Expat Benefit Plans – Make sure pre-existing conditions are covered!

Sending expatriate employees overseas is a massive undertaking for any company or organization, and this task usually falls to the global mobility or human resources manager. An expatriate assignment is an enormous investment, and the costs of a failed expat move can be quite significant. One of the most important considerations for HR managers is setting up an international benefit plan that will cover life, AD&D, disability, dental, evacuation and especially international health insurance. However, one of the most important questions to ask of any benefit plan is will it cover pre-existing medical conditions.

What is a Pre-existing Medical Condition?

A pre-existing medical condition relates to a medical condition that existed before an insurance company taking on the risk of an insured, sometimes known or even unknown to the employee. In our example, it would mean before being placed on the group benefit plan. An example would be someone who takes heart medication or saw a doctor in the past for a heart ailment and suffers a stroke or heart attack. The insurance company will then ask and check if that condition existed before insuring this person and if pre-existing conditions are not covered, the claim will be declined. In fact, pre-existing medical conditions are the number one way an insurer gets out of paying a claim.

How do Health Insurers Work with Pre-existing Medical Conditions

All individual expat health insurance plans will either exclude a previous medical condition, ask for an additional premium or decline the application. The same is true for life and disability plans. For a group plan, because the risk is spread among healthy and unhealthy people, they can often cover pre-existing medical conditions if the number of employees covered is large enough – usually 10 or 20 employees. However, we work with global medical insurance companies who can provide full coverage for pre-existing medical conditions on the medical coverage for both the employees and dependents if the employer has more than 25 or 30 global employees – including both expats and local nationals. These excellent insurance plans can even provide full coverage for an expat group of only two or three expat employees. This is a significant advantage for any expat employer as almost all employees or dependents, especially older ones, will have at least one medical condition.

Case Study

An expat employer approached us with only six expat employees, one of which was not able to be covered because of an existing medical condition and he was declined coverage. The other employees were covered by the expat benefit plan, but if a claim occurred and the insurer found out that the large medical bill was caused by a pre-existing illness, that claim would probably be denied. Because the employer had over 30 global employees, we were able to secure a much better benefit plan for their expat employees that fully covered all six expats, including the employee with the illness. We also obtained Long Term Disability insurance, dental and evacuation coverage. Suffice to say, the employer was pleased and proceeded with the international group insurance policy.

Conclusions

The above case study illustrates the need for employers to obtain an expat benefit plan that can fully cover pre-existing medical conditions if possible. The advantages of such a program will not only save money and potential significant losses from a denied claim, but also allow the expatriate employer to both retain and attract employees and move them from one expat assignment to another under one cohesive global insurance program. For more information on how our firm can be of service and obtain quotes from the market, please contact us today. It always makes sense to work with an expat specialist firm.

 

An ageing population is impacting expat benefit plans

Nowadays, most people are living longer at an ever-increasing rate. Due to the improvements in medical technology and other factors, there is a trend for people to stay in employment while well past traditional retirement ages. A question you may be asking yourself is how does an ageing populations impact expat benefit plans? Let’s take a look at the graying of the workforce, and the likely impact may bring for mobile employee benefit plans.

A global ageing population

According to scientific reports, life expectancy increases over the past ten years outstripped the improvements in the preceding 20 years. Some reports showed that the Australians, Japanese and Swiss appear to be living the longest. Meanwhile, a survey from Zurich showed that the graying of senior executives at companies across Europe is well observed. Employers should be prepared to employ an ageing workforce and seek ways to adapt working patterns to suit older workers. We have found that mining companies usually have an older expat workforce because the expertise required often means that only older employees can bring to the table the necessary experience and knowledge that is required for the overseas assignment.

Measuring the impact

Facing the challenges of the increasingly ageing workforce, the employers need to adjust the expat benefits packages offered to accommodate them. Out of all the benefits, international health insurance and group life insurance are at the top of the list affected. The inflation trend that we often see with expat health plans is between 9 and 13% per year. If you add an ageing expat workforce to the mix, expat employers can often see significant increases in premiums.

Employers are required to continue providing life and healthcare benefits for expat employees who are passing traditional retirement age. The cost of providing coverage for this older group may be high. On the other hand, because of pre-existing medical conditions and chronic illness, providing appropriate international healthcare coverage can be also a challenge for most of the insurance companies. As you would expect, an older expat workforce will have more medical issues and challenges, so obtaining an international health plan that disregards medical history is vital if you are setting up a group medical plan for your overseas employees.

The possible future trend of expat benefit plans

Expatriate employees will tend to be more affected by the changes of a global ageing workforce. While living and working overseas on assignments, expat employees are likely to be more dependent upon employer-sponsored benefits plans. Therefore, providing quality private healthcare and expat benefit plans for this group is increasingly critical.

A possible future solution for employers is to design benefits that can adapt to working patterns to meet the need of ageing, skilled employees, while at the same time finding ways to maintain cost. Employers may want to look at ways to manage the rising cost of expat benefit plans by changing benefit design. Such changes might include adding a deductible or increasing the coinsurance for related medical expenses, such as prescription drugs. Unless your expat plan has more than 150 employees covered, your expat insurer will not release the detailed claims history as the number of employees is not large enough for your claims to be credible. For most expat plans, the claims experience will be fully pooled.

