Prevention not cure: wellness in international private medical insurance

Advisers and brokers selling international private medical insurance can support their clients in their pursuit of “wellbeing” – a buzz word right now - by investigating plans that include cover for preventative treatment.

As well as providing peace of mind for consumers, investment into preventative, rather than curative treatment is known to reduce overall expenditure on healthcare. This holds true for both government bodies funding a public health service and investors into the private health sector, which includes holders of private medical insurance plans.

Two large markets for international PMI – expatriate families and corporate groups – each have their own motivations for seeking cover that includes preventative and “wellbeing” treatment.

Firstly, families and couples emigrating overseas are often looking to enhance their quality of life. Good health and wellbeing will inevitably form a part of this.

Secondly, employers sending their employees on overseas assignment want to ensure the good health of their staff to reduce absenteeism and enhance motivation. This in turn may improve productivity. Providing international private medical insurance as an employee benefit could give significant returns on investment.

So, what should you and your clients look out for on international private medical insurance plans?

Wellness Benefit
This benefit will pay for routine health checks and preventative tests – things like cancer screening (for example cervical smear tests), cardiovascular, neurological, cardiovascular and well-child examinations, vital signs tests (for example blood pressure and cholesterol checks) and vaccinations. In addition to this obvious example of wellness, many plans include benefits that can contribute to day to day wellbeing, either by paying for treatment that helps to maintain a certain level of health or by encouraging clients to seek treatment for nonemergency medical conditions. For example:

Hormone replacement therapy
For women suffering pre- and post-menopausal symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can make their lives so much easier. The costs of this could be covered by your international PMI plan.

Maintenance of chronic conditions
If you develop a condition such as asthma or epilepsy you may be able to keep your illness under control and avoid acute attacks or worsening of the condition through routine medication or regular checkups. Some plans will cover the cost of this, with generous monetary limits.

Treatment of allergies
As with other chronic conditions, timely medication and treatment can help keep your allergy under control and let you carry on with your life. Treatment for allergies is covered by some international PMI plans, often in a separate benefit from other chronic medical conditions.

Recent advances in drugs and treatment for HIV, AIDS and related medical conditions mean that sufferers may be able to maintain a higher quality of life for a longer period of time. An international PMI plan that covers this treatment, should you contract HIV or AIDS while under cover, is certainly worth considering.

Physiotherapy and complementary medicine Treatment from a specialist, such as a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, homeopath, acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist can sometimes be seen as a luxury, for example in the case of a minor amateur sporting injury. Cover for this type of treatment can be extremely beneficial, as it encourages planholders to seek treatment and get any issues sorted out at the earliest opportunity. For employers, this can reduce long-term or ongoing absenteeism.

When advising your clients, these types of benefits can be a real selling point. In the past, international PMI has been viewed as something only called upon in an emergency or when you are ill, but the inclusion of these types of benefits in international PMI plans means they now have many positive uses. You can be sure of finding a plan that will support your clients in both sickness and in health.

Contact: Peter Rousseau, Business Development Director,
T: 01252 745 900