In many ways, the Middle East has become, and is becoming, one of the most exciting regions for economic and financial development.
Dubai is in position to not only have the world’s largest Ferris Wheel but also the world’s largest mall. In addition to large commercial attractions, Qatar will also be hosting the 2022 World Cup, another feather in the hat for the region that has seen marked instability during the last few years. However, one of the biggest indicators that show the region is in prime position for substantial growth can be found within the insurance industry, particularly in the health insurance sector.
It would be an understatement to say that the population of the United Arab Emirates has grown quickly. Census data shows that in the past 40 years, the population of the UAE has increased by 700 percent. Whereas just over 500,000 people resided in the UAE in 1975, today there are nearly eight million residents who call the Emirates home. A large percentage of these new residents are expats and foreign workers, and although many high caliber expats will receive health insurance through their jobs, low-wage, blue collar foreign workers often do not; especially in Dubai. Read more
With the release of MSH China’s April 1st premium rate adjustments, Globalsurance is pleased to report a stable increase of 10.5% across the board of all plan options. While this increase is in line with the market average, coverage adjustments have been made to certain benefits. These adjustments should not have a large impact on plan renewability, but Gloabalsurance analysts expect that in many cases, the renewal rate will increase for affected plans.
As more companies look to send employees abroad and as globalization expands across all industries, one issue that exists for all expatriates is the ever-changing healthcare industry. Healthcare is undoubtedly a need for all, yet healthcare facilities and services differ greatly across continents and even countries, resulting in varied healthcare costs all over the world.
As AXA PPP recently released their premium increases for April, Globalsurance customers can be pleased to note that the six-month increase will only be about 3 to 5% higher, according to a clients plan level. AXA PPP’s first premium increase last October was about 4% across the board. This means that customers are seeing annual increases in premiums of less than 10%, which is average, if not lower, when compared to other insurance companies.
Globalsurance customers recently received good news with the release of Bupa‘s updated premiums that will take effect on April 1st. The premium adjustments reflect Bupa’s ability and commitment to keeping their plan pricing stable and strong. The company’s proven consistency in what they are able to offer customers is good news for the many loyal Bupa customers who have stuck with with the leading international health insurance provider. Read more
In the wake of several alarming events in the past, including the recent kidnapping of a French family in Cameroon, it is understandable that individuals may be more concerned than normal for their safety. However, Globalsurance clients with InterGlobal plans can put their minds at rest due to their insurers recent partnership with Red24, which will provide clients with free access to an on-the-ground security network of over 400 global safety specialists, as well as instant area specific safety advice. Red24 offers travel and safety advice for all areas of the globe, full political and natural disaster evacuation for clients on certain plan levels, and general security and safety advice in your residence while living in a different country. Taking care of client’s medical wellbeing, as well as their personal safety and home security, is one of the key factors that demonstrate InterGlobal’s commitment to their client
Coverage from top insurers, such as Cigna, can often involve high premiums as benefits are generous and the levels of servicing offered are of the highest quality. The “Global Health Options” (GHO) issued by Cigna roughly one year ago was aimed at such clients looking for high quality health insurance. Now, Cigna is aiming to provide health insurance that will appeal to clients who may not be able to afford high end plan premiums and have launched their latest product, the GHO “Advance”. The benefits of this plan have been reduced slightly, but the premium is much more appealing while still incorporating the level of service that is normally associated with Cigna.
Providing cost-effective, yet comprehensive international health insurance solutions remains a major issue for providers, according to Jelf Employee Benefits. Some of the factors affecting private international insurance providers include the expanding number of destinations where customers are requiring coverage, the increasing demand for more benefits and the ever-changing environments of local markets in terms of healthcare options.
Sarah Dennis of Jelf Employee Benefits commented: “Unlike other areas of employee benefits which tend to become more streamlined and efficient with time, international healthcare becomes ever more intricate. International markets look increasingly appealing to smaller businesses who are feeling the financial strain at home. So a larger number of companies are sending staff to further-flung locations to capitalize on faster-growing economies.”
MSH International entered the Chinese insurance market in 2001, setting up a Third Party Administrator service that allowed the parent company to establish MSH China. Based off their success in Europe, MSH began to offer new health and life insurance product options in the region. Read more
2012 saw the best financial results for international medical insurer William Russell, with a 30 percent increase in business from the previous year. The opening of a new sales support office in Hong Kong has also enabled the insurer to reach more clients in Asia, and ensures better service and support. Read more
William Russell has announced a new campaign for 2013 that is designed to combat trends of excessive premium inflation in the UAE. The international insurance provider has decided to offer increased flexibility to its clients when they make a choice on their medical network options and prices. Cheaper provider networks will soon be available for clients who are looking for a chance to manage existing claims costs at their own discretion, and based on their needs or situation at the time.