Get help from Expat Benefit Specialist

An expat benefit specialist can give you invaluable insight and support regarding your globally mobile employees’ benefit plans. Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates across much of the world. We also provide excellent service before and after you purchase your international group insurance plan. As a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd, we are very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in most area of the world. If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans for your expat employees or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Expat Healthcare in South Africa

Located in the southernmost region of Africa, and encompassing a wide variety of languages and cultures, South Africa today is a developed country with a vibrant culture, environment and people. The economy of South Africa ranks the second-largest in Africa, and there are several urban centres with large cities. South Africa has also been maintaining significant regional influences in international affairs. The wildlife, beautiful natural scene and golden beaches have attracted millions of travellers and thousands of expats.

Healthcare in South Africa

Both public and private hospitals are available in most parts of South Africa. The public healthcare system in South Africa is meant to provide basic medical services. The hospitals are often overcrowded with patients and have long queues. It takes a long time to be seen by a specialist in most public hospitals. The public healthcare system also charges patients based on their income and number of dependents.

Private hospitals, however, offer high-quality health care and have been considered to exceed the standard of care in some European countries. There are two hundred private hospitals in total with many excellent doctors and nurses. These private medical facilities have excellent equipment and highly trained staff. They attract health tourists both inside and outside of Africa. Although the cost will be higher, the quality of private healthcare will satisfy expats.

Why you Require International Health Insurance in South Africa? 

The cost of private medical care in South Africa is accelerating yearly. It is strongly suggested that expats in South Africa obtain comprehensive international health insurance including medical evacuation coverage before departure. If you expect the standard of medical care in Western countries, you will want to bring international health insurance with you. With an appropriate medical insurance plan, you and your family will be covered from full medical service to emergency plans.

If you are going for a short visit to South Africa, then it is advisable to purchase travel medical insurance for up to one year; If you are planning to work and live in South Africa, it is critical that you purchase international health insurance plan that will not only cover you in South Africa but globally as well.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also provide excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. As a division of TFG Global Insurance Solutions Ltd, we are very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in South Africa.  If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Tips for expats to lower the risk of skin cancer

Many people become expatriates in warn and sunny climates around the world. Almost everyone loves to enjoy the outdoors and with it sunny weather. In fact, sunshine is good for us and is often recommended as a great way to get your vitamin D, but there are risks of too much sun. Skin cancers are growths with differing causes and varying degrees of malignancy. There are three common malignant skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Each of these are named after the type of skin cell from which it arises.

Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, yet it is also one of the most preventable cancers. The Canadian Cancer Society has released updated sun safety recommendations that are also excellent for expatriates, especially those in warm and sunny climates.

Skin Cancer Prevention Recommendations for Expats

Here are their recommendations:

  • Peak times to cover up: Expats need to be extra careful to protect their skin between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (previously it was between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.). This is when the UV index is 3 or more, typically between April and September in the Northern Hemisphere or the opposite when in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are in a sunny climate, then you should always take precautions.
  • Higher SPF: use a sunscreen with a minimum skin protection factor (SPF) of 30 (previously it was SPF 15). Sunscreen should be labelled “broad-spectrum” and “water resistant” is usually the best to use.
  • Cover up as much as possible with tightly woven, or UV-protective labelled clothing. Clothes generally provide better protection than sunscreen. There are plenty of great clothing options that provide excellent UV protection, especially at the beach.
Other Recommendations

The Canadian Cancer organization also recommended that you don’t forget to:

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your head, face, neck, ears and eyes.
  • Seek shade, like a tree or an awning, or bring your own, such as an umbrella.
  • Wear close-fitting sunglasses in a wraparound style with full UVA/UVB protection.
  • Never use tanning beds.
  • If you can, try to get your vitamin D from your diet or by taking vitamin supplements rather than through UV ray exposure.
  • Have your doctor check for skin cancer during regular exams and visits.
Don’t forget the following

So if you are an expatriate in a sunny climate, you don’t have to avoid the sun. Expatriates need to enjoy the sun safely by protecting your skin and your eyes. If you are an expatriate living abroad, it is also crucial that you obtain an international health insurance plan that will cover you should you develop skin cancer or another illness or injury. Cancer treatment can be costly and it is crucial that your global medical policy covers you locally and internationally, especially if you wish to seek skin cancer treatment at a respected and well known international clinic or hospital. For more information and helpful expat tips, check out our expat resource center.

 

Expat Healthcare in Russia

Being the largest country in the world, and spanning eleven time zones, Russia is a sovereign state extending across the entirety of northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe. From Lake Baikal to the old imperial city of Irkutsk, Russia attracts an increasing number of tourists and expats. Anyone who is considering living in Russia should first examine the health system and what may be available for expats there. Most local nationals in Russia will seek medical care from a public run hospital or doctor via the domestic insurance system.

