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Now Health International Announce Rate And Product Updates From 1 August 2015

Now Health International has announced details of their WorldCare product and premium review effective from 1 August 2015.

Now Health’s benefit review enhances the company’s WorldCare product proposition by providing enhanced discounts and additional benefits, whilst keeping premium increases to a minimum.  Premiums for business underwritten in the Europe branch will be increasing by only 2%*.

As part of the review, Now Health is offering a 10% introductory discount for new individual customers in their Europe and Global branches**. This discount is available up until 31 December 2015. 

In addition to this:

  • To compliment the existing 20% co-insurance option, a new 10% out-patient co-insurance will be available subject to a discount of 5%.
  • UAE and Hong Kong residents will be able to access cashless out-patient direct billing for a lower cost than the nil excess via a new Restricted Network option.
  • Continued Personal Medical Exclusions (CPME) will be available for groups of five or more employees for plans based in the Europe branch.  This new way of underwriting is sometimes referred to as ‘no worse terms’ or ‘protected underwriting terms’.  CPME allows groups to change their IPMI cover from one provider to another, carrying over their cover with no new medical exclusions.

For business written in Singapore and China, a brand new No Claims Bonus feature has been introduced and will reward customers who do not claim. Designed to offer year-on-year savings, the No Claims Bonus offers an automatic 10% discount on renewal providing no claims have been made and a 15% discount over two or more subsequent years.  Claims made under the routine dental benefit will not affect the No Claims Bonus.


Fitch Downgrades Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York To 'BB+'; Withdraws Rating

Fitch Ratings has downgraded Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York's (HIP) Insurer Financial Strength rating to 'BB+' from 'BBB-'. The Rating Outlook is Stable. Concurrent with today's rating action, Fitch has withdrawn the rating for commercial reasons.


The rating downgrade primarily reflects HIP's and its subsidiary's Group Health Inc.'s (GHI) poor 2014 and first quarter 2015 financial results and corresponding losses in capital and surplus that were materially outside Fitch's ratings expectations.

Group Rating Methodology Applied: HIP's rating reflects use of a group rating methodology that considers the operational and financial aspects of HIP's subsidiaries including Group Health Options, Inc. (GHI). Fitch believes that a group rating methodology is appropriate due to GHI's role in rounding out the organization's product portfolio, financial support provided that HIP has historically provided to GHI, overlapping management between the two companies, and the companies' rights to elect an equal number of EmblemHealth Inc.'s, (Emblem) HIP's parent company, board members.

Financial Performance and Earnings: HIP and GHI combined reported a net loss of $40 million (statutory accounting basis) in the first quarter 2015 after reporting a combined net loss of $494 million in 2014. In contrast, from 2010 through 2013 HIP and GHI generated a combined net profit each year and the companies' combined net income averaged $152 million. The 2014 combined net losses were spread across products as the companies reported underwriting losses in the comprehensive (hospital and medical), Medicare and Medicaid business lines.

Capitalization and Leverage: Reflecting the above referenced losses, HIP's capital and surplus at March 31, 2015 totaled $810 million compared with $928 million at year-end 2014 and $1.4 billion at year-end 2013. GHI reported similarly dramatic declines in capital and surplus. At March 31, 2015, the company reported $124 million of capital and surplus compared with $127 million at year-end 2014 and $276 million at year-end 2013. Fitch estimates the companies' combined NAIC ratio at year-end 2014 at 190% compared with 260% at year-end 2013.


Assurant To Exit Health Insurance Market

Assurant, Inc. (NYSE:AIZ) has concluded a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives for its health business and will exit the health insurance market as the Company sharpens its focus on housing and lifestyle specialty protection offerings. To maximize shareholder value, Assurant will immediately begin to wind down its major medical operations and has reached an agreement in principle to sell certain business lines and assets to National General Holdings Corp., subject to final documentation and regulatory approval. The Company expects to substantially complete its exit of the health insurance market by the end of 2016.

“Our decision to exit the health insurance market enables us to sharpen our focus on the housing and lifestyle markets, where we see the greatest opportunity for profitable growth. After a thorough review of alternatives for our health business, we believe the actions announced today allow us to uphold our commitments to policyholders while freeing up resources in 2016 to support our capital management strategy,” said Assurant President and CEO Alan B. Colberg. “We remain strongly committed to ensuring a smooth and orderly transition for our customers, agents and employees.”

National General Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: NGHC), a specialty personal lines insurance holding company, will acquire Assurant Health’s supplemental and small group self-funded product lines and certain other assets including a proprietary small group sales channel. Assurant Health will continue sales of its supplemental and small group self-funded products as it finalizes the terms of the transaction with National General Holdings Corp. At the same time, as part of the wind-down process, Assurant Health will cease sales of its individual major medical, small group fully-insured and short-term medical health insurance policies on June 15, 2015 and will not participate in open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act for 2016.

