the firm, ‘Trading overseas was previously the reserve of larger, well established businesses but international markets look increasingly appealing to other smaller UK businesses who are feeling the financial strain at home. Therefore a larger number of companies are sending staff to further flung locations to capitalise on faster growing economies,’ she explained.

Of the nations where expat populations are set to increase the more developed of these nations will broadly mimic policies in existing developed countries, others will pose a real challenge for the insurer and require sophisticated solutions.  The firm predicts that not all insurers will be able to keep up with the demands of local regulators and requirements as they unearth the intricacies of each market. This may mean consolidation in the market, as some insurers may decide to limit their offering to particular geographies whilst only a few genuine worldwide specialists will materialise.

Quote from ExpatForum.com : “I am wondering what the medical facilities are like within the city like Beijing.”

It also says that the desire to explore new markets will be counterbalanced with the financial consequences of doing so. The cost of sending employees abroad continues to rise in terms of both travel and relocation costs as well as policies at a time when the cost of treatments, hospital bills and doctors’ fees are increasing worldwide.  UK policies have become increasingly sophisticated over recent years with ancillary benefits being added on and some such as pre-health screening could become the norm.

‘In 2013, employers need to be educated to understand what they are buying and whether they really need it. In one location an all singing, all dancing policy may be required but in another, local healthcare may be applicable. Either way, the employers’ duty of care burden is becoming increasingly heavy,’ explained Dennis.


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