When you receive your annual international health insurance renewal each year. Many people ask why are my health insurance premiums going up? There are several factors that can cause your global health insurance premiums trends to go up, and we will be discussing them in this article and what you can do to keep your premiums under control. We have provided you with some factors on insurance premium trends for expats that impact your international healthcare premiums each year:
Factors that Impact your Global Health Insurance Premiums
Expat health insurance premiums are impacted by many factors. At the simplest level, your insurance premiums are affected by two main things, the actual cost of health care services and the number of services provided by the insurance company.
Health Care Costs
International health care costs include the services provided by your doctor and other healthcare workers such as nurses and others and the cost of services like x-rays, MRI’s surgery, and others. It also includes the cost of prescription drugs and any other items like bandages, oxygen, and anything else you may need in the hospital or at a doctor’s office. The amount the insurance company pays for those services is outlined in a contract between the hospital, doctors, or physician groups.
Those costs usually go up annually, according to the agreement. New treatments, technology, and drugs are generally expensive at first and new medical developments and discoveries every year also contribute to rising costs. One of the highest costs depending on where in the world you are can be prescription drugs. Especially if they are newly developed brand name drugs. There is not much you as an individual can do to mitigate the increase in the cost of the services you may need.
Health Care Utilization
Health care utilization is also known as Medical Loss Ratio (MLR). This is essentially how much money is paid in premiums by all members to the insurance company vs. how much they pay out in claims for those members. When utilization is high, and it generally goes up each year, the premiums must rise to cover any shortfall. Some years the total premiums and total claims are pretty even, making the need for premium increases less than other years.
Country Location for Expat
An expat’s country of residence is a big factor as the healthcare costs vary widely by country. An expat living in China will pay more than an expat living in Norway for example. The more expensive the healthcare in a given country, the more you should expect to pay in premiums. Some countries have high inflation trends and these will impact your renewal premiums.
The Impact of Covid-19
2020 was an interesting year for global health care utilization. While Covid-19 increased the use of the Emergency Room and inpatient hospitalizations. The use of other services like routine doctor visits, non-emergency surgeries, and other routine services were significantly down as people did not want to go to the doctor or hospital if they could avoid it. This resulted in low overall utilization of services in 2020. However, many feel that in 2021 there may be a significant spike as people feel more comfortable returning to the doctor’s office or hospital, and the pent-up demand for those voluntary health care services could be very substantial.
Other Factors That Can Impact Your Healthcare Premiums
In addition to the cost of healthcare services and utilization of those services, there are a few other things that can impact your global health insurance premiums when you first buy an insurance plan or when you get your renewal. Those things include the following:
- Sex (Male/Female) – But many plans do not differentiate and do not base premiums on gender.
- Pre-Existing Conditions – A medical illness or injury you have before enrolling in a health care plan as individual health plans for expats involve medical underwriting.
- Optional Services (Maternity, Wellness, Out-Patient Care, Etc.)
- Citizenship – Your citizenship has an impact on your premiums
How to Control Your Global Health Insurance Policy Premiums
As an individual, you can’t really control the two main factors influencing premiums (health care cost and utilization). This is because insurance companies look at them across the total population of members and apply those factors to everyone’s premiums. The impact maybe a little less if you are younger and healthier, but again as an individual, you can’t have much effect. So what can you do to help control your premiums? There are several things.
Consider Making Changes to Your Coverage
Another way you can keep costs low if your premiums go up is to alter your coverage. You can increase your deductible, copays, or coinsurance or remove optional services you may not use. For example, if you added maternity coverage but now don’t feel you will need it, you can remove that option and reduce your premium.
Buy Global Health Insurance From Established Insurance Companies
When choosing a health insurance company, selecting a large, established, and financially stable one is critical. Small insurance companies or those new to the market often have more volatile premiums. They could be trying to get into the market with low prices, but when they do that, they generally have large increases in the following years. Small insurance companies are also more vulnerable to health care costs, and utilization increases.
How Insurance Companies Help Control Costs
Global health insurance companies are always looking for ways to control both cost and utilization. There are many ways they do this. One is to ensure you get treatment early if you do have a health issue, so it does not become worse, which generally means more expensive.
They also use something called pre-authorization for specific treatments or drugs. This is a process they put in place that requires you to get approval for certain usually expensive services before you get them to ensure they are appropriate for your condition. Insurance companies can also exclude some pre-existing medical conditions from coverage or increase your premium to cover them.
Insurance companies also look for opportunities to negotiate discounts with healthcare providers or require members to go to certain providers they may have better pricing with.
Top International Health Insurance Plans Available For Expatriates via Expat Financial
Cigna International, a large and well-known global insurance company, offers excellent coverage, service, and lifetime coverage for expatriates. With a flexible plan design, you can include or exclude coverage in the USA. Cigna’s international health insurance policy is the most popular with our clients. More information and details on the Cigna plans can be found here.
If you are an expat residing in Europe, Africa, or Asia and want coverage from a very well known and respected European insurer, Allianz is the choice for you. The Allianz Worldwide Care plan is a high-quality plan and is available for those residing in select countries outside the USA & Canada. More information and details on the Allianz plans can be found here.
For American citizens residing abroad looking for an international health insurance plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the most well-known and respected health insurance brand in the United States and worldwide, GeoBlue is the solution you are looking for. More information and details on the GeoBluez plans can be found here.
International Health Insurance Education & Guide
For expatriates who want to learn everything they need to know about international health coverage. We recommend you to download our international health insurance guide: