In 2014 iPMI Magazine asked leading C-Suite Executives from the international private medical insurance (IPMI) industry what are the advantages and disadvantages of a typical international private medical insurance plan?
The dialog and debate took place at the International VS Local private medical insurance round table, and in typical iPMI Magazine fashion, the commentary was extremely interesting.
GREGOR SCHULTE, GLOBALITY HEALTH: The list of advantages of a well designed International Private Medical Insurance plan is headed by the customer confidence it engenders through adequate cover regardless of the country of residence of the policyholder. Also the non-medical benefits such as advice and assistance in navigating the local language and customs, provides comfort at times of stress. In order to provide adequate assistance it is imperative that international companies also have local knowledge and a local service offering. On the flip-side, iPMI should not have any comparative or substantive disadvantages when compared to local schemes. Of course, price is generally higher but when value is considered this disadvantage quickly recedes.
ANDREW APPS, BELLWOOD PRESTBURY: International medical insurance plans are designed to be more comprehensive in terms of the cover provided and to work outside any local state healthcare systems. This does of course mean that the premiums will be higher and is often the main barrier for the expatriate, who may be tempted instead to opt for a local or travel policy believing it to offer similar benefits.
With a market of more than 57 million expatriates, there is still great confusion whether travel insurance or IPMI is the right solution. Travel insurance provides good emergency coverage for short-term travel, but is rarely sufficient for longer periods. On the other hand, traditional IPMI plans can often include unnecessary benefits such as routine dental or maternity coverage, resulting in a high-premiums.
As a leading global insurance specialist, Bellwood Prestbury has considerable experience in arranging international medical, high-risk and complex insurance cover for companies and organisations throughout the world. As experts in our field we work closely with IPMI providers to help reduce the day to day administration headache many clients face. We proactively manage their employee benefit programmes which in turn helps to strengthen the relationship between client and insurer.
PHIL AUSTIN, CIGNA: International plans are much more suitable for expatriates living abroad. Whilst they can be more expensive than local plans, cover levels will usually be much higher. A good international plan will provide cover for evacuation and repatriation, meaning that if the insurer agrees that treatment cannot be provided locally to the sufficient standard, the customer has the option to be taken back to their home country or a nearby centre of medical excellence for their treatment. Another big advantage is that international plans are portable. If the expatriate pays a visit back home during their stay, or travels to another country, they will continue to be covered. If the expatriate plans to move to a different country after their assignment finishes, they avoid the risk of having to be re-underwritten and having any new medical conditions excluded by simply transporting their existing plan.
SHIRLEY PUCCINO, GEOBLUE: A well designed iPMI plan will allow the employer to cover globally and delivery locally. The best insurers will have the global expertise to provide plans that function well in multiple markets yet provide the flexibility to allow for localised customs and practices. Expats have needs and expectations both locally and globally, so integrating global cover and services with the best local option(s) is the ideal solution.