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New Survey Reveals Gulf In Worldwide Workplace Wellbeing

A major gulf between how employers view the health and wellness support they offer and the perceptions of employees could have a significant impact on productivity, according to new research from Aetna International, a leading global health benefits provider. 

The findings are revealed in the first of two new Business of health 2020 reports, Tackling polarised perceptions of corporate health and wellness, which investigates the opinions and experiences of 5,000 HR Directors and employees in the USA, UK, UAE and Singapore. The report was commissioned to analyse the changing needs of global employees and employers, focusing on individual mental and physical health priorities, and the impact this has on businesses.

Despite the vast majority of businesses (94%) agreeing they want employees to prioritise physical and mental health over work, most employees don’t believe the support they are offered is good enough. While 70% of employers believe they provide good access to programmes that support health and wellness, less than a quarter (23%) of employees think the same – 24% actually rated the support provided by their employer as poor.

In terms of the most significant risks to productivity and time off, employers think the biggest health challenge is flu and other common viral diseases, closely followed by stress, serious illness, back pain and mental health issues. Even with stress ranking so highly, over a third (38%) of workers view support for stress as poor, compared with 1 in 10 (11%) employers.

This disparity is evident across all markets, but is particularly striking in UAE, where 51% of workers rated their company’s support for stress in the workplace as poor, compared to just 13% of employers. Given that 87% of workers across the globe are concerned that stress could one day impact their ability to work, a perceived lack of support in this area could seriously hamper business effort at both recruitment and retention, as well as an organisation’s future business performance.

Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, said: “A clear gap is emerging globally when it comes to the level of mental and physical health support businesses are providing and the impact this is having on employees. While employers recognise that offering wellness and health support is becoming as vital as policies around holiday time, sick leave and retirement plans, companies need to do more to better understand and meet the needs of workforces.”

Significantly, two thirds (67%) of workers stated that they wouldn’t join a company if it didn’t have clear policy on supporting those with mental health issues including stress, anxiety or depression, reflecting the priorities of today’s jobseekers. Nearly a third (32%) of employees rate their company’s current mental health support as poor, compared with just 16 percent of bosses.

Additional areas covered by the report:

Stress and sleep deprivation

Over half (56%) of workers feel like they don’t get enough sleep, and many say this impacts their productivity at work. The average number of hours of sleep per night is just over 7, with men sleeping half an hour longer each night than women. When it comes to quality sleep, however, the average figure falls to a worrying 5.3 hours – far less than the medically recommended 8. In all markets surveyed stress is the main reason workers are struggling to sleep; over a third (34%) of workers globally blame job stress for their sleepless nights, whilst 29% blame long working hours.

Retention and recruitment

A comprehensive health package is seen as the biggest positive impact on the ability to attract and retain employees by businesses, outside of salary and job role specifics. This is followed in most markets by annual leave entitlement, flexible working policies and location. Flexible working hours and a positive work culture are seen as more important for retaining employees than they are for attracting employees.

Sick leave

Even though close to three quarters (72%) of businesses don't think employees at their company take enough sick days, 40% of employees in businesses in the UK, UAE, US and Singapore take six or more sick days per year. Nearly half (47%) strongly agree that companies should actively encourage people to take time off when ill, and nearly a fifth (18%) of employers think that a culture where people do not feel they can take sick leave is the biggest cause of an unhealthy working environment.

HR Directors and benefit packages

Over a third (37%) of businesses are unsure of what employees want from their benefits package and nearly half (44%) are concerned about the cost implications of employee health and wellness. Nearly three quarters (69%) feel they are increasingly expected to do more with less time, and the vast majority believe that compliance with new laws and regulation is an ongoing challenge.

Dr Patel concludes, “By inspiring individuals to change their habits and giving them the tools to be successful in achieving their goals, organisations will improve their performance and ensure they’re equipped to keep pace with tomorrow’s needs, demands and technology.”


Aetna International Announces Launch Of Health And Lifestyle DNA Testing

Aetna International, the global health benefits provider, is today launching DNA testing for its European members as an optional part of the wellness plans it offers.

The DNA test will exclusively look at health and lifestyle, including nutrigenomics (the relationship between what we eat and our biochemical response), fitness, sleep and stress. The goal is to support members who want to take control of their health, using personalised information to spark actionable lifestyle changes.

European brokers will be informed of the development later today at an event held at The Tower of London. This will include a presentation from Andrew Steele, the former Olympic track medallist, on how to use your genetic information to get the best health outcomes. Guests at the event will also get to undertake tests and discover some of their own genetic sensitives and predispositions as well as personalised recommendations for positive and sustainable lifestyle change.

