If the cost of your international private medical insurance (iPMI) has gone up recently you are not alone. Many employers are experiencing significantly raised costs for their international policies – for some this has been by as much as 50%.
Why are prices rising?
We are all accustomed to a 10-15% annual increase in premiums for IPMI so why have the prices jumped so much now? There are a number of things that have contributed to this steep rise, including increased regulation, greater demand for quality care, and the rising cost of care in some locations.
People increasingly expect greater choice in how and where they receive medical treatment. They also want access to the latest treatment and technology, all of which is increasing the demand for good quality private care.
In some places hospitals more routinely 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.
What can you do? Three tips to help you control costs.
It is always important to seek expert advice when reviewing your international cover to make sure the varied costs, regulation and availability of medical infrastructure in all the countries your policy needs to cover have been considered.
Here are three things you can consider that will help to control costs:
- Is it cheaper to have a single policy to cover all locations, or local cover especially for high-cost countries? Speak to a specialist broker who will be able to advise on the most appropriate way to help control costs while still ensuring the most suitable level of international cover for the company’s specific needs.
- Are there providers with access to better value medical facilities than the ones you are currently using? Compare what is available to check you are getting good value as well as high quality care, different providers have access to different hospitals, clinics, etc.
- Are you including and excluding the right things? Review what is covered in the policy and how that relates to the likely needs of the overseas staff being insured. For example, childbirth can be very costly in some countries and may not be relevant in some circumstances.
Helping control the costs of IPMI cover is a core part of the value that brokers should be delivering. It is important to ask for their advice so you can find the most appropriate level of cover for your staff, and select a package that helps you to get the most value from your budget.
It is essential to discuss the best way to control costs with experts. 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. The rising costs do not necessarily mean that you have to accept a steep price rise, it really is worth getting specialist advice to help you control the cost of IPMI.
Sarah Dennis is Head of International at The Health Insurance Group, which she joined in 2014 following over 17 years working as a consultant and in senior management roles in international health insurance companies including Jelf Group, Norwich Union Healthcare (Aviva UK), HealthCare International, Goodhealth Worldwide Ltd. (Aetna Global Benefits) and RSA.
Winner of the International Intermediary of the Year 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2015 and Highly Commended in 2009, 2012 and 2016, in the Health Insurance & Protection Awards - Sarah is a speaker, committee member and contributor to both global industry conferences and international publications.
Sarah is responsible for corporate international private medical insurance and expatriate cover, and the development of exclusive products for SMEs and expatriate groups.