Almost half of UK based companies that send staff abroad to work fail to conduct a full health assessment of the destination and many don’t organise vaccination programmes, it is claimed.
The result is that expats are often left in the dark over where to turn for health advice and many not have sufficient health cover, according to a study by PMI Global.
It found that some 20% of companies that send employees abroad for prolonged periods of six months or more fail to provide them with international health insurance and 48% of companies neglect to conduct full health assessments of the destinations they send staff to.
The study also found that 44% don’t organise vaccinations for their employees where required and that 1 in 10 companies leave their expat employees totally in the dark over where to turn to for health advice.
‘While the EHIC entitles any resident in the UK to receive emergency healthcare treatment while travelling in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, restrictions mean it is not a substitute for standalone international health insurance,’ said Rachael Floyd at PMI Global.
Health insurance companies point out that policies provide much more than just covering routine medical expenses and expats face a number of potentially expensive challenges including the potential for life threatening illness or a serious accident that may require expatriation back to their home country.
Swiss Life said that is Expat Select policy for multinational companies covers retirement, death, disability, health and assistance. It also points out that expat employees in most companies are often highly skilled and well paid and are worth looking after.
Other considerations inlcude annual sight and hearing tests, routine vaccinations, political and security evacuation, identity theft, criminal assault and even natural disaster evacuation.
International access to a medical information service staffed by certified physicians, pharmacists and psychologists may also be required.
‘Expats’ needs are changing as assignments become more challenging and move farther afield. Gone are the days where a one size fits all style expat medical plan will suffice. Expats need choice and flexibility of cover and in many cases they are now looking for protection over and above that of traditional in-patient and out-patient costs,’ said Carl Carter, managing director of IMG Europe.