A group of business people standing on top of a globe, discussing group health insurance options with an insurance broker in Singapore.

What Are International Medical Insurances?

It is now common to have employees assigned to foreign posts. A concern for many of these hard-working people is health coverage. Their existing medical plan might not be honored abroad. Will they receive the same degree of care they get in their home country? The chance of inadequate medical treatment is sufficient reason to refuse an overseas transfer.

Our global economy is asking management to accept the concept of a benefits world without borders. It is an environment in which medical insurance policies can provide coverage for employees assigned to posts all over the world. International medical insurance permits employees based far from home to get the very best health care attention anywhere they are stationed.

The Basics

Remote management is not always possible. There are basic activities, such as opening a new office, which will require employees to locate to a foreign location. These assignments may be for a few months or a few years. Medical coverage will be a necessity for both the employee and that person’s family. The policy must be flexible enough to handle the healthcare environment of the country where the employee is assigned. The decision on what policy to have is not always an easy one. Overall factors that go into determining the best coverage includes the following:

  • Duration. How long is the employee going to be assigned to a foreign country? The longer a person stays, the greater the risk of injury or illness happening away from home. A policy that is renewable every year keeps a person covered without any lapse.
  • Cost of Medical Care. Medical care in Singapore is not always cheap, but there are countries where medical attention is relatively inexpensive. The low cost can determine the amount of international coverage the company is willing to provide. Stationing in a low-cost country means the amount of insurance coverage necessary will be considerably smaller than elsewhere.
  • Medical Evacuation and Possible Repatriation. Evacuation will cover the costs of transporting the employee to a hospital, or even back to the home office territory. Repatriation is a little bit morbid but is a necessary coverage in the policy. It takes care of any expenses of returning the mortal remains of a dead employee.

Needed Coverage

Management must decide what the coverages are going to be for the international medical insurance policy. The benefits do not have to be Ferarri variety, yet, at the same time the amount of insurance must be able to meet medical emergencies. The medical crisis, incidentally, might not be from an accident or major disease. Food poisoning can put a person in the hospital. When looking at the various policies, coverages ought to include:

  • emergency medical assistance;
  • payment to medical facilities, which would include compensating for any emergency transportation;
  • coverage for evacuation service
  • Letter of Guarantee (LOG) or Guarantee of Payment (GOP)
  • Medical facilities finder

These are essentials. If an insurance provider does not have the ability to provide these type of coverages, a company should look elsewhere.

Comparison Shopping Is a Smart Idea

You would not buy a car without kicking the tires and visiting a few dealerships. You should also do some research and little comparison shopping to determine the best international medical policy. International medical insurance is a product some very large companies offer. Each has unique qualities and options to attract prospective buyers. Some famous providers in Singapore are: BUPA, Aetna, AXA, April, Now Health, Henner, Cigna, etc.

Cigna will offer coverages with policy maximums ranging from $1 million to unlimited per year. GeoBlue Xplorer, on the other hand, will provide unlimited maximum coverage. Both these companies offer worldwide coverage areas and so will IMG Global Medical These three companies have an option which can allow a company to exclude the United States. (United States has the most expensive medical care globally) Hospitalization may include semiprivate or private rooms, with the ability to have intensive care covered. Prescription medication is always an expensive option, and some limitations may be important. GeoBlue Xplorer does provide prescription medication coverage in its international policy. However, the coverage is hundred percent only up to $500. Medical evacuation may have limits or, like Cigna, an insurance company might pay evacuation expenses in full. Deductibles are going to be different, and a company may want to have higher deductibles to keep cost down. Of course, lower deductibles are very appealing to employees.

Let’s not forget the service promise and claims experience. If you are buying a Chanel or Ferragamo you expect pleasant customer service and credible advise. It’s the same for international medical insurances, you can expect prompt customer service and follow ups.

Finding the right international medical insurance policy can be difficult. It is critical to have a good mix of benefit options, but the quotes may be too high. Conversely, the benefit offered at a low premium may be almost worthless. It makes good sense to have a benefits consultant review all the policies. This person knows what to look for and can make very solid recommendations. We help companies design better employee benefits, and we know international medical insurance market. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

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