Read the rest of the William Russell & Medical insurance UAE article
Dubai roads were obscured with fog and heavy rain on the 17th of December 2012. The hazardous conditions affected drivers and caused as many as 330 motor accidents within a seven hour period.
The havoc caused by the traffic sparked predictions that the insurance industry could see premium rises in car coverage across the UAE at the start of the 2013 renewal season. Current average annual insurance rates for the UAE have been relatively low at 3 percent (0.5-1.5 percent less than other countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council) resulting in many motor portfolios from major insurance providers suffering massive losses, some reaching into millions of dirhams.Read the rest of the Premium Increases for UAE Drivers insurance article.
In recent months, Integra Global has made some sweeping developments in their services and analysts at Globalsurance, a long-time intermediary for the company, believe that customers will be very pleased about what the international insurer has planned.
Integra Global has typically been a niche player in the international health insurance sector but have continued to develop into a strong brand by offering supportive customer service, strong plan management and an efficient claims process. During the last five years, the company has been able to maintain strong relationships with its clients which has in turn, helped Globalsurance to build and maintain their client base. These new developments will undoubtedly continue to add to this.
For those living in the Middle East, asthma and other respiratory problems continue to be a constant issue and topic of discussion. Statistics indicate that about 13% of adults and 25% of children in the United Arab Emirates suffer from a form of asthma. The World Asthma Foundation has released data suggesting that the number of people with asthma will increase by about 70% in the next 25 years in the region.
Some of the biggest factors contributing to these statistics are the annual sandstorms and the ongoing construction works taking place. The continuous construction in the area has created large amounts of dust and pollution in the air and PM10 levels, the measurement of small particles that can penetrate lungs and create respiratory problems, tend to be consistently high, often above the recommended level suggested by the World Health Organisation.
Award winning insurer InterGlobal has released its premium increases for 2013, and the news is sure to put even wider smiles on the already happy faces of current InterGlobal customers.
Their announcement comes hot on the heels of similar disclosures by industry giants AETNA and Bupa, who have both hiked their premiums by about 10 percent. Allianz Worldwide Care have also just announced their premium increase of 5% for the year 2012/13 (more details 2013 premium adjustments for Bupa and AETNA).
InterGlobal’s 2013 increase comes into force from the 1st Jan 2013 and is well below the 5 year historic trend for medical inflation in the section which averages 11%. The adjustment applies on their UltraCare product for all territories except China and Indonesia.
The news gets even better; optional maternity, travel and personal accident plans will have no increase, while International Student plans and UltraCare policies in China will also not undergo any premium increase. Read more
AETNA is one of the latest insurers to reveal the new pricing points for their range of International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) products. Together with BUPA, AETNA has also revealed an increase in the cost of its IPMI plans; with both companies providing similar adjustments levels (10% Aetna, 10.3% Bupa) that match the current global medical inflation trends and compensate for the increasing costs of medical treatment at major international hospitals.
Customers who have purchased plans after October 1st 2012, or who will be renewing their policies after that date will have the adjusted premiums placed on their policy.
While the increase of 10 percent may seem steep, it is important to realize that this is actually lower than AETNA’s 5 year average 11.9 percent premium inflation rate; and is only higher than the increases the company placed on its premiums in 2010 and 2012 which were 9.9 and 8.2 percent respectively.
However, outside of the normal yearly adjustment of plan premiums in relation to heightened levels of global medical inflation AETNA has taken some welcome steps to provide more comprehensive protection to policyholders and their families.
Starting with the inclusion of Traditional Chinese Medicine benefits in the prescribed under both Inpatient and Outpatient medication Coverage, in addition to offering rehabilitation protection under those same benefits, AETNA has drastically improved its maternity package by including expanded coverage for a range of maternity and infant related treatments.
Under AETNA plans, as of October 1st, they have extended the maternity coverage under the complications of pregnancy benefit where they will now offer post-natal check-ups for 6 weeks after the complicated birth. Furthermore, keeping with the family friendly developments, AETNA plans are now able to provide coverage for congenital anomalies in an infant up until the child has reached 12 months of age.