The Company will meet all claims, benefits, provider payments and agent commission responsibilities during these transitions. There will be no changes to Assurant Health policies or benefits currently in effect. Affected customers will receive letters from Assurant Health beginning the week of June 15, 2015 and can learn more at

Assurant is committed to treating all employees fairly and with respect as the Company exits the health insurance market during the next 18 months. Affected employees will be considered for open positions within Assurant, based on qualifications. Those unable to find another position will be offered severance, outplacement and job readiness support. The first phase of job reductions will occur this summer and affect an estimated 300 out of approximately 1,700 positions at Assurant Health.

The Company estimates that total costs associated with its exit from the health insurance market will amount to $175 million to $250 million. These charges primarily include premium deficiency reserves, severance and retention, contract and lease terminations, and other transaction costs. The Company estimates the total future incremental cash expenditures related to these costs will be $95 million to $110 million.

As part of its focus on housing and lifestyle specialty protection products and services, Assurant continues to pursue a sale of its employee benefits segment to a buyer with a more focused benefits portfolio. The process is underway and is expected to conclude in the next several months. Serving more than 30,000 small and mid-sized employers, Assurant Employee Benefits provides a robust product suite of voluntary and employer-paid products including dental, long-term and short-term disability and life insurance.



ALC Health Renews Advertising Deal With International Private Medical Insurance Magazine Until 2016

International Private Medical Insurance Magazine is proud to announce that ALC Health, a leading provider of international medical insurance, has renewed its advertising agreement to run all the way until January 2016.

One of the original supporters of International Private Medical Insurance Magazine, à la carte healthcare (ALC Health) is an award winning international medical insurer who for over 10 years has been protecting the health of private clients, companies and organisations across the globe. The company continues to grow and develop on a philosophy of ensuring that every policyholder whether as a private individual or a member of a corporate group is assured of the highest level of personal service and support.



PA Insurance & Health Departments Issue Consumer Alert on Tobacco Cessation Coverage

Acting Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller has issued a consumer alert to inform customers that tobacco cessation programs are free under the Affordable Care Act.  This alert followed a PA Insurance Department reminder issued to all insurers offering health insurance policies through the ACA marketplaces that they are required to provide tobacco cessation at no cost to policy holders.  A recent American Lung Association report indicated some insurers were not complying with the tobacco cessation coverage mandate of the ACA.

"Though the American Lung Association report showed Pennsylvania insurers are doing a better job than those in most other states of covering tobacco cessation treatment, most health plans did not provide coverage for the full range of programs that should be available under preventive care," Acting Commissioner Miller said.  She noted most Pennsylvania insurance plans, according to the American Lung Association report, are not covering all seven FDA approved tobacco cessation medications.

"Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death," added Acting Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy. "An estimated twenty-one percent of the 2.1 million adults in Pennsylvania continue to smoke. We know that a combination of counseling and medication is the most effective treatment. Pennsylvanians covered under ACA should have access to the broad range of cessation programs available."

Pennsylvanians attempting to quit smoking who have purchased health insurance through marketplaces created by the ACA are mandated, by this law, to have access to tobacco cessation treatments without any cost-sharing. 

"My department is working with insurers to help them understand the ACA, but I also want to educate consumers who have policies under this law so they can get the coverage to which they are entitled," Miller said.  She noted that approximately 472,000 Pennsylvanians have insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Pennsylvania has resources available in all 67 counties to help residents quit smoking. The ACA guidance for insurers includes providing a benefit to cover screening for tobacco use. Eight Regional Primary Contractors are responsible for offering evidence-based training to clinicians and healthcare systems to implement an effective screening intervention with every patient to identify and document tobacco use status.

The ACA guidance for insurers includes covering two quit attempts per year consisting of counseling and coverage for all FDA approved medications. Information on individual, group and telephone cessation counseling programs throughout the commonwealth is available at or by calling 1-877-724-3258.

For more information on insurance products and protections go to or call 877-881-6388.


AIG Opens New Shared Services Center In Sofia, Bulgaria

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) have officially opened a new Shared Services Centre (SSC) in Sofia, Bulgaria, during a grand opening ceremony attended by Peter D. Hancock, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIG, and Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria.

The centre will support AIG’s insurance operations in 17 countries across Europe with Claims, Policy Servicing, Accounts Receivable, and Travel Assistance services.

