Making a point to highlight the importance of sourcing international private medical insurance (IPMI) cover when planning to work or live abroad, William Russell released a set of data that spotlighted the astronomical costs of treatments abroad for expatriates in the period 2019 to 2020 (a topic that Hospitals & Healthcare recently covered in a special feature).
At least one international health insurance claim made during the period totaled over US$390,000, William Russell notes. And the firm says that the most expensive claim made for a medical evacuation in 2019-20 was $31,125.02.
The global IPMI provider also notes that childhood vaccination costs for expats living abroad can be upward of £800 (in Hong Kong and the UK), and that maternity treatments for expats abroad can come to as much as £40,000 (in Hong Kong).
Beware the increasing count of chronic diseases
As any healthcare professional will tell you, cancer is increasingly one of the most-diagnosed chronic diseases, it being the second-leading cause of death globally (and breast cancer recently become the most common form of cancer diagnosed worldwide), and with the ongoing global pandemic causing delayed patient referrals and an increasingly ageing population causing the prevalence of chronic conditions such as cancer to increase, healthcare is looking to be an expensive enterprise.
Indeed, William Russell highlights that the highest claims paid for medical treatment overseas in the period 2019-20 were for cancer treatments, with 25 claims worth over $100,000, including five over $300,000 (incidentally, all of these claims were in the Asia-Pacific region, with the most expensive four of those five claims being in Hong Kong – we see a bit of a pattern forming here).
Diabetes, another chronic disease associated with ageing and poor diet, also drums up the most expensive treatment costs; William Russell cites the highest claim for diabetes for the period as being $ 6,806.91 (in Thailand). Further to that, poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to heart disease, which the World Health Organization asserts is the leading cause of death worldwide.
The cost of healthcare is increasing year on year
“These figures cover the period 2019-20,” commented Inez Cooper, Managing Director and co-Founder of William Russell, “but at a time when the cost of global healthcare is increasing year on year, there is no telling what they may look like in 2020-21. This only serves to highlight how vital it is for families already living or planning to move abroad to urgently seek international health insurance from a trusted provider. Families may also want to consider the addition of medical evacuation insurance, which will provide cover should they need to travel to another country for medical treatment.”
Containing costs in assistance operations
Hopefully, this will be enough of a warning to convince globally mobile individuals to purchase appropriate IPMI cover, but what about the other side of the coin? If the price of healthcare is increasing, what can international insurers and assistance providers do to contain costs in their operations?
As many will tell you, this will all come down to preventative healthcare measures – the use of remote patient monitoring technology that helps detect health issues early in policyholders and the use of innovative assistance offerings that encourage policyholders to maintain a healthy lifestyle are all going to be key to keeping individuals out of the ER.