iPMI Magazine Speaks With Philip Catterton, Managing Director, Integra Global
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Philip Catterton Managing Director of Integra Global is an American with 25 years of experience both in capacity of working with and living himself as an expatriate since 1989. He is a founding member of Integra Global which was established in 1999. Philip has personally steered the company strategy and pioneered technical advancements including Integra Global being the first provider to offer online enrollment and the full scale implementation of Zaptag personal healthcare records.
As an American firmly grounded in Europe for over two decades, it has given him a unique perspective of not only what a comprehensive healthcare plan should include, but also how to embody the unique aspects of what North American, and globally expatriates are looking for in a quality plan.
What do your clients demand, and what do they receive?
Integra Global’s clients our “Members” choose our plans if they are looking for comprehensive coverage at an affordable price. Our clients are typically families and professionals that plan to live abroad for longer periods of time. They receive excellent coverage including superior wellness benefits, maternity, and inclusive emergency evacuation; easy accessibility to providers through our extensive direct bill networks globally, seamless online applications, billing and personalized customer service. Moreover, we are one of the few international healthcare providers that do not have specific limitations on chronic conditions, prescription drugs or outpatient treatments.
How can corporations improve and manage the life cycle of their expatriate workforce?
Comprehensive cover should be looked at not only as a necessity but as a perk. Quality healthcare insurance benefits are an important element in ones life, but to an expatriate and their family it has added value. Having the ability to seek treatment in one’s home country is something of significance to an expatriate.
Domestic employee or even Human Resource professionals may not comprehend the difficulties an expatriate may face in communication, cultural differences and general standards of facilities. Having the ability to go “home” for healthcare treatment should be a standard consideration of expatriates and their families, if the employer is interested in the long term commitment of the employee to the assignment abroad. Given the special circumstances employers face when hiring expatriates – including the cost of initial transportation and accommodation for the interview, moving abroad and perhaps paying housing, relocation expense, schools, local housing etc. healthcare insurance is a reasonable expenditure considering the overall expense of hiring.
As a perk this component to the overall compensation strategy can increase the longevity of the expats career, but for the human resource professional it can also result in savings should the expatriate leave. The costs incurred in finding a replacement may include for example, recruitment costs, down time, training, additional relocation expenses etc. All things considered considering healthcare insurance is normally an essential element of the employee agreement - it does not cost that much more to offer a high quality comprehensive insurance plan not only for the expatriate but their family as well, especially if it leads to increased employee satisfaction, higher moral and dedication to the assignment and company as a whole.
How do you think International Healthcare will be defined in the future?
Expatriates are becoming not just more common but are also staying out longer if not on a permanent basis. As this trend becomes more prevalent I think you will find that there will be more of a demand for more comprehensive quality cover. The emphasis in the future I think will be more on value, especially as it concerns the long-term value of quality health cover.
On a recent and highly subscribed LinkedIn discussion, it was suggested that: “There is a huge gap between underwriting and claims and everyone needs to start talking the same language”. What do you think?
It is important to be upfront and transparent when it comes to underwriting. I think this is where the misunderstandings come in on the claims side. Too often there is ambiguity of accepting an application and then later applying the terms. Customers often do not read or understand the fine print especially when it comes to insurance. And I don't think we should expect them to. Our approach is to have a completely transparent process from the beginning. And this is best done if Full Medical Underwriting is done at the time of application. In this way, everyone know the terms and conditions from the start and therefore there is little room for misunderstandings at times of claims.
Over the next 5 years, which geographic markets and industries will represent your core strategic focus, and why?
Integra Global has focused its efforts on expats from the USA and in key areas around the world including Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The global trends for expatriates are in China, India, Brazil and Russia which remain of interest, but there are other regions such as Africa, Central and Eastern Europe which remain underserved currently. The South East Asia market is an area where we have direct support and this will be a near term focus on our expansion strategy. Our goal is to grow in areas we are can build relationships with brokers and employee benefit firms, that have the best interest of the customer in mind and have the will offer support our customer service efforts directly with their clients.
How will you achieve success in your strategic vision?
Our focus has been on building a streamlined billing process by accessing local direct bill network providers, that have the expertise to handle claims and to provide the needed infrastructure to properly support our members. In areas where language and cultural differences are barriers we find this as a welcomed service to our members in accessing healthcare providers when needed.
Over the last year, what is the biggest and most important achievement of your company?
Integra Global is constantly seeking ways to be innovative and flexible not only with our members, but with our distribution partners in helping them to deliver a product that best meets the wants and specific needs of their clients. Our representatives were expanding into the Middle East and stressed the importance of a provider that could offer a direct bill network in UAE. Continuing our efforts to support streamlined outpatient treatment we added direct bill access adding a UAE network this year, and our local direct bill network partner has the ability to extend coverage to other areas in the Middle East.
We find it imperative to support not only our members directly but our distribution partners who are in touch with the clients requirements. How will the cost of expatriate healthcare and expat insurance rise in the coming year and why? Increasing pressures on medical inflation are beyond our direct control and have reached double digit levels.
Integra Global has however, incorporated a well designed policy and network utilization to contain costs and to limit our overall price increases to a minimum. As a testament to plan design and our approach we have a track record of keeping price increases to single digit figures for the past 5 years despite the overall rise of medical inflation being higher.
And finally, what role does technology play in your day-to-day operations and within your health, expat or travel insurance plans?
At Integra Global we take the attitude that human touch is at forefront quality customer service and technology is in the background but it remains as a vital component to better servicing and supporting our members. Our investment in technology serves to support and enhance our personal touch not to replace the human interaction which is impetrative in our approach. As the need for medical attention can be at any time technology plays a huge role as we deal with expats around the globe. It is important that our systems are available 24/7 365 days a year.
Web based systems – incorporate with direct bill networks and administrative offices globally – our network partner in China, UAE and the USA have all the customers plans loaded on their system and administered locally providing a seamless infrastructure. Yet this technology works in combination with the human touch – technology is there to service our customer better but not to replace the human element.
About Integra Global
Health plans from Integra Global allow your staff complete freedom of choice for doctors, specialists and hospital providers, worldwide. Let international medical insurance cover your staff while they are temporarily back in the U.S. and Canada. Our network of hospitals and doctors serves as a passport to the largest health network in North America.
For our international health insurance customers, our global support service means that your staff can rely on the best care, worldwide: when the need it, where they need it, in some of the world's leading centers of medical excellence. While your staff members are assigned abroad, you don't want to worry about what their international health insurance policies cover.
Instead you need a comprehensive cover that takes care of the big things as well as the small. Medical evacuation, travel assistance or claims translations, not features you would normally find in a straightforward domestic plan but all essential in an expatriate medical insurance for your international based staff. And we have the comprehensive cover that you would expect from a quality health plan such as chronic conditions cover, hospitalization, prescription drugs, out-patient, wellness benefits, and physician office visits to name just a few. Integra Global utilizes the UnitedHealthcare Network.
Plan 1 members have access to 5,200 hospitals and 650,000 health care professionals through the UnitedHealthcare Network. All treatment in the U.S. must be pre-certified. Make sure your provider pre-certifies your medical treatment. Utilizing the UnitedHealthcare network simplifies your pre-certification process and claims filing.
Tags: iPMI Magazine Speaks With Philip Catterton, Managing Director, Integra Global, Private Medical Insurance, Expatriate Healthcare, International Health Insurance, International Medical Insurance
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