Caroline Pain, Senior Vice President, Customer Proposition, at Aetna International comments: “We’re increasingly seeing people take a proactive approach to health, effectively becoming partners in their own care. It’s now possible to take a highly targeted approach to holistic wellbeing, with hyper-personalised and predictive health care.  By introducing this type of DNA testing, we’re ensuring our members have the opportunity to take advantage of these advances, combining an awareness of their genetics with digital and social support in changing their behaviours for the better.”

From today, European employers that are starting or renewing their contract with Aetna International can purchase the DNA kit for employees as an add-on product. The test consists of a simple mouth swab, and is available for scheme of 10 employees or more at an exclusive subsidised launch price of £75 per person (RRP £150).

The test is in the form of a swab, which is sent to a certified UK lab for analysis. Members must register their kit online and provide their consent. They are then notified by email when their test has been processed, and can log in to a digital portal to explore and download their results.

One of the main differentiators of this service from other providers is the quantity and quality of post-test support available. Members can book a consultation appointment with an expert in nutrition and fitness to discuss changes they may like to make to their lifestyle. Later on, follow-up help and assistance can also be accessed from a number of Aetna International’s wellbeing and behavioural health resources, including health coaching, an employee assistance programme and vHealth, the virtual health care service. As part of a truly integrated solution, Aetna’s clinical and coaching teams are trained to understand the DNA testing results and implications to help members make the most of their personal insights within their wider healthcare journeys.

In implementing this innovation, privacy has been a top-most concern. Absolutely no personal data is shared with employers or used for underwriting or pricing purposes. 

Caroline Pain concludes: “Genetic health and lifestyle testing is at the point of being mainstream, but there are a number of areas in which responsible providers need to tread carefully. Privacy is one, quality of tests is another, and knowing how to reliably interpret results is a third. Our members have the reassurance that all three are taken care of, and that we’re working with them to ensure they stay in optimum health.”


78% Of Expats Across The Globe Opt For Virtual Health Care Services

Global health care provider Aetna International recently surveyed 2,000 expat employees across the globe, to find out which aspects of international relocation affect their health and well-being the most.

From work life and wages to settling children and the perceived threat of civil unrest, the International Workforce Well-Being Survey 2019 explores the positive and negative impact that living and working abroad can have.

Among the questions, expats were asked whether they are likely or unlikely to use virtual health services. The survey revealed that:

  • 78% of expats across the globe are likely to use vHealth services
  • 92% of expats in Singapore are more likely to use vHealth services than expats in other countries
  • 90% of expats in India and the UAE are more likely to use vHealth services than those living in other countries
  • Younger age groups (30-49) are more likely to use it than older generations (50+)
  • Those with children are more likely to use virtual health than those without

Richard di Benedetto, President of Aetna International, comments, “Virtual health plays a big role in driving down the cost of health care. People save a lot of time and money, because they don’t need to travel to access health care services. In some locations, you may need to travel quite a way to see your family doctor. But with virtual health care services, this isn’t the case.

“If you’re living in Singapore, for example, and you think you have a fever or a cough, virtual health services allows you to immediately contact a doctor who can then give you direct advice and even a diagnosis.

“Virtual health care services are very useful when you’re an expat and you’re not familiar with your new environment. Put simply, using virtual health care services is like having your own family doctor in your pocket.”

The full survey data set can be seen here:

Read more news, interviews and articles by Aetna International on their iPMI Magazine micro website, click here.


Win For Aetna International At Health Insurance Daily Awards For 6th Consecutive Year

Leading international health benefits provider, Aetna International (, was shortlisted for three categories, and won Best Group IPMI Provider at this year’s Health Insurance Daily Awards.

“It is a great achievement for Aetna International to have been awarded ‘Best Group IPMI Provider’ for the sixth consecutive year. This award is particularly important to us as we place huge value on feedback from the brokers we work with – partnership with them is vital to our success and these awards reflect the strength of our relationships.” said Aetna International President and CEO Richard di Benedetto.

He continued, “The team at Aetna International have been working tirelessly to expand our global footprint, to broaden our services and to offer the best service to our customers.  I am tremendously proud of our staff - and I am delighted that their commitment and dedication has been recognized this evening.  It is an exciting time for Aetna and we will continue to work to transform the way people access health care, wherever they are in the world.”

The awards are voted for by brokers with first-hand experience of the market and acknowledge the provider that best supports their members around the world.

Success at the Health Insurance Daily awards adds to the impressive portfolio of 2018 awards for Aetna International that already includes wins at the Workplace Savings & Benefits Awards and International Fund and Product Awards.

‘Congratulations also go to the winners of the Aetna International sponsored categories, with The Health Insurance Group taking the Best Group International PMI Intermediary title and Stackhouse Poland being deserving winners of the Best Individual International PMI Intermediary,’ said di Benedetto.

For more information about Aetna International, visit

Read more Aetna International news on their iPMI Magazine micro website here.