In a clear sign that the company is intending to attract more business from expatriate families around the world, AETNA has also improved the protection offered to dependents who are not infants by enabling coverage up until the age of 18 if the dependent is living with the policyholder, or up until the age of 26 if the dependent is enrolled in full time education.
Continuing the changes are a number of considerations which will enable even further flexibility to policyholders with an AETNA plan, including an extension of the claim submission deadline to 180 days after treatment – allowing for more give in relation to customer’s lives. However, AETNA plans will now limit Accidental Dental Treatment to one visit within 30 days of the initial accident or treatment which warranted the Dental care.
AETNA, which took over international insurance company Goodhealth, has shown with the update of its coverage offerings that it is committed to providing exceptional levels of protection to foreign nationals, and their families, whom are located around the world. While the average premium increase may, initially, seem high, the inclusion of a range of more innovative and comprehensive coverage should see the company well positioned to see success for the remainder of the year.
Globalsurance has learnt that Bupa is launching a new product for the Chinese market. Bupa has teamed up with China based Alltrust Insurance Company to provide Bupa Premier Worldwide Health Options (PHWO), which becomes available from the 1st of October. PWHO is unique in that it will consider covering pre-existing medical conditions, a first for international private medical insurance plans in China.
Teetering on the brink of economic collapse is Greece, the land of ancient mythological deities, and like the Gods before them hopes and beliefs in a timely turnabout for the Greek economy are dwindling hastily. At hand is the issue of the Eurozone: does Greece stay within and keep the Euro, or will it revert back to the obsolete drachma, the original Grecian currency which existed prior to 2001?
If the Eurozone were to retract it’s inclusion of Greece, there could be drastic effects which affect not only Greece, but the entire Eurozone as well. Specifically, the once-Eurozone-greats of Spain, Italy, and Portugal, who similarly share severely weakened economies, are significantly at risk should the Greek make an exit. It is ironic that the four major players pulling down the system are Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain – bearing the acronym of PIGS.
What are some of the possible issues at hand? How will the lifestyle and welfare of the residents be affected? And something more topical, with the state of Greece’s public funding slashed, what will happen to healthcare and health insurance?
Should the Greek system withdraw its participation in the Eurozone, there will be widespread effects across economies not just in the Eurozone, but around the world as well. In preparation for the withdrawal, the Greek banks will probably limit the amount that a person can withdraw from their bank accounts to prevent a bank run and a collapse of Greek banks. Greeks will need to endure the changeover of their currency from Euros to drachma as well as the subsequent devaluation of the drachma. The Euro will most likely be converted to the drachma at a pre-defined rate which will remain fixed for the duration of the changeover. As it stands, the exchange rate, which was revised in April of 2012, stood at 1:340.75. There is a glimmer of hope: many sophisticated investors and those with significant savings have already shifted their funds out of their Greek banks into foreign banks. What this means is that if Greece were to recover, the money is ready to come back in, without experiencing a dismal devaluation.
Once Greece exits, there will be defaults on their debt, which still hold their face values in Euro dollars. Even with 95 billion euros of the debts face value wiped, it still represents almost 265 billion euros. But what kind of implications will that have on the other countries whose economies are also at risk? Spain, Portugal and Italy’s liquidity is affected significantly due to investor fears of economic collapse and worries about debt repayment. Since all three countries require debt financing and liquidity for day-to-day activities, the loss of foreign investments can cause serious liquidity issues. The financial health of these countries could be in considerable trouble, especially since Italy and Portugal carry a considerable amount of debt – with inabilities to pay off the interest payments on loans and bonds, both countries could default. Currently, both countries owe more than their annual GDP.
If it turns out that Greece needs to roll in the new currency, the drachma, the currency that most likely will replace the Greek Euro, will take time to officially come into place. Experts predict that it will take four months until the currency is printed and entered back into circulation. Until then, monies held in bank accounts will likely be changed immediately, while the physical Euro, or at least those denoted by a Y which is the Greek country code, will still be accepted with those.
After the drachma is returned to the Greeks, what will likely happen is inflation, or worse, hyperinflation – you may have seen those old photos of people carrying a wheel barrel of cash just to buy a loaf of bread, or starting a fire with the local currency. If hyperinflation takes place, and this may become a reality for the Greeks should the drachma drastically devalue after its introduction, a basket of goods does not. The relative value of a drachma compared to that basket of goods will widen, resulting in the price of goods soaring.
Moreover, as the drachma is worth less and less, imports become exponentially more expensive. This is not good news for Greece as it is a net import state – Greece imports more than it exports, including food. Conversely, exports will receive a great benefit from the devaluation as one of Greece’s biggest export, tourism, will surely rise due to inexpensive holidays and cheap money.
