- 35.5% of expats added family members to their current insurance plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- 24.5% of expats took out a new policy to provide cover for their family members;
- 82.6% of expats developed healthier habits during COVID-19 crisis.
The data has been revealed in the 'Expat Family Wellness Survey 2020: The Impact of COVID-19', published by international health benefits provider, Aetna International. The report, which surveyed 1,000 expat families in the UK, US, Singapore and UAE, explores the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on expat family health and well-being. It investigates how expats managed both their own and their children's health and well-being during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
The survey found that in response to COVID-19, a quarter of expats (24.5%) took out a new insurance plan to provide cover for their family members. Adding to this:
- 35.5% of expats added family members to their current insurance plan
- 15.9% didn't buy extra cover for their family members, but did consider it
- 7.3% didn't buy extra cover for their family members but would consider it for the future
- Only 16.8% did not buy extra cover for their family members
Overall, 60% of respondents either added family members to an existing insurance plan or took out new cover so their immediate relatives could be added. Globally, 33% of expats already had health insurance to cover themselves and their family members.
iPMI and improved access to health care
With access to health care a key issue for many expats, it is unsurprising to learn that 60% of our respondents added family members to an existing insurance plan or took out new cover so their immediate relatives could be added. A further 23.2% said they have or would consider buying additional cover due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
45% of expats with health insurance in the U.S. added their family to their current health care plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While in the UK, 33% said that they took out new plans. These figures are higher than in the UAE and Singapore, although this is probably due to higher rates of cover in these regions, insurance being mandatory for most expats in UAE — and 45.2% of respondents from Singapore already had cover for the whole family.
While expat concerns around health care access have grown, insurance has offered many families peace of mind. As well as providing members with the insurance safety net, international private medical insurance providers, such as Aetna International, can help to improve physical and mental health by offering well-being resources such as mental health apps, fitness membership discounts and virtual health services.
Speaking in our video on virtual health and its benefits for expats, Richard di Benedetto, President, Aetna International, said: “It helps when you are an expat and you’re not familiar with the environment.
“If you are in Singapore, or in Africa, and you think that you have fever or a cough you can immediately consult with less than a half hour waiting time, a doctor through a video call. And he will see all your medical conditions and he can give you advice, or he can give you a diagnosis.”
Expats in Singapore and the UAE were most likely to already have health insurance for themselves and their family members, at 45.2% and 37.2%. This is higher than the global average of 33%.
Only 21.6% and 28% of expats in the UK and U.S. already had health insurance for themselves and their family members. However:
- 45.9% of expats in the U.S. who said that they already had health insurance, added their family to their current health care plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- 33% of expats in the UK who said that they had health insurance bought a new plan so that family members would be covered
An increased awareness of health
These findings suggest an increased awareness of health and health care and the value of health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is strengthened by the fact 82.6% of expats developed healthier habits during COVID-19 crisis.
Of the 82.6% of expats that developed healthier habits during COVID-19 crisis, 69.5% did so because the pandemic made them aware of their own health. Adding to this:
- 27.5% of expats said that they have been meaning to improve their health for a while
- 3% of expats developed healthier eating habits because they are an at-risk group
The UAE and Singapore have the highest percentage of participants that have developed healthier eating habits (89-90%), since the onset of the pandemic, closely followed by the U.S. with 84%. The UK has the lowest number of participants who have developed a healthier eating routine due to COVID-19 at 67%.
Dr Hemal Desai, Global Medical Director, Aetna International says, "The health crisis has clearly made people more aware of their own health. It's heartening to see that people have been developing healthy habits to keep themselves well. Private medical insurance has become increasingly important for expats as a means of protecting one of their most valuable assets – their health and the health of their families. Organisations like ours are more than just an insurance provider. At Aetna, we are a health and wellness partner helping people access health care solutions for physical and mental health in a way that suits them, both online and in their local community. As the impact of COVID-19 continues it is more important than ever that people protect their own health and that of their family."
The full report can be seen here: https://www.aetnainternational.com/en/about-us/explore/living-abroad/expatriate-life/expat-family-wellness-survey-2020.html
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