POSTED: May 12 2023
International Healthcare

International Healthcare

One of the positives to have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is the shift in flexible working. The ability to work effectively, remotely, has reduced the need for all employees to be in one office with an increase in roles being offered to staff on a permanent basis working from home, with the likes of Twitter closing some of their offices altogether.

Whilst there are undoubtedly other considerations, particularly the discussion around side-by-side learning and development, company culture and the redundancy of office spaces; employers are casting their net wider when considering suitable recruits, as well allowing staff to stay on in their roles and relocate, as the world sees a rise in ‘telemigration’.

The term, created by Richard Baldwin, professor of international economics in Geneva, describes the impact of globalisation and technological advances on businesses as having an improvement in the quality of employees, carbon footprint reduction and cost savings to businesses.

advo has seen an increase in both temporary and permanent foreign placements across our clients demographic, with a need to ensure they have access to the same level of employer support and benefits such as healthcare, regardless of their location.

The latter is a vital benefit when residing in a country without access to the NHS or where local law requires employers to insure employees on a healthcare plan.

Access to mental health support is also a key requirement, especially considering employees who have relocated to foreign countries sometimes without the comfort of familiar faces from home. Cost and accessibility of high-quality medical care has historically posed barriers for employers considering International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) as healthcare costs rise globally, raising concerns over the longer-term affordability of the benefit.  However, the landscape of IPMI is changing.

Recognising the change required, a new to market solution from Cigna Global, gives employees access to the same rich benefits available through traditional plans, however are incentivising members to claim via their directional care journey, allowing better claims management, resulting in reduced claims spend on the policy and more affordable premiums. Unlike UK healthcare plans, the IPMI model has traditionally allowed members to claim for a large portion of their benefits on a ‘pay and claim back’ basis. This can result in unnecessary appointments – which could have been otherwise avoided had the member obtained guidance, as well as some claims being declined due to not being eligible on the policy – which could have been avoided had the member gained pre-authorisation from the insurer.

The claims journey of the Cigna Global Connect plan invites members to seek help virtually via a wide range of resources and support, and if unable to resolve the issue then guides the member to appropriate medical experts who can verify the benefit and pre-authorise the claim where required, easily and efficiently.

Members who go on to seek medical advice or treatment from Cigna’s open access network of providers can benefit from direct billing and lower out of pocket costs on any applicable benefit cost shares. This also has a positive impact on the company through more sustainable increases for at renewal, as claims costs have been controlled throughout the year, through negotiated rates between the insurer and provider.

As recorded in their annual health survey, Cigna Global have seen a demand for their virtual Telehealth services increase by more than 700% when compared to pre-covid stats, demonstrating the need from employees for this type of claims experience.

As a broker, advo has involvement in our clients claims escalations and pricing negotiations at renewal, both of which are regularly affected by the aforementioned issues. The need for a more sustainable IPMI solution that is simple to navigate and easily accessible for members is more important than ever for employers to be able to give employees access to the benefits required. It is also vital that quality of care and choice is not compromised as result.

As well as Expats, IPMI is a desired benefit by many employers looking to offer richer benefits not typically found on UK PMI plans such as routine maternity care. Over the years we have carried out several reviews for clients who have decided not to proceed with the switch from UK to International plans due to difference in cost. We are pleased to now be able to offer a more affordable sustainable solution and believe this is the start of things to come within the IPMI market.