Inflation, or hyperinflation, will cause Greece to be highly unaffordable for many of those struggling amidst the grip of unemployment; stability in the region will be hard to attain until the government gets back on its feet and is able to borrow again. Residents of Greece may leave the country in a bid to reduce the effect of the devaluation, but measures may be put in place to restrict some of these movements, including provisions on bank account withdrawals.
Compounding the damage is the cut in public spending and governmental policies which affect the business community. Specifically, a lowered minimum wage will have negative effects on residents’ ability to afford goods, making daily necessities difficult to attain. Greece’s two-tiered wage cut, was disproportionately hard on the younger generation, with the minimum wage for those under 25 cut 32 percent, instead of 22 percent. The effects of this and other cuts are being felt more acutely as goods become more expensive. As there are proponents of a spending method to get out of a recession, it seems like this is almost an impossible option for Greece at the moment whose debt outpaces its GDP by over 170%.
Businesses may begin to fail – their ability to borrow money and to keep a sufficient flow of business will be seriously affected by the devaluation of drachma. Furthermore, as citizens concerns start to turn towards more essential goods, such as accommodation, food, and other necessities, relative luxury goods and services become less important in their lives. Businesses suffer due to the lack of demand for their goods and may be forced to close doors.
And what about the necessities of healthcare and the ability to receive healthcare? Already, hospitals all over Greece are feeling a financial asphyxiation which is being transferred to the patients. Supplies are low and resources are lower. As public benefits decline, people increasingly turn to the public hospitals to receive treatment where the waits are long but the prices are lower. Significant changes have been made to treatment policies, allowing only for serious cases to be treated in a timely manner, or at all. There have been numerous reports of supplies being stolen, especially syringes and gloves.
Citizens’ ability to receive healthcare will be negatively impacted and will continue to worsen as the burden on health services is driven by the declining health of citizens. Wait times will be compounded as hospitals are flooded with demand for healthcare and an increasing lack of personnel and resources to service them. Doctors and nurses may flee to private hospitals or other countries in the wake of cuts to benefits, increases to workload and the potential of frozen salaries.
The medical system is already beginning to collapse. Big Pharmaceutical companies are refusing to provide medication because of the inability of hospitals and clinics to pay. In some cases, doctors and nurses are providing healthcare and treatment with no pay and can endure such a lifestyle for only so long.
Medical insurance will be equally negatively impacted in the near future. As businesses feel the increasing effects of the slowdown, so will local health insurers as business functions are hampered by inabilities to borrow and inflation makes existing or collected premiums insufficient for providing coverage. Moreover, premiums collected before the collapse may be converted to the drachma from the Euro and may not be enough to cover the cost of providing healthcare once devaluation sets in. Premiums will probably need to rise in order to keep pace and many may cancel their plans and opt for basic health coverage through the government because they cannot afford to keep up with the increasing premiums. This is under the assumption that the Greek government will continue to provide subsidized health coverage – under austerity measures, subsidized health coverage could very well be one of the earlier things that a government will cut. This will likely result in the collapse of many local health insurers, leaving those previously insured with them without coverage.
As for international health insurance in Greece, premiums for new plans should increase. Since premiums are calculated based on a community rating, the risk profile for those in Greece is increasing alongside the cost of providing healthcare in Greece. Those who do not have health insurance should consider purchasing an international health insurance plan prior to any change in currency that may take place. The plan will be good for the year before the devaluation takes effect, resulting in confirmed coverage for the higher costs of healthcare. It will be a money saving route for the long run. As for existing international health insurance premiums, they too will probably increase in the coming years because it will be costlier to provide healthcare in the country given the lack of supplies or credit to purchase them, as well as the possible need for more people to travel abroad to seek treatment. Furthermore, the health of the residents may continue to decline, resulting in a riskier health profile to the insurance companies, especially since big pharmaceutical companies are wary of providing more supplies on credit.
This makes acquiring an international health insurance policy in Greece much more attractive now rather than later. Before the conditions are unfavorable for you to acquire insurance, acquiring now is a safe way to hedge your bets against both financial and healthcare problems in the future.
There is salvation in sight: with the devaluation of the drachma, many exports become significantly more inexpensive across the world. This makes Greeks exports attractive, helping the country get on its way to recover. However, if the country does not exit the Euro, recovery could be long and arduous.
