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Cost of Care Rising as Insurers Trying to Provide Value for Money

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 by Sergio Ulloa ()  | Tags: Medical Inflation, Medicare International

As medical services grow more and more costly around the world, international private medical insurance providers are trying to ensure that their policies provide good value for money while maintaining high levels of benefits. In many countries, including such places as the US and the UK, the cost of medical services has been rising throughout recent years. In the US, the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite index showed an annual growth rate of 5.11 percent for the fiscal year that ended in October, outstripping the 4.74 annual growth rate reported in September by a significant margin. S&P's Healthcare Commercial Index, which takes into account only healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance, saw its fourth consecutive month of rising annual growth rates to arrive at 6.91 percent for the year ended October. Across the pond in the UK, there are similar stories with healthcare company Bupa releasing a study that predicts the costs of cancer treatment will rise steadily in the future. The report Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: A 2021 Perspective was aimed at trying to make predictions about the cost of treating cancer over the next 10 years. The results estimated that the cost of treating cancer will rise by approximately 62 percent, meaning that while cancer treatment for someone in 2010 may cost on average around £30,000 (US$46,487), it will cost £40,000 (US$62,007) on average by 2021. With premium costs over the last decade being pushed up by almost 10 percent a year due to medical inflation, insurers globally are recognizing that while everyone may like policies with extraordinary benefits, cost is a point of consideration for many. As 2011 comes to an end, some international health insurance companies are beginning to introduce changes to services or flexibilities to payment structure and cost-sharing to ensure that customers get value for money while maintaining high levels of benefits. International private medical insurance provider, MediCare International, has introduced new excess structures that clients may select if they so choose that give policy discounts of up to 50 percent. The new options allow for four levels of excesses, offering discounts that range from 10 percent, 20 percent, 35 percent and all the way to 50 percent depending on the selected size of co-payment. Another company that is reevaluating their products is Allianz Worldwide Care, which has revealed that it is trailing a new system of medical evacuation. Typically, if a policyholder finds themselves in a situation which necessitates medical evacuation, they are put on an air ambulance and either transferred back to their home country, or to the nearest center of medical excellence, depending on the particulars of the policy. The new option for transport will transport medically stable policyholders on commercial flights while they are accompanied by one of Allianz's own doctors. Allianz Wordlwide Care's Medical Director, Dr. Ulriche Sucher, explained that "Many of our corporate clients have employees working in remote regions within Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where sparse medical facilities means a greater reliance on evacuation services following a medical emergency. Plus, advancements in medical treatments and medical specialism in specific countries means that sometimes patients need to be brought to another country to receive the care that they need. Added to this is the increase in natural disasters such as storms, earthquakes and floods which can result in people needing medical treatment at a time when the closest medical facilities may have been damaged," While air ambulances will still be used in cases where the policyholder is in an emergency situation which requires emergency evacuation to the nearest quality medical facility, the new medical escort service is expected to bring large cost savings with it, especially for large corporate clients. The service is expected to be introduced after a 12 month trial proves successful. Companies Mentioned Allianz Allianz LogoAllianz Group is one of the leading global services providers in insurance and asset management. With a worldwide network of 153,000 employees, the Allianz Group serves 75 million customers in over 70 countries. Allianz offers a wide variety of insurance products to both private and corporate customers, including motor, accident, general liability, fire and property, legal expenses, credit and travel insurance. Allianz provides life and health insurance products on individual and group basis. Allianz is the market leader in the German market and has a strong international presence in insurance. MediCare International MediCare International LogoWith 25 years of providing expatriates top quality international health insurance, Medicare International has grown by ensuring quick and easy access to their services 24 hours a day. The company currently covers clients from 86 nationalities in 114 countries around the world.
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