Expat Healthcare Gives Global Employers A Headache


The fast-growing emerging economies of the world will lead to a greater number of expats looking for health and medical insurance cover, says one international healthcare consultancy.

Jelf Employee Benefits points to the growing markets in Brazil, Russia, India and China as providing massive opportunities to expats – but creating a headache for employers.

That’s because healthcare providers will have to provide a range of services and benefits in countries in which they have little or no experience.

And they will have to do it as cost-effectively as possible.

Jelf’s international healthcare director, Sarah Dennis, said: “One issue is that smaller UK businesses are starting to look at trading overseas as they feel the financial strain at home.


“Previously this was the reserve of larger, better established companies but we are seeing more small firms sending staff to far-flung locations to help the business capitalise on faster-growing economies.”

Emerging markets

As part of Jelf’s healthcare predictions for 2013, they say that providing affordable healthcare which have a comprehensive policy is going to be a tough predicament for many.

Especially, since many clients are also demanding extra benefits and providers are finding that local markets are becoming more complex.

Ms Dennis added: “Generally, we tend to see employee benefits become more streamlined over time but international healthcare is becoming more intricate and complex.”

Specialist expertise is now a necessity in providing the relevant healthcare and medical cover for an expat worker and his/her family.

In addition, Jelf says that in recent times an increasing number of locations have become ‘mainstream’ as their economies grow.

As a result, the demand for expats has seen providers look at new countries as markets, such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, South America and some African countries.

Medical challenge

And while their medical and healthcare provision for expats becomes established and follows that of developed countries, there are many countries which still pose a challenge for insurers and need more ‘sophisticated solutions’.

Jelf says this demand will lead to some insurers avoiding certain markets because they do not have the necessary local knowledge – and don’t want to involve themselves in the demands of local regulators.

As a result, expats will find that there will be fewer genuine worldwide medical and healthcare providers willing to take on their businesses.

Ms Dennis added: “Employers will increasingly have to educate themselves about international private medical insurance and whether they really need it. That’s because one policy may be suitable for one country but unsuitable for another.

“The bottom line is that when it comes to international private medical insurance, the burden of an employer’s duty of care is becoming increasingly heavy.”

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