“This is a significant day for AIG, for our customers, and for our employees,” said Mr. Hancock. “Opening this new centre in Sofia, which will play an important part in our European operations, affirms our strong commitment to Bulgaria. In addition, we also plan to continue expanding our commercial insurance activities here.”

AIG currently employs 350 people in Bulgaria, 98 percent of whom are university graduates, and all speak at least one other language. By the end of 2015, AIG plans to increase staff numbers in Bulgaria to approximately 500.

“This is an exciting time for all of us in Bulgaria,” said Venislav Iotov, General Manager of AIG for Bulgaria and Romania. “AIG’s investment creates excellent employment opportunities at one of the largest global insurers.”

Also attending today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening were senior representatives of the Bulgarian government, including Vladimir Tudjarov, Secretary-General,Ministry of Economy; Mr. Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of InvestBulgaria Agency; and Mrs.Ralitsa Agayn-Guri, Vice Chairman of the Financial Supervision Commission. Also present were Mr. Bruce Burton, Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of the United States inBulgaria, and Mr. Thomas Bruns, Commercial Counselor in the Embassy of the United Statesin Bulgaria.


Hardworking SME's Rely On Family And Friends For Advice Rather Than Experts

SMEs are failing to make use of expert advice when setting up their business, according to new research from Aviva*, leaving them vulnerable to costly mistakes. Two in five (38%) rely on advice from family or friends, while just 13% consult financial advisers, 9% use legal advisers and 6% turn to insurance providers.

SMEs found that the top three hurdles when setting up their business were financial administration (32%), marketing and sales (31%), and understanding and fulfilling legal obligations as an employer or business owner (30%).

All were areas that they had little or no knowledge of when setting up – three quarters of SMEs knew little or nothing about bookkeeping or marketing and sales. An even greater proportion (85%) said they knew very little about their legal obligations as an employer.

Having established their businesses SMEs say the top three hurdles that they have still not been able to overcome are marketing and sales (26%), getting financial help (18%) and understanding legal obligations as an employer (also 18%).

Employer obligations, for many businesses, will include overcoming hurdles like pension auto-enrolment for the first time. Whilst our research shows a third have done so already, one in five (21%) say they haven’t yet set up a workplace pension but know they need to at some point and over a third (36%) of micro employers (those with 1-5 employees) don’t think they need to. Along with its pensions schemes Aviva has created some helpful tips and advice about auto-enrolment and when to start thinking about setting up or preparing for their ‘staging date’.**

Angus Eaton, managing director of commercial lines at Aviva, said: “Making the time to balance the management of day to day customer, employee and supplier demands with protection against nasty surprises is a perpetual challenge for any business. Great advice helps.

“It’s only natural to want to consult with your family and friends but advice from professional experts can save time and money, helping small business owners with practical solutions, learnt from similar experiences in other businesses.

“Whether it’s getting hands-on help with bookkeeping, or getting to grips with the legal obligations associated with being an employer, there is a wealth of advice and material designed to support SMEs along every step of the way. Government resources such as those on the Great Business website - particularly for fledgling SMEs - are a great place to start."

Failure to understand legal obligations leaves SMEs at risk of breaching the law

Not being able to understand legal obligations as an employer or business owner is leaving some SMEs in danger of breaking the law.

Employers’ liability insurance is a legal necessity for the vast majority of businesses with staff however one in ten (11%) SMEs thought it wasn’t a legal requirement in any scenario. A quarter (25%) of SMEs also wrongly believe that employers’ liability insurance is only legally required once a business has more than one employee.

Employers’ liability provides vital cover should a member of staff make a claim for illness or injury caused by their job and it is a legal requirement. Failure to have it carries the risk of fines of £2,500 for every day the business is not properly insured***.

Almost nine in ten (87%) SMEs did not know that the minimum legal requirement for employers’ liability insurance is £5 million, with a fifth (19%) believing the minimum legal cover to be less than £500,000.

And it isn’t only employers’ liability insurance that some businesses are unsure of. When we asked about all types of business insurance less than a third (29%) of SMEs said they are very confident that they have the right cover, and one in ten (12%) admitted to having no business insurance at all. That is potentially leaving more than 600,000**** SMEs financially vulnerable should a claim arise.

However, it seems that the longer they are in business the higher the priority for insurance becomes. A quarter (25%) of SMEs that have been in business for less than a year have no insurance but this fell to 5% for more established businesses who have been operating for 8-10 years.

Eaton continued: “Clearly SMEs need a strong understanding of their legal obligations and how they can protect their business and employees to keep it trading - one claim without adequate cover could easily be enough to put severe financial pressure on an organisation or even close it down completely.

