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Expat Investor : December 2007
Never before has that old adage 'only the fittest will survive' been more appropriate. Whereas, in the past, companies often made employee benefit decisions independently of the overall Group, we are now seeing an increasing trend for large multinationals, in particular, to establish global policies on benefits. Companies are now also keeping a much closer eye on costs and quite rightly want to see value for money for the benefits that they put in place. They also want more flexibility in their healthcare benefit packages. Gone are the days of the off-the-shelf solution. In order to demonstrate value for money, employers need to ensure that their employees are using the benefits on offer. This necessitates a much more tailored solution. For example, companies are increasingly requesting cover for chronic conditions as part of the overall benefit plan. BUPA International has adapted its offering accordingly. And in line with flexibility of cover comes the requirement for flexible pricing. With medical inflation running at approximately 13--15% globally, providers are working hard to ensure that cost and control measures are put in place. One of the latest developments includes plans that enable both individual and group customers to select deductibles as a means of reducing premiums and making members more accountable for the cost of treatment. However, it's not just the multinationals that are helping to drive growth and, equally, the direction of product development. We are also now seeing increasing demand from those small and medium sized companies that are venturing overseas for the first time. We are also receiving a lot of interest in industry-specific offerings. For example, BUPA International now offers a maritime plan and an oil and gas plan. Last, but certainly not least, is the requirement these days for providers to offer 24/7 customer service via a multitude of different mediums -- HEALTHCARE December 2007 EXPAT INVESTOR 17 Fast Facts 10012 Fast Facts 10011 ...be in safe hands. Wherever you are... Contact us now for a quotation or further advice on International Healthcare T +44 (0)1252 745900 E email@example.com W www.interglobalpmi.com Innovations in International Private Medical Insurance Best International PMI Provider | Cover Excellence Awards 2007 Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority in the United Kingdom IGICAD12/1007 Award-winning international private medical insurance for you and your family. healthcare provision and, as a result, international health insurance providers. Increased global mobility of families looking for a better quality of life abroad, or businesses sending employees overseas, means more expatriates accessing publicly funded resources such as healthcare. Some governments have reacted by introducing legislation meant to protect local resources specifically affecting expatriates. For example, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where expatriates outnumber local nationals, all expatriate workers are now legally required to show evidence of an Abu Dhabi Health Authority (ADHA) approved medical insurance policy. If a company opts to purchase/ provide an unapproved by ADHA health insurance coverage for its employees, these employees will not be issued with a residence visa, meaning they will be unable to open a bank account, rent a property or enrol their children in local schools. For those providers whose plans fulfil the requirements of the ADHA, this is a prime opportunity to increase sales in this country. In France, where previously expatriates could access the public healthcare system and supplement this with a 'top-up' type private healthcare plan, recent legislative changes have significantly reduced the publicly available medical treatment for expatriates. As a 'top- up' cover is no longer sufficient, they must now seek comprehensive private healthcare coverage to ensure protection. Again, this bestows opportunities for international health insurance providers to develop this market sector and ensure that expatriates in France can have access to the healthcare cover they want or need. However, hand-in-hand with opportunity come regulatory obligations. Insurers must comply with legislative and regulatory requirements in all territories where they offer cover and be able to assure customers the cover is suitable for their needs. This requirement may be addressed in a number of ways, ranging from setting up a stand-alone and fully licensed operation, to establishing a branch or, alternatively, for ming a partnership whereby the insurer has a local partner with sales offices and products to service the needs of the customer and fulfil the requirements of local legislation. For example, in many South East Asian or Middle Eastern territories InterGlobal has partnered with local insurance companies who, in conjunction with InterGlobal, have developed a locally licensed coverage for individuals and groups. While localised regulations have always been there, 2007 seems to have brought them to the forefront of both expatriates' and health insurance providers' minds. The current trend for local variation looks set to continue well into 2008. The challenge for insurers is to maximise the opportunities available to them and for expatriates to understand what their healthcare options are in any given country and that they meet the regulatory requirements. Challenge brings innovation of product to ensure expatriates have the peace of mind and protection they need, wherever they are in the world. web, phone, face-to-face -- and delivered in the local language. Employers now have a more explicit duty of care towards their employees than ever before. Legislation and case law have made employers infinitely more aware of the need to safeguard the physical and psychological wellbeing of their employees. The international healthcare market will continue to evolve to ensure that the changing needs of employers and employees are met and, hopefully, exceeded. BARBARA ZITO Group Sales and Marketing Director, InterGlobal 2007 saw an increasing number of local legislation affecting expatriates' Continued on page 19
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