By Howard Borsden, Financial Advisor
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – No longer is International Private Medical Insurance purely for expatriates. An ever-increasing amount of businesses are sending employees on assignments abroad for a shorter time period, such as 3-6 months.
Traditional Travel Insurance often covers you abroad for up to a period of ninety days, but any longer than this and there is a serious shortfall. Travel Insurance is in no way comprehensive enough to fill this gap should any medical emergency, or need for medical evacuation, arise.
All employers should be aware of the need for International Private Medical Insurance. If an employee is sent abroad for any period over ninety days International Private Medical Insurance needs to be in place.
It is as necessary for routine, dental, to see a GP, and medication for chronic conditions, as much as it is needed for the more unforeseen medical emergencies such as a heart attack or complications in pregnancy.
Some of the issues to be aware of in regard to this are:
The type of underwriting is hugely important. Traditional PMI programs use a mix of Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) where a medical questionnaire is filled in prior to joining the plan and certain pre-existing conditions are excluded, with access to medical records sometimes being needed for clarification.
Moratorium underwriting is also used whereby pre-existing conditions are ruled out for a certain time period. Access to medical records is almost always needed for this type of underwriting as no medical questionnaire is filled in at the time of joining, it is only at the point of claim that medical information is sought.
Both of these forms of underwriting are of little or no value in the International Market as the employee is often based in one country sometimes thousands of miles from their home. What is needed in the international domain is Medical History Disregarded (MHD), where no medical declaration by the employee is necessary and no access to medical records is needed or sought.
Traditionally a health plan had to have twenty or more prime members (employees not dependents) in order to qualify for this type of underwriting, this has now been reduced to ten but one company does offer MHD underwriting from five members and up.
The benefits are of huge importance in the international domain. Medical evacuation is of paramount importance with no annual limit. Businesses and employees will want to make sure that they are covered not just for the area they are working in, but also for the area they wish to be evacuated to.
If there is a need for maternity coverage, ensure the plan has enough benefits in place for complications as well as routine maternity procedures. Look for the overall benefit level on the plan, if it less than US$10,000 may have a shortfall in certain parts of the world, as cancer treatment can quite easily use up this amount.
Does the plan cover chronic conditions and medication or visits to the GP? Individuals may be used to having access to these free in their home country, but not when working somewhere else and it can be very expensive.
Method of paying for treatment is also important. Businesses and individuals should look for a plan that will pay directly any in patient treatment situation via a Guarantee of Payment (GOP), and pay outpatient bills over a reasonable amount, such as US$500 or equivalent.
It is important to look for a plan that uses any hospital, in any network, anywhere in the world. Some providers only use certain networks in order to contain costs. However the ramifications of this are clear. If the medical professional a policy-holder wishes to see does not have rights in the network the provider uses, then the patient cannot see them by way of the policy.
* This is a paid Advertorial for Looking for Dylan.