“It seems from our survey that the longer they are in business the more likely SMEs are to have taken out business insurance and my advice would be, don’t wait – make sure you have the right insurance from the start. Making the time to get the right advice and protection for your business could be the best investment you make so if you don’t already have one speak to your local broker as soon as you can.”

* Research was conducted online by RedShift among 1,507 SMEs in February 2015.
** For more information on auto-enrolment visit:
****According to Government statistics, there were 5,163,600 SMEs at the start of 2014 in the UK


HTH Worldwide Offers New Travel Protection Plans

HTH Worldwide have announced the availability of travel protection insurance plans with important upgrades, including robust benefits and competitive pricing. HTH's TripProtector plans offer comprehensive travel and health benefits, three levels of coverage, and pricing that fits travelers' personal characteristics and itineraries. These plans cover both domestic and international trips and are underwritten by Nationwide®.

TripProtector plans cover trip cancellation and interruption for illness, terrorism, and dangerous weather, as well as baggage loss and trip delay. Medical benefits include outpatient and inpatient services for sickness and injury, and medical evacuation. Plan designs come in three levels and top out at $50,000 of trip cancellation, 200% of trip costs for trip interruption, $500,000 in medical benefits and $1 million in medical evacuation.

"Many traditional travel protection plans offer an array of coverages but fall short on medical benefits," said Brendan Sharkey, Director of Individual Products at HTH Worldwide. "Travelers often feel compelled to buy an additional travel medical plan. TripProtector offers travelers the best of both worlds, making it a great option for people interested in protecting both their health and their investment."

All TripProtector customers enjoy HTH Worldwide's exceptional member service and medical assistance, including concierge-level access to the best local doctors and hospitals all around the world. They also carry with them HTH's award-winning mPassport app to search for English-speaking, highly qualified doctors, translate key medical terms and phrases, and find country-specific equivalents for brand name medications.

For a full description of the new TripProtector plans and to purchase online, visit




UnitedHealth Group Reports First Quarter Results

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) reported first quarter results, highlighted by accelerating growth, consistent execution and strong operating performance in businesses across the Company.

“We are working to create more effective and more modern approaches to accessing and delivering health care. We are gratified with the market response to our efforts, providing us opportunities to serve more people, in more ways,” said Stephen J. Hemsley, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group.

The Company expects 2015 revenues of approximately $143 billion, an increase of $2 billion from the previous outlook, due to stronger business growth in the first quarter. Earnings are now expected to be in a range of $6.15 to $6.30 per share, an increase from the prior outlook of $6.00 to $6.25 per share, despite absorbing approximately $0.10 per share from the proposed combination with Catamaran Corporation, including transaction costs and the effect of moderated share repurchase activity. Management expects the combination to contribute $0.30 per share to UnitedHealth Group’s 2016 earnings. Reflecting the increased outlook for revenues and earnings, the Company is raising its projection for 2015 cash flows from operations to a range of $8.2 billion to $8.4 billion.

UnitedHealth Group’s first quarter 2015 revenues of $35.8 billion grew 13 percent or more than $4 billion yearover-year. Revenue growth was broad-based, with both UnitedHealthcare and Optum revenues growing by double digit percentages.

• First quarter earnings from operations were $2.6 billion and net earnings of $1.46 per share increased 33 percent year-over-year. With strengthened overall operating performance compared to the first quarter of 2014, the net margin of 4.0 percent expanded 50 basis points year-over-year.

• First quarter 2015 cash flows from operations of $2.3 billion were 1.6 times net earnings and grew 61 percent year-over-year due to growth in risk-based products and the expansion in overall earnings.

• The consolidated medical care ratio decreased 140 basis points year-over-year to 81.1 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Prior year medical reserve development was $140 million, compared to $220 million in the first quarter of 2014.

• The first quarter 2015 operating cost ratio of 16.6 percent increased 20 basis points year-over-year due to higher growth in services businesses.

• The first quarter 2015 tax rate of 43.3 percent increased 130 basis points year-over-year due to higher levels of nondeductible ACA fees. • First quarter 2015 days sales outstanding of 13 days increased 1 day year-over-year, due to higher growth in government programs. Days claims payable was flat year-over-year at 47 days.

• The Company’s balance sheet remained strong, with a debt to total capital ratio of 36.6 percent at March 31, 2015. UnitedHealth Group repurchased $900 million in stock in the first quarter, acquiring more than 8 million shares, and grew dividend payments to shareholders by 29 percent year-over-year to $357 million.

UnitedHealthcare provides health care benefits, serving individuals and employers ranging from sole proprietorships to large, multi-site and national and international organizations; delivers health and well-being benefits to Medicare beneficiaries and retirees; manages health care benefit programs on behalf of state Medicaid and community programs; and serves the nation’s military service members, retirees and their families through the TRICARE program.