With Greece controlling its own currency and fiscal policies, it can make provisions and decisions which can bring it out of its slump faster. For example, if Greece wanted to increase its exports, it could further devalue its currency by printing more of it. In addition, Greece has free reign to set its own interest rates, which could facilitate lending and financing throughout the region.
Argentina and Latvia are similar examples of the two options which Greece is faced with: stay with the old currency or move on to their own. Argentina was pegged to the US dollar and Latvia is part of the Eurozone. When faced with their financial meltdowns, Argentina opted to discard the pegging and Latvia decided to stay with the Euro.
What happened was Argentina’s peso devalued significantly and unemployment soared, as did inflation. But quickly after, Argentina crawled out of their depression and reached their peak output levels in just a few years. In contrast, Latvia struggled significantly while under the Euro and GDP growth plunged to the deep negatives. Living conditions continued to decrease and is projected to start recovering in the coming years.
Filed Under Aetna, Africa, Allianz, Asia, AXA PPP, BUPA, China, China insurance, DKV, Europe, Expat Insurance, Health Insurance, Hong Kong, IHI Bupa, Insurance Company, International Healthcare, Medical Insurance, Middle East, Philippines, UAE Insurance, United Kingdom | 9 Comments
In this article we will first present our findings of the premium increases and premium inflation rates in each region and country we studied, with specific insurance findings to be presented at the end. Overall our findings were that International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI) premium inflation was very high, at roughly 10.8 percent per year over a 5 year average. While variations exist between countries, the reality is that iPMI inflation rates were extremely consistent throughout the world. However, it is important to note that this is medical insurance premium inflation at the high end of the sector, and not necessarily with regards to the mass market.
Even presenting the argument that premium increases are fairly consistent on a global basis, there are some immediate outliers – Hong Kong, for example, runs at an iPMI premium inflation rate of roughly 13 percent per year, while Kenya’s premium inflation rate is approximately 9 percent per year. Although there is a difference in premium inflation rates between Hong Kong and Kenya, the difference is not overly substantial – as will be seen inside this report.
Globalsurance is pleased to reveal the results of our latest study on the international health insurance industry and rates of international medical insurance inflation around the world as of August 1st 2012.
Using 7,916 data points from 8 different International Private Medical Insurance providers in 10 different countries, Globalsurance has been able to successfully identify a number of trends within Global Medical Inflation for individual International Private Medical Insurance (iPMI) plans during the time period from 2008 to 2012. iPMI is a subsector of the greater health insurance industry which services the global population of expatriates and international High Net-Worth individuals.
The companies sampled in the studies use Age and Geographical Area of Coverage as the main variables in their premium calculations. By selecting a sample which is community rated Globalsurance has been able to efficiently identify the actual rates for premium increases in different parts of the world. Our measure of inflation is based on a sample of policies, ages, and published rates for each insurer included in the study. Globalsurance selected the most common age groups and most common policy types for our data points to achieve realistic measurements in relation to medical insurance premium inflation around the world.
While individual insurance providers and underwriters may disagree with our findings, the figures represented in this report are based on our sample and present baseline figures for all of the regions and companies we chose to consider.
It is important to note that, unlike the recent Towers Watson Report on Medical Trends, the data contained in the Globalsurance insurance review is not survey based. Rather than looking at individual responses and feelings in reference to levels of health insurance premium inflation, which may have some inherent bias dependent on the respondent, Globalsurance is analyzing the actual premium data from insurance companies with exposure to the world at large, over locally based providers operating in a single country.
Additionally, we have analyzed premium data, and not healthcare pricing data. Consequently the figures represented in this report are indicative of the levels of healthcare cost inflation which insurance perceive to be in place in the locations we sampled; profit and operating costs of the individual insurers are assumed to be unchanged. While the increase or decrease in premium values may point to actual rates of medical inflation in the countries which were included in the study they do, in fact, represent the increased costs placed on policyholders.
However, it should be noted that, while the figures contained in this report are the actual rates of iPMI premium increases for the duration of the study, the removal of Age and Policy type means that the figures presented in this study of International Medical Insurance premium inflation can be used as a suitable proxy for rates of actual medical inflation in relation to healthcare costs around the world. It should be noted that the proxy does not represent medical inflation across the entire healthcare sector within a country or region; for example, NHS cost increases in the United Kingdom are not evident in our findings. The rates of iPMI premium inflation are only a proxy for healthcare costs in High-End, private medical facilities in the countries which we considered, due to the basic nature of the international medical insurance products we are studying.
So, without any further ado, here is the Globalsurance International Insurance Review: