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. The Central Bank of Venezuela introduced this exchange rate 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.

 

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 its 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 infectious nature of this disease.

An evacuation request would still be subject for review and coordination between the insurance company and the evacuation provider, 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. 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 continually 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: