Expats focus on family wellbeing – Aetna research

The health and wellbeing of family members is a greater priority for expatriate workers than the threat of terrorism, political instability and a higher cost of living, research from Aetna has found.

A poll of 5,000 expatriates and local nationals worldwide, of which half have an income in excess of US$100,000, found 77 per cent said they were either concerned or very concerned about the health and wellbeing of their family, compared to 71 per cent who cited their own health and wellbeing, 69 per cent who cited a rise in the overall cost of living and 68 per cent who mentioned political unrest and the increased risk of terrorism.

The poll found 81 per cent of respondents agreed people should be taking more responsibility for their own health and 78 per cent agreed that keeping fit and healthy was a priority. But 41 per cent said they did not take active steps to improve their health. Six out of ten respondents agreed that ‘For me, stress is an unavoidable part of my life’.

Around 48 per cent of the expatriate respondents were strongly in favour of consulting a medical professional via a smart phone or tablet and 52 per cent thought that the future of health care will be dominated by virtual support.

Aetna International executive director Damian Lenihan says: “Sending employees abroad is risky for employers. Generous remuneration packages are often topped off by extensive benefits. Add family members to the equation and the costs can be high. So high, in fact, that employers need to do all they can to make sure the assignment is a success.

“For insurers, understanding and knowledge help to reduce risk. For employers with overseas staff, the situation is no different. A better understanding of the needs, desires and stresses of staff hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home can lead to a better outcome for the employer and employee.

“These results indicate that, although many expatriates don’t have the time to improve their health, many are still keen to do so. This analysis points to employer support to help employees stay well-being hugely important. Making health related information available, incentivising staff to manage their health, and providing the time and facilities for them to do so can all make a big difference.

“By helping employees to make use of the support on offer from their international health insurer, employers can proactively influence the health of their international assignees, helping to boost productivity at the same time.”