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21 Jun 2022
by Chris Beardshall

The top 3 health insurance considerations for globally mobile employees

As international business travel gets back to normal, employers have to ensure their globetrotting employees have the right health cover

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While the Covid-19 pandemic drove tumultuous change, uncertainty and, for many, brought global assignments to a standstill, the most important health insurance considerations for globally mobile employees has remained unchanged. Compliance, quality of service and pricing remain the most important considerations reported in the recent WTW Survey.

It also remains true that the cost of international assignments is a significant investment for business, but, more importantly, the cost associated with a failed assignment remains higher still.

Without access to the right insights and expertise, employers can be ill-equipped to implement and optimise the best possible health and wellbeing solution for the unique risks of globally mobile employees.

Top considerations when selecting a global healthcare provider

1. Compliance
The number one factor continues to be sourcing compliant coverage. In a growing number of countries there are regulations that affect how health insurance must be provided for expatriates.

As a result, failure to provide the correct coverage can lead to financial penalties and unexpected and costly business interruptions – failed assignments, for instance.

Understanding such requirements is crucial when structuring global healthcare plans, as both home and host country obligations must be considered, even more so since the pandemic and with the ‘working from anywhere’ trend.

2. Quality of service
Consistent service delivery for members during the pandemic and the many challenges placed on resources during this time have been brought into focus. This has been amplified with assignees returning home while maintaining global cover and navigating lockdown restrictions where businesses were forced to adapt their ways of working.

Employers have audited and revisited the benefits they offer and in many cases have closed gaps in coverage, including improving access to wellbeing benefits, brought to light by the pandemic’s toll on mental health and wellness.

Where lockdown prevented access to care, the use of telehealth and employee assistance programmes increased significantly. This is a trend we expect to continue as insurers invest more in virtual healthcare and the demand increases for this type of interface and solutions.

3. Pricing
Covid-19, combined with the changing face of the work environment, has had a major impact on medical trends and the drivers of medical claims.

Countries and employers are experiencing the impact at different times and rates and we expect renewal pricing to remain volatile in the short term. The backlog of claims is expected to drive higher utilisation, as we have started to see more later stage cancer diagnoses and an increase in claims related to musculoskeletal, mental and behavioural health services, together with increased pass-through costs by healthcare providers.

In addition, higher general inflation will certainly hit the healthcare sector as contracts are renegotiated, coupled with provider pressures to recoup lost revenues.

So, how is the future of insurance looking for globally mobile employees?

While remote work is a new reality for many, our research shows international assignments are also making a comeback. Comprehensive reviews of plan design, regulatory considerations, member services and vendor selection are undoubtedly required.

The pandemic and Ukraine conflict has brought into sharp focus the importance of employee health and safety. As the world reopens and we continue to navigate the impacts of lockdowns, changing working environments and different ways of accessing care, equipping globally mobile employees with the most appropriate healthcare solutions has never been more vital.

The combined factors have made it imperative that employers have the right insights and expertise at hand to create a benefits strategy that serves the new world of international assignments for mobile employees.

In partnership with WTW

WTW is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

Contact us today