Healthy employees add value abroad

Employee wellness offers attractive revenue opportunities for international PMI professionals says Aetna International president Richard di Benedetto. 

Organizations with an overseas workforce are utilizing the protection and promotion of employee health as a route to boost corporate productivity and create competitive advantage.  In the increasingly competitive world of international private medical insurance, brokers and advisers that anticipate and acknowledge this strategy can extend the value they add to clients, and reinforce their role as strategic business partners.

With 71 per cent of millennials wanting at some stage during their career to work overseas, according to PWC’s “Talent Mobility: 2020 and Beyond” 2014 survey, CEOs must strategically think how to both protect their investment in talent and employ wellness strategies as a route to boosting commercial performance overseas. 

Technology and medical advances, emerging healthcare management strategies, shifts in global workplace migration and mobility, and worker demographics are all influencing corporate strategies aimed at maintaining and improving the health and wellness of employees based overseas.  The big data revolution is leading to the harvesting and analysis of huge volumes of population health data and enhancing the ability to create tailored care management programs targeted at the specific needs of employee groups and individuals across the world.  

The strong link between employee wellness and productivity and, coupled with the continuing expansion of the global economic environment, is creating a stronger case for a sustained and consistent approach to employee wellness across all international operations.

International private medical insurance (IPMI) advisers have the opportunity to work with corporate customers on a holistic health benefit level.  With IPMI aiming to protect employee health once a medical problem has occurred, the wider picture is a solution that increases the health of a population; giving the two pronged benefit of increasing productivity and a reducing medical claims. 

Advisers that influence corporate thinking on this level will add an additional layer of value to client relationships.

Brokers, plan sponsors and insurers all have a part to play in keeping employees healthy.  Medical insurance programmes provide a catalyst for a three way relationship with the driving force from the broker.

With today’s break throughs on big data capability, information gathering and analysis has been taken to new levels.  Claims data from larger employee populations can highlight detrimental trends that can be tackled at source to the benefit of all parties involved.

With no two clients experiencing the same staff health issues, the ability to create actionable strategies from data is even more significant.  Workers from a mining client in Africa, for example, may be exposed to tropical diseases, bodily injuries and afflictions associated with being confined on site for months on end.   Banks may see a higher propensity of staff suffering from stress and associated illnesses such as heart disease.

By collecting and analysing claims data, trends can be identified and action plans put in place where the need arises.  If an increase in cases of malaria amongst a particular group of workers is identified, an assessment can help to understand the causes and recommend a series of solutions such as more formal procedures for taking tablets, additional education and even putting medical personnel on the ground to see the improvements through.

Effective preventative measures can reduce the incidents of malaria, leading to healthier, happier and more productive staff.  The insurer will see a reduced incidence of claims which will be reflected in renewal premiums and the broker, having played a key role in the positive change, will be seen by the client to have added additional value.

Brokers are well placed to drive initiatives to improve employee health using the medical insurance program and the insurer as the enablers.  Working in partnership with the customer and the insurer, adverse trends can be identified and tackled.  The benefits have the potential to be significant on a number of fronts; a more productive work force, reduced claims and healthier employees.  Brokers, through their action, will add more client value, helping to strengthen relationships for the future.