Venezuelan currency problems are impacting expat insurers

global_medicalThere has been a steep devaluation of the Venezuelan Bolivar in recent months. Official exchange rates defined by organizations like Dow Jones – that are used in the claims reimbursement process by many expatriate group insurance companies, no longer reflect market exchange rates. Continuing to do so could lead to reimbursing claims for amounts that are disproportionate to the actual market value of the expenses.

Some international health insurance firms will now use the SICAD II (Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement) exchange rate for reimbursing claims incurred in Venezuelan Bolivars. This exchange rate was introduced by the Central Bank of Venezuela in March 2014 as part of the government’s plan to help stabilize its shaky currency. It is thought to be more in line with the actual market value of the Venezuelan Bolivar than any other index. It is critical that expatriates be covered by an insurance company which can settle claims in major currencies.

TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. and its expat division Expat Financial will continue to monitor the situation and how it will impact expatriates who reside in Venezuela and other countries with currencies which are volatile. More information on international health insurance, including quotes, can be obtained at Expat Financial.

 

Expatriates can face higher rates of mental illness

Mental Health for ExpatriatesLiving abroad as an expatriate can be very rewarding and exciting for an expatriate employee and his or her family members. However, many expatriate employees often face culture shock, homesickness and social isolation. There is often a lack of support for expats and it can be more difficult to cope with living in a new country and culture. Many expatriates and their family members can be faced with mental illness – including stress, depression and anxiety. It is vital that an expatriate employer make sure that the group expatriate insurance plan contain coverage for mental illness. Unfortunately, many international health plans will exclude mental illness and substance abuse related claims. It it vital that individual expatriates and their employers obtain a plan that will cover these claims. Having mental illness coverage might cost a bit more, but the savings from unpaid claims and a failed expat assignment can more than offset the costs of covering such illnesses.

Being away from your normal social circle is particularly difficult in cases of depression and many expats and their family members probably suffer in silence. It is critical that one seek out professional help as soon as possible. An expatriate Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be a great addition to an expat health plan. Some expatriate insurance plans can include an EAP program that is specially designed for globally mobile employees overseas. An insurer can also provide a list of mental health providers who are recommended for expatriates, especially ones who speak the same language.

Mental health is now in the news again because of Robin William’s recent suicide. It is vital that all those who suffer from mental illness not suffer in silence and seek medical treatment and support. For more information on individual and group expat insurance coverage, contact Expat Financial today.

 

Ebola Virus and Medical Evacuation for Expatriates

Ebola VirusThe World Health Organization recently declared the West African Ebola epidemic that has killed nearly 1,000 people an international public-health emergency. As the Ebola virus continues it march across Africa, international health insurance providers and their medical evacuation suppliers are continuing to monitor the precarious situation there. Some clients of TFG Global and Expat Financial which have employees in Africa are asking how their employees will be treated should they become infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

If an insured person is infected, it will be vital to immediately advise the health authorities, eliminate contact with others and seek medical attention. Most medical insurance policies will cover the medical expenses associated with the Ebola disease, but medical evacuation will be much more complicated and precarious because of the highly infecteous nature of this disease.

An evacuation request would still be subject for review and coordination between the insurance company and the evacuation provder, however, the Ebola outbreak also has the added component of local and world health organizations. For instance, the insurer’s actions may be limited if a specific village is quarantined. If a client is worried about the safety of their employees, they may wish to take them out of that infected area as a proactive measure.

Generally, a healthy individual would not qualify for medical evacuation, so the client/member would be responsible for such travel costs. Basically, evacuation is often decided on a case by case basis that would need to follow an approval process and be reviewed and handled by the insurance company’s medical staff. Evacuation providers such as ISOS have staff and also the local health authorities in the region who are constantly monitoring the situation. The fact that Ebola is a deadly contagious disease with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other medical organizations involved, makes it more complicated as insurers  must also follow these authorities’ guidelines.

Also, a country may refuse to allow Ebola infected patients to be evacuated to their country to prevent the spread of the disease, so I would expect that evacuation of an infected individual may be very difficult due to countries not wanting to import the disease to their country. Resources may be stained as well as transporting an infected patient is extremely difficult and requires specially outfitted planes and support staff.

For more information on international group insurance, medical evacuation plans and an examination of your organization’s global mobility benefits, please contact TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd. through its Expat Financial division. Individual global health insurance plans are also available.

 

Ebola Virus Outbreak is Reminder of the Importance of International Health Insurance

There have been reported outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. One infected person even died in Lagos, Nigeria after a plane trip from a nearby country. Ebola virus is a rare and deadly disease. The Ebola incubation period, from exposure to when signs or symptoms appear, usually ranges from 2 to 21 days. Early symptoms include sudden fever, chills, and muscle aches. Around the fifth day, a skin rash can occur. Nausea, vomiting, chest pain, sore throat, abdominal pain, and diarrhea may follow. It is vital that one seek treatment as soon as possible and take immediate steps not expose others to the illness. 

Some expat health insurance policies may not cover a pandemic illness, but most policies will cover the illness like any other illness. One should check your international health insurance plan to make sure you know what you are covered for, especially if you will travel to a region where Ebola has been reported. Your employer should also check the international group insurance plan to ensure that any Ebola related illness will be covered. More information can be found at: