Posted on Jan 31, 2013 by Sergio Ulloa
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."
As markets and economies continue to change, major health insurance companies have had to expand the areas where they offer coverage and are looking to enter and grow in such diverse markets as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Russia, India, China, Australia as well as the South Americas and African regions. Many of these places have proven to pose as a significant challenge for insurance companies and require sophisticated solutions. Some companies have already had to adjust their strategies in some of these countries to not only adjust to expatriate needs but also in terms of addressing the requirements of locals. One example of companies who have had to adjust their product offerings in China is ICBC AXA and their elimination of its 'China Executive Plan'
In addition, the costs associated with of sending employees overseas have continued to increase in terms of travel, relocation and IPMI policies. Another reason attributed to the increase of cost of IPMI policies is rising costs of treatments, hospital bills and doctors' fees. As the health insurance industry has become more globalized, the policies and solutions companies offer have had to become more sophisticated by offering more comprehensive coverage. As healthcare costs and facilities range internationally, companies have had to take this into consideration when pricing and creating their policies.
Sarah Dennis concluded, "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. The employers' duty of care burden is becoming increasingly heavy."
One promising note is that health insurance premiums' rate of increase seem to be decreasing, as global medical inflation also seems to be steadying. Many insurance companies are reporting a less than 10 percent increase to their premiums for the year 2013, which is much lower compared to years prior where premium rates of increase were well into the teens from year to year. While the market for international health insurance continues to change across the globe, many companies are experiencing breakthroughs and new markets are expanding and improving their healthcare coverage and facilities to meet higher demands. Costs are rising and this is a challenge with an outcome still to be resolved but as more and more employees move overseas their options for healthcare coverage are improving and diversifying.