UnitedHealthcare’s first quarter 2015 revenues of $32.6 billion grew $3.4 billion or 12 percent year-over-year. The number of people served across the U.S. benefits markets grew 1.6 million year-over-year, all organically, with balanced growth across commercial, Medicare and Medicaid offerings. In the first quarter of 2015, UnitedHealthcare grew to serve more than 1 million additional people domestically.

• First quarter 2015 earnings from operations for UnitedHealthcare increased $494 million over the first quarter of 2014. Improved performance in managing health care costs across all businesses and improved operational performance combined to advance UnitedHealthcare’s first quarter operating margin to 5.8 percent. Page 4 of 7 UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual

• UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual served 680,000 more people in the first quarter and 320,000 more people year-over-year. First quarter growth was led by the positive market response to the Company’s individual public exchange products and favorable annual renewal activity and new business awards serving employer customers.

• First quarter revenues of $11.4 billion grew 4 percent year-over-year reflecting growth in the number of people served, price increases for medical cost trends and a continuing market shift to lower price point products, including public exchange offerings. UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement

• First quarter 2015 UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement revenues of $12.8 billion grew $1.3 billion or 11 percent year-over-year due to consistent growth in services to seniors. - In Medicare Advantage, UnitedHealthcare grew to serve 220,000 more seniors, a 7 percent year-overyear increase, including 200,000 more in first quarter 2015. - Medicare Supplement products grew 8 percent to serve 305,000 more people year-over-year, including 180,000 in the first quarter. - UnitedHealthcare’s stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan participation remained largely unchanged, contracting year-over-year by 40,000 people. UnitedHealthcare Community & State

• First quarter 2015 UnitedHealthcare Community & State revenues of $6.9 billion grew $1.7 billion or 33 percent year-over-year, due to strong overall growth and an increasing mix of higher acuity members, such as those served through long-term care programs.

• In the past year UnitedHealthcare grew its Medicaid services by 750,000 people or 17 percent to serve more than 5 million people. Strong first quarter growth of 160,000 people was fully offset by a previously scheduled membership reduction of 175,000 people in one market, where an additional offering was introduced by the state. UnitedHealthcare Global

• UnitedHealthcare Global’s first quarter 2015 revenues of $1.5 billion decreased 7 percent or $107 million year-over-year. Using first quarter 2015 exchange rates for both periods, revenues grew 12 percent yearover-year. The number of people served declined 495,000 year-over-year as a result of strengthened pricing and underwriting disciplines in response to regulatory actions causing use of the health care system to rise.

Optum is a health services business serving the broad health care marketplace, including payers, care providers, employers, governments, life sciences companies and consumers. Using advanced data analytics and technology, Optum’s people help improve overall health system performance: optimizing care quality, reducing costs and improving the consumer experience and care provider performance.

Optum’s revenues for the first quarter of 2015 grew 15 percent or $1.6 billion year-over-year to $12.8 billion as each reporting segment advanced revenues by a double-digit percentage. Optum’s first quarter 2015 earnings from operations of $742 million grew 14 percent or $92 million year-over-year. Absent $42 million in acquisition costs from the proposed Catamaran combination, first quarter operating earnings growth would have exceeded 20 percent and the operating margin of 5.8 percent would have been 6.1 percent, up 30 basis points year-over-year.

OptumHealth revenues of $3.3 billion grew 27 percent year-over-year due to growth in the number of patients served across its OptumCare health care delivery businesses, as well as business expansion in population health management services for third party payers. - OptumInsight revenues grew to $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2015, advancing 11 percent year-overyear, driven by expansion and growth in care provider revenue management services. OptumInsight’s quarter end revenue backlog was $9.1 billion, with growth in external backlog accelerating to 24 percent year-over-year.

OptumRx revenues grew 11 percent year-over-year as first quarter script volumes increased 5 percent to nearly 150 million adjusted scripts. Management expects the Catamaran combination to enhance OptumRx’s offerings and generate substantial value for clients and individuals.



International Private Medical Insurance VS Local Health Insurance

In the most recent International Private Medical Insurance Magazine Executive Round Table business forum, we speak with leading C-Level Executives about the major differences between international and local health insurance plans.


As expatriate hot spots around the world continue to mandate health insurance cover for expat employees, under various visa and employment laws, questions from the business community continue to be raised. Issues focus around how new laws will help and assist expatriates and what levels of cover they may expect from local health insurance plans.



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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

A guide to leading international medical, healthcare, expatriate and travel insurance underwriters, companies, providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate travel business markets, globally.