Aetna International Appoints Jason Mccormick And Chrissy Piraino To Sales Vice Presidents For Canada

Leading international health benefits provider, Aetna International ( is growing its Canadian sales and service team with the appointments of Jason McCormick and Chrissy Piraino as Sales Vice Presidents.

Jason and Chrissy will be responsible for the development and management of strategic broker relationships, as well as playing leadership roles in Aetna’s continued expansion in Canada.  Based in Toronto, Chrissy will focus on the Toronto and Southwestern Ontario market, and from Ottawa, Jason will manage all other relationships across Canada outside of Southwestern Ontario. 

Jason joins Aetna with 25 years’ experience in the Canadian health insurance industry.  He spent the last 10 years as Practice Lead and Vice President of International Benefits for Cowan Insurance Groups managing teams of sales, service and consultants in growing their International Benefits practice.  Prior to Cowan, Jason held positions at Buck Consultants, Mercer and Canada Life.   

Chrissy brings a similar depth of experience to Aetna International.  With nearly 20 years in the Canadian insurance market, Chrissy spent the last 10 as a Senior Account Executive with Great West Life, . Prior to Great West Life, Chrissy held a number of roles with increasing responsibility at Mercer in Toronto.

“Aetna International is receiving a great deal of positive attention and recognition since announcing its Canadian expansion ambitions in February of this year,” said Carrie Chapman, Aetna International’s Market Head for Canada. “The appointments of Jason and Chrissy are a natural next step in our development and we are delighted to have new team members who combine extensive industry knowledge with a passion for serving the needs of the Canadian health market.”

Aetna International’s healthcare plans provide cover for everyone whether they qualify for provincial cover or not. Tailored cover is also available for groups on a direct-sale basis, or through brokers or other intermediaries. International members receive access to a large medical network in Canada, including direct payment access to more than 30,000 physicians and hospitals providers, over 99% of pharmacies and dentists. In addition, Aetna members also have access to over one million providers in the United States and some 165,000 throughout the rest of the world.


Aetna International Launches New Mobile Friendly Health Portal For Members

Leading health care benefits provider, Aetna International ( has launched a redesigned secure member portal, Health Hub, which offers members a one-stop-shop to manage different aspects of their health online.

The portal has been developed following an extensive review of Aetna International’s members’ use of previous online tools, and searches for information about their health.  The most popular information is now quickly and easily accessible on a variety of platforms, including mobile devices.

Members can view their plan details, access claims records and search for in-network doctors and medical facilities. A library of medical information, including tips on wellness and how to stay healthy, is also available.

Damian Lenihan, Executive Director – Distribution, UK Markets said, “Reviewing our members’ use of online tools to manage their health has allowed us to develop this valuable self-help portal.  Health Hub now provides members with fast access to the information they need to manage their health, whenever they need it and wherever they are in the world.”

For more information about Aetna International, visit


Aetna International Declared Runner-Up In ‘Employee Benefits Services Provider Of The Year’ Award

Aetna International (, a leading health care insurer, is declared a runner-up of the “Employee Benefits Services Provider of the Year” award at the Expatriate Management and Mobility Awards (EMMA) in Singapore.

Aetna International was selected as the runner-up after a rigorous study from a panel of global mobility experts from established multinational corporations, including Morgan Stanley, Boeing and Accenture.

FEM Events Director, Sally Martin, said tonight, “Our judges were very impressed with the case studies Aetna presented which showed very distinct and measurable results of how they have helped their customers manage their health plans. Aetna International is a deserving runner-up of the ‘Employee Benefits Services Provider of the Year’ Award.”

Derek Goldberg, managing director of Aetna International for Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, said, “We are delighted with our win and we are happy we’re on the right track of providing customers what they need. We will continue to work closely with our customers to understand their needs and make sure we continue to meet and exceed these.”

As a global health care service provider, Aetna International is focusing its efforts on building a healthier world through better, simpler access to quality and affordable care.

After acquiring a competitor in 2014, the group had two product portfolios, two system platforms and two service models. It needed to simplify this by consolidating into a single operating model while ensuring its product offerings would sufficiently meet the needs of its expanded customer base.

It has also leveraged on technology to streamline its claims processing as well as using it for customer communication.

The results are reflected in its claims experience; with a strong focus on speed and accuracy, offering customers assurance, which is a key element of what a benefits provider should do.

The judges said Aetna International had placed much emphasis on engaging with its customers, which included initiatives such as providing round-the-clock customer service and ensuring that most of its customers’ needs are resolved in the first call.

Customers appreciate this new focus, which reflects an exceptional satisfaction rating of Aetna’s service.

The event was held at the Orchard Hotel, located in the heart of Singapore’s busy Orchard Road area, and was well attended by industry leaders from the global mobility industry.

International health and medical insurance news

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