Providing a global service while managing costs is essential to any private medical insurer. Customers need to feel sure their insurers can advise them on the best healthcare available in their location. As well as providing the best customer service they can insurers need to be able to monitor costs abroad. This will help price policies to reflect the cost of healthcare in the region and also prevent exaggerated or fraudulent claims pushing prices up.
Overcharging can be a major problem in the international health insurance market. Andrew Apps, director at ALC Health told Health Insurance Magazine, “It’s rare that we see extreme examples of overcharging but you do see plenty of cases where someone has been kept in hospital for an extra day or they’ve had three x-rays when they only needed two,” he says. “It can add hundreds of dollars to a bill.”
As an example, he says that he recently saw a bill for a customer who had been treated in the US for a headache. Among the items included on the bill was a chest x-ray.
Worldwide insurance networks
We reported last month on DKV’s Globalite network, providing global assistance under a unified brand. DKV works with local providers to ensure customers have someone on the ground able to provide them with expert knowledge of healthcare in the area.
While this is the first unified brand approach, Cigna Global Health Benefits has been running a network, Cigna Links, for six years. It connects with partners around the world, but rather than being under a common brand, customers receive a Cigna card and a card for the partner of the country they are in.
While networks across the world are good way to manage and monitor costs, they are not easy to implement. IT has to be up to scratch to enable easy transfer of claims data and it is also important to manage the relationship with partners to ensure it is mutually beneficial, warns Mark Coleman, international sales director at Cigna Global Health Benefits.