Expat Healthcare in Russia

The Health Care Department organizes the healthcare system in Russia. Russian citizens enjoy free healthcare in public hospitals and clinics. Public medical services are provided from basic medical care to emergency services. There are a large number of public medical facilities, medical institutions and pharmacies. However, the overall quality of public healthcare sector is lower than western standard countries. Also, it may not easy to find an English speaking doctor. Especially in rural areas, access to medical care can be more difficult, so you are probably best to seek medical care in a major city such as Moscow.

There are plenty of private healthcare facilities in large cities such as Moscow, and this is a popular option for expats to visit for routine medical check-ups, dental care, and other emergency treatment. Some expatriates will attend private medical clinics such as The American Clinic or the European Medical Centre.

Why Expats Going to Russia need International Health Insurance?

For expats planning to work and live in Russia, it is strongly recommended for them to obtain comprehensive international health insurance before departure. The standard of public healthcare facilities is lower than that in western countries and are not used by most expats. Private medical clinics are usually very expensive in Russia, especially those of western-style, and it is usually required to prepay the cost before receiving medical treatment.

Furthermore, it is a legal requirement to have a health insurance policy if an expat intended to obtain residency in Russia. Though Russia has a reciprocal healthcare agreement between some countries, many of the medical professionals in the Russian public system don’t speak English. Most expats will search out private clinics with international medical staff and equipment. Some of them may choose to travel outside of Russia for specialist medical care.

With a comprehensive expat health insurance plan, you are covered for medical expenses, hospitalization and treatments, medicines and emergency evacuations – which are all you need to stay in Russia. If you are traveling to Russia, then travel medical insurance for up to one year is very suitable for you. If you are planning to reside in Russia, it is critical that you purchase an international health insurance plan that will not only cover you in Russia but globally as well.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in Russia.  If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans that we offer to foreigners in Russia or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.

Expat Health Insurance in China

The health insurance industry in China has been developing rapidly over the past twenty years. The national standard of living and healthcare facilities have also been significantly improved. Due to its economic and social reforms, urban areas in China have experienced higher living standards and the population of expatriates in China also kept up with the changes.

Healthcare Today in China

The healthcare system in China heavily dependent on location and resources. In urban areas such as Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, hospitals and medical facilities have high-end equipment. Whereas in rural areas and villages, healthcare centres only have basic equipment and facilities. Faced with the challenges of insufficient medical resources, China has been implementing healthcare reform in the past ten years including infrastructure development and new investment. These medical reforms will significantly improve operation in hospitals, healthcare insurance, and encourage new investment opportunities within the healthcare sector.

Public Hospitals and Private Clinics

Most hospitals in China are Mandarin based. Only a few of them in major cities might have English language services. Public hospitals in cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai can provide comprehensive health services, including medical education and regional research. Some of them have specialist health services and scientific research. However, these types of public hospitals are all very busy and crowded. This is because they don’t take appointments in advance. Expats who want to receive treatment from public hospitals in China must wait in line, register and pay the registration fee each time at the reception desk. Furthermore, most public hospitals in China will not accept expat medical insurance. This way, you will have to deposit medical costs before receiving any treatment and reimburse from your insurance company later.

Therefore, due to the inconsistency and inconvenience, public hospitals are not generally used by expats. Another option could be joint venture medical facilities and private clinics. These joint venture hospitals can be foreign-run in China. They usually match the standards of Western facilities, and medical staff are usually have received international training. Language won’t be an issue. However, medical treatment in these hospitals can be costly. Fortunately, the international and private clinics are more likely to accept expat health insurance from abroad. Therefore, it is very important for you to make sure that you are covered by expat health insurance.

Health Claim Costs are Increasing in China 

It has been reported by our clients in China and global medical insurers operating there, that the medical costs of China have been increasing rapidly. The dramatic increase of wealthy individuals in China who prefer to obtain private medical treatment has meant that health costs for expatriates have also increased at a rapid pace. It is a matter of supply and demand, and health claims for the insurers with expats in China will continue to increase.

Why is Expat Health Insurance A Must? 

If you plan to stay in China to work and live for some time, it is strongly suggested that you should obtain quality expat health insurance before departure. Though China is implementing healthcare reforms these days, medical facilities in many areas are very basic. Even in many major cities where satisfactory healthcare in public hospitals for expats are available, the method of payment and the quality of medical treatment may still be inadequate. For the popular choice of foreign-run hospitals, expats are usually required to make payment in advance before receiving medical treatment. It can be very expensive for emergency treatment and medications in most of the international hospitals.

With a comprehensive expat health insurance plan, you are covered for medical expenses, hospitalization and treatments, medicines and emergency evacuations – which are all you need to stay in China. If you are going for a short visit to China, then most people will purchase travel medical insurance for up to one year. Some Chinese embassies require proof of health insurance before issuing visas especially if you are an international student. If you are planning to reside in China, it is critical that you purchase an international health insurance plan that will not only cover you in China but globally as well.

Expat Financial offers several different international health insurance plans for expatriates of any nationality across the world. We also offer excellent service before and after you purchase your international health insurance plan. Our firm is also very experienced in sourcing group plans for multinational firms with expats in China.  If you have questions about our international medical insurance plans or if you want to discuss your needs and produce a customized quote, please contact us or complete the quote form.