Having surveyed over 1,000 expats in the UK, Singapore and the UAE, Aetna has gleaned that there is a rise in healthcare-related anxiety and a heightened need for enhanced supportive offerings from providers.
Across the world, there has been a reduction in the numbers of people accessing routine care, many having been urged to do so by governments and the likes who are keen to ease the strain on healthcare facilities currently struggling under the weight of the global pandemic. As such, it’s no surprise to learn that in Aetna’s Expat Family Wellness Survey 2020: The Impact of COVID-19, 20 per cent of Aetna’s respondents would not go to a routine check-up or doctor's appointment during the pandemic, and that 13.4 per cent said they wouldn’t attend a hospital appointment.
Virtual care key to maintaining crucial support services
More troubling, however, is the revelation that one in 10 expats will not go to the hospital for a medical emergency during the pandemic. This has been linked to a rise in numbers of circulatory disease deaths in the UK between May and July. Putting of treatment can be fatal. But what can providers do?
Aetna notes that while, yes, people are anxious (53.5 per cent asked admitted to feeling ‘worried’, and 36.2 per cent said they were ‘anxious’), more so in the UAE and the UK than the US, there are still ways to reach out to these expat members, such as telehealth and other methods of virtual support.
“These services are especially important for expats, who may not be familiar with the care systems in their country of residence,” Aetna writes. “Expats have been early adopters of using technology to improve healthcare services.”
Indeed, Aetna’s survey uncovered that 52 per cent of expats think future health services will be dominated by virtual support and that 51 per cent are strong supporters of wearables to support healthy living.
Expats want to move back home, or to somewhere with better access to healthcare
Another interesting takeaway from Aetna’s survey is that many expats are now rethinking their decisions to live abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with 56.3 per cent of expats preferring to be in their own country during the pandemic. When asked for the reasons as to why, 43.9 per cent said it was to have access to better healthcare.
Importantly, for those expats who reasoned that healthcare is better in their current country of residence, 77.2 per cent said that better healthcare was a deciding factor in their choice to live abroad in the first place. Over in the US, 50 per cent of Aetna’s said that they don’t have enough access to health services (compared to the global average of 39.8 per cent).
This data supports that of Allianz Care conducted in mid-2020, which highlighted that expats in today’s climate value health and wellbeing and quality of life above all else.
Covid inspires expats to enhance their cover options
During the global pandemic, Aetna also notes that 60 per cent of its respondents added family members to an existing insurance plan or took out new cover so their immediate relatives could be added; and a further 23.2 per cent said they have or would consider buying additional cover due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While expat concerns around healthcare access have grown, insurance has offered many families peace of mind,” Aetna writes. “As well as providing members with the insurance safety net, international private medical insurance (IPMI) providers such as Aetna International can help to improve physical and mental health by offering wellbeing resources such as mental health apps, fitness membership discounts and virtual health services.”