Many employers have experienced significant increases in the premiums that they pay for international private medical insurance (IPMI).
Key causes of price rises
It is normal to expect a 10-15% increase in the cost of insurance year on year but many companies have recently been faced with far greater increases which they may not have been expecting. There are a number of factors that are forcing the price of premiums up so steeply including increased regulation, greater demand for quality care and the rising cost of care in some locations.
The demand for good quality private care is rising, as individuals look for greater choice in how and where they are treated. People are also looking for access to the latest advanced medical technology.
In some locations, there is a greater propensity for hospitals to offer leading-edge or experimental treatments that are much more expensive. Singapore and Hong Kong have been acknowledged as countries where insurance costs are higher because of their willingness to offer these types of treatments.
Three tips for controlling the cost of IPMI
Given the varied costs, availability of medical infrastructure and changes to regulation in different countries it is critical that employers get expert advice when reviewing their international medical insurance.
Three areas to consider are:
- Whether it is cheaper to have a single policy to cover all locations, or local cover especially for high-cost countries
It may be cheaper to have one single IPMI policy to cover all staff locations or to have local cover for some specific countries. Employers should seek advice from a specialist broker who will be able to advise on the most appropriate way to help control costs whilst still ensuring the most suitable level of international cover for the company's specific needs.
- Looking at providers with access to better value medical facilities
Some providers are able to access good quality medical care at facilities that are more competitively priced. Employers should look to compare what is available to ensure they are getting good value as well as high quality care.
- Reviewing what to include and exclude
It may also be beneficial to review what is included or excluded in the policy and how that relates to the likely needs of the overseas staff being insured. For example, childbirth can be very costly to include and may not be relevant in some circumstances.
Sarah Dennis, head of international for The Health Insurance Group said, "Helping control the costs of IPMI cover is a core part of the value that brokers should be delivering. Companies need to draw on the international expertise of their broker to find the most cost-efficient policies whilst still providing the appropriate level of cover for staff.:
It is essential that employers discuss the best way to control costs. With expert advice, premiums may be reduced through centralised or local policies, changing what is included in the policy or seeking providers who can offer access to less expensive medical services.
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