James Page, Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, AIG Travel - Issues and trends
Page urged us to remember that the coronavirus pandemic was a ‘tsunami’ that washed over healthcare and made it overall difficult to predict trends - but that it was a ‘shared experience’.
He added that the pandemic’s ‘long tail’ could see increased spending in healthcare thanks to the return of some provisions which had been deferred during the height of the pandemic.
There are related medical cost issues, as seen in China, where access to medical care remain constrained seeing some receiving no care or remaining in hospital as it is difficult to estimate costs. In the rest of the world bed availability is not only impacting care, but also costs, further compounded by the labour shortages due to Covid-19.
Medical costs have risen with - but not at the same rate as - inflation. This spike doesn’t equal payments opening the conversations with partners around reprice and negotiation, Page continued.
Meanwhile, the expatriate community is becoming 'more accustomed to local medical treatment that automatically just being sent home’, said Page, and the overall demographic hasn’t changed - but the volume is increasing. With expectations for employees being managed by their own HR when it comes to how their care will proceed.
Now that travel insurance normally treats covid as a typical illness, there is still a continued evolution, with moves to include wellness and preventative steps. Page asked: “How do we write our premiums for individuals to demonstrate that their health and wellness regimen to make them less risk to us?”
Francois Jacquemin, Managing Director, Foyer Global Health - Cost mitigation
“Covid is still there physically and psychologically,” reminded Jacquemin, adding that it is ‘something that impacts us day to day’. However, he added, it also created more awareness for health insurance need, urging the client to seek out more clarity when it comes to the details of their coverage, and accelerating this evolution.
When it comes to cost containment and quality vs price, it is ‘not about the cheapest solution, but the right one’. “We want to give the right service to our client, taking the long-term view,” he said.
Part of the overall progression involves innovation surrounding digitalisation, ‘without digitalisation there is no future - data is key.’
A ‘predictive model to refine pricing’ used for cost containment, Francois urged: “The more you utilise, the more the artificial intelligence (AI) can work, the more control you have of your portfolio.”
Juliane Kause, Chief Medical Officer, Everbridge - The role of pre-travel medical risk assessment
Kause shared where she saw travel insurance going post-pandemic, how travel management risk should evolve for the future, and how traditional medical assistance should move being ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ by using health risk assessments.
Using a case study, she looked at the cost of medical assistance abroad highlighting that there were ‘lots of hidden costs that don’t focus on new models – that not only focus on cost containment but also wellness’. And how when using pre travel risk modification would allow a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to be made.
Kause also reminded the audience that pre-travel medical risk assessment ‘should become an integral part of travel risk management’, stating that ‘healthy habits lead to cost reduction for us all’.